Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Scholars in Mourning

The Bancroft Library has closed for at least four months. Scholars around the country are grieving. The San Francisco Chronicle tells the sad story of this guy:

“As the deadline for closing the library neared, every seat in the reading room was taken, and there was a waiting list to get in. One of the spots was taken last week by Robert Chester, who is working on his doctoral dissertation in history from UC Davis. His subject is the environmental impact of the silver boom in the Comstock in 19th century Nevada -- and recently to his great surprise he came on the Bancroft's collection of 48 letter books full of the correspondence of Henry Yerington, manager of the Virginia and Truckee Railroad and a major player in his field of study.

It was like finding scholarly gold and he was racing last week to finish mining his discovery. But time ran out on him. The library is closing for five months on June 1, and the Yerington letters are available nowhere else. He's not sure what to do. "I'll have to write as I research," he said. "

God, how frustrating to find this treasure trove and not be able to read it.

The Chronicle also reports on the party Pat Montandon threw for her son, Sean Wilsey, and a review of who’s reading Oh The Glory Of It All

What I’m reading now:

Telling the Untold Story: How Investigative Reporters Are Changing the Craft of Biography. This is by Steve Weinberg, a professor at the journalism school at the University of Missouri and the former executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors. The book explores the techniques of good biographers, such as Robert Caro, James Steele, and Donald Bartlett, and discusses how to arrive at the truth about someone’s life. Weinberg wrote a biography of Armand Hammer and is working on another on muckraker Ida Tarbell.

I’m trying to get to The Washingtonienne, by Jessica Cutler, which is released officially today. But my husband, lured by the provocative cover of a woman in a lacy pink bra, picked it up first, and now my almost 13-year old has found it. I guess that says something about the book’s appeal.

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