Example: Using the archive’s ‘Historical Notes’

Historical Notes – one example of how to use an individual archive document to answer a research question.

Historical notes picture

Source: Richard Burton Archive, Swansea University

This document, produced in 1898, could help you to gain a general idea of the history of the railway during the nineteenth century. It gives you a first hand account of how the railway operated and it deals with the industrial side of its operation, such as which materials were used to build the railway.

Also this document looks at who ran the businesses involved in its operation and the monetary exchanges that went on between the men who headed these companies. It shows you how the railway operated and helps to give the reader a concise telling of the railway’s history since its creation and how it progressed throughout the first century that it operated in.

You could study the history of the business in conjunction with other archives such as financial ledgers in order to delve more deeply into the history which is described in the historical notes.

Potential research questions which you could follow by using the historical notes:

– What problems did The Swansea & Mumbles Railway face during the course of the nineteenth century?
– How did nineteenth century businesses in Swansea operate?
– What were the characteristics of the railway industry in Swansea during the mid to late nineteenth century?