This post originated in the first iteration of “The Rise of Graphic Archives” First-Year Research Seminar that I taught at NYU Gallatin in Spring 2014.

You’ve been getting ready to start research in the archives and have been working on finding secondary sources to help enrich your proposal. I’ve introduced Zotero, an open-source citation manager, which will help you organize your citations and notes for your primary and secondary citations. In class tomorrow, we’ll be dedicating some time to working on our annotated bibliographies and proposals together. The resources below, some of which I’ve already shown in class, will help you with your work.

  • Logistics of Archival Research. In addition to the guide on “Using Archives” from the Society of American Archivists, Purdue OWL has a guide, “Requesting Materials from Archives,” that answers the questions of when and how to request materials, giving tips for the sorts of questions you should ask of archivists. In this post of archival research advice by Stuart Schrader, the section on Technology productively outlines how to take helpful notes and photographs during your research so that you’ll have all the necessary references and information when you sit down to write later.
  • Using Zotero in your Word Processor. After you download and start using Zotero to find, capture, and manage your citations, you may want to be easily able to embed these sources in your writing. To do that, you can download a plugin that will add a Zotero plugin to your word processor. If you’d like some more out-of-class tips and tricks on using Zotero, there’s a library of Zotero screencasts.
  • How to Cite and Annotate Your Secondary Sources with Zotero. In class, I demonstrated how to add the Chicago annotated style to Zotero, so that you can compose your annotations alongside your citations within Zotero itself. This guide from Emory walks you through this process in a step-by-step fashion with the help of screenshots.
  • How to Cite Your Primary, Archival Sources with Zotero. When it comes to citing your archival sources, you’ll find that there is no one way to do it, especially when it comes to more ephemeral material. This guide from OWL Purdue, appropriately called “Citing Archival Resources,” suggests some good practices. In any case, you should definitely retain and include all the box and folder information about your objects of research. This guide from Harvard, “How to Use Zotero for Archival Research,” proposes how to utilize Zotero to best organize your archival materials. Even if you choose not to go into such depth and perhaps keep the bulk of your notes in a single document in your word processor, this guide will come in handy when you figure out which of the archival materials you’ll want to write about and, thus, need to put into Zotero for the eventual bibliography of your research paper. Further, the section that tells you to take photographs of the boxes and folders you’re looking at before you photograph anything inside them will allow you to keep your images organized into sections based on where you saw what.