Peter Drummey, How Archives Work

If you’re a serious student of the war, or any aspect of history, or even if you’re an aspiring historian, you’ll need to eventually find your way into some archives to do research. In this podcast, Liz Covart interviews Peter Drummey, an archivist and the Stephen T. Riley Librarian at the Massachusetts Historical Society.

According to the Ben Franklin’s World website, this is what we’ll learn in this episode:

What You’ll Discover

  • The founding of the Massachusetts Historical Society
  • The collections and archival focus of the MHS
  • The purpose of archives
  • How archives differ from libraries
  • The work archivists perform
  • How archivists’ arrangement and description of archival materials affects researchers’ use collections
  • How the MHS collects manuscripts, rare books, and printed materials for its collections
  • How the collection practices of the Massachusetts Historical Society has evolved over 225 years
  • Late-18th and early-19th-century ideas about document preservation
  • The digital collections and resources of the Massachusetts Historical Society
  • How the present influences the objectivity of archives and archive collecting
  • The Papers and “Midnight Ride” of Paul Revere
  • How archivists ensure historical materials will be around for researchers to use for years to come
  • How the Massachusetts Historical Society came to possess one of the largest collections of papers by Thomas Jefferson
  • Details about Thomas Jefferson, his home, and slaves
  • How archivists catalog and arrange large manuscript collections
  • Tips for researching in archives like the Massachusetts Historical Society

You can access the podcast here.



  1. Jonathan · · Reply

    Hey buddy, Did you see this and laugh like I did:

    Keep up the great work, and as always, GO HOKIES! -Jonathan-

    1. Just can’t make this stuff up.

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