Hidden Treasures

While waiting for our new house to close in Connecticut, we stayed in the town of Lebanon, which is about 30 miles east of Hartford. This beautiful countryside with all the farms and hills was breathtaking!

The town of Lebanon surprisingly consist of almost 10,000 acres of farmland with half of that in zoned preservation.  This town also is the main supplier for the dairy and poultry industry in the state of Connecticut.  Lebanon is one of the Connecticut’s largest towns at over 55 square miles.

We chose a peaceful countryside Air Bed & Breakfast among all the beautiful farmland here. Sprawling pastures paint the countryside for unforgettable views.

Our bed & breakfast property had a chicken coup, a fat pig in a pigpen, and a bunny! Our property host gave us fresh eggs as well during our stay.

Sitting on the porch at the end of the day was a delight to enjoy the peacefulness of this countryside haven. Viewing nature can give one time to pause to reflect on our life and can help us refocus on what is most important to us.

Even though time continues to move forward, this community still retains its original agricultural culture to this day. This brief stay was what our family needed to decompress after the stress of relocating while waiting to move into our new home!

Recommended Website:

Lebanon Farms | Lebanon CT

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Mystic, Connecticut

Leaving the large oak trees with moss and southern hospitality, our family ventured into building a new life in New England. Having spent most of our life in the South, the landscape of the beautiful hills, farms, and the historic Colonial era homes was a wonderful change of view. Our first stop was Mystic, Connecticut where we resided while looking for a new home. Breathtaking harbor views and a quaint charming town is what awaited us.

Mystic “village” was founded in 1654 and became known as a “shipbuilding center during the clipper ship era.” Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century homes dot the scenic roads along the Mystic River just outside of Downtown Main Street. This charming coastal town is a picturesque New England village with beautiful scenery all around.

Other interesting Mystic Village facts:

  • The Mystic River flows into the Long Island Sound
  • Key West, Florida was founded by Mystic sea captains
  • The sea sled was made in the Mystic Seaport
  • Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall honeymooned at the Inn at Mystic

Beautiful old homes align around Mystic Seaport
Victorian home near the seaport
Quaint local shops and restaurants align downtown Mystic

Walking through downtown by the harbor, you feel a sense of times gone by as the old storefronts nestle along the street. From Antiques to coastal inspired shopping, many great places to shop for merchandise you may not find anywhere else.

The Mariner Restaurant
Best Clam Chowder at The Mariner
Sift Bakery  ~ Chef and owner of a Mystic bakery was named “Best Baker in America” in 2018 by Food Network

The Mystic Seaport Museum has the Charles W. Morgan ship to board and get an insider’s view of. This is the last wooden whaleship in the world-only the USS Constitution is older!

Charles W. Morgan ship
Interior of ship

A visit to Mystic is highly recommended to soak up the old seaside atmosphere, along with experiencing the majestic beauty of Mystic Seaport!

Recommended website:

Town of Mystic | CTvisit

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~The Adventures of a Southern Lady ~

“My dear girl, the Yankees aren’t fiends. They have not horns and hoofs, as you seem to think. They are pretty much like Southerners- except with worse manners, of course, and terrible accents.” ~ Rhett Butler in the movie GONE WITH THE WIND (1939).

What happens when a southern lady moves to Connecticut? Well for this lady, it is new adventures and experiences that I look forward to! I am a native of Mississippi and lived most of my life there. When I remarried in December 2022, our wedding trip included visiting historic sites in Connecticut, New York, and Rhode Island. Several times while in Connecticut, I said, “I love it here so much! I wish we could live here!” My husband was looking for a new job, as he did not like where he was working in Mississippi. He applied to jobs all over the country and the Connecticut job was the best offer by chance!

This blog will document our journey as we move forward to start a new life in New England along with showcasing interesting historic sites and occasionally the viewpoint of a southerner. Join me on my journey to a new life in a quaint town in charming Connecticut!

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You want to write about … the Medieval Plague?

The Triumph of Death, Fresco in the Campo-Santo, Pisa, Italy

Narrowing your topic to research can sometimes be challenging, whether on a professional or educational front. For myself, writing about history in academia has sometimes been challenging to find a unique and engaging topic. I thought I would share what has worked for myself. First, I do a massive research database search for scholarly articles and look for aspects of the topic that interest me. When I find information that intrigues me, this helps me decide what direction my topic will take. You also may want to focus on an area of a subject not previously discussed much.

The topic of the Medieval Plague or Black Death was the topic of a class paper a few years ago. This was a very broad topic as you know! I have always been interested in Medieval European history. I had basic knowledge of the events, but wanted to find out more to narrow down my topic.

I began with a database search and came up with these scholarly journal articles:

  • Aberth, J. (2011). The Medical Response to the Black Death. In A. J. Andrea, World History Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.
  • Atlas, J. (2009). The Black Death: An Essay on Traumatic Change. The Journal of Psychohistory, 36(3), 249.
  • Benedictow, O. J. (2005, March). The Black Death: The Greatest Catastrophe Ever: Ole J. Benedictow Describes How He Calculated That the Black Death Killed 50 Million People in the 14th Century, or 60 per Cent of Europe’s Entire Population. History Today, 55(3), 42.
  • Cohn Jr., S. K. (2002). The Black Death: End of a Paradigm. American Historical Review, 107(3), 703-738.
  • DeWitte, Sharon N. (2014). Mortality Risk and Survival in the Aftermath of the Medieval Black Death. Plos ONE, 9(5), 1-8. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0096513.

All of these were excellent journal sources that pointed to traumatic changes after the Black Death. After much thought my title became: After the Black Death: Psychological Effects and Economic Changes in Europe.

Plague in London 1630

From the scholarly journals and other reputable sources, I crafted the paragraph below and made the PowerPoint presentation video.

The devastating loss from the plague was beneficial regarding the economic benefits for Europe.  Before the Black Death, Europe was over-populated and lack of resources for the demanding population.  There was also more class distinction as the work force was the feudal system in which the peasant serf could suffer from malnutrition and poverty.  After the depopulation from the Black Death, there was more a productive economic market in many ways.  First, there was a shortage of tenants and landowners had to compete for these tenants; which in turn meant lower rents and fines.  Second, the new shortage of laborers consequently ended the medieval system of serfdom which eventually increased wages as prices for food and goods declined.  The new shortage of labor, created new choices to workers (Dewitte,2014).  Third, living conditions in housing and improved diet changed for people of all social status.  Therefore, positive changes in diet led to better overall health and more influential immune competence.  The amount of money spent per capita also increased and people ate ‘higher qualities of relatively high-quality wheat bread, meat, and fish, much of which was consumed fresh rather than salted as had been common prior to the epidemic’ (DeWitte, 2014, p.2). [1]

Choosing a topic that interest you is key to thorough research and will motivate you to write the best paper you can. When are you excited and look forward to research or writing on a topic you enjoy, that will always ensure that you are on the right path. If you need help with your paper or topic, ask your reference librarian for help! They can help you with find sources, citations, or any other questions you may have. As you can clearly see, with the right research and determination, you can write a research or thesis paper to be proud of!

Other Helpful Resources

Handbook for Historians at the Le Moyne College in New York

Library of Congress Digital Collections

National Archives Educator Resources Website

Colonial Williamsburg (Virtual Tours, etc)

[1] DeWitte, Sharon N. (2014). Mortality Risk and Survival in the Aftermath of the Medieval Black Death. Plos ONE, 9(5), 1-8. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0096513. Retrieved from: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0096513

[2] The Triumph Of Death, Fresco In The Campo-Santo, Pisa, Italy, Attributed To Francesco Traini. From Military And Religious Life In The Middle Ages By Paul Lacroix Published London Circa 1880.

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The Banishment of Mrs. Eggsleston


Technology is changing and rapidly improving so fast that most people cannot keep up with it. These improvements certainly help the digitization process of archival institutions who work to preserve history as their sole purpose. For many years there has been a mass movement to try to digitize all we possibly can, and we have made great progress in these efforts. Realistically speaking, the goal of digitizing most important documents, books, and media will never be achieved because there are not enough digital centers and archives.

Older records in years past were put on microfilm reels or microfiche to preserve them long term before the digital age. Many of these records have hidden gems buried inside them, just waiting to be discovered. Such was the case of this one specific collection surrounding the Civil War diary of a Mrs. Elizabeth Gildart Eggleston of Woodville, Mississippi.

December 1852
Fashion plate from the leading 19th century fashion magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book

When I was researching Civil War diaries for my Digital History class project last year, I wanted to find unique material. As a southern historian of sorts, I have read excerpts of many diaries over the years and own a few myself. I came across a microfilm collection entitled Southern Women and Their Families in the 19th Century: Papers and Diaries by Anne Firor Scott who was the consulting editor. Scott had authored the wonderful, researched book The Southern Lady: From Pedestal to Politics, 1830–1930 and others as well, but preserving the history of important diaries and merging them all into one collection was one of her most important achievements.

As I was looking at this collection of diaries online, I noticed that the Roach and Eggleston Family Papers, 1825-1905 Collection mentioned living in Woodville and Vicksburg, Mississippi; so, I decided to look at this collection first.  Randomly, I began going through reels and reading expects of her diary and viewing her scrapbook, etc.  Toward the end of the collection, I noticed some Federal military documents from Vicksburg that puzzled me regarding Mrs. Eggleston. Upon further reading, I realized she had actually been banished for a period of time from Vicksburg. 

Mrs. Elizabeth Eggsleston and her family lived on Learmont Plantation near Woodville, Mississippi. This collection centers around Mrs. Eggsleston’s daughter Mahala P. H. Roach’s forty-nine volume diary of the years 1853-1905. Mahala writes about household chores; her family, including disciplining her children and conflicts with her mother; and focuses on social activities in Vicksburg. She also describes epidemics of yellow fever, cholera, and other sicknesses in Vicksburg

Note: The documents that I will be discussing are in a gallery for viewing at the end of the blog.

In 1864, the command of the District of Vicksburg was given to Union General Napoleon Dana.  Mrs. General Dana’s wife one day received a letter accusing Mrs. Eggleston of being a traitor which she gave to her husband. This anonymous unsigned and undated letter sent to Mrs. General Dana states:

“Dear Mrs. Dana, I am very much surprised that Gen. Dana is under the impression that I have been guilty of such a direct violations of his orders … [if he would] permit me to assure him on my honor of my innocence… Miss Roach visited the prison and offered to take out letters for those women. [She met a soldier outside the prison] and obtained a large sum of money from him. It was given to Mrs. Eggleston and she counted it out to those women in in jail … Miss Roach, Mrs. Eggleston, and the lady that carried out the fund are considered traitors, traitorous.” [2]

General Dana ordered the banishment of five women, including Mrs. Eggleston, for being a “general busybody with rebel interest, rebel philanthropist, mail receiver, carrier of smuggled funds to prisoners in jail…”[3]

Banishment Order of Mrs. Eggleston

"Head Quarters, District of Vicksburg
Vicksburg, Miss, November 22, 1864

General Orders No. 82

The following females will be takes charge of by the Commander of the Calvary Forces, in moving out tomorrow, and will be dropped and set at liberty at or beyond the Big Black. They are prohibited from returning within Union lines during the war.

Mrs. G. Fowkes, rebel sympathizer, mail carrier, & c.
Mrs. Mary Green, rebel mail carrier and sympathizer.
Mrs. Ada De moss, rebel mail carrier, sympathizer, and suspect spy.
Mrs. Shuler, smuggler by association and practice.
Mrs. Eggleston, general busybody with rebel interest, rebel philanthropist, mail receiver, carrier of smuggled funds to prisoners in jail, & c. & c.

Provost Marshal is charged with the execution of this order. By the order of Major General N. J. T. Dana: F.W. Fox, Assistant Adjutant General
Official: Assistant Adjutant General

You had better improve this as a lesson and tend to your own business in the future, and let Rebels and other prisoners in jail, as well as rebels outside, find some one else than you to represent their interests." [4]

Mrs. M. P. H. Roach pleads on behalf of her mother Mrs. Eggleston to General Dana in the letter below:

“Vicksburg, Jany 11th 1865
Maj General Dana

My Dear Sir
… I would deem myself deficient in a daughters love and duty, did I not intercede for my Mother’s pardon, and beg you to permit her to come back to us. I have nothing to plead in extenuation of the many offenses charges against her, save that she did not carry large amounts of money to the female prisons; eighty dollars was the amount she took; openly, and with the fearlessness of innocence she gave that sum to the women, merely to procure some additional comforts. … she gave no ‘aid or comfort’ to the rebels, save to those who were powerless even to help themselves; to prisoners, and the sick; nor, in her philanthropy, did she as whether those who needed her care wore a blue, or a gray coat. She was open and above board in all her dealings; the ‘rebel mail’ which she received had been first approved by the U.S. authorities, and was never transmitted to the families of prisoners, without having gone through the proper formalities here. She never sought to give ‘information to the enemy.’ It is her nature to be busy-body for the good and comfort of others … spent in the service of her Master, doing His work where ever she found it, in hospitals, in prisons, or by the couch of the sick she had caused to be brought to her humble home…
I appeal to you General, by the tenderest feelings of your heart…

Mrs. M. P. H. Roach” [5]

Mrs. Elizabeth Eggleston was allowed to return to Vicksburg a few weeks after her daughter’s letter to General Dana.

"Head Quarters District of Vicksburg,
Vicksburg, Miss., Jany 22. 1865

Mrs. Roach
I am instructed by Major Gen C. C. Washburn to inform you that Mrs. Eggleston has person from Maj Gen Dana to return to Vicksburg, upon her taking the oath of allegiance.

I am Madam
Your Obt. Serv't
Major & A. A. G.

Gen. Dana's permission for Mother to return.
Jany 27th '65" [6]

As a rule, banishment was used as punishment for people that were disloyal to the Union. This made showing kindness or bringing aid to Confederate prisoners of war difficult. Finding these papers on ‘banishment of women’ in the Confederacy was something you do not normally hear or read about during the Civil War era when cities were under Union military rule. This is just one example with due diligence the wonderful forgotten gems of history you can discover.

[1] Harper’s Weekly. (1861, February 9). Vicksburg, Mississippi. Harper’s Weekly, Volume V (no 215), page 89. Retrieved from http://www.sonofthesouth.net/leefoundation/civil-war-feb-1861/civil-war-vicksburg.htm.

[2] Roach family., & Eggleston family. (1830). Roach and Eggleston family papers, 1830-1905.

[3] Roach family., & Eggleston family. (1830). Roach and Eggleston family papers, 1830-1905.

[4] Roach family., & Eggleston family. (1830). Roach and Eggleston family papers, 1830-1905.

[5] Roach family., & Eggleston family. (1830). Roach and Eggleston family papers, 1830-1905.

[6] Roach family., & Eggleston family. (1830). Roach and Eggleston family papers, 1830-1905.

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Digital Collections

Aerial view from the southwest of the. Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C. [1]

Digital collections can be used as a great primary source for the topic you are researching. Primary sources are the building blocks of historical research and should provide the foundation of your argument and interpretation. Using primary sources gives you a better understanding of an event and these sources offer a unique personal view of history whether by document or object.

Primary sources are firsthand accounts of an event; or original records created during that time period. Primary sources enable the researcher to get as close as possible to what actually happened during an historical event or time period. 

The following types of materials are generally considered primary sources:

  • Diaries or journals
  • Letters or other manuscripts
  • Speeches, interviews and oral histories
  • Memoirs and autobiographies
  • Photographs
  • Sound recordings
  • Video or motion picture recordings
  • Published materials from that time period (books, magazine and/or newspaper articles)
  • Government documents (census records, laws, court decisions)
  • Political cartoons
  • Original documents produced in association with the event (pamphlets, menus…etc.)

The Library of Congress is the United States National Library and the second largest in the world. (The British Library is the world’s largest library.) The Library of Congress has an extensive collection of more than 25 million cataloged books; 74.5 million manuscripts; 5.6 million maps; 17.4 million microforms; 1.9 million moving images; and 17.3 million visual materials.

There are 480 digital collections available for viewing.  Some examples of the collection topics are as follows:

  • American History
  • Government, Law & Politics
  • World Cultures & History
  • Performing Arts
  • War & Military
  • Local History & Folklife
  • Art & Architecture
  • Social & Business History
  • Geography & Places
  • Science & Technology
History of the Library of Congress

Representative James Madison of Virginia proposed in 1783 the idea of a ‘congressional library.’ The Library of Congress was established on April 24,1800 and consisted of 740 books and three maps.

After the British in 1814 burned down the White House and Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson offered to sell his own person book collection for the new library collection. His book collection consisted of books in different languages and subjects such as philosophy, history, law, religion, architecture, travel, natural sciences, mathematics, studies of classical Greece and Rome, modern inventions, hot air balloons, music, submarines, fossils, agriculture, and meteorology. [2]  His collection was purchased for the new library.
Current library building was completed in 1894.

Favorite Library of Congress Digital Collections

The 10th-16th Century Liturgical Chants Collection is a Medieval liturgical chant manuscripts that trace the history of music notation.

Notated Office Book of Franciscan Sisters with Processional chant

The American Variety Stage Collection is a multimedia anthology that illustrates the vibrant and diverse forms of popular entertainment, especially vaudeville, that thrived from 1870-1920.

Spirit of ’76 (1905) – piano score by Ben Model – Library of Congress [3]

The Detroit Publishing Company Collection was a photographic publishing firm in 1890’s and began hiring photographs to take photographs of America’s landscape. This collection has become our definitive source of photography of America’s landscape from the 1890s-1930s.

Gloucester, home of Winthrop Sargent, first governor of Mississippi. Natchez, ca. 1904. [4]

American Revolution and Its Era: Maps and Charts of North America and the West Indies, 1750 to 1789 Collection has a bibliography which contains approximately 2,000 maps and charts. Part of the Geography and Map Division which contains a total of 22 different collections.

The United States of America laid down from the best authorities, agreeable to the Peace of (1783) [5]

The Andrew Jackson Papers is one of twenty-three presidential collections in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress. This archival collection contains more than 26,000 items dating from 1767 to 1874.

Rachel Donelson Jackson to Andrew Jackson, February 10, 1814 [6]

The National Archives offers worksheets to help students evaluate primary sources. These worksheets — for photos, written documents, artifacts, posters, maps, cartoons, videos, and sound recordings — will help students learn the process of document analysis.

Click on the button below to get the worksheets on the National Archives webpage.

[1] Highsmith, C. M., photographer. (2007) Aerial view from the southwest of the. Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C. , 2007. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2007684215/.

[2] Murray, S. A. P. (2009). The Library: An illustrated history. Skyhorse Publishing Company, Incorporated.

[3] Ben Model. (1905). Spirit of ’76 (1905) – piano score by Ben Model – Library of Congress [Video]. You Tube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMgRpGRotIU

[4] Detroit Publishing Co, P. (ca. 1904) Gloucester, home of Winthrop Sargent, first governor of Mississippi. United States Mississippi Natchez, ca. 1904. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2016812173/.

[5] The United States of America laid down from the best authorities, agreeable to the Peace of. London. [Map] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/gm71005486/.

[6] Jackson, A. & Jackson, R. D. (1814) Rachel Donelson Jackson to Andrew Jackson. [Manuscript/Mixed Material] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/maj002506/.

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Where can I find a Newspaper!

Library of Congress (October 2018)

While researching for my thesis paper on British Spy John Andre in the fall of 2018, the one thing I was missing was newspaper accounts. I had first-hand diary accounts, but newspaper accounts were equally as important. The Library of Congress has a collection online called Chronicling America where it has digitized ‘America’s historic newspaper pages from 1777-1963.’ After a thorough search online at Chronicling America and my university library, there was no relevant newspaper that mentioned John Andre. After doing research, I found the database Early American Newspapers 1690 to 1922 (Early American Newspapers: 1690-1922 | Readex) had the most extensive database for all 50 states.

As it so happened, I was going to be in Washington, D.C. shortly after I found this information on this new database. The Library of Congress confirmed they carried this database on their patron computer system. Luckily, after I began my search at the Library of Congress in person, I found multiple early American newspapers before and after Andre’s execution that mention him. My search was successful, and I considered myself lucky to be near a library that had a subscription for that database.

John Andre wrote a final letter to British Major General Sir Henry Clinton before his execution on 19 September 1780.  The Independent Chronicle newspaper from Boston, Massachusetts on 23 November 1780 published this letter and the communications regarding Andre’s trial and execution. 

Part of Andre’s letter to Clinton reads, “ … and of the attachment and gratitude I bear you, recurs to me. With all the warmth of heart, I give you thanks for your Excellency’s profuse kindness to me; and I lend you the most earnest wishes for your welfare, affectionate, and respectful attendant can frame.  I have a mother and three sisters to whom the value of my commission would be an object, as the loss of Grenada has much affected their income.”

[John] Andre has met his fate and with all that fortitude which was expected from an accomplished man and gallant officer … The circumstances under which he was taken justified it, and the policy required a sacrifice; but as he was more unfortunate than criminal, and as there was much in his character to interest, while we yielded to the necessary of rigor, we could not lament it.

President George Washington [1]

My senior undergraduate research thesis paper topic required firsthand accounts I needed from a newspaper. I chose South Carolina’s The Charleston Mercury newspaper due to the size of the readership, location, and other aspects. Again, Chronicling America did not carry that and neither did my university library. This newspaper was available online at newspapers.com so I purchased a subscription for the semester while I was working on my paper.

These two stories illustrate two points I want to expand upon. First, the need for better library technology and access to more databases to the academic world and public libraries as well. Especially when it comes to university access, but I believe the cost will have to be lowered and more access could be given. Why cannot my university have all of ProQuest Database Products? All of the Gale Database Products? Yes, I know there are budget issues but more money should be given to library reference products.

Second, and the most practical point, you sometimes have to pay a small subscription fee for database research if you really need that information. I cannot tell the many times I have paid just a one-month subscription fee for access to a database but the information I gathered was priceless. Bottom line, at some point, you have to be flexible in your path for important reference or scholarly information.

Readex database offers the best collection of American history in one database.  Below are other unique history database products they offer: 

[1] Sargent, Winthrop. The Life and Career of Major John Andre, Adjunct-General of the British Army in America. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1861.

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In Search of History

How can library technology and history research become more effective for the researcher or patron? This will be the topic of my first five blog post. Prior I never saw myself as a blogger, I just had webpages for topics of interests or online museums. For my graduate school Library Technology class, we had to start a blog, so this will begin my ‘library’ themed blog for my website.

During my years of undergraduate college, I loved writing and research. It was one of my favorite things to do. I would become immersed for hours reading a book; looking at microfilm; or looking up journal articles online. In some way, I hope that some of my experience and lessons may help other students, researchers, or academically interested adults.

When searching for information on your topic, you want to search for creditable sources. One of the first places to search is a database found at your school/university or local library. When deciding which databases to search, filer at the top and choose the subject of ‘history.’ This will narrow your results to the right databases to hopefully yield some results you can use.

Here are some of my favorite databases for history research:

My most used databases in my history research have been Academic Search Premier, JSTOR, HathiTrust, and Sabin Americana for historical and scholarly research. Academic Search Premier and JSTOR are great peer-reviewed journal sources. Sabin Americana database has older media and more obscure books than HathiTrust does. HathiTrust is wonderful for older out of print books.

Many libraries have research guides called a ‘pathfinder’ for general topics. A pathfinder is a research guide (or subject bibliography) completed by a librarian that will help you start your research. This guide will have some examples of books on your topic as well as specific journals and databases for your search. The more you practice researching subjects, the more efficient and easier it becomes.

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