Thursday, July 13, 2006


My time in Spain is almost over, and I have only one day left in the archive where I've been spending mornings working on a new project. I'm looking for particular bits of information without being sure of exactly where I might find them (possibly in university records, possibly in Inquisition files, possibly in royal pardon requests...), so I've been doing lots of skimming through different kinds of documents to see how promising they look. So far I've found just enough to make me think that this project is doable, though it will continue to involve lots of sifting through files to find just a few tasty little crumbs.

I had one last section to glance at today, and I'd left it for last because I suspected it would involve even more skimming for even fewer useful bits, and because it's very poorly catalogued - the catalog only says that there are 80-some boxes covering three centuries, so I had to choose a box more or less at random hoping to land somewhere near the mid-1600s. I opened the box, and was disappointed to find that the documents were not what I expected - they dealt with the right people, but contained entirely different kinds of reports from what I thought they were going to have. (Plus they were from the 1730s, and I'm just not a big fan of the eighteenth century.) I nearly returned the box right away, but then I thought I should skim through a few more files to see if they were all the same. They seemed to be, but one of them bore the name of a small town I visited last year and really liked, so I took a closer look more out of nostalgia than anything else. Lo and behold - towards the end of each file, and entirely unexpected given the particular information these files contained, there was exactly the kind of information I'd been looking for. It was in every single file, and there were 65 files in the box I was holding.

I have only one day left in the archive. I don't know whether to celebrate like crazy, or jump off a bridge.

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