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From fiction to truths: History Day has it all

History

Jordan Landes, research librarian at Senate House Library and a co-organiser of History Day, on what to expect at this year’s event.

History Day has developed and changed since the first event in 2014. The innovation in 2018 is the introduction of shorter lightning talks with attendees invited to drop in and learn about a variety of topics ranging from tips on research and behind-the-scenes glimpses of archives, to digital tools to tracing threads of people and stories in records.

Thanks to an enthusiastic response to the call for papers posted in the spring, the following discussions will take place alongside a history fair showcasing collections from the UK and beyond.

Using archives and libraries
You can start the day by listening to short talks about training and projects in libraries and pick up some tips on the optimal use of archives for your research.

Librarians, have you ever thought about how to work with researchers? And researchers, have you thought about working with an information professional? Come along at 10am to listen to Katie McElvanney (Cambridge University Library) and Katya Rogatchevskaia (British Library) talking about, ‘Collaboration between researchers and libraries: training and collection-based projects’.

Meanwhile, for researchers interested in getting the best use of archives and methods of accessing them, David Luck (London Metropolitan Archives) will be presenting, ‘Archive references- grasping nettles and standing on quicksand’.

Archiving Institutions
An institutional archive is a repository that holds records created and received by its parent institution, and History Day will include three 15-minute talks on research in different institutional archives.

Ashley Sweetman of King’s College London will focus on bank archives in ‘British Bank Archives for Contemporary Historians’, and Anne Archer of the BT Heritage and Archives, and Karen Sampson of Lloyds Banking Group Archives will look at the broader topic of business archives in, ‘Explore business records’.

Bringing these conversations to a close will be King’s College London’s Dongkyung Shin on the University of London archives, ‘Partnerships in Universities: a central role of the University of London at the end of empire ‘.

Digital history
Digital resources and methods are essential to historical research. A series of talks on various digital projects might open your eyes to potential digital projects and introduce you to a new and useful tool.

Amy Todd will start the Digital History talks by discussing the Layers of London project, a new interactive website composed of different ‘layers’ of London’s history and based on the contributions of volunteers.

Web archives and archived websites are the subject of a discussion by Harry Raffal (University of Hull) as they become key research tools. The last speaker in the group, Louise Seward of the Bentham Project at UCL, will introduce the Transkribus project and handwritten text recognition.

Researching people across collections
The next set of talks will provide advice and information about using archives to research groups of people, helping you track your subject across multiple archives. The first speaker, Paul V Dudman (University of East London), will present ‘The past in the present: orienting research, scholarship and practice in refugee and forced migration studies around archives and history’.

Discussions around Jewish history, the Holocaust and refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe will come from Howard Falksohn of the Wiener Library, Kathrin Pieren of the Jewish Museum London, Daniel Albon of the London Metropolitan Archives, and Clare George of the Institute of Modern Languages Research and Senate House Library providing information on researching those topics across multiple repositories.

Magda Oldziejewska and Gail Chester of the Feminist Library and Zaimal Azad of the Nottingham Women’s Centre Library, will debate feminist libraries and archives in ‘Feminist libraries and archives: working at the intersection of archiving, art and activism’.

From fiction to truths: different uses of sources
Archives and libraries are rich in stories of the past. This set of short talks all embrace the use of archives to produce different results.

Writer Kate Morrison will present her paper, ‘Building fiction from fragments: writing a black British character from historical archives’, based on her experience of using archives to write a historical novel with a black British heroine.

Writer and consultant Anna Faherty (strategic content / honorary lecturer, Department of Information Studies, UCL), will discuss using library and archive material to construct engaging narratives for general readers in her paper, ‘Constructing engaging stories from library and archive material’.

In her paper, ‘Making history through judicial archives: challenges and opportunities of judicial sources’, Galadriel Ravelli of the University of Bath will examine the heterogeneous nature of ‘judicial sources’ and how they might be used by history researchers.

These short talks on a variety of topics will provide insights into various aspects of research, and many of the speakers will be available to answer your questions. Feel free to pop in and out of these sessions and to follow up with the speakers to answer your knotty research questions. See the full programme and sign up for the day.

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