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Flintshire Historical Society publications


Vol. 24 1969-70

Studies of Flintshire in university theses

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It is a well-known paradox in university and scholarly circles that some of the most
diligent and illuminating historical research remains plunged in almost total darkness,
gathering dust on the shelves of university library stock rooms or book stacks.
Every university has its collection of theses, growing larger every year, presented to
the library by students who in turn presented them for higher degrees, or sometimes
in an effort to gain a first degree with high honours. Naturally the quality of these
theses varies and if Bruce Truscott is to be believed what is acceptable at one is not
necessarily acceptable to another1 this is a hornet's nest which I shall not attempt
to stir up any further. Except to say that every thesis for a higher degree is read by
an external examiner from another University.
Until recently no comprehensive list of higher degree theses was ever compiled for
English Universities. Before 1950 the main sources of such information were Uni-
versity Calendars, gazettes and the like. In 1939 Col. Luxmore Newoombe, Librarian
of the National Central Library, published his pamphlet The Accessibility of British
University Thesis Literature this drew attention, for the first time, to the difficulties
of the would be researcher who wished to find out the theses already submitted in
his sphere of research. After the war, Mr. P. D. Record issued his Survey of Thesis
Literature in British Libraries (1950) and since that date ASLIB has issued an Index
to Theses Accepted for Higher Degrees in the Universities of Great Britain annually.
This index is prefaced by the latest information about the accessibility of theses of
different universities.
The historian has been better served than most: from 1911-1928 Volumes IV-
XIII of History contains lists of theses from 1928-1932 this list was continued in
the Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Reasrch, Volumes VII-IX. Since that date
the list has appeared in a Thesis Supplement of the Bulletin. These lists, however, did
not invariably include theses submitted externally and theses submitted in the fields
of geography and history were not always included even though they contained much
of historical interest. Specialized handlists of theses are not very common; among
those that do exist are The Journal of Transport History* which contains lists of theses
concerned with transport and history and New Geographical Literature Maps which
names theses concerned with geography.- Sometimes theses get published, eithe*- in
book form or in a learned journal; even so, ten or more years may elapse between
submission of a thesis for a degree and its publication. Clearly, however, the academic
researcher, professional or amateur, has to undertake preliminary investigation to
iBruoe Truscott, Redbrick University (Pelican Books, 1951), p. 63-4, c.f. T.E.S. 23rd October,
2H. J. Dyes, Transport History in University Theses," The Journal of Transport History,
Vol. IV. No. 3 May 1960 and Ibid., Vol. VII, No. 1, pp. 54:56. I am indebted to these papers for
many of the ideas used in this article.
2New Geographical Literature and Maps. Published twice yearly by the Royal Geographical
Society. Lists of theses have been insued since Vol. Ill, No. 25, June 1963 was issued.
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