Challenge 16 of 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy written by Amy Coffin is:
Check out the online library catalog of a university. You may use one close to you, or one in the area of your research. Colleges and universities have wonderful archives, many of which are valuable to historical research. Browse around the library website and investigate the various archival collections. Make note of ones that may assist you in your own research. Genealogy blog authors are encouraged to write about what they find and share the details for benefit of their readers.
In writing my Surname Saturday post for this week, I remembered something that I had never followed through on. In researching my WASHBURN family line, I had discovered that there was a collection of family letters at Gettysburg College. My 3rd great grandfather was Francis Marion WASHBURN who served in the civil war. His brother was Melancthon C. WASHBURN. It is Melancthon's letter collection that the college has in its special collection. (You can see how a Google search for Melancthon WASHBURN who lead to very few hits!)
Over the summer I had inquired about obtaining copies of these letters. There are two from Francis and lots from their father Roswell as well as their sisters. Unfortunately the main archivist was on vacation the week I sent my request and although I received a quick reply from whomever was covering for her, my request got lost (which was fine since I never sent any money) and I never tried again.
So I have sent a new request inquiring about ordering copies of these letters.
I got a reply right away. The archivist is on maternity leave until August. So then I emailed another archivist. The library is having HVAC repairs and the collections are inaccessible until June. But she took my request and put me on the list. So we'll see if I ever see these letters.
Sometimes university libraries have more than just a book to help your research.
Apparently this 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy has become a way to force me to do what I have been putting off. Which I guess is the point of it!