The Mud of Vimy Ridge Archived Forever
Historical archival work can be very rewarding in transporting the researcher back to the time period through the ephemera of life captured in documents other than words and images. In a report about the condition of roads during the battle for Vimy Ridge held at the National Archives of Canada, the mud of the ridge was "captured" when the document was dropped. Other documents can have burn marks, blood stains, tears from shrapnel, water staining from rain, and soot from the smoke of locomotive sheds that require frequent handwashing by the researcher. All of these help the researcher imagine what the conditions were like at that time period. Documents can be equally fragile along fold lines and prone to tearing and 100-year-old acidic paper can literally turn to confetti when touched or turned. In historical research, context is everything, including how the documents were created and stored.