Archival Research

Archival research as stated in the GSU Library Website is: “research involving primary sources held in an archives, a Special Collections library, or other repository. Archival sources can be manuscripts, documents, records (including electronic records), objects, sound and audiovisual materials, or other materials.” Archival records are characterized by their uniqueness which makes them priceless and of immense value and importance. For that reason, these records are protected and have strict rules and conditions when used for research or investigation.

This type of research is one of the most complete and therefore it is time-consuming. Gathering records of this matter is not an easy task although not impossible. When doing an archival research, the researcher looks through different files within archives or special collections looking for metadata that leads to other important information about the topic of investigation. This process enriches the research being made because it provides the investigator with more relevant information about the topic. However, within this process, the investigator will encounter himself with other relevant information that might not necessarily be related by its topic, and he has to be able to choose which path to go having in mind the one that will benefit him for its research.

Recently, I had the opportunity to take a look and go through this exercise at the GSU archives. I was able to experience the process of utilizing this unique files such as posters, newspaper articles, magazines or even t-shirts. I also went through the process of gathering metadata that will lead me to others files which provided me even more information of my topic.

All of this objects are considered extremely valuable because every single one of them contains an important message about the topic being discussed, HIV/Aids. For example, as you go through your investigation you might encounter with the first poster and wonder why it is damaged. As you go forward in your investigation, you gather another picture which tells you that the day of the protest was rainy and therefore some spots on the poster seem faded. As you go through the news articles you can see how similar situation are happenin in different states and counties with leads you up to more investigation and so on.

Going through this processexplains why you have to make decisions regarding on what files are you going to follow up your investigation or which ath are you going to choose. These objects of extreme value have a lot of valuable information, reason why there should always be a specific topic and a focus on it. For all of this aspects is why archival research is one of the most complete and oldest in history.