Research during a Pandemic

A few weeks ago, I took advantage of the free digitized files from the National Archives at Kew. I had a happy little downloading streak bouncing between several different email addresses that I own. The archives limits downloads to 10 files/day/registered user with a maximum of 50 files every 30 days. I admit I did a bit of an end-run around that and used three registered accounts to download the 100+ files that I had my eye on. With the first swarm of files done, I'm doing a more detailed sift through of the KV 2 (Security Service/MI5) files to see if I missed anything.

National Archives - Kew
National Archives - Kew
Having said that... I've noticed a few things. While the KV 2 files have a very good digitization rate... the other KV sections are hopeless. The KV 2 files are the Personal Files or the files of individuals. The other KV sections deal with organisations and subjects and... while I have a bunch that I would love to download.... No luck. I keep coming up against this implacable notice... "This record has not been digitised and cannot be downloaded."

And let's not even talk about WO, CAB, CRIM, PCOM, LCO, DPP files... all of which are not digitized...

Which means I will have to wait until I can visit Kew in person. And who knows when that will happen given the pandemic. Even the copying options are not available right now... although that is a very expensive proposition. Sooo... I'm going to have to be happy with the KV 2 files.

The other thing I noticed was that the downloading spree forced me to get seriously organized with my National Archives research. I had created a spreadsheet a few years ago, tracking the files that I accessed at the National Archives, but... this bonanza of files has bumped it up a level. Whenever I visit the National Archives, I have limited time and so I prioritize the files that I want to look at it. There are always more files than time... sigh...

On top of that... I've discovered a few new file categories that look interesting... Specifically, the WO 208 series which seems to have a treasure trove of files. There is a whole section that has CSDIC interrogation reports and likely has info on Nikolaus Ritter, Julius Jacob Boeckel and a few of the other Hamburg Abwehr officers. I'm adding those files to my "next-time-at-Kew" list... since they too are not digitized. I always have the hope that I will come across some extra information on Josef, on his recruitment, training, etc. Time will tell.

In the meantime... I have more than enough other material to keep me busy! Between all the downloaded KV 2 files... I also realize that I have several unread/unfinished books on my to-read list. Soooo... there is no danger of me becoming bored during the pandemic's stay-at-home time.


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