History lost and rediscovered

Did you know that you can ask the library to purchase a book for our collection? This is exactly what I did this summer. In June, I visited Jamestown, Virginia. In the gift shop I found the book, “Jamestown, the Buried Truth,” written by Dr. William Kelso, Jamestown’s head archaeologist.  When I returned to Princeton, I immediately recommended that the library purchase the book through our Suggest a Purchase page. A few weeks later, it was waiting for me on the hold shelf behind the checkout desk, and when I got my hands on it, I devoured it. 

Kelso’s story resonated with me because his first visit to Jamestown was similar to my own. In the autumn of 1988, my parents my parents took my brother and I to the Historic Triangle in Virginia, aka Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown. This trip has always been memorable to me because I think this is where I first fell in love with History with a capital H. I later went on to do a PhD in history, albeit medieval history, not American colonial, but I credit this trip with the birth of that passion all the same. At Jamestown, I expected to get the same kind of recreated, living history that I had experienced at Williamsburg. I was deeply disappointed when I saw that there was nothing left of the original 1607 James Fort. A park ranger told us that the land on which it had stood had eroded completely into the James River and it was lost forever. 

Kelso tells a very similar story about his first visit to Jamestown in the introduction of this book. Luckily, Kelso kept asking questions, and when I returned to Jamestown in 1998, Kelso and his team had found the lost fort. Now they have uncovered most of the fort, and they are unearthing many of the buildings that were inside it. As I read “Jamestown, the Buried Truth,” I felt as if I was actually present with the archaeologists as they slowly uncovered a very valuable part of our country’s history. Thanks to Princeton’s “Suggest a Purchase” service, my eight-year-old self was finally satisfied. 

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