Sunday, August 30, 2009

My Secret Fear

I was speaking with my father a couple weeks ago about my secret fear. I guess it isn't much of a secret anymore. I'm afraid that someday, some archivist will decide my desire for some manuscript is not valid and deny me access. I was telling my father that when I was at BYU special collections I had to justify my need for the papers I wanted to see. I explained I was working on a paper I am hoping to submit to a MHA Conference. That seemed to do the trick. The person who interviewed me actually read that line out loud when she was reviewing my application. So I know that line was important enough for her to read it. I haven't denied access yet, but during that conversation I learned it has happened to my father.

My father went to the University of Utah in the early 1950's. At the time he was an engineering student and he heard about a Brigham Young quote about building the SLC temple out of adobe bricks. Based on reports from members of the Mormon Battalion about adobe buildings in southern California, Brigham Young had been led to believe that adobe gets harder with age, until it is as hard as rock.

My father had traced the source to a letter Brigham Young had written and he wanted to see the letter for an engineering paper. The letter was in the U of U special collections, so he asked to see it. "No" he was told. His need was not legitimate. My father's take on it was that it didn't portray BY in the best light, so a lowly undergrad wasn't going to get it.

I can't speak to my father's explanation, but apparently my secret fear is not all that outlandish. Maybe I get it from my dad.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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