Here are a few helpful tips for the lucky ones visiting an archives.
- Give yourself enough time. Looking through archival collections is time-consuming, and you will need more time than you expect. Believe me.
- Check with the archival staff beforehand and ask them a lot of questions. Will they be open the days you want to visit? Are there other collections you should look at? Read through the three sources at the end of this blog for more questions.
- Learn as much as possible before you get to the archives about the collections you want to access. Are there finding aids and how do you can get copies of these finding aids? Are there restrictions on the collections you want to use for research?
- If you want to see a book in the archives, bring more with you than the call number. Often the person pulling the book from the closed stacks needs to know information from the entire catalog record, such as book size and number of pages, before they know where a book is stored.
- Keep track of what you have looked at and keep track of information that you will need for citations. Write it down.
- Bonus tip: If visiting us, ask to see our copy of Reading early American handwriting by Kip Sperry. It can help decipher handwritten documents.
Introduction to Archival Research, Lisa Duncan, httpn://libguides.usd.edu/cotent.php?pid=691519 (accessed August 24, 2016).
Top 5 Mistakes Researchers Make in the Research Room, https://historyhub.archives.gov/groups/new-researchers-help/blog/2016/07 (accessed August 19, 2016).
Using Archives: a guide to effective research, Society of American Archivist, http://www2.archivists.org/usingarchives (accessed August 19, 2016).