Skip to Main Content

Researching with Archival & Special Collections Primary Source Materials

Critical & Creative Questioning

Being aware of and acknowledging the biases, gaps, and silences in archives and special collections primary sources is a vital first step. As you proceed with your research, the next is to ask and address questions such as:

  • What information is missing?
  • Whose voices are missing?
  • Who is speaking for whom (i.e. whose perspective is present, whose is missing?)
  • What bias is present in the source itself?
  • In what context was this source created?
  • Where else might any missing pieces be found? (i.e. another library or archive or within a community)
  • Who might I ask for ideas or guidance? (i.e. instructor, archivist, librarian, scholar, relevant community member)
  • How will I acknowledge and analyze any bias, gaps, or silences in my final paper or project?