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Daily perchings of mind.
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Aug 8, 2020

One thing I’ve learnt during the lockdown this summer is that there are TONNES of digital archives readily available at the click of a button. Not that this is new—most of my research in the past two years has relied heavily on google books, gallica, mdz, eebo, AOK, etc. What really struck me were two things: (1) the sheer scale of how much archival material from localised institutions is available online, and (2) how decentralised this information is, and hence inconvenient to access. My growing suspicion is that people simply aren’t aware of each other’s knowledge of the online archives they use, apart from the big ones everyone knows. Leaving aside my concern that physical trips to archives will become unnecessary and increasingly more difficult to justify, I do think there needs to be more systematic sharing of online source info.

I am in the early stages of developing a comprehensive directory of individual archives with open-access digitised collections. The representation of listed archives will inevitably reflect my own research interests, but it should still be useful for people working outside my specialisation.