Planning your funded research project:
Things to consider if you'll be using material from the archives

We're here to help

The archives at the Borthwick are in our care so that they can be used; we are keen to facilitate projects by individuals or groups, funded or unfunded.

So that we can help you to the best of our ability and you can get the best out of our help and facilities, we recommend that you take note of the following factors when planning your project.


Don't leave it too late to get in touch with us

Researchers planning funded projects are asked to get in touch with us at the earliest planning stage. We can help you work out how much we must charge you for copies of documents and the quickest and most efficient way to obtain access to them.

Please note that we can't offer free copying to research projects - several projects have come to us too late to factor in copying or other necessary archive costs, resulting in an adverse impact on the project.

It may be cheaper for you to buy copies of the documents

Sometimes it is cheaper and easier to purchase copies of documents rather than make regular trips to York.

We recommend that you contact us at the early stages of planning your project so that we can work out whether this will be the case for your particular project.

Remember that dealing with archives can't be rushed

When planning the timeline for your project it's easy to be too optimistic about how long it might take you to get information from archives.

It's worth bearing in mind that:

  • some documents are fragile and in need of conservation before you can see them. We can arrange conservation, but we will need to plan this to fit in with other conservation work. We may need to charge you for this service
  • we, like most other archives, limit the numbers of documents you can see at any one time in order to ensure that we care for them properly when they are in use – the most vulnerable part of their existence
  • if you wish to work mostly from copies of documents that document reproduction services are subject to regular demands and we will need to plan carefully to ensure we can deliver your copies to meet your timeline
  • we are here to help you make the most of your time at the Borthwick, so please ask if you are unsure how to prioritise your work


We can help you understand the documents you're viewing

Some documents, particularly medieval and early modern documents, can be hard to understand when you work with them for the first time.

We are happy to make our expertise available to assist in this – please do ask for help.

We can offer you advice

Borthwick staff have a range of expertise in, and knowledge of, the archives in our care.

We're happy to discuss which archives will be of most use to you.

We're helping other people too

Please bear in mind that your project is probably one of several we are helping with and that we will have to balance your needs against those of other people who wish to use the archives.


Borthwick Summer Institute 2015

Facilities for group work

We have special rooms for group study. If your project involves group work please let us know - it might be that we suggest that you use these rooms (rather than the searchroom) where you can talk and discuss your work with each other without worrying about disturbing other researchers.

The rooms must be booked in advance, and we provide a free training session in handling documents before you start.

If in doubt please talk to us: we want to help.

About the Project

This project, funded by the Marc Fitch Fund will prepare detailed, searchable on-line finding aids to the registers of the Archbishops of York from Edwin Sandys (1577) to John Williams (1650), including the associated vacancies, and link these finding aids to on-line digital images of the registers provided through the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded  York’s Archbishops’ Registers Revealed project.

Abp Reg 31 f. 22r

The output of the Fitch-funded project will therefore be freely accessible, searchable on-line finding aids, linked to high quality digital images of the Registers themselves for the whole of the period 1577-1650. This will make a major contribution to the on-going work in indexing the full run of the Registers from the beginning of the series to the abolition of episcopacy.

About the Registers 1577-1650

The archbishops’ registers are a key source for understanding the workings of the Church and its integration into and influence upon society in the period 1577-1650, throughout which the basis of religion, varieties of worship and the organisation and existence of a national Church were hotly contested.

The register record aspects of the everyday business of the Archbishop and aspects of the management of the archdiocese of York. However, although there is an established body of scholarship for the earlier medieval registers, the registers of post-reformation Archbishops remain little-explored

This project is, therefore, the first ever attempt to provide on-line images of the archbishops’ registers and detailed finding aids to the early modern records. The results of the project will allow the registers to be used and understood in a way that has not been possible before, and will help to open new avenues in early modern research.

The project will be of immediate benefit to the academic community, to local and family historians, and to a wide variety of other, hitherto unreached research communities who have been unable to access the resource for reasons of lack of technical skill, awareness of the content of the records, or their distance from York.

Project outputs

This will be the first project to make use of new technologies to provide scholarly and general access to these key records.

The project will create:

  • comprehensive indexes of places and persons;

  • subject indexes based on a controlled vocabulary established in the Mellon-funded pilot project;

  • transcriptions and translations of selected entries to facilitate access for people who do not have experience with these documents, nor Latin;

  • the facility for researchers to add their own translations, transcriptions and summaries to the finding aids, in a mediated system designed to engage and incorporate the expertise of researchers in the period.

Information about the project and its outcomes will be disseminated through:

  • social media, using the Borthwick’s existing platforms: Twitter, Facebook, Blog;

  • traditional media;

  • conference presentations, using scholarly, professional archival, amateur and local events.