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Research and the Manuscript Tradition [Hardcover]

Frank G. Burke
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

January 1997 0810833484 978-0810833487 1
Researchers faced with using documentary sources for the first time, such as correspondence, diaries, and literary manuscripts, are plunged into a world far different from the familiar library setting, with its card or computer catalogs, bibliographies, and other resource-finding tools. Over and over, studies of research methodology among scholars reveal that they learn by some sort of collegial osmosis and general fumbling about until they figure things out.

There is an easier way. Burke explains the professional techniques employed by archivists and manuscript curators, describing what they do and why, so the beginning researcher has a foundation for understanding how to search and access personal papers. Burke surveys problems of organization, access, alternative sources, and legal issues with amusing anecdotes and examples.

Research and the Manuscript Tradition is a reflection on using manuscripts for research, administering manuscript and archival collections and institutions, and the lessons learned from teaching a manuscripts administration course for more than twenty years. It provides a solid theoretical base as well as practical advice and a glimpse of the satisfaction that can come from working with personal papers.

Contents: Yuan Shih-Kai, Harriet Monroe, and the Manuscript Tradition; The Recovery of Reality; Opening the Doors to Scholarship; Gathering the Evidence; Mapping the Roads to the Past; Tradition Confronts Technology; Organizing a Life; Good Deeds Do Not Go Unrewarded; The Cultural Crypt; Not by Vaults and Locks...; Law, Curatorial Ethics, and the Researcher; Personal Communication in the Electronic Age.

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Editorial Reviews


Burke's book, the culmination of thirty-five years in the archive profession spent mostly working with private papers, reminds us that personal papers are a superb asset for research and for preserving knowledge of the past. (Archavia)

The present book is the product of [the author's] teaching manuscript administration courses. This experience leads to the keen insight of this work in providing suggestions for research in archives...Burke's final chapter on digital archives will intrigue many future archivists...clear and insightful direction... (Lisca)

In this absorbing new book, Frank Burke shares his lifetime of insights into the American manuscript tradition. As an archivist, administrator, and teacher, Burke has acquired a keen insight into the preservation and access to our documentary heritage and that wisdom is bound up in this book...destined to become an archival classic. (A Modern Archives Reader)

Frank Burke takes on the task of educating researchers in the use and administration of archives and manuscript collections...Burke gives researchers a solid place to start...there is much to be learned from this book and all readers will benefit greatly from it. (New England Archivists)

A valuable handbook for anyone who needs to examine and analyze manuscript sources. (College & Research Libraries News)

Burke's anecdotal style is engaging and readable...this volume...has much to offer...students and historians alike will find this a very useful book...a welcome addition to the growing body of specialized literature on archives and manuscripts. (The Public Historian)

Burke has brought the world of private papers to life...provides an in-depth analysis...accessible to and prized by university and professional researchers. (Archivaria)

Every serious researcher should have this book in his library, or at least spend 4-5 hours at the library reading it. (Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society Quarterly)

Fortunately for researchers and archivists alike, the publication of this splendid book should go far toward providing graduate students and other budding researchers with fundamental skills and knowledge that will enable them to exploit research materials wisely and effectively. It should be required reading in every doctoral and archives program in the nation. (American Archivist)

About the Author

Frank G. Burke is Professor Emeritus, College of Library and Information Services, University of Maryland at College Park. Over the past thirty-five years he has held positions of responsibility at the University of Chicago Special Collections, the Library of Congress Manuscript Division, and the National Archives.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Scarecrow Press; 1 edition (January 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810833484
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810833487
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,824,667 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction to manuscript research October 22, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Despite the fact that this book was written for the use of post-graduate students attempting manuscript research, I found it extremely helpful in my introduction to archives work. The book clearly explains different methods and theories for working with manuscript materials. It also provides a perspective on the user that is often missing in introductory archive courses.
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