Archival research and the resulting discovered sources often provide the critical foundation for scholarly articles and books. There is something wonderful about stepping into the archives and having the past delivered to your table in Holinger boxes and non-acidic folders; not to mention that you often discover answers to questions you had not thought to ask.
It is therefore my great pleasure to announce our month long series devoted to discussions of archival research. As everyone is well aware from the massive media hoopla, October is designated as Archives Month by the Society for American Archivists . Designed as an outreach program, this designation promotes the research in and support of archives. One of the highlights of Archives Month is the “I Found it in the Archives” program.
Knowing a good idea when we see one, we at the Juvenile Instructor blog are excited to announce our own effort to bring you stories from our own archival research experience. We also invite our readers to submit their own stories. We will begin posting these during the last half of October as guest posts (send your submissions to juvenileinstructor AT gmail DOT com). I hope readers will approach this from many different directions. We, of course, are interested in the new sources people might find that solve long-held mysteries, but that’s just a fraction of what can be found in the archives. The actual experiences in an archives make for excellent stories, so what are some of your “Adventures in Archives” type stories? What is your own strategy of researching in an archives? What about family archives? What document or collection of documents are out there in your attics or closets? Historians sometimes dream of the Historical Holy Grail of some famous person’s journal or correspondence but history has moved past the recovering of the past of “old white dead guys.” What documents are out there that tell the story of childhood in the 1920s? Or of women’s experience during WWII? Or early photographic evidence of landscape in the late 1800s? Family archives, I believe, become devalued because descendants do not recognize the importance of their collection.
What is your own “I found it in the archives” story? I’m excited to see what our bloggers and our readers come up with to share the joy of archives. I honestly can’t think of a better way to encourage archival research than to share in other’s experiences.