Tips for Victorian Research
When researching and writing on any material, it can be helpful to go back to the original manuscript in your research. The original manuscript will allow you to see things that the author intended and you can compare the edits to that of later manuscripts. Since the Victorian period covers the last half of the 19th century many manuscripts are still around in libraries and archives around the world. You can access these manuscripts by visiting the archives yourself or by having copies of the original manuscripts made.
Basic Victorian Research Tips:
VictorianResearch.org: Offers a list of archives and other researching tips
The Victorian Studies Literary Archive: A list of over 150 archives and collections on the Victorian time period
United Kingdom's National Archives: Offers computer access to archives throughout the United Kingdom
When you visit use an archive or a special collection, generally you need to schedule an appointment in advance. Archives collect all types of writing about and by a particular author or person in history. For example if you were to visit an archive that focused on Charles Dickens you may be able to see original manuscripts, letters written to and by Charles Dickens, advertisements for his work, and reviews of the work. Library special collections are done in the same way with the focus being on a specific person or time period.
Victorian Special Collections:
Duke University: Houses several special collections focused on 19th century authors
As you begin to do the research you may find that most of the material you need to study is located in one or two particular archives. In order to plan a successful trip you must begin by contacting the library or archive to see if you are allowed direct access to the manuscript. Be prepared to follow any guidelines that they may in order to preserve the material for later generations. Some archives may have waiting lists, and so you will need to schedule your trip around that time period. You will not be allowed to take the material out of the library so be prepared to stay at the library to do your research. If you have two or three archives to visit in the same area you may try to coordinate your work so that you can visit them all in the same trip.
To make your trip go as successfully as possible make a list of the items that you would like to research and the time that you intend to research each item. Make sure that these items relate back to your research paper or book in a relevant way. Take the time to make careful notes and to cite the research as you do it. If you lose these citations it will not be easy to go back and look for them again.