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Archives and Special Collections - a guide for historians.

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Presentation on theme: "Archives and Special Collections - a guide for historians."— Presentation transcript:

1 Archives and Special Collections - a guide for historians

2 Special Collections in Durham Over 70,000 books printed before 1850 Approximately 3.5km of archival material 100 medieval manuscripts Over 30,000 maps Around 100,000 photographs Two Designated collections: Cosin’s Library and the Sudan Archive

3 Overview of collections Range of subjects – History, Theology, Literature, Science, Languages, Politics, Geography, Archaeology, Engineering Periods – Medieval, early modern, modern (less on C20th) Range of material – Letters, papers, accounts, books, pamphlets, tracts, maps, illustrations, cartoons, newspapers, sermons, official publications

4 Starting your research Secondary reading – Read around your subject – Look at bibliography Tutors Reference works – Bibliographies – Guides – Online guides / courses

5 Online help and advice

6 Mapping material Slave trade Books and pamphlets Newspapers Ephemera Objects and artefacts Trials and other legal papers Campaigners papers Government papers

7 What we’re doing behind the desk Watching you! Fetching your records from strong rooms Answering enquiries: user variety Reprography Cataloguing Academic liaison Schools education outreach Conservation (specialist staff) Exhibitions Concerns: security, preservation, connecting with and properly supporting (all kinds of) researchers, opening hours, underused collections, funding, demonstrating value

8 Printed Special Collections material Can be found via the Library catalogue (demo) Don’t forget about online sources (EEBO etc.)

9 Printed material: few highlights Cosin – over 5000 items, predominantly C17th Bamburgh Library – c8,500 items, many C17th and earlier Howard Library – over 200 items, from C16th and C17th Kellett – collection of Renaissance medicine texts Civil War pamphlets – Routh Library

10 Archives Not organised/categorised in the same way as books Can’t browse or help yourself Key is the creator or creating body – Remember to think around the subject Remember… – not everything has survived – not everything is kept – not everything is easy to find

11 Archives Discovery network, or how things get findable Accession Summary reported to Historical Manuscripts Commission, now TNA: NRA & ARCHON Collection Level Description Catalogue (skeleton list to full item-level descriptions) Accruals Backlogs

12 Researching Archive catalogues Each archive will have own catalogue – Not all online – Not all complete Durham University Special Collections Durham County Record Office National Archives – Search the Archives (new catalogue) National Archives new catalogue Access to Archives + ARCHON Access to ArchivesARCHON Digitised resources (SPO, MEMSO)SPOMEMSO

13 Understanding archival references HO 42/95 f.375 Collection = Home Office Division = Domestic Correspondence Subdivision = part year 1808 Folio HO 42: The National Archives, Home Office, Domestic Correspondence, George III

14 Regional repositories

15 Access to Archives (A2A)


17 National Register of Archives


19 Manorial Documents Register




23 Where do I see it? The newly opened Barker Research Library. -All enquiries should be directed there in the first instance (in person / 42972 / -Need to bring ID (Campus Card) -Register as reader and then sign in -BRL: Mon-Fri, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. -5 The College (Cathedral Archives): Wed-Fri 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

24 Visiting Archives Plan your visit(s) ahead: surrogates, references, skills, accessibility, appointment (ID requirements) Copying and Photography policy Search Room rules Carefully document what you have seen Ask for help if you need it: specialists and on that note…

25 Highlights: medieval and early modern history Cathedral Archives One of most extensive medieval archives in the country Also post-dissolution records Cathedral Library, C6th-present day (much not searchable online) Ushaw College Durham Palatinate, Bishopric and Diocesan records Mickleton and Spearman, and other antiquarian manuscripts Medieval manuscripts (Cosin, Howard) Printed material – Cosin’s Library, Bamburgh and Routh collections

26 Highlights: modern history Printed material – Cosin’s Library, Bamburgh and Routh collections Family papers: Baker Baker, Backhouse, Clavering Durham Bishopric Records Cremation Society Earl Grey papers Macdonald papers Sudan Archive

27 1826 Northumberland Election Who is involved? What kind of event? What kind of records? Generated by whom / what? Collected by? Held by what types of repository, and where? In what format?

28 The candidates Thomas Wentworth Beaumont – incumbent Whig Matthew Bell – newly elected incumbent Tory Henry Liddell – Tory Henry George, Lord Viscount Howick - Whig

29 1826 election Ephemera / Squibs Newspapers Books / Pamphlets Modern editions MS correspondence ObjectsAgents’ accounts Canvas / States of the poll / Poll books Legal records Parliamentary records

30 (Some) repositories Robinson Library, Newcastle University Northumberland County Record Office Durham County Record Office Tyne & Wear Archives British Library, Bodleian DULSC


32 Links and contacts online-records.htm Francis Gotto

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