Using Archives: A Guide for the Inexperienced

These pages are designed to help anyone who wants to find out more about finding and using archives in their research.

You may like to start with our Introduction to UK Archives, giving an overview of the archival landscape in the UK.

"The concept of preserving history, collating full archives, making them as usable as possible so the public have access to them, I really feel that it allows the public an ability to engage with their own history." (Sarah Harrision)

What Are Archives?

Includes: a definition of primary/secondary sources; the difference between a library and archive; digital materials; datasets and archives

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Archives in Context

Includes: What is meant by archival context; interpreting archives; issues of trust; archives as evidence

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Working with Archives

Includes: Which collections to use; how many collections to use; researching one individual; researching a subject; questions to ask to help define your use of archives;

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Visits to Archive Repositories

Includes: use of the terms archive/repository/record office/reading rooms; how to overcome a lack of confidence; questions to ask; a typical visit

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Descriptions of Archives

Includes: How to make sense of descriptions of archives; how to go about searching; the organisation of an archive; searching archives across the UK

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Resources

Links to a whole load of resources including videos, blogs, websites and documents, to help you use archives more effectively.

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