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ENGL 491: Composition Theory and Practice - Archival research

An introduction to resources in special collections and archives of use when researching historical trends in teaching rhetoric and composition.

In-person archival research tips

Quick introduction to archives

In-depth introduction to archives

Quick tips for visiting archives

  • The majority of archival material is not online - it would take hundreds of years and billions of dollars to digitize everything
  • Special collections and archives are typically found in libraries (academic and public), museums, larger historical societies, and government offices (might be called "historical records" instead of archives)
  • Look up the repository (another word for archive) online to become familiar with their hours, forms, policies, and staff
  • Contact the staff in advance by phone or email to introduce yourself, your research topic, and request an appointment
    • An appointment guarantees that they have material you're interested in and that it will be available when you arrive
  • Wash your hands before you enter their reading room so that you don't get oils or dirt on the material
  • If you want to look at photographs or negatives, they may provide gloves for you to wear
  • Bring a pencil, paper, your phone, laptop, etc. but be prepared to adhere to their rules for using these items
  • Some repositories allow photography using your phone but be sure to ask first