Collectors in their own right are historians. Whether they realize it or not, no matter what type of collection they are honing it is a microcosm of society at the time of the collectibles creation and usage. They are the heralds of history, the keepers of the physical pieces of the past. Keeping those collections safe may be an obsession for some, but without the physical items, whether they are books, historical documents, photos, furniture, clothing, etc., our past would only be a matter of “he said,” “she said.”
The article below is a guideline for people interested in putting the puzzle pieces of an era together with the intent of shedding light on it and sharing their knowledge with others.
Whether you’re tracing your family tree, writing a historical novel or book, or taking on a personal research project to uncover an unfamiliar historical idea or period, you will need to conduct some research to further your knowledge and understanding. Here, Dean Blackburn, a lecturer in modern history at the University of Nottingham, offers some useful tips for amateur historians to help to make the research process as efficient and rewarding as possible. This article comes from History Extra.
1. Establish some research questions
Conducting historical research will be much easier if it is directed towards some clear and realistic objectives. One way to define these objectives is to establish some questions that your research will help answer. These questions can take different forms, but they should narrow your field of vision and provide you with a clear purpose. Good examples will:
- direct your attention towards certain problems
- be achievable with the resources you have available
- encourage an original contribution to the field of study
Consider a researcher who is interested in the history of a political party. They could be interested in many aspects of the organisation, but they cannot hope to investigate them all. So, some questions that draw attention to particular chronological periods and problems will be useful. These questions could, for instance, explore a particularly important moment in the party’s history:
- Why did the British Labour party win the 1945 general election?
- Did the Second World War change political attitudes?
- What were the political consequences of the 1945 election?
All of the above questions are closely related and will narrow the researcher’s focus.
Dean Blackburn is a lecturer in modern history at the University of Nottingham and Lead Educator on the free online FutureLearn course Learning from the Past: A Guide for the Curious Researcher. FutureLearn is a social learning platform wholly owned by The Open University. For more information, visit futurelearn.com.
Archival Flip-top Shelf File Made from Blue-Gray Archival Barrier Board. 10-1/4 x 5 x 15-1/4″. This box is made from 60 pt. archival blue-gray barrier board. It is acid-free, lignin-free, has a pH of 8.0-9.0 and is buffered with a 3% calcium carbonate buffer. Reinforced metal corners. Museum grade archival.