The press of business has led to an extended absence from the blog, but now my schedule allows me to begin posting again. Today, I’m feeling a bit nostalgic and in the mood to share a personal story.
The War Of The Rebellion: Official Records Of The Union and Confederate Armies is the key reference work relating to the war. While I was reading Bruce Catton’s This Hallowed Ground, I first became aware of endnotes and their significance. At the time I was eleven years old and developed a determination to see volume ten, part one of the Official Records. From the endnotes, I learned that this book held battle reports relating to the battle of Shiloh, and I badly wanted to read about the activities of the 16th Louisiana Infantry, a unit that my g-g-grandfather served in. The Shawnee Public Library did not have the set, but somehow I learned that the library at Oklahoma Baptist University did own a set. My mom, always willing to aid me in my endeavors, approached the O. B. U. library director, Dr. Stanley Benson, with me in tow. We told him that I wanted to see the Official Records, and he appeared startled. This was my first clue that few people asked to see the set. He graciously took us into the storage area where the volumes sat encased in dust. Dr. Benson was pleased that I knew about endnotes and still more impressed when I correctly informed him that volume ten, part one was indeed about Shiloh. At that point, he agreed to give my mom a special library card so that I could check out books.
In the weeks following, the Official Records mysteriously emerged from the storage area and appeared (dusted) in the regular stacks. With my mom’s magic library card, I could check out volumes of the Official Records along with bound copies of original editions of The Confederate Veteran and many other prizes. Dr. Benson’s willingness to allow me to use the library collection certainly helped me maintain my interest in the American Civil War. I suppose it is not surprising that I decided to attend O. B. U. And it didn’t stop there…Dr. Benson also hired me as a student worker at the O. B. U. library and encouraged me to work toward a master’s degree in library science. It came as no surprise to him, though, that after earning the master’s degree I decided to work toward a Ph.D. in history with an emphasis on the American Civil War.