My week has pretty been much all this:
That is to say, bits of orders and meeting minutes from various committees of the English Council of State in the 1650s. The English National Archives have digitized most of their state records from the 1500s and 1600s, and if your institution has the money (or, if you can sneak into the library of an institution that has the money) you can have access to them. It’s easier in some ways than reading the originals. You can zoom, you can download, etc. And it’s certainly better than reading the microfilms, which with some of this stuff you would have to do anyway even if you went all the way to London.
But when I did my dissertation research in 2004 and 2005, a lot of what is now digitized hadn’t been yet, and I got to read the originals, which was fun, if sometimes headache-inducing. Not to mention the layer of manuscript grime that got all over my hands and all over the keys of my laptop. (And I got to live in London for several months, which was an added bonus, even if the air pollution there made my skin break out like a mofo.)
But keeping me company through this Great Order Book Adventure was Jonas Kaufmann. I got his Verdi album earlier this week, and I have been listening to it on repeat (I am saving a certain video of Purcell’s The Fairy Queen for the weekend, when I can take it in properly.) Other than enjoying the Verdi, it did make me realize what a taco party my recital album collection is – other than this, and some of Werner Güra’s recitals, and one of Christian Gerhaher’s, it’s pretty much all sopranos and mezzos. Possibly it is time to branch out a little for a change.