Of the most frustrating aspects of this archival experience, not able to identify landmarks after an exhausting search lists near the top. Chasing these geese proved tiresome. Even when a lead presents itself, that lead turning into a dead end forces the search to start anew. I encountered this outcome plenty of times today and, sadly, no positive confirmations.
I did not start watching footage from the Home Movie Collection immediately as some technical difficulties needed to be addressed. Apparently, a reset occurred and many of the programs on one of the computers suddenly disappeared. Fortunately, Mr. Benjamin installed most of the missing programs. Unfortunately, NoteTab Pro (the program used to code the finding aids) still needed to be installed when I arrived in the office. So, I waited until technical support found and installed the program.
Once support finished installing NoteTab Pro, I started my viewing experience. Just like yesterday, the footage mostly contained more birthday parties and parents playing their children. To my surprise, I did watch the family participate in a Passover Seder (I learned of their Jewish roots from the wedding recorded from earlier). While these wholesome moments do not bother me, they did not yield potent information either!
Just as I thought I needed to resign myself to another day of the mundane, a ray of hope came in the form of a Civil War monument. My predecessors claimed that the family visited Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and the monument honored Union General George G. Meade. I visited the battlefield as a child and I knew that the monument seen in the footage did not represent General Meade. Instead, the monument featured a mustached Union soldier.
I quickly snipped the image of the sculpture and tried using an image search. I hoped for matches and I am still surprised any result came up at all. Among them includes an identical statue to the one in the footage. Created by Melzar H. Mossman in 1887, the Soldiers’ Monument in Brattleboro, Vermont honors the citizens of the town that fought for the Union cause. Unfortunately, the base of this monument did not match the one in the footage.
I searched desperately for the exact monument and even unintentionally enlisted Joseph Kaminsky’s assistance. Even with our combined effort, we failed to track down the elusive statue. We found a clue, at least. Whether a reproduction or made with the same mold, I am certain that Melzar H. Mossman’s company made the statue seen in the footage. We also believe that the statue dedication took place on September 11 or 12, though we could not make out the year.
Defeated, I settled to watching more of the family’s memories in the late 1950s. By the time my shift ended, I watched how a child grew up in a family who taught her and her siblings how to fly a kite (another life experience I missed as a child). I saved my work, packed the hard drive, and returned all materials to the stacks. Afterward, I bid farewell to my staff and colleagues and left for the day.
In review, I engaged in a fruitless endeavor to find a Union Civil War monument’s location. Tomorrow, I finish the video file I left and begin a new one. Until then, enjoy the evening and stay safe! Bye!