The semester is finally drawing to a close and for my final blog post I just wanted to talk about what I have learned or what I have gained from doing this directed study topic.
First of all is the greater appreciation that I have for historical research and the history of European settlers in Adelaide. Coming into this topic, I must admit that I was not totally interested in historical archaeology and I thought that it would not be as an involving project as it eventually turned out to be.
One of the reasons for this change in attitude was the nature of the research involved in my project, which mainly composed of investigating primary resources. I guess that when previous research or secondary accounts are consulted, there is a level of disconnection felt with the event or events being detailed. However, from my experience this semester using predominantly primary resources, that feeling of disconnection with the event was not there. The information was of the time and it had not been interpreted since the time of the event up until the time that I had viewed it. This is another element of primary resource research that I have appreciated. It allows the researcher to independently interpret the information. With secondary accounts, you have the interpretation of the interpretation of the event and then you, the researcher, have to again interpret that information. This is the key contributor to that feeling of disconnection that I described above. Another virtue of using primary resources is associated with that idea of interpretation; as you are consulting an interpretation of an event (not an interpretation of an interpretation), your role as that second interpreter makes you feel all the more responsible for the body of information that you are creating. The resources that I had consulted at the State Archives and the Land Services Offices would not have been viewed by anyone for quite a long time, if at all for research purposes. It is a unique feeling to find that piece of information you had been looking for, knowing that no one else has viewed that piece of information within the context of historic research, and it is totally involving.
Another reason for my change in attitude towards historical research was knowing that there are institutions like the Mitcham Heritage Research Centre and people like Maggie Ragless and the other people who work there who are so devoted to finding out more about the history and conserving the cultural heritage of Mitcham. The knowledge and enthusiasm that Maggie has for historical research and for the cultural heritage of Mitcham was so communicable that I inevitably gained an appreciation for it, which made my project such an enlightening experience.