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Researching



Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good.

            I often think about how to encourage others to get involved and help us with finding all the scores for every team across the state. Most of the time I think visitors to the AHSFHS.org website believe it is too difficult to do or they just don't want to be bothered with going to the library and looking through microfilm for days on end. I remember thinking the same things many years ago.

            My first experience with any type of research was some time around 1982 when I got up the courage to go into the Foley Onlooker and ask if they kept copies of old newspapers. I had no idea that libraries were beginning to transfer these same newspapers to microfilm around that time. Anyway, they were very friendly and pointed me to the back room where I found stacks of bound newsprint dating back to the early 1900s. Needless to say it took a while to weed through the pages to find scores much less an article about a Foley football game. I was persistent and managed to find everything I was looking for over the period of a few months.

            Since that first experience with researching I have become a little more resourceful and a lot bolder about getting things completed. I don't remember my first experience with microfilm but it was a lot different than today when machines do most of the work. I have made countless trips to the Mobile Library where I would arrive when the opened and leave when they closed. The librarians began to remember me and would actually find things for me between visits. They would keep new yearbooks aside to be certain I would see them on my next trip. I learned where to look for information by trial and error.

        Not so long ago I would take off armed with a road map to see how many of the small towns I could visit in a single day. I would waltz right in to the library and ask if they had any old yearbooks from the local schools. That seemed to be a good starting point rather than tackle a full day getting dizzy looking at microfilm. On one such trip I learned so very well that it never hurts to ask.

        I was making a trip up the west side of the state visiting towns I had only heard of when I came to Chatom. Now Chatom is home to the Washington County Bulldogs and about 1,000 people so I wasn't expecting to find much. I was actually on my way to Jackson where I knew the library contained a lot of pertinent information. When I first spotted the Library I could not believe how spacious and nice it was. Upon entering and giving my spill about the research I was doing the Librarian  took me to a bookcase full of yearbooks. I don't remember exactly how many there were but I would venture to say around fifty. I could not believe my good fortune and to this day I must say that was the most pleasant surprise I have encountered while researching. In a couple of hours I had over half the history of Washington County high school football completed without breaking a sweat and I was off to Jackson to work on the Aggies.

        I suppose if there is a point to this story it has to be this. Never be afraid to ask the Librarian what material they have on site. You never know when she will lead you to a stack of yearbooks or to a single book about the history of some local school. Since that day I will occasionally stop off the interstate while traveling to check out the library in some remote part of the state hoping to beat Chatom. Since I can't visit every town in the near future maybe it could be you that can beat the record.

        If you have any desire to assist us why not begin by stopping by the library and asking where they keep the yearbooks. If you just go into the library looking for the yearbooks you may find they are not always on the shelf, so it is a good idea to ask the librarian. I will be waiting to hear from you in the forums about you good fortune with someday.



David Parker
AHSFHS.org








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