Using Narrative Archival Data: Studying Food and Families in Hard Times


This case study is about using narrative archival sources in the social sciences, a research method which is distinct from using archival data that are statistical in nature, such as birth cohort data or archived qualitative data that have already been subject to primary analysis. Generally, archival material is a primary resource for historians, while social scientists will often only use archival material to contextualise other research evidence, such as interview data. However, this case study is concerned with using archival sources as central to the social scientific research process and describes a study which is using narrative archival data, namely, diary narratives collected by contributors to Mass Observation, to study food and families in hard times. The case study sets out some of the benefits and challenges of carrying out narrative archival research.

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