Guide to Using Archives

I am thrilled to launch a guide for students who want to understand more about using archives in their work.

Guide screenshot

The guide aims to answer common questions that students have about archives:

  • What does archives mean?
  • What are archives?
  • Where do I find them?
  • How are archives cared for?
  • Why are archives important?
  • How do I start researching in archives?
  • How do I use archive catalogues and indexes?
  • What is archival hierarchy and original order?
  • Why isn’t everything online?
  • What happens when I visit an archive?
  • How do I handle archives?
  • Can I photocopy?

Using rare books and art or museum collections is also discussed.

Grandfather clocks

The guide ends with case studies of DMU students from various disciplines who have successfully used archives in their coursework. A brief look at volunteering in archives and pursuing a career in the field is included.

The guide is illustrated with images drawn from DMU Archives and the Leicestershire County Museums Service.

It is hoped that the guide will be a useful resource for DMU students, who are always welcome to visit me in the Archive if they have any further questions.

About Katharine Short

When I was 13 every careers questionnaire I did at school suggested I become an archivist. In rebellion I studied History of Art at Cambridge and the Courtauld Institute before giving in to the inevitable and undertaking a qualification in Archives Administration at Aberystwyth University. I worked at King’s College London Archives and the London Metropolitan Archives before becoming the Archivist here at DMU in January 2013. My role is hugely varied: answering enquiries and assisting researchers, sorting, cataloguing, cleaning and packaging archival material, managing our environmentally controlled storage areas, giving seminars, talks and tours, researching aspects of University history, liaising with potential donors and advocating for the importance of archives within the organisation. I am one of those incredibly fortunate people who can say ‘I love my job’ and really mean it.
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