The Volunteer’s Voice

Rebecca taking a break from work on The Wade Project at Western Reserve Historical Society

Rebecca taking a break from work on The Wade Project at Western Reserve Historical Society

by Rebecca Rogg

While seeking volunteer opportunities, I had no knowledge of The Wade Project or  the Wade family. Needless to say, I wasn’t expecting to spend Saturdays with a man who has been dead for more than a century, but here I am an interning on The Wade Project and spending afternoons with Randall Wade’s Travel Journals (MSS 3934 at WRHS).

I myself am an on-again, off-again serial journaler. Randall Palmer Wade, however, was a diligent journaler who kept details of his traveling experiences ornately decorated with drawings and photographs. As I page through, time and time again, I’m envious of the unique and detailed presentation of his journals. Having been more recently to some of the places in Europe that Randall visited in the late 1800’s, I’m overwhelmed to see photos and recollections from his experiences in places where I stood over 100 years later, with little change.

Because it’s so easy to document our experiences today, it was a challenge for me to consistently journal. [I had high hopes for glue stick I took with me… but I can’t say that more than a few ticket stubs made it into my travel journal] So much of our lives can be wrapped up in the palm of our smartphone and then posted [forever, “they say”] on social media, which is exactly why my journal didn’t reach its full potential. It bothers me to see great practices like journaling fade away as technology wedges into many areas of our lives.

In contrast, it’s awesome to be able to take a journal like this from the 1800’s and take full advantage of technology to make it available for people to access anytime, anywhere. I am thrilled to be a part of a project dedicated to preserving archives like these and making them available for generations to come.


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