Who is Preserving the History of New York City?

graduate thesis
In a little bit of forensic archaeology (actually, cleaning closet to avoid working on my godawful nano novel) I found in an unmarked envelope my graduate thesis.
No one has read this. Certainly not the professor who was teaching the class in the style of Prof. Trelawney in the Harry Potter movies. Not my friends, because I was embarrassed that it was half as long as it should have been.

I’m reading Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland and one of the observations the authors make is the huge numbers of artists who give up after college. If 98 percent of medical students were not practicing medicine five years after graduation there would be congressional inquiries, they theorize. But this routinely happens with artists, musicians, and writers of all kinds.

Something broke in me when I realized no one was going to read this thesis, that it was entirely up to me what I put into it and got out of it. I also learned some unpleasant things about the nature of cultural nonprofits when I was researching it. It’s important, interesting work, but it was all up to me. No one suggested this topic- I decided. But faltered after I turned it in.

This is true of all adult art, I think. Very few of us are set on a path as teenagers that we can follow easily into adulthood that balances creativity and livelihood. There is no apprenticeship program for most of us.

I wonder if that thesis is worth reading now. It’s sitting on the table over there. Hmmmm.


Author: Emily

Writer/ Librarian

6 thoughts on “Who is Preserving the History of New York City?”

    1. Ok- I’ll read it and pass it along. Has anyone out there read any great books/articles on this topic in recent years? Maybe… this could be developed into a longer work. Or maybe that is just nanowrimo writing mania talking.

  1. I’d like to read it. It seems relevant to the work i do during the day right? could help inform our conversations about strategic planning. I’ll say “My brilliant friend emily says we should do this”.

    1. Yipes. Soooo, I have friends at BHS, the transit museum, the National Park Service- and of course the BPL who would be interested in this, I think. It just seems like such a big thing, that people don’t talk about- average folks assume libraries and museums are managing this stuff, but within Brooklyn even there are so many institutions with different agendas, scrambling to keep the lights on. This is why I freaked out and put it in a box in the closet.

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