U.S. History/What to do; novice discovers unknown history
A couple years ago when doing genealogy research, I came across something that may have significant historical value. The problem is I have no idea what to do with it. I was thinking I should take a related university history class where an essay is part of the course and turn it in to get some expert feedback. Then I remembered AllExperts.
I guess my question is whether it's possible for a none academic to take a significant historic discovery from it's rawest form to getting vetted, and validated if it holds up, to my getting credited for the finding. I don't want it become a Brad Meltzer episode on History Channel. I'd rather looking inspire some kind of academic process that gives it a thumbs up or thumbs down, perhaps where I explain what I found to a bonafide historian who is expert in related areas (like you) who can tell me there's nothing there, or if there is, either take it to the next level or refer me to someone who will.
If that's possible, would I get credited with the original find, or do I have to do it all myself, because I have doubts that if I try, no one will take me seriously. When I talk about it to friends and family, it makes for good conversation and intrigue. But since they're not historians and neither am I, we don't know what to truly make of it, just that if it's accurate, it's historically important.
I guess that's the question, how to give something historically important to historians and get credit for the contribution?
I should say at the outset that I do not consider myself a professional historian myself. I study and write about history as an amateur historian because I enjoy it.
That said, outside of an archaeological artifact, most history work does not involve original find. It is revealing information that many do not already know. The person most credited is usually the person who reveals the information to an interested audience. Typically, this is done by writing an academic paper or a book on the subject. You could certainly try to write up your find and see if anyone was interested in publishing. You could also contact a few history magazines or web sites to see if they have any interest in publishing an article about what you have found.
If you are interested in academic notoriety of your find, you could consider contacting a University professor who specializes in the area your find covers. You could discuss the possibility of co-writing a paper or something like that. You could try to write it yourself, but publication in an academic journal typically requires someone with credentials being involved in the process, unless the work is so self-proving or well documented from other trusted sources that the work can stand on its own.
I'll warn you though, I've written several articles on what I consider to be interesting but under recognized parts of history, and typically find little interest from others.