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Finding Information: Archives


What is an Archive?

An archive refers to a collection of historical, cultural, or administrative documents or records that are preserved for future reference or research. Archives can contain a wide range of materials such as letters, photographs, manuscripts, audio and video recordings, and other items of historical or cultural significance.

When would I use an Archive? 

Archives can be a valuable resource for academic research as they provide access to unique and often rare materials that are not available elsewhere.

You may want to use archive material for purposes such as:

  • Finding and analysing primary sources on a topic.
  • Data analysis: an archive may provide you with datasets relevant to your question.
  • Getting historical context on a topic.

What Archives can I use? 

Which archives will be most useful to you will depend heavily on what it is you are looking for.

There are various ways to find archives that might be useful for your research. Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Start with a search engine: Begin by searching for archives related to your research topic using a search engine such as Google or Bing. Use keywords that are relevant to your research, such as the name of a historical figure, event, or location. This can help you identify archives that may contain relevant materials.
  2. Check library catalogues: Many archives are held by libraries or special collections, so check library catalogues to see if there are any archives related to your research topic. Many libraries have online catalogues that allow you to search for materials, and you can often request access to the archives through the library.
  3. Look for specialised archives: Some archives are dedicated to specific topics or regions. Look for specialised archives that may be relevant to your research.
  4. Use online databases: There are several online databases that provide access to archives and primary sources. Take a look at the A-Z of Databases to see which ones you have access to through the UoS library.

Finding archives for your research may require some effort, but the effort is often worthwhile as archives can provide valuable insights and perspectives on your research topic.

On our Ipswich campus we are lucky to have close access to the Hold, part of Suffolk Archives. Take a look at their sites for more information about what you can find there and how to access it.   

Further Reading