PROJECT: The Tools in the Tradition

In my years as a university instructor, I assembled a number of documents on research skills for my students. And I’ve been considering putting together something similar, bit specifically adapted for to anarchist topics, for the use of would-be scholars with no institutional support or access. Over the last decade, I’ve worked through an awful lot of the problems likely to be faced by independent scholars trying to work at a high level without the tools that students and university-based scholars can often take for granted. And perhaps some of what I’ve learned will be useful to others.

I’ve worked up a rough outline of topics. My plan is to mix practical advice and lists of resources with stories about my own research experiences. In part, I hope to communicate a bit of the fun involved in these historical treasure hunts. I also want to talk very seriously about the reasons that one might simply skip the historical digging, and what sort if research could be expected to take its place is we attempt to approach anarchy and anarchism without reference to tradition.

And I would most sincerely welcome any requests or suggestions about things I have left out.

THE TOOLS IN THE TRADITION:
A Guide to DIY Historical Research for Anarchists Outside the Academy

INTRODUCTORY:

  • What is an independent scholar?
  • What is the “anarchist tradition”

OUR LOVE-HATE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE PAST:

  • The Anarchy of Events
  • The Uses of Tradition
  • Escaping from the 19th Century

THEORY:

  • A Sketch of Anarchist History
  • Theories of Anarchist Development

SOURCES:

  • Digital archives and collections
  • Subscription sites
  • Microforms
  • Key physical archives
  • Interlibrary loan / library networks

SEARCH STRATEGIES:

  • Building searches
  • Chasing footnotes
  • Getting help from others
  • Digital search challenges

PROBLEMS OF INTERPRETATION:

  • The importance of contexts
  • Shifting keywords

BEING YOUR OWN TRANSLATOR

ORGANIZING YOUR RESEARCH

ARCHIVING YOUR FINDS

SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT GEAR

About Shawn P. Wilbur 2038 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.