We the accumulators and the responsibilities

This post was written by Andrew King

Many of us spend an endless number of hours researching the story of timekeeping from various scientific and historical points of view as well as studying the lives of the makers of clocks and watches through the same wide spectrum.

There is a challenge and excitement in research as we trawl through libraries and record offices, scan the internet and trace living descendents who, surprisingly even after a period of possibly many decades or even centuries, can still turn up documents or even artefacts of significant historical importance.

All this leads us to as close an understanding of times past as we are ever going to be able to achieve. Although we can never really fully understand what life could have been like in previous times, with a certain diligence in trudging through archives we can begin to gain a sense of life as well as a tangible sniff from the stench of the streets.

Extract of an indenture dated 16th August 1678 (private collection)

In historical research it is as important to have an open mind as it is to have a persistent and untiring curiosity that questions every fact and figure until a reasoned acceptance can be reached. Although a quest for new sources of information is of paramount importance, it is equally necessary to read and read again all the established works as well as more recent studies which although maybe only allied to our core interest, may nonetheless be able to add a reflection if not some new knowledge.

Over a period of years there will be an accumulation of research – in short, an archive. It is at this point that the real work starts because those years of research now need to be sifted into a ground plan for publication.

Without writing and publishing as much as a lifetime’s work can be thrown away. The published work may be anything from a paper offered to our Journal to a mighty tome. Everything is of potential importance and everything can be considered as a contribution to our history of time.

The dissemination of knowledge is the heart beat of history that opens up the past to contribute to the world we live in today to enable us to project our thoughts into the future.

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