Saturday, December 4, 2010
Stay Curious--But Get the Facts
"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity." --Albert Einstein
I ran across a list of explanations and definitions for historical traditions and word meanings in a recent issue of our local historical society's newsletter. While the tidbits were interesting, and in some cases downright funny, I had to ask myself if the "facts" were true. There were no credits or source information given. Hmmm. Well, let's just say such an example can serve as a reminder to double-check our research notes before taking them public. First account sources--like diaries, original documents, photos, interviews--are always best to draw from. For sure there's a reader out there somewhere itching to correct us if we slip up!
Having said that, here--from "Life in the 1500s Was No Picnic!"--is the list:
"Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and they still smelled pretty good by June. However, since they were starting to smell, brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married."
"Only the wealthy had floors other than dirt. Hence the saying, 'dirt poor'."
"If thresh (straw) were spread on the floor and regularly added to, it would begin to slip out the door. To prevent this, a piece of wood (or 'thresh hold') would be placed in the doorway."
"Bread was divided according to status: servants got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top or 'upper crust'."
Yep, some curious stuff here. But, while we should never lose a sense of curiosity, in writing we should back up our work with facts that can be documented. What do you say?