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Using Primary Sources for BISC 100

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If you are studying BISC100 several of your projects involve using primary sources, specifically in relation to the Castle's history and to the history of Britain generally. You will be introduced to the following archives of primary sources.

  • BISC Archive
  • East Sussex Record Office (The Keep)
  • Mass Observation Archive
  • Citing primary sources

BISC Archive

The BISC Archive holds several collections of papers relevant to different periods in the Castle’s history, including its time as the home of the Royal Greenwich Observatory, and then its beginnings as a University campus.

To find items relevant to your assignment, search the Library catalogue, using the Advanced search and narrowing the search to Archive (this is important - if you don't narrow your search to Archive, you will also find books from the main collection in your results).

Once you know which items you wish to look at, make a note of their classification number (the entire number: Collection name - Box number - File number), and request them at the Library desk. The librarian will then fetch the materials for you from the Archive. You will need to read the materials at the tables at the rear of the Lending Library, as materials sourced from the Archive are not allowed to leave the Library.

Due to the unique and irreplaceable nature of the materials in the Archives we ask that you do not have cups of liquid of any kind near the materials when using them, and you should use only pencils when making notes about the materials. Please be really careful not to mark the materials in any way, and please retain the materials in the order they were presented to you.

Once you have finished with the sources, simply return them to the Library desk.

East Sussex Record Office (The Keep)

You will find many primary sources relevant to the early history of the Castle at The Keep, which is the home of East Sussex Record Office. Search their online catalogue to establish which resources you would like to view. To view items you will need to make your way to The Keep, but before you do so register as a reader and place requests for the materials before you visit. You may request 3 items at a time, which will then be made available for you to view in the Reading Room.

Mass Observation Archive

The University of Sussex's Mass Observation Archive is housed at The Keep and all records relating to the contents of the Archive are searchable on The Keep's catalogue.

Many of the items in the MO Archive have been digitised. A proportion of these are available online as fulltext documents through Queen's University Library's subscription to Mass Observation Online. You will need your NetID username and password to log in.

Citing primary sources

When citing primary sources use the citation style requested by your tutor.

In-text citations

The MO style is to have the ref number in parenthesis after the entry, e.g. In his war diary, Frank (DR2890) writes... Or, if you wish, you can  provide more info, e.g.  In his war diary, Frank (DR2890, Male 52 Headmaster) writes...

If you don’t have the MO reference number, you will need to use basic MLA style and the in-text citation would read Frank (“Diary Entry") writes...

The final bibliography

Directives

An MLA reference should look something like:

Frank, Daniel J.  “Summer Directive, 1986.”  Mass Observation Archive.  University of Sussex, Brighton, England.

MO would prefer you to include the ref number and so it should read something like:

Frank, Daniel J. “DR 2890, reply to summer 1986 directive.”  Mass Observation Archive.  University of Sussex, Brighton, England.

Diaries

MLA: Frank, Daniel J.  “Diary Entry, September 3, 1939.”  Mass Observation Archive.  University of Sussex, Brighton, England.

MLA with Mass Obs referencing number: Frank, Daniel J.  “D5234, Diary for September 3, 1939.”  Mass Observation Archive.  University of Sussex, Brighton, England.

Letters

MLA: Frank, Daniel J.  “Letter to John Smith, September 6, 1939.”  Mass Observation Archive.  University of Sussex, Brighton, England.

MLA with Mass Obs referencing number: Frank, Daniel J.  “D5234, Letter to John Smith, September 6, 1939.”  Mass Observation Archive.  University of Sussex, Brighton, England.

If you are citing a pamphlet, restaurant menu, or other such item, please follow the same system.

Further guidance on citing Mass Observation sources can be found at Referencing and publishing on the Mass Observation website and in the documentReferencing Mass Observation Material 2015.

Analyzing primary sources

Use Dr. Barbara Holler's guide How to analyze a primary source to carry out structured analysis.

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