These questions got me thinking, and thinking led me to researching, and researching led me to some pretty cool conclusions about Hubert Evans – you can look for those conclusions in a future blog post or article. Instead, I thought I might take you through the research process so you can see the steps to making an authoritative research report, this time featuring Hubert Evans.
Primary sources, aka something that came directly from the person, place, or thing you are researching, are great sources that you should always look for first. They are usually what you would build your research around. Secondary sources are academic articles, biographies, or professional pieces written about the thing you are researching, and provide opinions and commentary, while tertiary sources give a summary of the primary source.
As they are important to our collection, it is important to note that newspapers can be primary, secondary, or tertiary sources depending on the content. If it is written by the person you are researching, it is a primary source. If it provides commentary or discussion on what you’re researching, it’s a secondary source. If it is a summary of what you’re researching, it’s a tertiary source.
With that in mind, how lucky am I to work in a Museum where I have a database with thousands of primary sources at my fingertips?
Just like in my last couple of blog posts, I started with broad searches using the keywords “Hubert Evans” or just “Evans”. I searched through our Library, Photos, and Objects, and Archives, but only got a few hits. Just two books mention him: Remembering Roberts Creek: 1889 – 1955, and Hubert Evans: The First 93 Years by Alan Twigg. Three oral histories mention him in reference to his fishing career and the handliner boats he made. We have three photos of him; one as a young man near his boat filled with fishing gear, and another of him as an old man standing outside his home. Yet another picture features him on a tractor digging at the bank of Roberts Creek, but his face is hidden from view.
This is where I step back and search more broadly. You may not want to use Google or a similar search engine out of fear that you will end up on personal blogs, but in this case that can be helpful. What I was searching for was a list of pieces authored by Hubert Evans – even if I end up on someone’s blog I can use the information I find there to find publishing information. Publishing information leads me to the publisher’s website, and that leads me to a comprehensive list of titles that Hubert Evans authored!
Despite how straightforward that sounds, this was tricky. Hubert had many books published by many different publishers, and some of his stories were reprinted at later dates. This is where I would refer back to secondary sources like the biography (Hubert Evans: The First 93 Years) – that will have authoritative information about the works that Evans published. For example, the publishing date I found for his most popular novel, Mist on the River was 1973. When I took another look at The First 93 Years I found that 1973 was the reprint date: the initial publishing date was in 1954, and was under a different publishing house.
So there you have the research process! If you yourself have anything you’d like to research, now you know where to go. Make sure you come down to visit us at the SCMA with your research requests; we would be happy to help you look through a wide range of sources!