One of the (many) things I love about high school is the sophistication of the work Ss are given. Murrow's teachers are thoughtful and the work is rigorous, and most Ss are curious and rise to the challenge. Back in Nov 2018, I had a patron that proved it.
*BACKGROUND: My colleague taught a research class for APUSH. Ss were to research an obscure Revolutionary War figure and find primary source evidence of their purported history using databases and or print.
Ss Helen came to me after a few days of independent research and needed help finding primary sources on Sybil Ludington. Not being sure who she even was at the time, I had some work to do myself.
SL is celebrated as a heroine of the the Rev. War. On April 26, 1777, she is said to have ridden twice as far as Paul Revere (et al) in her quest to warn the militias of Putnam and Danbury that the British were indeed coming. SL was 16 years old.
As a lover of Antiques Roadshow, I imagined myself as an appraiser researching the provenance of a story. And I was! I took this very seriously.
I found a lot of background information on SL, but nothing that really and truly spoke to the veracity of her story. I found very little on SL before her heroic ride. There is very little about her, although I did find that her parents were first cousins. Giuliani much?
Anyway, the more I dug, the less I found. I decided to seek reinforcements. I emailed @librarycongress a request for assistance. I opened a new tab then, and typed, museum historical society danbury ct and came across this link: danburymuseum.org.
I am a phone person. I called and spoke to a lovely librarian named Michele. I explained what I was looking for and what (little) I had found. Since SL made it as far as Danbury, surely Michele would be able to point me in the direction of my patron's request!
Michele informed me that I was not the first person calling about SL. She actually chuckled and informed her coworker that "someone else was calling about Sybil." What she said next made the importance of this project clear.
Not being able to take a picture of my notes due to a dead phone, I will paraphrase here: "The story of SL is more of a 'tall tale' than it is anything else. Her ride allegedly started in Carmel, NY, but there is no evidence that she actually ever reached Danbury." 11/1/18 1030am
The email from the LOC gave me some general links to encyclopedia entries, images of her gravestone, and other generally scant statistical data. The involvement of museum librarians was a huge help and helped me realize the different levels of support that I can give to a patron.
What my colleagues and I are not able to provide, there is always someone else that can provide. In this case, I turned to a resource I had never considered using and came away with a great result.
The teacher that assigned the project thought it was very teachable moment because she had not expected an outcome such as this.
Truth is out there. Hard evidence is out there. Lack of hard evidence begs one to question the truth, and that is what happened here. When we hit a dead end in search of the truth, we went around it and found it. This collaboration and the work that came out of it makes me smile.
Phone charged
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