http://www.archivejournal.net/issue/2/notes and queries/how to work with primary source documents/ 1 Note: the article below was originally published in the Archive Journal Issue 2, Sept. 2012 : http://www.archivejournal.net/issue/2/notes and queries/how to work with primary source documents/ Notes + Queries Laurie N. Taylor Digital Humanities Librarian, Scholarly Resources & Research Services University of Florida How to Work with Primary Source Documents Archival research is an important source for coursework and teaching, as professors and instructors are increasingly incorporating work with primary documents into undergraduate courses. Because access to primary resources is often restricted by research r oom hours, and can be further limited because of preservation concerns if materials are extremely fragile or if collections are not fully inventoried, this kind of research takes time. Despite this, many student researchers leave archives with a great deal more inform their actual practice, although, due to the many pleasures and challenges of working with primary documents, even the best intentions oft en change dramatically when working through a collection of materials. Whatever the situation, undergraduates working with primary documents need to be aware of a Th ough the individual archive or library is the best first source of information for working with specific collections, the following resources provide general information about working effectively with archival materials that may be of use to students and/o r their teachers.
http://www.archivejournal.net/issue/2/notes and queries/how to work with primary source documents/ 2 Resources for Working with Primary Source Documents Comprehensive Society of American Archivists 2011. http://www2.a rchivists.org/usingarchives An excellent primer for using archives, with ions, and Handling Documents The National Archives. 2011. http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/visit/documen t handling.htm A basic overview for handling documents, including best practices and an explanation of common types of documents and handling needs. Conserve O Gram 19, no. 17 (Sept. 19 96). http://www.nps.gov/museum/publications/conserveogram/19 17.pdf A brief guide focused setting up the research area, moving materials, and dealing with problems (brittle, damaged, attached, and contaminated materials). Working in Archives Archives of American Art: Ask Us. 2011. http://www.aaa.si.edu/askus/faq : A general FAQ addressing basic questions and providing policy information, such as the need for researchers to schedule appointments, a useful reminder no matter which archive you plan to use. New York University Libraries: Research Guides. 2011. http://nyu.libguides.com/content.php?pid=38517 Intended for researchers using NYU collections, this guide also provides general releva nt information, including definitions, recommendations on handling materials, and best practices for archival research. Teaching The National Archives Experience: Educators and Students. 2011. http://www.archives.gov/nae/education/tool box.html basic documents explaining the benefits of teaching with primary sources, basics for teaching with primary documents, and links to teaching workshops and collaborative opportunities ( http://www.archives.gov/nae/education/collaboration.html ) National Archives of Australia. Vrroom: Virtual Reading Room 2011. http://vrroom.naa.gov.au/ With a Vrroom is designed as a full virtual
http://www.archivejournal.net/issue/2/notes and queries/how to work with primary source documents/ 3 reading room, allowing users to search and browse archival coll ections, as well as providing support for teaching and research. Working with Technology in Archives Perspectives Online 43, no. 1: (Jan. 2005) http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2005/0501/0501arc1.cfm A useful overview of working with technology in archives, as well as maintaini ng electronic documents and notes from archival research. Published in 2005, the guide is somewhat dated (it does not include Zotero, for example, which rolled out in 2006). Metadata categories: notes & queries Li cense this work is licensed under a creative commons attribution noncommercial 3.0 unported license