Options for assistance with searching and browsing the collections located in special collections
ArchiveGrid is a search engines that helps users find information about historical materials in over 1,000a rchives, libraries, museums and historical societies around the United States. if you are looking for primary sources related to your project topic, this a great place to start your search. (Remember, this site will provide information about the sources and where they are located, but may does not provide direct access to digitized versions of the materials)
The Archivists' Quest
Before archives integrated the full magic of the internet, patrons had to browse paper (gasp!) inventories of collections to find relevant materials. They had to read the information at the beginning of a collection finding aid to know which boxes to browse if they wanted to save time, or if they had lots of time on their hands, they could review the entire finding aid until they found something that seemed relevant. This was time-consuming and frustrating to patrons who were looking for something specific in a big collection.
Once archivists moved finding aids online, and better yet, loaded these finding aids into searchable databases, people could enter keywords and get a quick list of results with the hits for the term highlighted. There was broad rejoicing among patrons--searching in archives was now fast and simple. Archivists liked the fast simple searching too, but they also noticed that quick keyword browsing often stopped people from discovering related materials described by different terms.
There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth and handing-wringing among these archivists, but eventually, they came to their senses and realized that they could mount a campaign among patrons to reinvigorate the value of browsing and to hone keyword searching skills. No longer would patrons give up when their first keyword search failed to yield good results! Instead, they would brainstorm other ideas for terms to try. In their free time, patrons would browse finding aids instead of texting and browsing Facebook.
Make their dream a reality!
Keyword Search Tips and Tricks
Brainstorm terms related to your topic
Never Admit Defeat!
Palaeography: reading old handwriting
1500 - 1800
A practical online tutorial
Palaeography is the study of old handwriting. This web tutorial will help you learn to read the handwriting found in documents written in English between 1500 and 1800.
At first glance, many documents written at this time look illegible to the modern reader. By reading the practical tips and working through the documents in the Tutorial in order of difficulty, you will find that it becomes much easier to read old handwriting. You can find more documents on which to practise your skills in the further practice section.