About two weeks before I made the trip to Pensacola, there was a hurricane-strength storm that blew through and created all kinds of damage. Buildings were flooded and roads were washed out.
There are still a number of repairs going on around the city. There is a lot of storm-related roadwork and detours on the way to the University of West Florida. Building damage included the Escambia County Courthouse archive. I planned to stop over to review old courthouse records about Emmett’s legal work in Pensacola, but the facility is still closed.
The staff of the archive is working out of another building at present. They were very nice to me; I told them exactly what I was looking for, and they said they had it, but it was in the closed-up archive.
I was told the records are all right (thank goodness!), but no one will be able to get in to view them for a few months. I told them I was planning a second visit in October, and was assured that they should be back in the original facility by then.
I think this little roadblock was a blessing in disguise. If you take a look at the holdings in the Escambia County Courthouse archive, there is a lot of information there.
I can see myself spending at least three days there, just like I did at the University of West Florida.
It’s just as well that I didn’t get into the courthouse archive yesterday.
My colleagues at the University of West Florida archive let me read through copies of a fragile and one-of-a-kind publication that I had needed to confirm a few things about Emmett. This was an excellent resource; incredibly important in my research as it is rare, and I didn’t expect to see it.
The Marianna Times-Courier isn’t online or digitized anywhere, and the only way I could get the information was to sit and (very carefully) read every single page — which I did until closing.
I don’t mind the temporary roadblocks in this research project. I’ve learned that these little delays allow me time to digest the new information I’ve gathered over the past several days — and, thankfully, I’ve gathered a lot of new and interesting data.
Roadblocks often give one a chance to pause and reflect, which is a very important part of the research process, and a part that I often overlook, or, avoid in my anxious quest to tell Emmett’s story.
Emmett’s story will be told, no matter what. The roadblock will allow me to do a better job in the telling of that story, if I view it as an opportunity and not a deterrent.
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