The Impact of Paper

You’re all probably rolling your eyes and thinking ‘Get over yourself Lucie. You’re starting to flog a bit of a dead horse now’…

But, I’m a little excited. This has been a really great semester for me. I’ve got some great things in the pipeline. But, at the moment I’m most pleased with the reaction of a post that I wrote for Glamorgan Archives on a letter written by a First World War solider, Dai Luker, which he sent to two settlement workers, Amy and Edward Lewis, who were based at Cardiff University Settlement. Gratification for my writing usually comes from retweets. I mainly measure the impact of my work by numbers; how many people have read that blog post?

But, as I have noted elsewhere, I’m a sensory researcher so it is perhaps not surprising that the joy has come from the printed version of a shorter version of my Glamorgan Archive piece, which was picked up by WalesMedia and subsequently printed electronically on WalesOnline under the title ‘First World War: Soldier writes about St. David’s Day Celebrate in his regiment’. It was then published in a two page spread in South Wales Echo on 4th March.

I’m chuffed. Partly, because it’s my FIRST news story, but also because it is lovely to smell the newsprint and to touch my research. The digital realm can sometimes feel so impersonal, so removed. Yet everybody needs to touch their research sometimes. Furthermore, self-publishing can feel unappreciated and thankless. Sometimes your work needs to move beyond the academy to feel that it’s valued. I’ve enjoyed the idea that my research is being read by people interested in the topic. Moreover, my grandmother and mother want a copy for the family archive.

So what has this last week taught me?:

1) Put yourself forward. I approached Glamorgan Archives to write this post.

2) Just because one organisation has said ‘no’ in the past doesn’t mean that another organisation doesn’t want you to share their heritage and history.

3) I love that my research has been printed so I best get cracking with that [bloody] book. But, more importantly, if I am going to think about the REF’s Impact agenda then I also need to think more about what type of media it is published in and the impact that paper has on my self-worth as a public historian.

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