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Subject LibGuides

English: Archives

Introducing archives

Archives are a fantastic research resource, and can be used in a variety of ways to bring a historical aspect to a whole range of subject areas. They can provide interesting data, opinions and facts, allowing you to explore the origin, evolution and development of current issues.

Whilst traditionally used by historians and archaeologists, archives are increasingly used in more interdisciplinary ways such as:

  • to explore the historical context of subjects like law, politics, geography, mental health, etc.
  • being used as source material in subjects such as creative writing, drama, media, music and game design
  • being mined for data to feed into computer program development or statistical analysis
  • to explore potential urban planning and building projects, learning and taking inspiration from past developments  

Importantly, archives are a unique way of incorporating critical analysis into your work, and are perfectly suited to creating an interdisciplinary approach to your research methodology.

The resources on this page will be useful if you wish to use archives for your coursework, dissertation or research project.

Archive portals

The following online portals are a good place to start when trying to find archival material.

The National Archives

The main national search engine for locating information about records held at The National Archives and other archival repositories in the UK (including those in Scotland). In addition to the search interface, there are numerous research guides on a wide range of subjects. These can be useful if you are interested in browsing what might be available for studying a particular subject. If you are trying to determine whether the papers of a specific individual or organisation have survived, it is best to go directly to the advanced search feature of the online catalogue.

The Archives Hub

A portal to archives held in many UK universities and colleges (including those in Scotland). Most collections will be discoverable through the Discovery site, however, not everything will be and so it is always useful to use Archives Hub in conjunction with Discovery.

SCAN

The main portal for discovering archives held in Scottish repositories. It does not include material held elsewhere in the UK. If you are only interested in material held within Scotland then this is a better place to start than Discovery as searches will not return material held elsewhere in the UK.

The National Register of Archives for Scotland

Contains surveys of material still in private hands, and private papers which have been deposited in libraries and museums. This is a good last resort if you cannot locate the papers of a particular Scottish individual or organisation by using SCAN.

The Locations Register of 20th Century English Literary Manuscripts

A standard reference source for the study of English literature. It includes information about the manuscript holdings of repositories across the UK, from the British Library to small-town museums.

Hull History Centre

Hull History Centre is a fantastic research resource located in the heart of Hull.

It houses archival collections held by the University of Hull, Hull City Archives, and Hull Local Studies Library.

You can search these collections using the History Centre's online catalogue.

Hull University Archives staff have also produced an online finding aid called Archive Collections at Hull History Centre, which allows you to browse the History Centre's collections by theme, creator and document type.

For directions, opening hours and help on planning a trip, please visit Hull History Centre's website.

Personalised advice

Hull University Archives staff will be happy to advise you on archival material held at Hull History Centre, which might be of use to you.

Please contact us at archives@hull.ac.uk if you wish to discuss anything with us.

Online skills guides

Hull University Archives has created a SkillsGuide to aid researchers wishing to undertake archival research.

Working With Archives provides general advice, bibliographies and links to online resources enabling researchers to pursue self-directed learning of skills such as palaeography, archaic terminology and spelling, date systems, historical weights and measures, and Latin.