Learning from the Past: A Guide for the Curious Researcher

Learn how to understand the past to explain the present, and get to know the amazing sources and resources of the British Library.

Discover sources that help you understand the past and explain the present!

The language of history determines how we view our world and understand urgent issues, such as the environment, conflict, and human rights. This language is shaped by documents held in libraries and archives, and how researchers interpret these are constantly developing. This course will provide you with skills to discover and critically analyze past records, including hidden treasures from the British Library’s collections. Researchers at the University of Nottingham and the University of Birmingham will show how these collections influence how we view our world today.

What topics will you cover?

Week 1 – Language and History

  • Why does the past matter today?
  • History as a language – and how to crack the code….
  • Reading critically

Week 2 – Images and Artefacts

  • Photographs: A Window on the Past?
  • Maps and Historical Images as Sources
  • Finding Sources in Library Catalogues and Archives

Week 3 – Thinking Outside the Box…

  • The impact of the present on understanding the past
  • Sound Collections and Oral History
  • Digital Sources & the Archived Web
  • Plan your own research project

Who is the course for?

No prior knowledge or training is needed. This course is for people interested in how history informs how we view the world today or who are already using records to find out about the past. You may be thinking about starting a postgraduate course, wanting to learn more about a specialist interest, or working on a family or local history project.

What software or tools do you need?

You don’t need any specific tools beyond those that you are using to access this course.

Learning from the Past: A Guide for the Curious Researcher

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Future Syllabus