After viewing the archives online, I definitely would prefer to see them in person. I decided to look at Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein notebooks. I found them fascinating. Seeing her handwriting and her edits make me appreciate having access to a word processor! It made me think about how those who did not live during the handwriting era are not familiar with that experience; and, therefore, do not view the notebooks with the same appreciation as those who have written a great deal by hand. Mary Shelley’s word choices and sentence deletions give me a sense of her skills as a writer. Even in 1816, there was a great deal of revision, revision, and more revision! Examining the writing, I wonder what type of pen Shelley used to write in her notebook. I found myself trying to figure out if she wrote in a hurry as to catch all of her ideas; or, did she take her time? Having seen the notebook, the handwriting, and the revision makes Shelley seem much more present. Seeing the work allows us to see the process as well as reinforces the image of a committed author as she writes a timeless classic. I’ve never taken the time to read Frankenstein, but after viewing the archives I’ve decided to add it to my reading list!
I imagine that advantages of archival data include having the information located all in one place (i.e. Building or website); the information is accessible—permission is not needed to view; and, archival information can be used to track changes in field of study as the archives are historical in nature. The struggles of archival research may include having found out the information you are looking for is not available; or, it may be available, but difficult to decipher. Also, perhaps the archival research is not online making it take longer to find the documents you need—travel may be required. Lastly, there may be archival information written by the author you are researching but the information available is not of any use to you.