Methods and sources for historical research

Course date(s): 
16 Nov 2015 to 20 Nov 2015
25 Jan 2016 to 29 Jan 2016
11 Apr 2016 to 15 Apr 2016
11 Jul 2016 to 15 Jul 2016
Monday-Friday 10:00-17:00
Course tutor(s): 
Fee: 
£250

Abstract

This course aims to equip historical researchers with the skills they will need to find and gain access to all the primary source materials they need for their projects. Over the course of a week (Mon-Fri), participants will learn, through an intensive programme of lectures and visits to repositories in and around London, how to combine online tools and traditional archival search techniques to locate and obtain evidence. Institutions visited will include the British Library, the National Archives and a number of other major national repositories in addition to a wide range of smaller and more specialised archives. The course is primarily aimed at those engaged in research degrees in history or kindred disciplines, but is open to all researchers wishing to expand their skills and knowledge in original source materials.

Course details

Original research on primary sources lies at the heart of the historian’s enterprise, yet the techniques necessary to locate and obtain archival materials are rarely taught and can be hard to acquire. The aim of Methods and Sources for Historical Research is to equip researchers with the knowledge, skills and confidence to track down and use all the sources relevant to their projects, wherever they are to be found, be that in published form, online or in repositories. It does this through an intensive mixed programme of lectures and visits over the course of a week (Mon-Fri, 10:00 – 17:00). The first day is spent in the IHR: a series of lectures will first explore the epistemological and hermeneutic status of primary evidence for historians before turning to a detailed explanation of the legal and institutional structures of record-keeping and museology in the UK and the rest of the world. On a practical level, the various printed and electronic aids to finding and accessing primary materials will be introduced and students will be shown how to combine these to retrieve all the sources pertinent to a given line of research quickly, efficiently and comprehensively.

After the first day, the rest of the week is devoted to a programme of visits to archives, libraries and repositories around London. In each case there will be a short formal presentation introducing the collections, finding aids and material of particular use, followed by a more informal opportunity for students to explore and to discuss their needs in detail with the archivists. The schedule of visits has been designed both to introduce participants to all of the principal national repositories (the British Library, the National Archives, the Parliamentary Archives et al), but also, by including smaller and more specialised institutions, to reflect the range and diversity of archives likely to be encountered in a research career. The exact composition of the institutions visited varies on each occasion that Methods and Sources runs: the large national bodies are always included, but the smaller specialised institutions are rotated to give a distinct flavour to each course. This year the November course is general-purpose; January focuses on science, travel and exploration; April concentrates on modern and contemporary social and cultural history and July emphasises early modern history: see the schedules below for details. Reflecting the material available in London, the focus is mainly upon British, Irish and imperial history and on the period after 1500, but those with research interests lying outside those boundaries will also gain from the course and applications are welcome.

 

Course Schedules

 

Day/Time 16-20 November 2015 25-29 January 2016 11-15 April 2016 11-15 July 2016
Monday AM Lecture: Sources and the historian
Lecture: Finding Sources
Lecture: Sources and the historian
Lecture: Finding Sources
Lecture: Sources and the historian
Lecture: Finding Sources
Lecture: Sources and the historian
Lecture: Finding Sources
Monday PM Lecture: Finding Sources Online
Lecture: The IHR Library, Senate House Library and Others
Lecture: Finding Sources Online
Lecture: The IHR Library, Senate House Library and Others
Lecture: Finding Sources Online
Lecture: The IHR Library, Senate House Library and Others
Lecture: Finding Sources Online
Lecture: The IHR Library, Senate House Library and Others
Tuesday AM London Metropolitan Archives London Metropolitan Archives
Royal Mail Archive
London Metropolitan Archives London Metropolitan Archives
Tuesday PM Bishopsgate Library
Museum of London ephemera store
Royal Geographical Society Bishopsgate Library
Museum of London ephemera store
TBA
Wednesday AM The National Archives: A User's View The National Archives: A User's View The National Archives: A User's View The National Archives: A User's View
Wednesday PM The National Archives Catalogues and Other Tools The National Archives Catalogues and Other Tools The National Archives Catalogues and Other Tools The National Archives Catalogues and Other Tools
Thursday AM The Guardian Archive (TBC) National Maritime Museuam (TBC) TBA The Clothworkers' Archive
Thursday PM The Parliamentary Archive
Westminster City Archives
The Parliamentary Archive
The Royal Society
The Parliamentary Archive
Westminster City Archives
The Parliamentary Archive
Lambeth Palace Library and Archive
Friday AM The Wellcome Library The Wellcome Library TBA The Museum of London Archaeological Archive (TBC)
Friday PM Lecture: Conclusions - Visiting Archives for Research
The British Library
Lecture: Conclusions - Visiting Archives for Research
The British Library
Lecture: Conclusions - Visiting Archives for Research
The British Library
Lecture: Conclusions - Visiting Archives for Research
The British Library