All experienced researchers have a list of resources that they go to first when starting a new project. When the information dries up because the primary sources are missing (e.g. a fire that destroyed a set of documents), then a researcher must become creative in carving out a ‘new road’.
In Ireland there are many gaps in the archival record. For example, for historians of the city of Cork there were four major events that caused the destruction of records: the Courthouse fire in 1891; the burning of Cork City Hall in 1921; the destruction of the Public Record Office at the Four Courts, Dublin, in 1922; and then there was the great paper recycling drive of the 1950s that hoovered up many estate and business papers.
However, with a little bit of lateral searching it’s amazing how much can be found in archives outside Cork and Ireland. Despite this, sometimes it is impossible to fill in information gaps and some researchers can find this difficult to accept.
Following on from my search for alternative sources I’ve begun compiling background notes about different areas – I try to get to know the context as this can help to understand what happened and, in addition, possibly direct attention to alternative sources of information.
(In addition, I’m interested in reconstructing how various now defunct administrative offices functioned and the effects of legislation on commercial and family structures that preserved or passed on wealth.)
On this site I present these notes here as they may help others begin their own research. Each set of notes includes a short bibliography. Please remember that they are not complete and all details should be checked. Go to Research Notes to read these.