Inside the Library’s Labyrinth #7 – The Power of Three

This week’s highlighted resource is Archives Direct which comprises three separate primary resource databases that contain a wide range of documents, maps, newspapers and significant people profiles which can be accessed here.

If you want somebody to remember your point or phrase or information, then put it in three separate parts.  For as long as I can remember the advice I was given was always to think about the power of three when trying to communicate.  The more you think about it, the more it appears true.  The founding fathers in America regarded the unalienable right of all its citizens to be ‘Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness’.  The slogans of the French Revolution in the eighteenth century were, ‘Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite’; similarly the Russian Revolution was undertaken under the slogan ‘Peace, Bread and Land’.  In popular culture who is not drawn to that modern take on the estates agent ‘Location, Location, Location’ and who can forget the resounding chorus of Swedish popsters Abba’s hit single, ‘Money, Money, Money!’

The University of Warwick subscription to Archives Direst is similarly limited to three archive sources. They could not be more different in content but like other archive portals, Archives Direct allows you to search across all the collections (that’s 3, remember).  Simply look for the AMExplorer link beneath each of the databases. 

Advanced search allows you to focus your search in all the usual ways (by date, collection, region and maps).  The Archives Direct Help function gives a neat summation of the Boolean functionality used on all archive sites (see here).

In line with the National Archives, it also lets you expand your search by using stemming and proximity.  By ticking the Word Stemming option you can command the search engine to return results on all derivations of your search word(s). A keyword search for “book” will return book, books, booked etc. Proximity looks for words or phrases that occur within a specified number of words of each other. This can be used as an alternative to the AND Boolean operator

Other generic features that are worth describing in a bit more detail:

Chronology  –  this allows you to view important events and activity related to the archive displayed in date order.

Interactive Maps  –  this allows you to explore the entire Archives Direct collection geographically, narrowing your searches by region and country. Do we aware that your access to documents will be restricted to those archives purchased by the University of Warwick.

Essays – this provides the user with a selection of essays written by leading academics with hypertext links to the original documents.  There are also a number of videos from academics explaining their research and their use of archive documentation.

Popular searches – this provides a list of key words which can prove useful as part of an initial search.

RefWorks / Endnote  –  this allows you to export the bibliographic details of each document to RefWorks or EndNote.

OpenURLs  –  these connects you directly to your library catalogue, allowing you to easily access material recommended on this site.


The three Archives Direct databases that the University of Warwick has access to are, in the order they come on the web page:

Continental Print: Africa 1834-1966  –   the archives kept here begin with coastal trading in the early nineteenth century and the Conference of Berlin of 1884 and the subsequent Scramble for Africa. They then follow the abuses of the Congo Free State, fights against tropical disease, Italy’s defeat by the Abyssinians, World War II, Apartheid in South Africa and colonial moves towards independence.

The Nixon Years, 1969-1974  –  Top-level Anglo-American discussions and briefing papers dominate these papers. There is also a wealth of material on social conditions, domestic reforms, trade, culture and the environment.

Women in The National Archives  –  This collection consists of a finding aid to women’s studies resources in The National Archives and original documents on the suffrage question in Britain, the Empire and colonial territories.  The original documents cover the campaign for women’s suffrage in Britain, 1903-1928 and the granting of women’s suffrage in colonial territories, 1930-1962

For a brief outline and some more examples of the power of three you could go here.  The power of three has a much deeper history in thought.  It is believed to have been at the heart of Hegel’s powerful contribution to philosophy.  For those interested in pursuing the subject a little further you could take a look at our e-book selection here. It only remains for me to remind you in what seems an appropriate way for this blog:

Read

Research

Write

Have you used Archives Direct before? Did it work for you? Tweet us at @warwicklibrary, email us at libraryblogs@warwick.ac.uk, or leave a comment below.

By Stephen Hedges

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