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Claire D. Clark

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date: 04 April 2020

Archives are a source of inspiration for health humanities scholars who focus on finding lessons from historical figures or excavating the voices of patients who have historically been silenced. Sound archival research in health humanities may achieve the dual objectives of illuminating individual patient experiences and the power dynamics that shape the healthcare system as a whole. Conducting archival research involves preparing for and visiting the archive, and organizing and synthesizing your material. This chapter draws on research for the book The Recovery Revolution, a social and cultural history of addiction treatment, to illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of archival research methods. Archival research can be challenging because of a lack of patient-centered source material and the influence of biases and hindsight on researchers' interpretations of evidence. An awareness of the contingencies inherent in historical research can improve the rigor of researchers' syntheses of archival material.

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