Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Santa Claus, The Tooth Fairy, and Archivists

When you think about the people (both real and imagined) in your life who rarely disappoint you, to whom would you point? When I was a child it was Santa Claus who might deliver what was requested (often a beloved story book). The Tooth Fairy could usually be relied upon to come up with a quarter, or perhaps even two, for the little incisors that I might tuck under my pillow. Now that I am an adult, historian, and family history researcher, I find Archivists fit nicely into the same category.

After participating in "Ask an Archivist" day last Thursday on Twitter, I asked myself about the last time an archivist said "NO" to me, and I honestly couldn't think of a single instance. On twitpic I posted the photograph which you see below, because I am trying to identify all of the men in it. They are, I believe, members of the Dublin Active Service Unit. The two men I can identify are Michael Magee (back row, far right) and Bernard Ryan (front row, 2nd from left), about whom I've previously written on this blog.

On "Ask an Archivist" day, I asked if anyone at The National Library of Ireland would view the image and possibly be able to identify the other men in the photograph. I posted my query and less than 2 minutes later received an enthusiastic reply with further questions, suggestions, and the offer of help. The photograph has been forwarded to their photo archivist, and they asked if they could distribute it to their wide audience of followers, and anyone else who might be helpful. WOW!

This made me think about the fact that as researchers we regularly ask Archivists (and Librarians) for help, and they never say no to us. If it is possible to locate a document or film, or material of any kind which is helpful to us, Archivists step up and bring it along. Often I have found myself in situations in which I not only received the information I requested, but was also given extra materials. The sentences, "this might help you" and "you might find this interesting or useful" are ones I hear a lot when I am doing research.

Today, on this Thankful Thursday, I am so very thankful for Archivists and Librarians, so I want to say thank you to each and every one who has helped me along my way, and might help me in the future.



  1. The two on the bottom right look like brothers.

  2. Hi Claudia,

    Thanks for your comment. Funny you should say that. I thought the same thing. I thought the man on the bottom far right might be Francis Flood and that the man to his left might be one of his brothers. Someone at Cathal Brugha Military Archives viewed the photo and told me I was mistaken, so I'm really looking forward to hearing from the NLI's photographic archivist.



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