A Puritan Maiden’s Diary: The Early American Primary Source that Wasn’t by Sarah Johnson

Sarah Johnson has written an excellent article on her journey through primary resource research and the dangers that lie within such research.

And yet… the diary somehow seemed too perfect. Over the next few hours, I began to have uneasy feelings about its provenance, even though its presence on the LoC website seemed to verify its authenticity

Those of us that love the research process will identify with what she has to say, and feel her pain at the discovery that the Primary Resource is not actually a primary resource after all, although perhaps it is, just another sort of primary resource.

It is very disappointing to me that the diary was faked in the first place, and also that it’s still being promoted as an authentic piece of 17th-century writing on legitimate archive sites. …

At the same time, I was relieved that my instincts about this fraudulent piece were correct, and I found the process akin to solving a mystery – although in this case, another historian had already gotten the real proof. So for me, this exercise more than served its educational purpose. I ended up writing about a different source from Pages from Her Story for my actual assignment, one whose authenticity has been verified.

Sarah’s article is insightful, and really worth reading for a whole lot of reasons – not just for those of us interested in the research process.  You can find it on her Reading the Past blog site.

Please feel free to share your musings here....

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s