The “Dry Dig” of Research

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Friends, I’ve been away a few days because I’m dealing with a dry patch in Emmett’s information dig.

Ever since I’ve returned from Pensacola, I’ve been reading microfilm; last week, I finished all of the reels for the 1915 Pensacola Journal.

To be honest, it was a long, tedious read of nothing much directly related to Emmett. That can be discouraging, especially if you’ve had a pretty good run of information on a research topic.

Admittedly, I’ve been darn lucky with what I have found to-date, given the fact Emmett is an obscure biographical subject. When I started out, there was very little ready information about him. The thing is, I’d gotten used to seeing regular mentions of Emmett in the media, and then, suddenly, the media has very little to say about Emmett in print.

It’s discouraging — but to be honest, I knew this point was coming. Once Emmett was no longer the Golden Boy of West Florida politics, his publicity dried up quickly.

Emmett's offices for both terms were in the Cannon House Office Building.

Emmett’s offices for both terms were in the Cannon House Office Building.

The thing is, he wasn’t just sitting around and doing nothing; he was still a Congressman, and working for his district. I just haven’t been able to find out a lot of details about  what he was doing this time! So that means I have to think more strategically about where I’d find information that is specifically about Emmett. I will need reach out to more (or new) descendants — if I can find them. I will need to locate those elusive scrapbooks of his….

Anyway. Dry spells are nothing new in the land of research, no matter your field of study. I have an archaeologist colleague who tells me he has gone weeks and months without finding anything significant at a dig — and — that can be the nature of the dig, sometimes!

But he gave me good advice: When he hits a ‘dry dig’, he switches gears and revisits other sites, or, reviews the research literature again. He told me, “If you take a break, then come back, you often see things you missed the first time around. A dry dig can be frustrating at times, but beneficial, too.”

So, I went back into a part of Emmett’s research I had set aside a few months ago and did a new literature search into his medical history — lo and behold — I discovered something new and quite important with regard to this part of his biography! Score!

And so, the research continues onward, and today’s find was re-energizing. It’s nice to have a fresh start that way.

When I started this quest, I knew the information about Emmett may not be easy to find, but it did exist. I just needed to look for it, and to keep an open mind about where to look.

The ‘dry dig’ research spell has been a good lesson for me this week.

I have a slew of papers to grade over the next two days, but I’ll be back with an update on my great find! Have a good Monday!

 

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