|Materials | Locating | Documenting|
Archival material and manuscripts are primary sources. Ranging from the administrative records of an opera company, to the business records of a music publishing company, a court musician's logbook, minutebooks and financial records of a singing society, letters, diaries, wills...
Access to material held in Archival Institutions varies. A researcher must visit the Archives, place a request for the specific material in which they are interested, and read it in the reading room. (However, in some instances, permission must be sought from the donor of the collection.) Sometimes there is an embargo on accessing material under a certain age (perhaps 50 years). This particularly applies to Government material. Sometimes the material is stored at another location and must be brought in for use.
It is a good idea to contact the Archive before a visit to discuss access conditions.
Archival Institutions are quite different to Libraries in the way in which their collections are catalogued, and also in the way in which their holdings can be accessed. While library collections mainly consist of published material, archival institutions preserve and provide access to unpublished material, such as correspondence files, accounts, reports, diaries etc... Provenance is a key factor.
For researchers to be able to make full use of archival material, it is important for them to be able to view the material in context. Whenever possible, archivists endeavour to preserve records in their original order, which helps to make this possible.
So an archival collection, such as the University of Melbourne Archives, is made up of many separate collections (often quite large, and measured in metres!). An archive usually produces, and makes available guides to the collections, in the form of "finding aids", which are lists of the individual items within a collection. Often finding aids can only be consulted at the archival institutions themselves, though some publish guides, and lists of holdings. In addition many are now making lists of holdings available on the www.
Published Archival Material
The material can be available in a number of formats. The original documents are held in Archives, in private collections and in Libraries; increasingly copies of the original documents are being published on microform, and / or electronically, so a trip to the repository is not always necessary.
For instance, the nine-volume Records of English Court Musicians, edited by Andrew Ashbee, is a comprehensive publication, which can be accessed at the Music Branch Library.
|Created: Feb 2000: Last modified: 15 March, 2004
Maintained by: S.Cole, firstname.lastname@example.org