Thursday, October 3, 2013

My take on this ...

I think we have enough to finish volume two and tell a creditable story. About half of it is finished already.

I’ve thought about what we need to proceed. We need some relief from research issues. The “rub” there is that research is at the heart of accurate, well-told history. We will need to rely on willing helpers who can find and organize documentation.  If we move on to book three, this will be especially vital.

Book three enters into really controversial events. Some of them have been overlooked. We have no plans to overlook them. Events such as the Russells marital problems are coated with myth and misunderstanding. We are interested in telling the story as accurately as possible. There were personality conflict issues between Russell and some of the most prominent workers. This takes on into murky waters. Some of our readers want to protect Russell at all costs. We won’t do that, though we will be “fair” to all parties. Most of this is un-researched and we expect a difficult time following the trail.

We will need help with it. To be truly helpful you will have to approach issues in the same spirit we do. We follow the trail no matter where it goes.

There are several collections of letters and personal papers. Almost without exception they are closed to researchers. We need help contacting the owners and prying things out of their hands. An example is a large lot of Bible Student era letters sold a few years ago through e-bay. We would like to see those. We can’t pay for photocopying or scanning. We don’t know who owns them.

Pursuing the next era in Watch Tower history will be time consuming and difficult. We can’t do it alone. We’ve received some significant help with the current project, but most of the research is our own. If we move on to project three, we will need even more help.

I’m more interested in the transitional era, the era between 1916 and 1919. I’d rather skip book three and move right on to that. I’m certain that won’t happen. But you can help us gather material. This is more difficult than you can imagine. We will need access to material in the US and Canadian and UK archives. Usually this requires travel. In the United States, the National Archives has proved very reluctant to answer requests for relevant material. When someone else requested documents from them in the early 1990s, they came inked out to almost solid black. This should be less of an issue now because of time limitations on secrets expiring. But we would need a volunteer (unpaid) to visit the archive in Washington D. C. and in Canada and in the UK to dig for papers, photocopy or photograph them at their own expense and get them to us. Is this worth the bother to anyone? We have our doubts.

We think there are World War I era documents in Germany archives too. We haven’t a clue how to find them. I don’t read German well. We’d need a copy of the original and a translation. Finding someone to do this as a labor of love seems unattainable.

Even with the small amount we know of these two eras, I can tell you that what you’ve been told is largely wrong by omission, sometimes wrong in factual presentation or point of view. The detailed story is always more interesting.

Even if we decide to proceed (I can’t see Mr. Schulz not doing so, even if he’s unwell.) we will need significantly more help than we’ve had with this project. And with this project we’ve had three really dedicated researchers adding to our work and a fair number who just send an occasional item or move us forward by a well asked question. We will need someone willing to contact libraries and other institutions for us. They’ll have to be a good negotiator with a more pleasant personality than my own. (I’m sickish and cranky at the moment.)

Organization is an increasing problem. I don’t know how to improve our archival organization. I’m reorganizing our archival notebooks to account for current needs. I really need a secretary.
We continue to find things. The latest is a letter from A. D. Jones’ father written in September1892. All of it but one sentence is irrelevant to our story. But it’s good to have the one sentence. It explains something his son did. So the issue is, can we enlist more help and can we streamline our research?



Styx said...

From what you both write there are clearly health and time problems - with which we sympathise.

An observation: There are obviously some 'big' issues/areas that you believe should be researched and written-up, such as Russell's matrimonial difficulties. You also seem to want to split your books into time segments.

Isn't this latter approach adding to your load? If you decide a volume covers the period of, say, 1900 - 1915, doesn't this create a huge research mountain for you to climb when the WHOLE history of that period needs to be researched. But if only certain events were selected from a time-segment and just these were researched and published, it might relieve some of the self-imposed pressure. It would create several smaller manageable projects instead of enormous blocks of work relating to specific time periods.

Probably I am missing something here, but sometimes an objective view helps to see the trees and not the wood.

I occasionally visit the English National Archives. If you tell me what you want researched from their searchable catalogue, I will gladly photograph the material.

roberto said...

I live far-off from London or New York.
But if you want, when you want, you can count on me for boring works (transcribing, etc.)

styx said...

Underwhelmed as one is by the response to one's offer, it is hereby rescinded.