The other historian called and said, “I didn’t realize there was so much junk to fill out on each survey!” Or words to that effect. And his dogs were smart enough to realize that much of what we do is indeed junk — and ate his homework.
Project Manager reminded us that we should do more searches in her files because there were probably more even older surveys in there than the ones she had already given us. And indeed, there were: our project area had architectural surveys in the early 1990s,1999/2000, 2004, and now … 2011. If this isn’t insanity, I don’t know what is.
When property owners ask me what the city plans to do with all that information, I used to tell them that the information go into a database which then could be used as part of the planning process, and then of course, they get riled up because it’s a Big Brother sort of thing, isn’t it? What I should tell them is, “No worries, it’s just busy work. Every few years they hire people like me to gather basically the same information, and it gets filed away in some virtual folder, never to be seen again until the next time.” Really. The surveys from 2004 have never even been photocopied/scanned, let alone entered into the master file.
I guess that is what history is . . . . going over the same ground again and again, perhaps hoping for a different result. This is my personal moment of disenchantment: why did I become a historian?