Comments on: Tuesday round-up: Girls Talk edition, yee-haw! http://www.historiann.com/2010/03/30/tuesday-round-up-girls-talk-edition-yee-haw/ History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Tue, 23 Sep 2014 15:56:07 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 By: JJO http://www.historiann.com/2010/03/30/tuesday-round-up-girls-talk-edition-yee-haw/comment-page-1/#comment-585052 Wed, 31 Mar 2010 02:47:28 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=10156#comment-585052 In Megalomanian national archives, documents photograph you! What a country!

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By: Janice http://www.historiann.com/2010/03/30/tuesday-round-up-girls-talk-edition-yee-haw/comment-page-1/#comment-585027 Wed, 31 Mar 2010 02:27:00 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=10156#comment-585027 I was fortunate that when I started my dissertation research, laptops were just becoming available. Well, what passed for laptops in the 80s! I got one and even with the extremely limited memory and program options, used it to transcribe in archives and libraries across the U.S., the U.K. and Canada. (I just had to watch out that I didn’t annoy others working in the same area with my rapid, noisy touch-typing.)

Mostly I’d transcribe the documents in the archives but as time runs out, I always resort to ordering copies. I often ended up frustrated by the photostatic copies made by the archives from their microfilms. Additional frustration stems from the problem that we didn’t have a microfilm reader at the U which could output as digital images until this past autumn.

The quality of digital images provided by many archives is pretty awesome nowadays so if you can’t bring a camera in, sometimes you’ll still luck out. But it’s still best to be a quick hand at transcription!

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By: Digger http://www.historiann.com/2010/03/30/tuesday-round-up-girls-talk-edition-yee-haw/comment-page-1/#comment-584822 Tue, 30 Mar 2010 23:28:29 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=10156#comment-584822 I’ve used digital photos for research where they are allowed. It was a particularly successful endeavour for capturing large amounts of images from trade catalogs for later reference. Even where the images are a little fuzzy or I managed to cut off part of the page, there’s enough there that I can both reference the image and send a visual to the Awesomely Fun Place That Oddly Has Material Relevant To My Research when I request graphics for publication.

What I’ve learned the hard way with digital photos is: have extra, extra batteries. And take an extra data card or two. I went through over 150 images, and still had more catalogs to go through. So frustrating!

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By: Perpetua http://www.historiann.com/2010/03/30/tuesday-round-up-girls-talk-edition-yee-haw/comment-page-1/#comment-584788 Tue, 30 Mar 2010 23:07:04 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=10156#comment-584788 The frogprincess brings up an important point. One of the disadvantages of photocopies, microfilm, and digital images is that they can make reading manuscript material more difficult and sometimes impossible. (Especially in those cases when the image of the page captures the echo of the text on the other side of the page.) Nothing works for me as well as squinting at the live page and trying to work through it.

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By: Matt L http://www.historiann.com/2010/03/30/tuesday-round-up-girls-talk-edition-yee-haw/comment-page-1/#comment-584762 Tue, 30 Mar 2010 21:54:13 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=10156#comment-584762 On my last research trip to the Capital Cities of Ruritania and Megalomania I used a combination of methods. In the Ruritanian National Archives, I was allowed to use a digital camera. But first I went through all the files, transcribed some key documents and the contents of some of the folders. Then I photographed everything.

The Megalomanian national archives do not allow digital photographs, and photocopies are exorbitant. I also had about eight bankers boxes of material to skim through in a week. (Oops, didn’t plan that one well, but I didn’t know how much they had based on the catalog entry). After the first day, I realized that I would have to make several more visits before I had everything I needed. I transcribed a few things, and spent most of my time taking notes on the stuff that was not obvious from the finding aids and catalogs (sort of a breadcrumb trail so I could find my way back to the interesting parts of the files).

I did my dissertation research by transcribing things into spiral bound notebooks in pencil. Its pretty durable, the material is all in chronological order, and you can add marginalia (like keywords) as you work with the notes. I’m glad I did, I lost a bunch of information from the dissertation when my hard-drive crashed earlier this year. There is something to be said for the old-school methods. The notebooks are ten-years old, and I still use them.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2010/03/30/tuesday-round-up-girls-talk-edition-yee-haw/comment-page-1/#comment-584737 Tue, 30 Mar 2010 21:09:28 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=10156#comment-584737 thefrogprincess: since I traffic in women’s history, Indian history, and the history of barely literate Anglo-American schlubs on the frontier, the documents they leave behind are pretty brief, if they exist at all! So, I haven’t had so much the problem you have with your documents–of having to decide what to take notes on. When my people appear at all–let alone pick up a pen–they’re pretty terse.

But, on occasion I have run into lengthy documents or whole volumes of correspondence–and there, I just pick and choose. I transcribe parts, but not all, and fill in my notes with explanations of what I’m leaving out, so that I can preserve the look and feel of that document in my head. (And on occasion, I have returned to archives to fill in with other transcriptions in those gaps.) Since the docs I work with aren’t photocopy-able, and since 18th C handwriting is so elongated and flowy it would take hundreds of digital photos to capture them, I prefer just to take notes on and/or transcribe what’s interesting to me.

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By: thefrogprincess http://www.historiann.com/2010/03/30/tuesday-round-up-girls-talk-edition-yee-haw/comment-page-1/#comment-584735 Tue, 30 Mar 2010 21:00:51 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=10156#comment-584735 And by that, I mean volume of sources, not bound volumes.

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By: thefrogprincess http://www.historiann.com/2010/03/30/tuesday-round-up-girls-talk-edition-yee-haw/comment-page-1/#comment-584733 Tue, 30 Mar 2010 21:00:03 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=10156#comment-584733 I asked a similar question at Notorious’s spot but I’m tailoring it slightly to how this conversation has played out.

On the issue of transcription: I used my digital camera predominantly for my dissertation research and I certainly recognize the disadvantages. In fact right now I’m transcribing some of the documents that are particularly difficult to read or incredibly dense. If it’s too difficult to read once, then I might as well transcribe it.

But, in terms of the archives, and assuming for the purposes of this conversation that time in the archives isn’t a problem (maybe a year or so) and cameras are allowed, what do those of you who swear by transcription do when your documents are incredibly long? Things like long reports, hundreds of folios each, with tons of descriptive detail. I type pretty quickly and fairly accurately but these kinds of things take months to type. At first, I was committed to typing but when it took me a full month (maybe six weeks) to get through just one volume out of hundreds that needed to be consulted, I had to switch to the camera.

I’d love to hear what you all do when it comes to that kind of volume.

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By: Indyanna http://www.historiann.com/2010/03/30/tuesday-round-up-girls-talk-edition-yee-haw/comment-page-1/#comment-584731 Tue, 30 Mar 2010 20:22:29 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=10156#comment-584731 When I got to BFU, the U had (in addition to the mumified ENIAC) *a* computer. It was a block long by a half-block deep, and they sometimes even allowed grad students to swing by with a fistful of punched cards, which a week later produced a baleful of printout paper that was incomprehensible, except to sit on.

I haven’t transitioned to digital camera-research yet, but when I go to my local, everybody is sitting there snapping away. Why do they charge a “fee” for this? Back before they paved Central Park West, a team-mate of mine and I showed up at the New-York Historical Society to snap pictures of a big box of documents–stat! The ms. chief at the time was known for barbecuing researchers and having them for dinner. But for whatever reason, he moved a huge table out of the way, spread out a green felt cloth on the parquet floor, loaned us a tripod, and let us go to work. I even learned after we got the film “developed” [This is described in the ABC-Clio Encyclopedia of Defunct Research Practices] that you could run the raw film through microfilm reader-printers for 15c/shot and avoid the significant costs of what were called “photostats.” Then the Wisconsin glacier retreated…

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2010/03/30/tuesday-round-up-girls-talk-edition-yee-haw/comment-page-1/#comment-584730 Tue, 30 Mar 2010 20:12:09 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=10156#comment-584730 And Jacob: I think I’ve got photocopies from a research trip 11 years ago that I literally haven’t looked at since I ordered them. It seemed like the right idea at the time–but I’ve learned that I just don’t go back into them to do the research once I’m back home.

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