Recently, at the College of Physicians in Philadelphia, I opened a textbook on The Principles and Practice of Nursing by Joseph S. Longshore, published in 1842. Longshore’s book preceded Florence Nightingale’s much more famous 1859 Notes on Nursing. Joseph Longshore is the brother of a woman about whom I’m writing a biography. To my delight the fly page of the book was inscribed ‘To Hattie, With the Compliments of the Author’. Suddenly, with his handwriting there before me, I felt in touch with this remarkable man in a very personal way. To touch a page an author has inscribed is a tactile experience that digital archives lack.