I’ve spent 2 1/2 days in the Bodleian Library Special Collections room trying to find any information related to the acquisition of the Codex Selden by John Selden and its path from Jaltepec to Oxford. I’ve had a few leads, but mostly, just a lot of straw in the form of old letters and documents. Doing archival research is like looking for that needle, but sometimes you don’t even know if there is a needle, or even what it will look like. In fact, it can be a really frustrating experience, so hit or miss, and the first few days or so are just spent trying to figure out how to identify and locate the documents you want to see. In the digital age, at least some of this information is going online (shout out to Bodleian’s digitized books!) but even then, finding aids and online databases don’t always have everything you’re looking for. So you book your dates, pay your week registration fee, call up some documents and just pray that something will be useful. Sometimes you get lucky. Maybe this time, not so much.
The most important thing in surviving two consecutive months of research trips is to stay physically active. I spend the majority of my day either sitting or sleeping, so that 30 minute jog in the morning, or the 2 hours I spent at the gym in Barcelona, made all the difference. I’m also a fan of the 2-hour lunch breaks and a strong believer in delicious European coffee. So, alas, as I return to this 17th century account of all the books in John Selden’s collection, I am trying to stay motivated for the last 1 1/2 days of this immense – exhausting – fulfilling – exciting research-heavy summer.