Do you have a research project to carry out and wondering how to start! Archives can be tricky but here are some tips which could help.
Prepare Beforehand– There is nothing more annoying than not having the basic necessities required for archives and having to return home. It is advisable to prepare beforehand, which would entail checking online for required forms. Students should also take recommendations from their supervisors/ professors for permission to work in these archives. Moreover, all official documents such as your government identity cards, student cards, and passport photos should be carried along. You never know what you need!
Be ready for legwork – Once you go to the archive, the hope that you will just be able to enter is wrong. Usually, the first thing that you would have to do is go around receiving permissions and approvals for working there. This might require some amount of running around! Gear through it, once this formality is done, coming back later is much easier!
Ask for digital provisions and photocopies – A lot of times, there are digital copies available of manuscripts and documents which make them easier to read. In some cases, photocopy provisions are also there, although one would usually have to pay some money for this. These provisions are very useful when gathering documents.
Be Patient, sources take a long time to find – Patience is the key! Remember, your topic is not something that is necessarily going to be inscribed in every source. Most of the time, you will have to go through a huge catalog, that will have endless lists of documents and books. But don’t give up, keep looking and take your time. Check up indexes of catalogs. If you get a digital catalog, make extensive use of the search button.
Have A Heavy Breakfast– Let’s be honest, you don’t know how long you will have to stay in the archive. The more time you spend the more likely you are to chance upon your source. Therefore, and this is a must- eat a heavy breakfast that will cover you for the rest of the time that you spend at the archive. You don’t want to go to the archive on an empty stomach and then leave in an hour because you are hungry.
Negotiate and Don’t give Up– Not everything is going to go your way! Sometimes, people might be hostile, but don’t get upset. A part of researching is just negotiating with others and convincing them to let you in and access resources. Keep at it!
Good luck !