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Searching for Florence

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  • History
  • Musicology


For me, it was the eyes. With her hand resting easily on the piano, the girl gives the camera a piercing look of pride and self-possession, with just a hint of defiance. That look stirred up deep feelings in me--about music, about daughters (especially prideful, self-possessed, occasionally defiant daughters), about reaching back for the past. I admit--and it became even more plain later, when I knew more--that I brought personal feelings to bear on the image. But this wasn't a time to be an "objective historian." This was a time to indulge, for a moment, the warm, vaguely melancholy feeling that comes from connecting to the past and to remember why I became an historian in the first place. And it was time to learn more.

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