historical archival research

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Media Researcher – often anonymous but rightly so.

Media researcher

Undertaking media research often means signing a non-disclosure agreement. Being silent on research undertaken is important for many projects.

Anonymous and rightly so

It is understandable why this is the case. Many media companies spend years on specific projects. Talking about it on social media or elsewhere could jeopardise the deployment of extensive resources. For example, a competitor could copy the idea.

Sometimes non-disclosure includes that my input does not appear in production credits. Such instances are not a concern. Many clients have presented my work satisfied with the results. It is a warm feeling to know my research is enriching their intellectual property.

Social media posts often seek to illuminate what an individual or organisation has achieved. Not all those contributing to that success are credited. This is true for me despite working as an individual.

Seeking an independent researcher for media

Many seek my services because I am able to provide an unbiased viewpoint. This may simply enrich their knowledge on a topic. Essentially my duty is to provide information based on empirical research and it is a highly rewarding one.

My media research has involved projects for mainly film, television, radio and design agencies. Experience to quickly grasp the essence of subjects in historical research helps me here. Adapting to client needs in media sectors is similar.

Topics and media research

Topically, media research has mostly included music, companies, individuals and major historical events. In this work I have used archival, audio recordings, secondary printed materials and internet sources. These sources are used frequently in my independent historical research also.

Many in media have excellent research skills evident in projects I assist. Archival research tends to be where I provide help to media clients. Cataloguing methods means finding information is difficult for non-regular users of an archive. Also, familiarity with official records often means that I extrapolate critical elements more efficiently.

The archives I use most frequently are the National Archives, British Library and Imperial War Museum.

Please get in touch with me from the media

If you are working in media and think that hiring an independent researcher with archival and historical knowledge will help then please do not hesitate to contact me to discuss your project here.

Researcher at archives

An unusual job researcher…

Archive researcher is an unusual job in many ways. Many will know I am based in the United Kingdom. Many of my clients need my archive researcher services from abroad so I never meet them. We do have very detailed email communication instead. This is a very important part of my job that I enjoy. Over ten years typing away means I have learned to type quickly though!

Email is a good way to form a working relationship as an archive researcher but I also like talking to my clients. Usually this is using the old-fashioned telephone. However, I like to use video conferencing or calling software also. There are many different versions with Skype and Facebook proving to be popular. Please get in touch here if you would like to call and discuss a project.

It is common for clients to start their research then seek an archive researcher to help. This is a very good start for the relationship between my clients and I. When there is already work on a project I am adept at picking up the research. Sometimes I can help clients find new research sources. Please contact me here if you need help with an on-going research project.

More than one archive researcher?

An archive researcher works often with other researchers on projects with a client. Sometimes a project can benefit from having more than one archive researcher. In these circumstances I am happy to work with another archive researcher. Most cases this has happened has been on book projects. Communication is important and this is one of my main skills.

History and media

History is often the focus of my archive researcher but I work in many areas. Media has begun to be as popular. In the past I have worked for a number of well-known media organisations producing film and television. If you are a media company looking for an archive researcher in the United Kingdom then please contact me here.

Most of my archive researcher work is self-directed once the project outputs have been agreed. It does allow freedom to work by oneself in certain circumstances. It is crucial to ensure that communication with the client is maintained. Reporting is therefore a crucial part of my work. During the course of a project I am happy to report and demonstrate progress. If this sounds good for you then please contact me here.

Hiring an archive researcher

Many find the prospect of hiring an archive researcher a daunting prospect. This is because it is not something that is common. The project that you are considering may need a researcher or you may be able to do some of the research yourself. Please feel free to get in touch with me here if you would like to and discuss your needs. I will be happy to provide any advice or assistance.

Researching at an archive

As an archive researcher most of my work involves working at archives in the United Kingdom. Familiarity with an archive and their catalogue can help speed the research process along. At the National Archives I have been researching there for over fifteen years. My extensive experience using different sources, such as microfilms, means the research process is not impeded. This is why it can be beneficial to hire a professional archive researcher.

My professional qualifications come from historical research. It appears to me that research skills gained in this field are very valuable to clients. This is because a number of disciplines come to me when they need an archive researcher. If you need an archive researcher with these skills then please get in touch here.

World War Two Researcher

As a World War Two researcher over the past decade I have worked on a considerable number of aspects of the conflict. The main archives that I use as a World War Two researcher are the National Archives and the Imperial War Museum. Both are located in London in the United Kingdom.

Hiring a World War Two researcher for your own project can be a daunting prospect. It could be a very specific topic that you are seeking for your needs as an individual or as an organisation. Please be assured that as a World War Two researcher I have developed an extensive knowledge of the conflict. I would be delighted to assist you with your research.

A World War Two Researcher for Individuals

For most individual clients the most frequent work as a World War Two researcher is that of completing the history of a person in one of the armed services. Over the past ten years army, navy and air force cases have been explored in all the major theatres of war.

In terms of the British army, North Africa and Italy are where a fair proportion of my work as a World War Two researcher is. More recent interpretations of the conflict from the British perspective have highlighted that British Prime Minister Winston Churchill thought the Suez Canal was vital for victory. This view was shared among the Allies. Defeating the Axis forces in North Africa before moving up Italy to Germany was pursued. Many serving in the British army therefore engaged in this programme.

Histories of naval personnel have seen me research D-Day, arctic convoys and the isles of Greece as a World War Two researcher. Of all the armed services, naval personnel are often more difficult to explore. Sometimes the service record has shore bases but not vessels served on. Nonetheless, in most cases this can be resolved.

The air force played a key role in the defence of Britain during the early years of the war. Many of my cases regarding service histories as a World War Two researcher focus on this period. Many of the records for this passage of the conflict have been digitised and viewed regularly. However, training facilities for pilots and other airmen attended require my attention. This helps as a World War Two researcher to ensure that the entire course of service is represented.

A World War Two Researcher for Organisations

Many organisations have a wider set of circumstances than individuals for their need to hire a World War Two researcher. Last year as a World War Two researcher I explored the network of different radio facilities in Western Europe. These played a significant supporting role not only to aircraft but also to ships navigating in waters patrolled by Axis U-boats. It has been exceptionally engaging to learn of the varying qualities of wavelengths and transmitters. Also the sometimes quite extraordinary locations that these were deployed.

Most recently my work as a World War Two researcher has seen me examine the role of Special Operations Executive (SOE). This includes interplay with their American counterpart the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). In this work many diverse locations across occupied Europe have been explored. This revealed some tension between the Allied intelligence communities existed despite there being a common foe. However, it would be wrong to suggest this dominated the relationship. But it certainly played a role in how resources and personnel were deployed in the conflict.

Another facet of my work as World War Two researcher has been to determine how British embassies and consulates functioned during the Second World War. This has been quite demanding work. This is owing to the fact that there are a great many records to examine in this regard. Most of this work has centred upon how there was a “business as usual” ethnic among Civil Servants. They had to maintain certain functions during a time of great upheaval globally. Diplomacy did not cease to function and actually, in some cases, it increased exponentially. Britain and her Allies sought to cement relationships with many countries that were not actively engaged in combat roles. These were, however, supplying resources to the Allied cause.

Use Archival Researcher as your World War Two researcher

If you are in need of a World War Two researcher and think I may be able to assist you with your project then please click here to contact me or please feel free to give me a call or for a free quote on 07734739167 or +44 7734739167 or email me: dr.maslen@archivalresearcher.co.uk

Refugee Research in 2018

Over the course of my career as a historical researcher I have focused intently on refugee research. Most recently I have been helping undertake refugee research for a book regarding a Jewish family that were separated as a consequence of the German occupation of the Netherlands during World War Two. My role in this piece of refugee research was to help the author undertake some refugee research in London at the National Archives. This aspect was exploring how refugees made their way to the United Kingdom using a variety of different vessels to make their way to a number of British ports. Jewish refugees from the Netherlands made this journey under great duress under desperate circumstances as the Nazi authorities closed in on Jews still living in the Netherlands. Some family members in the book were found through refugee research to have met their fate in the Holocaust. Furthermore, my help in this refugee research was also helpful in identifying where some of the refugees lived during their stay in the United Kingdom.

In 2016 and 2017 it was also my pleasure to work on refugee research for a number of clients that were seeking to find out where their ancestors had migrated from. My refugee research was, once again, focused at the National Archives and the British Library in London where I explored many refugee groups that had made their way to the United Kingdom during the nineteenth century. Such refugee research was rather challenging as it focused more on political refugees from many of the revolutions that occurred in mainland Europe, especially those around 1848. Despite the United Kingdom not being one of the main reception countries, my refugee research was able to identify several important movements and highlight for my clients some of the circumstances and processes that their ancestors would have undergone to enter the country.

Some of you reading may ask when my interest in refugee research began. This was back in 1996 when, under Professor Panikos Panayi at De Montfort University in Leicester in the United Kingdom, I began to take an interest in refugee research in my undergraduate studies. Our course was rather forward thinking in terms of historical topics and it was one the first courses in the United Kingdom where refugee research, race and ethnic studies and other aspects of migration formed part of the syllabus during the mid-1990s.

One of the most interesting books on refugee research I first read is by Michael Marrus and it is called ‘The Unwanted’ which initially published by Oxford University Press in 1988. This book opened up the world of refugee research for me because it highlighted some of the main movements of refugees that had occurred and defined some of the main characteristics of study. It is a book that I highly recommend on refugee research if one would like an excellent overview. One of the most engaging aspects that I found in this book was the refugees generated as a consequence of the First World War. It was evident to me very quickly that this conflict has so many aspects that up until that I was rather ignorant of, particularly the scale of human displacement in Central Europe. Indeed, as I am sure many of you might remember, the focus of historical writing presented at pre-university level tended to be on the military aspects of the First World War and particularly trench warfare. Aspects such as refugee research were not, if my memory serves me correctly, at the forefront.

Once I had completed my undergraduate degree I opted to remain at De Montfort University for my first postgraduate Masters Degree in Modern History to pursue refugee research. One of the most enticing topics that I came across during my undergraduate studies on refugee research was the European Voluntary Worker programme following the Second World War that I discuss more fully below as it would form my PhD research and first major publication. For my main thesis of refugee research I focused on the communities in the city of Leicester that had formed as a consequence of the European Voluntary Programme. My refugee research found that the Polish, Serbian and Ukrainian nationalities appeared to be the largest groups in the city with all three having religious sites and social establishments. For my refugee research I trained in oral history and conducted a number of in-depth life interviews to get a better understanding of some of the cultural practices and histories of each refugee community. For those that are seeking to embellish their refugee research then I would highly recommend this process but one must, of course, undertake the appropriate training at a recognised establishment and proceed with as much sensitivity as possible. My refugee research on each community tended to find that the 1960s and early 1970s tended to be when each community had most cultural activity being undertaken although there had been continuous activities.

Since then I have read, worked and published in the field of refugee research a great deal. It would not be until 2011 that I would publish my first work on refugee research for Lambert Academic Publishing which was centred on Britain’s European Voluntary Worker Programme following the Second World War. The book explores how a contract labour programme selected potential recruits from among a pool of over a million refugees using a number of techniques. These hoped to select not only those that were likely to be fittest for manual labour but also those among the population of refugees that were causing political difficulties for the British occupation authorities as well as the British Government. Essentially, my refugee research found that the refugees were being used by the negotiators from the Soviet Union as a stumbling block in post-war negotiations that were determining the future of Europe. It was therefore prudent for the British Government to begin to make an indent of the issue of the refugees and provide something a further example to other countries thinking of accepting more refugees. Despite their endeavour there were a number of flaws in the programme, such as misleading information given to refugees on the number of years that they would have to work in Britain before being able to remain permanently or migrate onward, some rather tawdry employment roles and, of course, accommodation that ought to have been of a higher standard. Nonetheless, it was possible through my refugee research that there were some quite extraordinary developments in the accommodation sector, propaganda to ease social integration and some efforts with civic society that were worth uncovering.

Using Archival Researcher for your Refugee Research

If you have some refugee research that would like to undertake then please give a call to discuss your project and obtain a free quotation on 07734739167 from inside the United Kingdom and +44 7734739167 from outside or email me: dr.maslen@archivalresearcher.co.uk



Historical Researcher in 2017

As a historical researcher working in London and the United Kingdom I engage with many different topics and time periods at a variety of archives and libraries. This is owing to the fact that I work as a historical researcher with private individuals, companies and organisations on a number of diverse projects.

In the last year as a historical researcher in London my topics of research included some international history such as developments in British embassies in the Ottoman Empire, trade and shipping in East Asia in the nineteenth century and construction in the West Indies during the eighteenth century.

Some engaging research was also undertaken as a historical researcher on twentieth century Britain including developments of deportation of politically undesirable individuals, the reception of refugees, the history of block printing in England and disturbances in the prison system by inmates.

Going a little further back in time, I worked on an exciting project as a historical researcher on trade from the port of London in the fifteenth century, punishment in the British army in the eighteenth century and nursing in Britain in the nineteenth century.

As always, military history featured prominently this year as a historical researcher, with both World War One and World War Two occupying most of my time. From life in the trenches during World War One, I did some historical research on the life of several soldiers that fought on the Western Front in 1916 and 1917. Given the centenary remembrance of this conflict, it has been particularly poignant as a historical researcher to undertake this duty.

Using Archival Researcher as your Historical Researcher

If you are in need of a historical researcher and think I may be able to assist you with your project then please feel free to give me a call or for a free quote on 07734739167 or +44 7734739167 or email me: dr.maslen@archivalresearcher.co.uk

History Research

DR Hywel Maslen History Researcher

Dr Hywel Maslen History Research

Undertaking history research in London in the United Kingdom it is also important to me to spend some time exploring history research abroad.

This year I decided to leave London for the summer and spend some time in Rome to explore history research in a city seen by many as one of the most historic cities in Europe. Certainly the number of fellow tourists in Rome in August seem to share that view!

Through the quite intense heat in Rome this summer, it was possible to see how history research informs many of the main attractions and their visitors. Many of the guides that can help you explore Rome use the latest history research to embellish their tours which was very pleasing to engage with. They are constantly updating their presentations to ensure that, year on year, they can deliver the most recent developments in history research to ensure even returning tourists can increase their understanding of this wonderful city.

Furthermore, history research was evident in many of the static signs and brochures that were available in the main attractions that had been updated in the Spring of 2017 for the pending summer season when many from overseas, like myself, plan their trips to Italy.

This thirst for the latest history research was evident outside Rome. I travelled through the country from Switzerland. It was possible to see the churches in the northern lakes, at the towers in the quite beautiful city of Bologna and in the well-trodden attractions in Florence, all had taken the quieter winter months to use the most current history research to keep things fresh at their attractions and sites.

Use the Archival Researcher for your History Research

If you have a need to update the history research for your current project, organisation or attraction then please do not hesitate to contact me so that I can help you ensure that you have the most current history research.

For advice on any history research or a free quote then contact me on 07734739167 if you are in the United Kingdom or +44 7734739167 from outside the United Kingdom or please email me: dr.maslen@archivalresearcher.co.uk


There has been little respite in discussions in recent years regarding the proficiency of the English language that immigrants should possess or attain, as well as the consequences for the United Kingdom should large numbers of immigrants fail to learn the language. Politicians have been at the forefront of the debate that has continued into the current period of General Election campaigning in 2015.

In the last few weeks, the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, used an audience in Heswall to stress new immigrants must speak English. He also advocates legislating to ensure all workers in the National Health Service have a sufficient proficiency in the English language. The United Kingdom Independence Party leader, Nigel Farrage, has suggested that immigrants are discouraged from learning English, in part, because official documents are printed in several languages. Owing to growing concerns, the Conservative Minister, Nicky Morgan, has recently called for an inquiry into the impact of immigration on schools where large numbers of pupils speak no English. She also reportedly told the Chief Inspector of the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED), Sir Michael Wilshaw, that it was not helpful for him to warn schools regarding the ‘influx’ of immigrants.

This debate has been of great interest to me because of my research that I published into the instruction of the English language to immigrants following the Second World War. In 1947, under Clement Attlee’s post-war Labour government, a contract-labour scheme was launched to recruit workers from the inmates of Allied refugee camps in occupied Europe. The European Voluntary Worker (EVW) programme brought 100,000 people to the UK, with the majority being from countries that were being occupied by the Soviet Union, as well as Italy and Yugoslavia.

Many only tend to know that the programme imposed strict conditions on the immigrant workers which contractually tied them to government work contracts for a period of three-years. Volunteers were limited to a number of industries and prevented from changing jobs without official permission. The punishment for failing to comply with these conditions was deportation back to the challenging conditions in Allied refugee camps.

Yet the EVW programme heralded a new approach in state-sponsored immigration where a great deal was done to prevent social tension. A volunteer could only take a job if there was no British worker available. They were accommodated in state hostels to reduce tension in the local housing market. Pioneering techniques in propaganda and a favourable press campaign explained to the public why foreign workers were essential to the economy and the process of reconstruction. Social clubs were established in the government hostels,  and contacts with civic society were pursued across the country to help the foreign workers settle.

Teaching English was seen by the state as an important aspect of the programme that would help the volunteer workers to integrate into society. Classes started as soon as they arrived into one of the reception camps and continued throughout the duration of the programme. The government used a number of methods of instruction recommended by experts, with local education authorities, employers and civil society all having an input.

Although I might have missed it, there does not appear to have been any media interest in using the EVW programme in a historical context when reporting about the background of the involvement of the state in English language instruction to immigrants so I thought a brief footnote on this blog might be of interest. This also comes as a surprise to me because the themes of European migration, austerity and generally rising immigration were pertinent in 1947 as they are in 2015. True, the programme had merits and flaws which I discuss in my book. The current discussion on the issue is one I continue to follow with the focus on those efforts to ensure that greater consideration is given to pursuing an enlightened and balanced course for those effected.













Archival Researcher Website Update

Over the last few weeks I have taken a break from the archives to work on a website update my and consolidate several projects by undertaking some research organisation and analysis. As we researchers all know, the analysis has been to done before getting too much material through archival digital photography.

My website has had a few different pages added to the research services section on the top bar on the welcome to archival researcher page. Many of my clients have provided some feedback that searching for the type of research that they wanted to explore often involved making several different enquiries into a search engine such as google. I have updated my site so that the different research services that my clients said they were searching for are represented.

For those thinking of maintaining their own website, I use the WordPress system. It comes well recommended by this researcher. It is relatively easy to use and gives a clean finish to the pages. A word to the wise, however, it can take a little more time than you would expect to update a web page. It has become increasingly more common for people to access a website through a smartphone rather than a desktop or laptop. This means that one has to check all formats whilst updating. Sadly, what looks good on one device does not look so good on another.

The new pages offering different services are historical researcher, independent researcher, archival digital photography, military historian and research organisation and analysis. It is so important for me to acknowledge what the current trends are for those seeking to appoint a researcher and save people some frustration clicking on link after link after link by making my way up those search engine rankings. Nonetheless, it is still going to be some task to jump up the ratings on different search engines with terms such as “historical researcher”. My mind is made up to be patient.

It remains for me to say that I hope you find the new site easy to navigate. Please contact me if you would any more information on how I can help you with your new case, project or enquiry. I shall be waiting for you with great anticipation and enthusiasm, as always.


Researching in London

It is around ten years since I began researching in London regularly to conduct historical research at the different libraries and archives. My first few times at the National Archives were the most challenging as I got firmly to grips with the catalogue.

This time was precious because I had to travel to – or commute across – London. It remains for me to publically thank those friends that could put me up. All of this was in time taken from annual leave from my full-time career that I longed to leave for one that involved historical research.

At the time I remember working to improve the time it took to get to London. Car, coach and train have all since been fully evaluated.

There is no doubt that I would use the train more if I had a firm idea of when I needed to travel. Alas, I never really know when I will be researching in the capital so it proves difficult to obtain those more economical tickets.

One can still get some work done on the coach. However, I often find that unless you get the seat next to the fire escape that has a wide aisle it is difficult to get my laptop lid fully open. The biggest drawback is the additional time from central London out to the National Archives in Kew.

Despite not having any time to do any work on the way there,  the car does let me leave when I have finished and get me home a little faster on some occasions. On others, the traffic defeats you and there is nothing you can do.

Perhaps the biggest breakthrough was starting to use a laptop to make notes rather than a pencil. This might sound strange. Ten years ago laptops were, however, rather more expensive than a desktop, and did rather less. Plus the keyboards were smaller and I have wide fingers.

The other bonus has to be the camera system at the archive that allows you to take photographs that you can then download afterwards. It was good when digital cameras began to get better at storing many pictures as needed at times. Nonetheless, I sometimes felt worried that my data card might fail or that perhaps I would lose my bag and therefore all my work. With the archive system this worry was taken away. The big plus is that one can spend the time in the archive just talking photos when you know the files are the ones you want.






Sounds of the Cultural Quarter Update

The winter period has seen me busy in the archives as usual. People have really been motivated to follow up the history of the First World War since the anniversary had been highlighted in the media.

Over the last few weeks I have been helping with getting copyright of the sounds that I collected so that the project team can get an app together. This had been interesting because the it seems clear that there are certain sounds that have really fitted well with the aims of the project.

When I have heard more about how the app works I shall keep you all informed of course. I don’t know what they have in mind on how it will work. I do know that the Roman app for Leicester included a tour around some of the most important sites in the city which would be great for the Cultural Quarter too I think.

In the meantime, I must return to my research duties which are thankfully indoors. Over the coming weeks I shall be on my travels throughout the United Kingdom. Having just returned from the National Archives in London,  it is working closer to home for the coming week at Leicestershire Record Office in Wigston.

Then, however, I am making my first visit to the National Gas Archives in Warrington. This should be a fantastic opportunity to expand my knowledge in an aspect of British industrial heritage that I have not had a great deal of experience with.

The topic of gas was coincidently brought up at a dinner party recently. A friend works in the industry and said that it was likely that over the coming years we would see a gradual reduction in the use of the gas towers. My mind was instantly drawn to the backdrop to many sporting events where you could see the gas towers grow throughout the duration of a game. This, it seems, might be something of a thing of the past. That said, they are not the most beautiful things but certainly quite ingenious in the way they work I hope you will agree.