Pilgrimage: NYC

by ajanefountas

When you read this (that is, if you read this the day it’s posted or soon thereafter), I will be on a pilgrimage. I will be in NYC on a research trip. I will be researching domestic servants in the early 20th century; County Mayo, Ireland; and the New York Foundling Hospital, to name a few.

I like this word: foundling. According to the dictionary on my Mac, a foundling is “an infant that has been abandoned by its parents and is discovered and cared for by others.” I wonder where this word and my research will lead me.

During my pilgrimage, I will stand in front of a building on Madison Avenue and wonder if the Irish servant who lived with the Black family when the 1930 census was taken was my grandmother. Perhaps I will be standing in front of that very building, wondering that very thing when you read this.

During my pilgrimage, I will leaf through books at the New York Public Library and sort through boxes at the New York Historical Society. I will take a ferry to Ellis Island. I’ve never been to Ellis Island, but I have ancestors who landed there by ship: the Samaria, the Olympia, the Athinai. Each of my ancestors were on a pilgrimage, too, I imagine.

When I return from my pilgrimage, I will try to turn facts into a fiction inspired by the historical documents I lay my hands on.