national archives

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The National Archives

Of the places where I conducted research in preparation for my undergraduate thesis, the National Archives in London significantly surpasses the rest in terms of resources, efficiency, and organization. Here you can find documents relevant to military, family history, maritime, diplomatic, political and colonial queries. This hidden gem is surprisingly neglected by university students, as I discovered during those long summer days when I was often the youngest visitor in the reading rooms.

I came to love my routine. Every day, at the earliest hour, I would travel on the District Line to Richmond, a 40-minute ride from Central London. I would get off at the Kew Gardens station and walk for ten minutes past quaint suburban streets until I saw the former World War I hospital, surrounded by fountains and flowers. On the first floor, I would pass the Talks Room, where first-time visitors can attend an information session about navigating the building and conducting research. Near the cafeteria, the same locker took my backpack, while my laptop, digital camera and reader's ticket came with me upstairs to the Document Reading Room.

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