A boy who has found a horse. Document reference: CN 8/1/37 (detail)
My inspiration for today’s blog post comes from two things that stuck in my head when I read them. The first is a pearl of wisdom from the fictional detective Miss Marple, which I will quote later. The second is a recent comment made in response to a colleague’s post on this blog: ‘how can you research a record or collection if you do not know it exists?’
The trivial answer to this question is, of course, that you can’t. It does, however, prompt another, more complicated question: how can you find archival sources that are relevant for your research?
In previous blog posts, I’ve given some hints on how to get started and noted some attributes of really successful researchers. For this post, I’ve decided to offer a brief outline of three different ways of locating and identifying interesting records: serendipity, ‘brute force’ and archival logic. In practice, most people’s experience of using archives tends to involve some combination of these three. Continue reading »
View of Lanercost Priory, Cumbria
I recently enjoyed a weekend away with some friends in Carlisle, in the north-west of England. One of the places that we visited was Lanercost Priory, about 13 miles (21 km) east of the city. Once an important medieval religious community, the priory was dissolved under King Henry VIII. Part of the building has been restored for use as a parish church and the ruins of the rest are preserved by English Heritage as a historic monument.
No graffiti, please
I was particularly struck by a sign on one of the walls warning visitors not to write on or scratch the stonework. The Ministry of Works, which put up the sign, was a government department that used to be responsible for both modern government buildings and historic buildings in the government’s care . Continue reading »
“Do you have my grandad’s Royal Air Force service record?”
“Can I do research on the Great Western Railway at The National Archives?”
“Are the records that I want available online?”
“Where can I find out more about the history of my village?”