Thursday, April 26, 2007

National archives

I'm on a research trip to Washington, DC, working at Archives II building in Silver Spring, Maryland.

If this is the most impressive archival building I've ever worked, it's not quite the prettiest. At the ECLA/CEPAL building in Santiago, Chile, there were live peacocks running around in a cactus garden outside my windows. Here, the windows open onto pleasantly dense forest, and I've seen a few raptors circling around.

What's the strangest thing I've learned at the archives that I'll never be able to use in a real research project, you ask? Well, thanks for asking. It's the following: once upon a time (1930s and 40s, mostly), there was an ultra-right wing, quasi-fascist political movement in Mexico known as Sinarquismo. In some US intelligence records, I learned that the Mexican president, roundabouts 1940, tried to get them all to settle in Baja California, presumably to get rid of them. (Much like we in the US use Wyoming.) Of course the previous residents of Baja weren't so keen on this, but the real problem was the bombing of Pearl Harbor. After that, the US considered Baja California strategically important and asked the Mexican president not to let it be overtaken with folks who were, at the time, hostile to the US. There's more: I also learned that the US apparently floated the idea of buying Baja California from Mexico during World War II, a request that Mexico was kind enough to find amusing rather than insulting.


Nicole said...

hi there! i love your blog. your sense of humor, and the fascinating tidbits of information that you've picked up (along with all the unfascinating stuff--do you ever feel like a wildlife photographer waiting for a week for the snow leopards to appear?), are really shown to a great advantage. i had a great time in DC with our friends, and i can't wait for you to come home again.

Nicole said...

ps i meant "along with all the unfascinating stuff" that you've read, not that your blog is full of boring details! just wanted to make that clear ... keep up the good work!

P said...

The only difference between doing historical research and trying to film a snow leopard is that your historical research will not maul you when you find it.