I know that in my last post I said that I would be stopping research for a while, but I did just want to remind you that when you are doing your own research, it is always worth asking for help. I was searching for any documents on constables in Cambridge in the 1820s and came across an advert for a talk about proctors and bulldogs (that’s the slang term for constables) that had been given some years ago at a local historical society. The speaker had an unusual name so was fairly easy to track down; I sent her an email and she agreed to talk to me. (She actually lives only a few streets away but of course we cannot meet in person for the time being.)
She said at the outset that she was more of an expert in late Victorian Cambridge, and that she knew very little about the university constables, but she was so generous with her suggestions and book recommendations and views on Cambridge history that I now have several new avenues to explore. I have ordered a couple of old books (it’s the only shopping I can do these days, apart from food) on the history of the town because – thanks to this conversation – I now realise that I need to have much more of an understanding of the relationship (often but not always vexed) between the corporation, the university and the townspeople.
So if you come across someone who has written an article or given a talk that is even only tangentially relevant to your research, do email or call them – you never know where their knowledge might lead you. And one day, you’ll be the one sharing your research and paying it forward.