In August, 2011 I arrived to the National Archives at College Park, Maryland, Washington DC. Sure, I had some discussions with an archivist beforehand, but it was still a long shot. I was looking for a bunch of statistics published by the Department of Commerce in the 1930s. He said: “We just a have few”. When we get together and talked about my research, he reiterated his point: “We don’t have the materials you were looking”. I had no time to waste and within 24-hours it turned out that I posed the wrong question and they have a mind boggling treasure trove full of documents and photographs, published by the Department of Commerce between the two world wars. Researchers of international motoring had a new resource at their hand, which previously has largely been untapped! And I had 77 beautiful photos showing cars in Hungary in the 1930s and I had statistics, reports and other documents describing Hungarian motoring before the 2nd WW.
Memories of this research trip echoed in my head while I was talking towards the Technisches Museum in Vienna. I talked to Ms Ebert, the curator of the Transportation section beforehand so she had a general idea on what I’m looking for. I had a general idea on how I should proceed. Almost 24 hours later I can very happily report on my progress. I spent almost 9 hours in the museum. I managed to fall asleep only twice, which is a miracle, considering that I woke up at 1:30 AM and got very little rest afterwards. The very nice archivist lady proves to be enormously helpful. She prepared great documents, with some real gems pertaining to my PhD thesis. National identity has been strongly represented at the Transportation Section of the Technisches Museum since its opening in 1918. Changes of display, curatorial practices, exhibition planning – it’s all there. And I also found evidence of trolling 100 years ago. So now I have a research plan, I have books, papers, photographic evidence waiting for me. This is what I expected and more. Let the 2nd day of research begin!