This short essay, prepared on the occasion of the conferral of the Distinguished Service Award of the Conference on Latin American History, uses various examples to illustrate the pleasure to be drawn from the day-to-day work of academic history. It opens with reflections on the practice of transcription, the act of bringing recognizable syllables and words out of the often baffling strokes of the pen that have left ink on paper. Although the wave of digitization has increased the sum total of material easily available to us, it is when we do the work of paleography, reducing the continuous lines of manuscript to something close to the discontinuities of type, that we find that our brains can hold on to the words and carry the interpretation forward. After transcription often comes translation, converting the formulas, idioms, and idiosyncrasies of past speech into language intelligible to our readers. As we translate, we are forced to acknowledge our own uncertainties about the meaning of texts, and to make the provisional choices that resolve ambiguity. Across both of these tasks we are nourished by collaboration, the talking and writing together that makes the study of the past into a social activity. Eager collaboration turns the practice of history into a double dialogue, with the documents and with our colleagues, engaging the mind and the spirit and bringing what can only be called joy.