Credit for an entertaining, enlightening piece of historical fiction is given to the author and their publisher, but the careful reader and the author both know there are others to whom great debts of gratitude are owed.
A one line acknowledgment will appear in book three of my historical fiction series, FREE MEN AND DREAMERS. It will mention the invaluable assistance of a dedicated volunteer historian and respected author named Scott Baker for sharing his singular expertise on the topic of American prisoners of war during the War of 1812. Some people will shrug the comment off. Some will question the relevancy of including it at all. Perhaps the foremost authority on the topic, Scott Baker is now gone at age fifty-eight. I was informed of his passing when I contacted the Ohio Society of the War of 1812 to reach him. He had passed away in July, and like the historian himself, Scott's research and life's work is also buried, but within nine heavily secured computers that may or may not ever yield up his secrets.
It is Scott and other historians who provide the facts that most historical novelists rely on. They dig through dusty attics and basements to recover letters; or comb through archives, microfilm, and other public records discovering contents that describe our past. While we take glimpses of their work and expand it into grand stories, they dedicate decades, sometime even lifetimes to perfect the illumination of a single sliver of history, to disect a specific topic in order to reveal it from every angle.
While some, like Scott, are volunteers, others are employed by universities and work from hefty endowments, but many are dedicated, underpaid Park Service employees. I have been greatly blessed by many of these individuals' labor and expertise. I just wanted to again say thank you . . . in Scott's honor.