Before taking us through the annual “Year in Review” posts, Malvaney asked some of us regular contributors about our favorite posts of the year.
One of my favorites was the Friday Malvaney did the “Where Have All The Buzzards Gone?” post back in September. It had been a pretty typical MissPres week post-wise: the news round-up was shorter than normal, but we also talked about dryvit, had an architect profile and another post in the Traveling by Trolley series. The Friday post, however, was a gem. It had the lightheartedness we like to see in the Friday posts – especially a Friday leading into a vacation week on MissPres. The original story itself was one of those things you find while doing research and “have to save” – even if it takes a while to find, as Malvaney said, “just the right occasion” to share it. Add in Malvaney’s explanation for how the problem of the buzzards was likely handled and you have a a great laugh worth another read.
As the site’s “Capitols Old and New” page says – “Tales about Mississippi’s two iconic capitol buildings show up pretty regularly here on MissPres.” One of these tales makes my list of favorite posts for the year.
It was a series of posts that started with a story generated by architect George Mann – and as Malvaney put it in the introduction to the first part of the series “it’s a whopper of a Southern story.” I’m talking about the “A Tale of Two Domes” series by guest contributor Blake Wintory. Blake had asked if the Arkansas and (New) Mississippi State Capitol buildings were done by the same architect. Being Mississippians – we all assumed that our Arkansas friend wanted to know if Theodore Link did the dome for Arkansas’s building, but the Arkansas version is that Mann had done our dome (which we learned in the series was a story that Mann himself had told). What I really loved about the series – other than the fact that Blake shared his research and his thoughts on the question – was that we really got to work on the issue as a group via the comments. It let us all take part in trying to do what most historians do on their own – find out the truth (if any) behind a common story.
The four part series – which starts here, continues here, here, and concludes here – generated a lot of discussion the days the posts ran, but it didn’t end there – especially because there was no real closure on the issue. That was until Thomas Rosell went back and looked at some of the other posts about the New Capitol and Blake’s series and came up with the “Rosetta Stone” post that started to make the puzzle a little clearer. All in all, it was a series of posts that showed the MissPres world a glimpse of what being a professional historian is like – from the historical question(s) posed to finding what we think is the right answer.