The latest issue of Social History of Medicine includes two pieces related to historiographic research methods that may be of interest to our readership.
In light of (and as case against) the downsizing of the Office of History at the American National Institutes of Health and the prevailing uncertainty about its future capacity to be of service to historians, David Cantor has taken it upon himself to provide a guide to the available records, those beyond the collections held at the National Library of Medicine, the National Archives and in private possession, “those squirreled away in the NIH itself, in filing cabinets, on servers and computer systems, and within the records management system, many of which are uncatalogued and can be tricky to find.”
It also outlines how to best approach the bureaucratic system for viewing available records. Upon the dismantling of their historical office, historians will be left to navigate the complexities and social politics of finding and accessing materials at the Institutes without guidance, and as such the insights provided by this short work will likely prove invaluable.
The abstract can be found here: Finding Historical Records at the National Institutes of Health.
Martin Gorsky, out of the Centre for History in Public Health (Faculty of Public Health and Policy), London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, provides another methodological guide. His work employs a case study (on the recent decentralization of public health services in Britain) to introduce the search engine interface of the UK Web Archive (colloquially called the Dark Domain Archive) and discuss the opportunities it provides, the challenges posed by its current functionality, and its relation to the future of historiography at large. The analyses conducted were both quantitative and qualitative, and analytic processes include thematic analysis, discourse analysis, and analyses of the selected sites as visual artifacts.
The full article can be found open access here: Into the Dark Domain: The UK Web Archive as a Source for the Contemporary History of Public Health.