It’s On LIne!

By the time I wrote my senior thesis in college, I had my first typewriter. I couldn’t touch type so my sister spent some of her Christmas vacation retyping the thesis for me.

When it came time to write theses for General Seminary, I had acquired enough two-finger speed to do them myself, still on typewriter.

Years went by and I was given a sabbatical. I went down to Washington to work on some issues of language. I went to Georgetown University Library to do some research and was thrilled to find copy machines in every floor. Wow! No need to copy material out by hand. I went to Gallaudet College to check something out and the professor I was speaking with said,”We have a WATS line, I can call California and get an answer for you right away.” Amazing!

Then came the computer. Then came -e-mail. Then came web sites. Who needs to go anywhere anymore? Who needs a copy machine? (I exaggerate.)

I spent sometime today researching an early 19th century African American pastor, James W. C. Pennington. He wrote some articles for The Colored American in 1841. They’re on line. He wrote the first Text Book of the Origin and History of the Colored People and published that also in 1841. It’s on line.

Pennington was a fugitive slave who escaped from a plantation in Maryland in 1827. A few days later his owner posted a flyer offering a reward for his arrest. It’s on line.

Between times, I’m still working on aspects of the Beowulf story. The only surviving ancient manuscript dates from about 1000 a.d. It’s on line.

I have yet to trust the technology enough to type in “newspaper coverage of Beowulf’‘s battle with Grendel.” But it wouldn’t greatly surprise me to discover that it, too, is on line.

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