Quick Search:

Using Official Correspondence for Primary Research

Callister, Graeme ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3651-3919 (2021) Using Official Correspondence for Primary Research. Adam Matthew Digital.

Full text not available from this repository.


This Case Study offers an introduction to using official correspondence as a primary source, suggesting some of the ways in which such correspondence can be read, interrogated, and interpreted to understand past events. It does this through an evaluation of correspondence surrounding complaints against Jonathan Belcher, Governor of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, between January and November 1739. The sources consist primarily of letters sent to two key British government ministers: the Duke of Newcastle and Sir Charles Wager. In evaluating this official correspondence, the case study highlights the importance of approaching such sources with a critical eye. It outlines some of the dishonesty, deceit and trickery that can be found in these supposedly objective documents, showing that ‘official’ should not be confused with trustworthy. By digging into the sources and their background, the case study draws out some of the rivalries and factions in New England politics of the 1730s, and shows how taking account of such information can shed light on the primary documents. It also highlights how such correspondence can be used to understand the interconnectivity of Britain and the American colonies, through links of patronage, friendship, favour, and lobbying – all of which appear in these sources to both help and hinder effective government. The case study further examines how far these sources can be used to understand the problems of British rule in America in the decades before the War of Independence, showing how official documents can be used to assess longer-term trends and wider contexts

Item Type: Other
Status: Published
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CD Diplomatics. Archives. Seals
C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CD Diplomatics. Archives. Seals > CD921 Archives
D History General and Old World > D History (General)
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
E History America > E151 United States (General)
School/Department: School of Humanities
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/5343

University Staff: Request a correction | RaY Editors: Update this record