Changing Tracks (ish)

Well, I won’t say that my internship was a smashing success, but it was enjoyable and I was able to make a real contribution to the project.

Problems arose around the amount of work I was allowed to do per week based on how much I was getting paid, which was not much, leading to there simply not being time to get much done per week. Because of this I ended up doing a lot of fairly quick and simple transcriptions from mid-20th books to digital… let me just call this task tedious and move on with my story…

The one thing that I was able to complete is a union catalogue of every map that Andrew Millar commissioned or was otherwise involved in the production or sale of. This catalogue had never been compiled and I truly hope it is of some use to the project and to future scholars. The vast majority of these maps were in atlases, as could be predicted considering that Millar was a bookseller, but there were also a number that were standalone maps. I had to think creatively to come up with ways to find these maps because, frustratingly, none of the map librarians I spoke with at the various British institutions I conducted research at were able to offer any real help. Sure, they were friendly and tried to come up with ideas but even the specialists had nothing on what I was looking for. The problem is that the publisher is not usually listed on the map itself, and when it is, map cataloguing conventions don’t include the publishing information into their system. The one person who I was fortunate enough to bump into (literally, for he is an independent scholar who spends a lot of time in the map room at the BL and happened to be there one of the two days I had over the entire summer to conduct research there) is Ashley Baynton Williams, author of eight books on historic maps and probably the leading authority on historic British maps. He was friendly and shy and extremely helpful and not only was he an enormous help to me but I think I was able to provide him with a little information he didn’t previously have, which might be my biggest point of pride from the whole internship.

And so, as my internship ended, I began once again to pick up the ever-so academic reins of eternally searching for funding. I have been accepted to a PhD programme in History of Medicine at University of Edinburgh, and am now applying for funding once again. I went through this last winter and came up with nothing, but am going to try harder this time and hope for the best. My existentialist worldview does not insist that I ‘think positive’ and as such, perhaps, I occasionally spiral into despair. However, it’s beyond my control once the applications are submitted so all I can do is think and write and try to wow funding bodies with my unique research interests.

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