Saturday, April 4, 2009


Scene from Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center, Harrisonburg, VA

One year ago today, I visited the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society to begin research on my work-in-progress. I was immediately overwhelmed with all the material on my subject. (I never allow enough time in archives!) After some initial panic, I tried to break things down into a manageable plan.
  • First, I familiarized myself with the materials
  • Then, I made a list of books I could purchase to read at my leisure
  • Photocopied bibliographies (I love bibliographies!)
  • Copied some particularly compelling stories
  • Made note of experts I could interview
  • Read journal/diary entries to get a feel for emotional aspects of this piece of history
I've been researching off and on all year. I bought quite a few titles, met some amazing experts, and chose a setting for my story. Turns out the setting means that my story is largely a Quaker history. So, of course, there have been visits to Quaker archives since then.

I haven't given up on the Mennonites however. As you can see in the poster below, Mennonites offer some potentially complex characters. So at this point, I think my protagonist will be a Menno who finds himself in a Quaker-run Civilian Public Service camp.

I'm sure I can find some conflict in the midst of all those peace-loving people!
Scene from Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center

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