Historical Collections for Researchers


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Making the most of historical collections and archives.

Delivered by our Academic Liaison Library for History, and our Head of Heritage Collections Education Team

Published in: Education
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  • American Council of Learned Societies
  • The University Library holds over 60,000 pre-1850 printed works. Its collections are richest for the 16th and 17th century but also include over 200 incunabula (books printed in the 15th century) and a considerable range of 18th century material. Rare books held in archives but listed in library catalogues Main collections in Durham University Library catalogue and listed on Special Collections pages Some collections at other institutions in COPAC Printed collections of sources or translations e.g. Surtees Society, Camden Miscellany DDS for non-unique, probably more modern collections of sources
  • Catalogues, already mentioned COPAC also WorldCat Theses – said secondary but also older theses that may well form part of primary sources
  • Historical Collections for Researchers

    1. 1. Historic collection for researchersSarah Price and Richard Pears
    2. 2. Why use them?“Take away from history why, how andto what end things have been done, andwhether the thing done hath succeededaccording to reason; and all that remainswill be an idle sport and foolery, than aprofitable instruction; and though for thepresent it may delight, for the future itcannot profit.”
    3. 3. Finding material: where to start?• Secondary reading – Bibliographies – Footnotes/references• Tutors• Reference works – Bibliographies – Guides – Online guides
    4. 4. Finding archival materialFinding the right archive• Not organised in the same way as books• Key is the creator or creating body• Remember -not everything has survived - not everything has been kept - not everything is easy to find
    5. 5. Finding archival materialArchive catalogues• Each archive will have own catalogue – Not all online – Not all complete• Durham University Special Collections• National Archives – Search the Archives• Access to Archives• ARCHON
    6. 6. Finding archival materialSearch strategies• Think laterally• Combine search terms – Boolean searching• Use wild card/fuzzy searchesFinding material• Locally held copies• Printed sources• Online sources – many from Library catalogue
    7. 7. Full text online collections
    8. 8. E-books as primary sources
    9. 9. Accessing online resources• Catalogue http://library.dur.ac.uk/• Definitive listing www.dur.ac.uk/library/resources/online/databases/• Subject filter www.dur.ac.uk/library/resources/subject/ for your own subject area www.dur.ac.uk/library/history for historic resources
    10. 10. Accessing printed books• Rare books held in archives but listed in library catalogues• Main collections in Durham University Library catalogue and listed on Special Collections pages• Some collections at other institutions in COPAC• Printed collections of sources or translations
    11. 11. Secondary sources• Catalogues for monographs• Bibliographic databases for journal articles and reviews e.g. Historical Abstracts, Jstor, IBSS• Theses e.g. Index to theses, EThOS• Access by visiting (SCONUL Access) or borrowing (Document Delivery Service)
    12. 12. Pathways in archives
    13. 13. Pathways and journeys Diaries Police recordsLocal National Newspapers Parish records Business records
    14. 14. Pathways and journeys
    15. 15. Research tripsContact before visit• Opening times, ID, facilities, advance orderingGo prepared• Paper, pencils, laptop, camera, references• Clothes!Be organised• Check references, take full notes• Ask for help
    16. 16. Understanding archival references HO 42/95 f.375Collection == CollectionHome Office Home Office Division == Division Domestic Domestic Correspondence Correspondence Subdivision == Subdivision part year 1808 part year 1808 Folio FolioHO 42: The National Archives, Home Office,Domestic Correspondence, George III
    17. 17. Archival references: other terms• Folio• Page• Quire• Recto and verso
    18. 18. Copyright• Archival material is still subject to copyright law• Some records are restricted – check!• Normally okay to cite in research without permission• Situation may change if work is being published
    19. 19. Copyright
    20. 20. Freedom of Information• FOI Act passed in 2000 and came into full effect from 2005• Information is assumed to be ‘open’ unless one of the specified exemptions applies• Anyone can send in a written request• Is a right of appeal
    21. 21. Useful linksNational Register of Archiveswww.nationalarchives.gov.uk/nra/default.aspAccess 2 Archiveshttp://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/a2a/ARCHONhttp://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/archon/