by which I mean the snow is deep and crisp and even…
So – for the first time I have cancelled my afternoon class because of adverse weather; and my planned afternoon work’s yesterday (research in the archives) was also cancelled…
So: it’s an day to be spent with a nice new notebook, all pristine and neat and waiting to be written in, drawing up a research plan for one of my new projects. I use a separate notebook for each of my projects, and always begin with a statement of what I want to find out, followed by a list of as many sources as I can think of (followed by several blank pages to be filled in as I discover new sources). Each page has a left hand margin, where I tick off each source as I check it: then details of what the source is, and where I can actually access it: then three narrow margins on the right hand side. The first of these is for the date when I checked the source: the second indicates whether I may need to revisit the source; the third is a yes/no box so that I can see if I actually found what I was looking for.
These first few pages act as an aide-memoire so that I can see at a glance what I’ve looked at and what I need to look at. Thereafter each and every piece of information I discover is noted down on a fresh page (with the date, respository and reference number as a heading).
By the time I’ve finished a project I usually have several notebooks, all crossreferenced to each other and to a larger file where I store copies of documents.
At this stage, my poor notebooks are no longer pristine and neat: they bristle with post-it notes, bookmarks (often old train tickets!), odd bits of paper stapled in, drawings etc. But the notebooks are never, ever thrown away: once the project is complete the notebooks are numbered and carefully stored away, and the number (and title project) added to a separate checklist. Just in case I ever need to refer to them again, or if a query is raised, or if new information comes to hand and the project needs revising. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: never, ever throw away your original notes.
Each notebook also has my address written inside: just in case I have a fit of absent-mindedness and leave it in an archive. Archive and Records Office staff will ALWAYS return this sort of lost property if they have an address to send it to.