Thursday, 12 November 2009


The academic term always sees an increase in the number of classes and talks that archive staff are involved in. As well as demonstrating how to access and use archives and giving classes on palaeography, we use our collections to teach general research skills to undergraduates and postgraduates. Finding, assimilating and summarising information, critical analysis, understanding context and provenance are all skills that can be taught through archives. We also make sure that we emphasis the power of the archive, the role that creators and keepers of archives play and the importance of archives for accountability, democracy and the protection of rights. We've found that using and talking about archives in this way encourages students to think about democracy and civil rights and how they are protected and maintained more deeply.

Different subject areas use the collections frequently. We accomodate town planners, architectural students, medics, and students of art and design as well as the humanities. Philosophers use the case books from our asylum records (such as this example here) to look at how the self and the 'other' are viewed and in the context of Foucault. A recent class involved postgraduate creative writing students using the asylum records as inspiration for their stories. We'd be interested to hear how others use archives in teaching.

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