I’m just back from a two week trip through the Civil War South hunting information and getting a feel for the scenery. Because I knew I was going to spend days in libraries reading letters and seeking details, I invested in an Ipad 2 (16 GB for those who care–the cheapest one) prior to my departure.
I’m so glad I did.
Here are three ways it made a great difference in my ease of research:
1. It has a camera.
At the University of Kentucky special collections library as well as at the Filson House Historical Society, I was able to handle actual items touched, written, or read by my historical characters. Both libraries allowed me to photograph these marvelous finds.
At UK, it was a matter of photographing typed transcripts of someone else’s notes. What bliss! Rather than stand over the copy machine (I also did that) for hours, I could set up the photos I took photos of and click away. It worked better when I made a “cage” out of archive boxes so the Ipad would hold steady enough when I clicked the button, but it worked beautifully.
I also have a scanning ap on my Ipad, but I’ve never figured out how to make it work well, so I relied on the camera feature.
2. It holds pictures that can be displayed.
I had the fun of spending time in the home where my hero lived as a young man. The docents were intrigued to learn I had photos they had never seen before. I pulled them up on the Ipad as they crowded around and crowed.
I had an older photo of a house whose picture hung on the wall. They brought out their picture and we discussed differences, which led them to remember further stories which will be helpful for my book.
3. I could carry research documents with me.
Using both the Kindle ap and the IBook ap, I had all sorts of documents pertaining to my characters. Both aps allowed me to email documents or download actual books. (I also could download directions to places into IBook) This meant if I needed to check a detail, or make sure if I had a piece of information or not, it was right there at my fingertips.
I have a standard Wi-fi Ipad, but at UK, I was given access to their Internet system. That meant I could send information and photos to my fellow researchers and get feedback as I worked. I also purchased a keyboard to go with my Ipad, and took notes at the Filson House–transcribing what I saw on the back pages of the little prayerbook.
Of course it slipped into my bag perfectly and I reviewed everything I had done while flying home on the plane.
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