Ben Borgers

Gerald R. Gill Papers

June 9, 2022

Today, I got an email from Tufts about their Juneteenth Observance Ceremony next week.

As part of it, they’re displaying the new Gerald R. Gill Papers Exhibit. Gill was a History professor at Tufts until he passed away in 2007. His daughter donated “more than 50 boxes of material documenting Professor Gill’s life and work,” which “document Gill’s teaching, research, and the experiences of Black faculty, staff, and students at Tufts.”

That’s incredible. 50 boxes. In fact, another Tufts article describes it as nearly 150 boxes.

There’s something inspiring to me about having your life’s work documented on papers in boxes. The idea that you could leaf through those pages and dive into the smallest details of someone’s life. That the things you thought and did are recorded and will live on; that someone someday will pick up the paper and imagine what it was like to write those words.

Perhaps it’s just the thought that someone will care about my experiences after I’m gone. That feeling is related to what I’m trying to do with this website: to create a vast pile of my thoughts in writing, in the hopes that someone will read them. Even the fact that people read them now makes me so happy.

One day, I’d love to also have boxes of papers that document my life’s work. The kind of sheer volume of writing that you can fill a room with, and leaf through to transport yourself into another time and cluster of thoughts.

The first step to that is writing a lot. And as you can see, I’m trying.