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Archives and Special Collections: Finding and Managing Archival Sources

An introduction to the materials available in Clark University's Archives and Special Collections.

Crafting Your Research Question

Your research questions will be the guide for which materials you select, and how you choose to approach them.  It can help you to keep your focus specific when you get started, and to know when you have found your answers.

The Craft of Research suggests a three-step method for developing your research question:

  1. I am studying ____________
  2. because I want to know ____________
  3. in order to help my readers understand __________

As you continue to research, your questions will evolve when you discover new information.  Be open to developing new questions as you go!

Keeping Track of Image Data

You may be inclined to take photos of relevant materials as you complete your research. Photographs are a valuable tool to go back to your work and review items when you are no longer physically at the Archive.  Here are a few tips:

  1. Label your images with as much information about the collection, location, and item as possible. For example, "CU_RobertGoddardCollection_Box3Folder4_Correspondence with Esther Goddard, 1924" might be an image title.
  2. Use folders to organize images by collection and subject.
  3. Include a photograph of the box, book spine, or folder as you go if you cannot re-name photographs in the moment.
  4. Take notes while you are in the Archives about why a certain item is relevant -- you may forget why you saved a photograph by the time you get home.
  5. Keep a record of what photographs you take. This will help you build a bibliography later, or help you track down information in your notes.

Books and Resources for Doing Archival Research

5 Quick Tips for Archival Research (Text Below)