Annika’s Archival Discovery


Thursday March 16, 2017:

I decided to stay in the library for one of the hikes, opting instead to do some individual research in the archives. While we were in the museum earlier in the day, I had listened to one of the letters describing Catherine Wordsworth’s death. This recording piqued my interest, and I decided to look through the original letters. To make a long story short, what I ended up discovering was that most depictions of Catherine’s death and the delivery of the news leave parts of the story out. I also noticed that there hadn’t been much written on the effects of Catherine’s (and a few months later, Thomas’s) death on William’s poetry. Our class culminates in a final research project, and I think I may investigate this further.

Discovering the letters themselves was also an ordeal—one of them was in an odd stack, so it took a day to be able to find it. Considering we spent five days in the library, and I started my research on Thursday, this was a bit stress-inducing! Being able to look at and to touch the original letters that Dorothy and Sara wrote was incredible. While studying these women in class, it can be difficult to remember that they were real people who felt emotions and interacted with the world. Working with the manuscripts made their experiences and lives come alive for me.

–Annika Ariel




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