How does the historian track down evidence? For even the most experienced researchers this can be a hard task, often accomplished as much by luck as judgement. Primary Sources in British Archives explains how to locate and gain access to source materials in archives based in Britain in a systematic and comprehensive way, allowing researchers to be certain that they command all the evidence and helping them to escape from well-worn and stale territory to open up new and original source material for their work.After an explanation of the law, history and institutions of record-keeping in the UK, the main body of the book is a practical guide to how to set about finding sources. It traces the process from the very start of a project to its conclusion, showing how to use finding aids both on- and off-line to locate and obtain historical sources of all types, including visual and material culture alongside governmental and private written records. Illustrated throughout by case-studies to demonstrate how the various systems and tools work in practice, users of this invaluable book can be entirely confident in their ability to find and obtain primary sources wherever they may occur.
Simon Trafford is Lecturer in Medieval History and Research Training Officer at the Institute of Historical Research, University of London, UK. He runs the IHR's acclaimed programme of postgraduate historical research training.