Using our Collections in your Studies: Introducing the Research Skills Series

cartoon books and globe on shelves

Research Skills Series

Most of us know the basics of using a lending library, and anyone who has studied history will have a grasp of what archives are, how they’re accessed and why they’re important. But seeing all of the possibilities of a collection for your particular area of study takes time; something many researchers don’t have. So we want to give you a few shortcuts, suggestions and an insider perspective, to help you make the best use of our archive and library collections.

Over the coming months our Honorary Research Associate Dr Alison Newby will be exploring the collection and putting together a series of blog posts about how it can be used. She’ll cover practicalities, such as how to use databases and collection information; she’ll highlight some collection strengths, such as studying oral histories; and she’ll also reflect on the issues that a collection like ours raises for research, such as reflecting a diversity of historical voices.

Alison is a historian by training, as well as a qualified coach working in the HE sector. For her, the roles of coach and historian involve using similar skills – including the abilities to see lots of different perspectives, and to pull together reflections based on the ‘stories’ people actually narrate. You can read about her coaching work here. On the history side, she completed her PhD on nineteenth-century American social and political history at the University of Manchester, and has been specialising in focused research projects bringing together race relations themes and materials from cultural institutions in the Manchester area. Having visited a variety of archives of different sizes in the UK and the USA, she is able to appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of each.

The posts in this Research Skills Series are aimed at researchers at all levels, so whether you’re just starting out with independent research or a school project, or you’re a seasoned researcher interested in maximising your time at the Resource Centre, we hope there will be something here for you. Check out the series to date (which includes some skills-focused past posts) in the Research skills category.

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Daniella Carrington: My placement at the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre & Education Trust

Here are Daniella’s final reflections on her museum studies work placement with us. We’re pleased she gained so much from the experience, and she has been a real asset to us over the past five months. Student placements are a great way for us to bring in new ideas and fresh insights, especially when, like Daniella, students have professional as well as academic knowledge and experience to contribute.

Thankfully we’re not saying goodbye to Daniella just yet – she’ll be staying with us on a voluntary basis throughout the summer to continue her work documenting and promoting the Coming in from the Cold project.

Institute for Cultural Practices

I chose the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre and Education Trust for my placement, before even starting the MA Art Gallery and Museum Studies (AGMS) programme. In the first couple of weeks of September 2016, I met the Director, Jacqueline Ould, and a few staff members at a talk they hosted alongside the Black Cultural Archives. I immediately liked their work, which reminded me of what I do home in Trinidad and Tobago, at the Culture Division. Right there, I knew the Centre and Trust was the place for me!

Photo for Blog Post 01-02-2017 A photograph of me taken by my supervisor Hannah Niblett

The Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre and Education Trust are two organisations with a common goal; to capture the life stories of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities in Manchester. They are named after Ahmed Iqbal Ullah, a Bangladeshi boy who lost his life defending a…

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Go Home? Book launch

Last week, along with our colleagues at the Manchester University Press, we hosted a large audience for the launch of the newly published book Go Home? The politics of immigration controversies.

Photograph by Daniella Carrington

Photograph by Daniella Carrington

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New research: Sikh activism and race relations organisations in Britain

It’s always gratifying to see our collections contributing to academic research and new publications.

Gyani Sundar Singh Sagar, who fought for turban-wearing Sikh men to be exempt from the law regarding motorcycle helmets. Image courtesy of Ujjal Singh

Gyani Sundar Singh Sagar, who fought for turban-wearing Sikh men to be exempt from the law regarding motorcycle helmets. Image courtesy of Ujjal Singh

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Starting a discussion about self-archiving political movements and the international left

An interesting post from Hatful Of History on activist archives and digitisation, with some interesting comments. These are issues that we’re tussling with here at the Resource Centre, as we look at how we can make our holdings more accessible, whilst managing issues around copyright and political and personal sensitivities…

Hatful of History

I have been in discussions with various people over the last few months about how movements ‘remember’ themselves and how they engage with their ephemeral history. I am interested in how these movements have often self-archived their materials and what they have done with these materials – are they open to researchers and people interested interested in the history of these movements? Some organisations and movements (as well as certain individuals) have donated their historical papers to various university archives or museums. These are valuable to researchers, but still privilege those who can gain access – usually academics and independent researchers who can afford to do archival research on site.

However some organisations and enterprising researchers are overcoming these obstacles by scanning and digitising the materials of the various progressive and left-wing movements across the Anglophone world. Sites such as the Marxist Internet Archive have been scanning many American, Canadian…

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