Thinking about starting a new organization or a new business? How about a new nation? John Dickinson’s papers give just the smallest hint into what it took to create a new nation, geographically vast and ideologically diverse. What I love about Dickinson’s papers are the notes he took about the problems that arose and required solutions. They show that he was a thinker and a planner. In fact, he did not sign the Declaration of Independence: not because he believed that remaining a part of Britain was the right thing to do, but because he did not believe that America was ready to be independent. His papers prove that he had a right to worry!
Some of Dickinson’s biggest concerns related to providing for an army of a brand new country fighting to preserve their independence … and even though I knew the story of American soldiers leaving bloody trails in the snow because they did not have shoes, I guess I never really thought about the planning that is required to determine what a new army needs. As a result, there are a lot of lists (and I do love a list) determining what food each soldier needed as well as the type of munitions necessary to succeed.
I occasionally (alright, constantly) worry about this project being completed within the time frame. However, after working on this collection, I felt much more confident. After all, I only have to manage the processing of 114 collections in 27 months … I don’t have to start a new county or feed an army. So, if you ever feel a little overwhelmed by your plans, I highly recommend that you come to the Library Company of Philadelphia and look at Dickinson’s papers. I suspect that you will suddenly feel like you can do whatever you have set your mind to do!