One thing you quickly learn when setting out to write a historical fiction novel: there’s a lot that you just don’t know. Google is great but doesn’t have every detail you need. And even if Google does have the answer, sifting through every website is laborious and time consuming. So, when I needed some information on the University of Wisconsin Madison, I first went to Google. Google led me to the University of Wisconsin Archives. Who knew such a thing existed! (Some people probably did, but I didn’t) The amount of information there was overwhelming and I had no idea how to navigate it. I needed some help. Well, there was a link to email the staff at the archives. Could I email them? Would they be willing to answer a question (or what turned out to be about ten questions)?
YES!! And they were excited to do so. They got me a map of the campus from the time period, an academic calendar for 1967-1968, an article that helped me understand the rules of the dorms. (Girls could be locked out if they stayed out past curfew). So much good stuff.
Think of it like this: my husband loves classic British cars. He loves to talk about them. I am not always a ready audience. If someone out of the blue called him and said, “Please talk to me about classic British cars,” he would be ecstatic.
That was the attitude of the historians at the archives. They got to do research, dig up some facts, and share their love of history with some random person. This random person is forever grateful.
Here’s the building where the magic happens: