Tutorials and guides to archives
Although this site gives some guides to using archives in your personal history research, there are plenty of other online guides and tutorials which you may find helpful. Some of the most helpful are listed here.
Most of the collections we describe on this site are archives. Although most archives are housed within libraries, the way that archives are organised, collected and the way that you get access to them can be rather different to how things are done in the rest of the library.
Below is a list of links to tutorials and guides to using archives:
- Libraries and Archives Canada's guide to Using Archives -- this is a very practical, clear and straightforward guide to archives. If you've never visited an archive before then we recommend reading all of this guide.
- University of North Carolina Library's Manuscript Research Tutorial -- this is also a very readable guide to using manuscripts.
- The National Archives' Palaeography Tutorial -- One of the most intimidating things about looking at old handwritten documents is that very often letter forms were very different from those we are used to today. There is nothing more disheartening than finding a document, apparently written in English, which is completely illegible. 'Palaeography' is the study of historical handwriting and scripts and this is an excellent introduction to reading old scripts, with lots of examples of the sort of old documents you may come across when researching your family or local history.
- RDN's Women's Studies tutorial -- one of the interesting things we have seen while surveying the holdings of London University archives for the Helpers site, is that a few of them contain rich information about women, which is not typically the case on early census returns and so on. The RDN's Women's Studies tutorial gives plenty of help and advice about researching women's history.
- The Scottish Archive Network's Palaeography Tutorial -- This is another online guide to reading historical handwriting, concentrating on Scottish documents from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. It includes a useful coaching manual.
- Cambridge University's Palaeography Tutorial -- This is another online guide to reading historical handwriting, focussing on English documents of the 16th and 17th centuries. It includes a digitised handwriting manual from 1618 and many other digitised documents for you to practice with.