Thursday, July 2, 2009

A place where time stands still

Ever just stumble upon someplace?

Now we're not talking about anyplace... It has to be somewhere special. A place that grabs a hold of you — a place that draws all your attention and focus — a place that captures your imagination. Well on November 18, 2008, around 2:30 pm, I just so happened to come across such a place.

Poplar Grove is its name, and fascination is its game.

I'm sure the faithful followers of this blog need no introduction to this sprawling seventeenth century plantation, but I'll give a somewhat cursory description of mine, and how I came to be sitting here at this very computer in the State Archives' Electronic Classroom No. 1, writing for the Poplar Grove Project blog.
Now, I've long been a fan of history. Ever since I can remember, one of my strongest inclinations has been to memorize names, dates, people, and places. More than likely, the reasoning behind this has to do at least partly with the native human desire to discover the unknown. It's a fairly frightening prospect, isn't it? To think that there's so much that we simply don't know. For instance... Where did we come from? How did we get here? Who was instrumental in making those things happen?

Although the answers to these questions vary in length and degree, and some still have yet to be answered, these are the types of questions that help fuel our need for knowledge.

And if knowledge is what you're looking for, then Poplar Grove is an intellectual goldmine. It's simply indescribable how incredible this place is. But it's not just the place, it's what was found here. Hundreds of years worth of family records — hundreds of years worth of history — hundreds of years worth of knowledge.

There was something that made me smile as I stepped through the door frame, and into a world previously unknown. At first I couldn't quite place it... But slowly I began to understand what contributed to its overall importance and intellectual wealth. Poplar Grove is a time warp — a gateway to the past if you will. It's a place that most historians not lucky enough to experience it in person would dream about.

My personal introduction came on a field trip to the site itself. This past fall, I took a class entitled, "1607: Jamestown and All That," which dealt with life in the seventeenth century Chesapeake region. My teacher, one Adam Goodheart, gladly offered our class a unique perspective on the rather adventurous aspects of the Colonial American lifestyle. In talking about such matters and giving Mr. Goodheart's extensive involvement with the project, naturally the topic of Poplar Grove trickled its way into our class discussions.

As luck would have it, on the 18th of November we took it upon ourselves to venture to the very site that we had heard so much about. And let me tell you, it certainly didn't disappoint... Walking through the house and around the surrounding plantation grounds was an experience I won't soon forget. I felt as connected with the past as I ever have! Lest we forget... The fact that such a place still exists in Maryland (let alone anywhere) is truly remarkable.

How did I get involved might you ask?

I applied for the Summer Internship Program at the Maryland State Archives. Every morning, I wake up and come to Annapolis to assist in preserving this priceless collection — this precious piece of history — this invaluable assortment of knowledge.

And the best part is, not only am I getting the opportunity to preserve the past, but I'm getting the opportunity to help those people in the future — the ones hungry for the same quest of knowledge that keeps all of us coming back to this very blog.

Well I sure stumbled upon a place. And what a thrill! I've found a place, where time stands still.

Until then,

Jas. Goldſborough Bigwood

1 comment:

mariad said...

Wonderful post to capture your feelings about the project, James!

Interested potential interns should know that Maryland State Archives offers a number of paid internships each year to students enrolled in Maryland schools and colleges, as well as students whose primary residence is in Maryland. Interns may be high school, college, or graduate students. These positions are very competitive and the number of positions available is dependent upon funding available that year.

Calls for summer interns typically go out every year in the early spring. See Maryland State Archives website for details.