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Margaret (Peg) Allen has researched the question of what books should be kept as historical resources in libraries serving nursing populations. Please see a reprint of her original article, "Celebrating nursing history: What to keep".
Primary source material, which includes diaries, journals, correspondence, organizational records, photographs, manuscripts and other original material, are the data sources for historical research. By its very nature a primary source is unique and is not reproduced or published. If someone has taken the time to save the material, and it has found its way into an archive, a researcher can go to the archive and see the material. All nurses are encouraged to support nursing archives and history centers which preserve our professional heritage. For a listing of some nursing archives and history centers please see the Archives, History Centers and Museums page.
Archives and special collections have rules and restrictions upon such use. Below is a list of typical restrictions, but researchers are urged to contact the archives before visiting to determine their specific policies.
1. All materials must be used within the archives under supervision. Only pencils and paper are allowed into the reading room.
2. To help preserve the collections for the use of others, researchers are required to:
- Take notes in pencil; the use of pens is prohibited.
- Avoid marking documents in any way. Do not use sticky notes on documents.
- Maintain the existing order of documents and report papers which appear to be out of order.
- Exercise care when handling fragile materials, especially rare books.
- Avoid taking notes directly on top of documents or leaning on documents.
- Food or drink are prohibited in the reading room.
3. The quantity of folders delivered to a researcher at any one time may be restricted.
4. Photocopying may be done for the convenience of the researcher only: copies must be destroyed upon completion of use and not disseminated further.
5. All materials must be returned to the desk when the researcher is finished. Please do not leave materials unattended for long periods of time (such as a meal break).
6. Any publication of materials from the archives must be acknowledged.
Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology
The Society of American Archivists has a A Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology available online
A Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology
Using Archives: A Practical Guide for Researchers This set of guidelines is from the National Archives of Canada, and is an excellent resource for researchers working with an archives.
Created by the American Social History Project / Center for Media and Learning (Graduate Center, CUNY) and the Center for History and New Media (George Mason University).
Making Sense of Evidence guides to primary source material. There are two sections: "Making Sense of Documents" and "Scholars in Action"