Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Few More Tidbits...

A few days ago, I wrote about research in its more practical, contemporary clothes. Let me toss out a site here USNO site to look up info on astronomical events. Check out the data services link to find out what time the sun rose on March 3, 1892. Or maybe what phase of the moon hung in the sky. This was a really cool little link to find when I was reaching back to 1850, looking for as much authenticity as possible. But there is a lot of great information for contemporary subjects as well.

Another fabulous site for 19th century resources is a digital library of 19th-Century History, loaded with links to a variety of collections. And there's always the fabulous Making of America site.

Now, where do you get good stuff for your characters? Of course strong powers of observation are essential, but I have a favorite place to research people. No, it's not the local mall or the nearest Starbucks, although both are great places to observe teenagers.

Call me crazy or morbid or just plain psycho, but I love old cemeteries, the older the better. You would be amazed at the stories
you find written on headstones--sometimes in poetry, sometimes in emblems and dates, sometimes just in the name. Some of the more famous cemeteries, like Mount Hope in Rochester, have websites that describe the famous people dwelling in the earth there. So if you're looking for an interesting name, or just a fascinating story, check out an old burial ground.


  1. I used to find interesting "characters" when I covered court for the paper. A lot of them are really "normal" people who just have made wrong choices in their lives. There are also those who are just pure evil to the core.

  2. Ah, I haven't used these sites before. So now I have some new tools in my writing tool belt.

    I don't often visit cemeteries either but, like you, I have been fascinated by some of the stories on gravestones. Any one could lead to a book!

  3. I too say - very cool - lots of information can be found in any number of places and if we all used our heads a little bet we'd come up with some nifty places too. Thanks for sharing - hope your book gets published. - E :)

  4. Those are great resources, Mary Ann. I don't need them just yet but I'll bookmark them for future reference. Thanks! I still find that I get most of my info. from books.


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