Thursday, 18 February 2010

archival research

Yesterday I went to the State Library to do some research for a supervisor of mine. It involved archival digging with the micro-film machine. This was one of the first gems I found. It was from a newspaper from 1888 called Southern Queensland Bulletin:

I managed to find a few references to the research topic I was employed to investigate, although compared to the way research is conducted now with computers (and the advent of instant 'searchability') this kind of research initially seemed so tedious. After a few hours of sifting, though, I came to realise the vast potential of this kind of research for uncovering such a broad array of data. It reminded me of why my research is qualitative. In sitting down and 'chatting' about something, or sifting through years of really old papers, you can discover things that a direct question (or a Likert scale) or a google search string won't. And those little bits you discover at the periphery might be crucial. 

I was also reminded that the social ills that seem to plague us according to popular discourse (well, my mother watches A Current Affair and Today Tonight, so...) have, in fact, been plaguing us for quite some time. The form of these ills (and I'd dispute whether they are actually ills at all, in fact) have certainly changed, and the mediums by which they're transmitted are certainly recent inventions, but they're still the same in many ways.

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