Saturday, October 5, 2013

Washington DC -- History is my God, and so Mecca is the US National Archives in College Park, Maryland

History is my god because it explains our today, and thus forecasts our tomorrow.  Indeed this is why so many of us study history, debate it, and strive to generate it.  

Since history is my god, then the US National Archives inCollege Park, Maryland is my Mecca. I spent August 2013 at this repository, which is close to Washington DC. The Archives at College Park is touted as the world’s largest archive, and should also be lauded for containing arguably the most sophisticated and frank intelligence on modern international politics -- courtesy of US Foreign Service workers stationed at American Embassies and Consulates internationally.  I learned about this repository from a Professor at New York University, Vivek Chibber, who used these records for his book entitled "Lockedin Place: State building and late industrialization in India" (2003).  Far beyond its impressive record holdings, the significance of this repository is that access is available to all, regardless of citizenship, gender, income, and so on.

my research card pictured against the College Park repository

And since history is my god, then biblical are the phrases that etched into thine statues which flank the US National Archives inWashington DC: study the past, eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, the heritage of the past is the seed that brings forth the harvest of the future.  The phrase that adorns the US National Archives in Washington DC is especially imminent since it captures precisely why this here space is a Mecca for those whose faith in future comings is bound to past goings – for those whose god is history, that is:

“This building holds in trust the records of our national life and symbolizes our faith in the permanency of our national institutions”

US National Archives in Washington DC

Prior to using records at the US National Archives during August 2013, I used archives during July 2013 at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University in California, and June 2013 at the Harry S.Truman Presidential Library in Independence, Missour.

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