Using Archives
& Primary Sources

for Peace & Conflict Studies Research

Sarah Elichko
Social Sciences
& Data Librarian

PEACE 15
09/24/2019

Primary Sources & Archives

Citing Archival Sources

Rare historical documents + you
(handling materials safely)

Researchers use primary sources because they provide a firsthand account of events or conditions during a particular period in time.

Many documents used as primary sources were recorded contemporaneously by participants or observers.

Primary Sources & Archives

Reflect thinking and understanding at a moment in time

From individual people and families:

  • Letters  (correspondence)
  • Diaries and journals
  • Scrapbooks, photo albums, slides
  • Personal and family papers
  • Telegrams

What kinds of primary sources can you find?

Organizations create records through the course of doing their work:

   • Notes/minutes taken during meetings

   • Newsletters, annual reports, other publications

   • Photographs of speeches or protest marches
   • Memos (memoranda)

From organizations (e.g. colleges, activist groups)

You'll hear these records referred to as the archives of the organization.

What kinds of primary sources can you find?

How do you find relevant primary sources?

Rare historical documents + you
(handling materials safely)

What to expect:

• 1st visit: You'll register as a researcher.

• After that: sign in whenever you visit.

Table service:
• You'll ask the archivist or other staff for

  documents, rather than getting them  

  yourself.

• This is called paging.

Handling rare & historical materials safely

Typically, it's OK to use:

- Pencil and notebook

- Phone (for photos)

- Laptop

But while using rare materials, no:

- Food or drinks (including water bottles)

- Backpacks (can usually store)

- Pens or highlighters

Keep papers flat  (e.g. letters)
 

You may be given book supports or gloves (to protect photographs).

Order matters:

  • You'll probably be given a bookmark. Use it to note your place in a folder.
  • Return each document to its place as soon as you're done with it.

Handling rare & historical materials safely

Booth Tarkington to George Ade, 8 May 1924, Box 10, Folder 5, George Ade Papers 1878-2007, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries.

When citing your sources,
you'll need to know where you found them:

Booth Tarkington to George Ade, 8 May 1924, Box 10, Folder 5, George Ade Papers 1878-2007, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries.

Booth Tarkington to George Ade, 8 May 1924, Box 10, Folder 5, George Ade Papers 1878-2007, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries.

Recap: Archives & Primary Sources

• Primary source documents offer you a unique perspective on the past.

Tripod Archives & Manuscripts lets you explore what's available at Swarthmore.

• Because you'll be working with rare or one-of-a-kind materials, you'll be asked to handle items carefully.

• Archivists and library staff can help you succeed: reach out, talk with us about your project, and ask questions.

(See also: TriCo archivists' Guide to Using Archives)

PEAC 015: Archives & Primary Sources

By Swarthmore Reference

PEAC 015: Archives & Primary Sources

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