Today, while trying out our new microfilm reader for the first time, I was looking at the New York Times from January 1, 1974. Somewhere buried deeply in the paper from that day was a segment where the rich and famous were asked to share their new year’s resolutions in terms of “Management By Objective,” (M.B.O) a trendy-at-the-time goal-based business management practice. The article was titled “The Rich, Famous, Talented and Powerful Resolve.”
In the dead center of the page, was an image of an elderly woman in a huge brimmed hat. She was identified as Alice Roosevelt Longworth, daughter of Theodore Roosevelt. Her response to the request to share her “objective” for the year was:
“Objective? I don’t have any. I don’t even think about it. What perfect nonsense.”
I hope that at the ripe old age of 89, I would have the experience and confidence to dismiss trends and goals. I would hope to trust my gut in the same way.
This is one of the many reasons I enjoy looking backward, especially in a more random manner. I love the ability to feel a connection with someone of the past or to discover a little gem of wisdom that is so completely unexpected. It is why I work with a historical collection on my day off. It is those surprises.
With our collection at the Valley Cottage Library, these discoveries can be made in a multitude of ways: by perusing our book collection, by looking at some of our holdings in the local history collection or spending some time with our databases.
We subscribe to the Historical New York Times, which gives our patrons in-house access to every New York Times article from 1851 to 2007. It can be searched using a keyword, and these little tidbits of the past are easily uncovered. The articles are scanned in, so they are shown in their original typeface. By doing a quick search for Valley Cottage, I have learned about car accidents on Lake Road from 1910, buildings that were burned down and rebuilt, and the comings and goings of various families that lived here. It makes me keep my eyes always searching for a small reminder of what was here before.
I invite anyone to come into the library and give this a try. It is enlightening and interesting and always full of surprises.