I love working in archives; in fact, I love love love love it. I don’t even like to call it work. No, I play in the archives. Archival research is always an adventure. Sometimes you don’t get very far. But there are always interesting vistas along the way.
About a year and a half ago, I was asked if I wanted to participate in developing an online mini-course that could introduce university students to the wonders of archival research. The course would focus on the Maritime History Archive, which houses a phenomenally rich collection of materials related to things like ships, sailing, maritime labour, and more.
I’ve accessed some of this material myself: the Log Books and Crew Agreements for the ships that sailed the so-called “Coolie Routes” that transported indentured emigrants from India to the West Indies have offered a wealth of information about those journeys, and, in particular, about the sometimes fraught relationships between crew and emigrants.
And so, I enthusiastically accepted the invitation to participate. That course – Archive Essentials, developed and led by my Sociology colleague, Dr. Karen Stanbrige – is now ready, and with it, a series of videos in which a range of folks: faculty, staff, students – and yours truly! – jabber on about why we love archival work, what it means, and how to go about it.
Here’s an article about the project and below, you can watch a few of the videos.
(c) Sonja Boon, 2019