When I was growing up, one of the things I hated was the research paper. Every year through middle school and high school we would have to do at least one. I hated them first because my handwriting was terrible and typing was a pain. The largest reason I hated them was that the actual research was frustrating. Those of us of a certain age know how it worked. You were given a topic and off you went to first the school library and then the local main library hoping they had more than one book on whatever the topic was. And then you would have to put together enough material to make up a ten page paper, with footnotes, which can be difficult when there aren’t very many notes to foot. Frankly as I think about it now, I’m not sure why I didn’t go down to the NYPL just a short distance from Grand Central, but I suspect that I thought that the library was for real researchers, not high school students. Hey I was a kid and stupid. In any case the typical research paper was a combination of hard fought finds and vivid imagination.
The frustrating part is that you always know that there was more out there if you could just access it. In the 1970’s that was not possible without a budget for travel and the ability to access library catalogs. That ‘s why many books you found did not seem to be complete or very deep. There just was no possible way to have access to enough information to get the full picture. In order to create a book and get it published, you had to do the best you could and get as much as you could within your budget and then write well enough to give as good a picture as you could
The internet changed that completely. I ran into that when I was working on the Akihabara post last night. First of all before the internet, doing something like that, say for a magazine would have been expensive and difficult. you would have to go there and take pictures and go through the magazine’s archives and possibly the NYPL for whatever you could find, look through the stock footage libraries and hope that there was some historical pictures, and go with what you had as the deadline approached. Now, it was one link to a website with some stuff including this picture of the Akihabara freight station.
Now I’ve been to Akihabara and I look for railroad stuff
so I was interested in where it was. Now in the 1970’s that would have an unrequited impossible search. Now it was the work of a google search and some digging through sites to find still more pictures, map location, track maps and other information about this interesting facility.
Getty images has stock photos and video.
There are Japanese sites with yet more history.
And ariel photos.
And track maps.
All this from just one picture and a little searching. This is just ONE of the searches I did today. With a little more work, this would make a complete article in many of the magazines back in the day. put together in minute, with probably too much information, but I can live with that.