The purpose of this session is to introduce the archival collections held here at the University of East London and to begin to consider and examine ways in which the archives may be useful for your own academic research projects.
What is an Archive? Definitions from the Oxford English Dictionary include:
- Archive: (noun - A) A place in which collected public or corporate records are kept, a repository of documents.
- (noun - B) Records so kept.
- (verb) To place or store in an archive.
An archive will normally consist of primary source materials; namely records which are written at the time of the events they describe and which normally provide a first-hand account of the events being witnessed. Examples would include letters, diaries, minutes of meetings and account books. These materials are often created by individuals or institutions in the course of undertaking their daily work or private affairs, often without an awareness that they will eventually be stored within an archive. In essence, these are unpublished materials.
Libraries, by contrast, will usually consist of secondary source materials, like books and journals for example. These are normally written after the event and utilise the existing primary I materials in order to make observations and to draw conclusions. These are not based on direct observation and are usually written after the event. They often use primary sources in order to make observations and conclusions. Typical secondary sources include articles and books. These materials are often written with the intention they will be read by external readers. In contrast to the archive, this material is often written specifically for publication.