Archives are places where historic records are kept. They are usually buildings or places in buildings, like the archives of the different provinces or the Library and Archives of Canada in Ottawa. Death of a Diplomat is, in effect, a virtual archive, containing the documents that bear directly on the key question of why Herbert Norman committed suicide and on related historical issues from the 1930s to the 1950s. The documents, including images, all appear in two locations on the website: they are organized by theme in the various sections that are listed on the left-hand side of every page; and they are organized by document type here in the archives.

As complex as it may seem, this site is very simple compared to most archives. In order to research the past, and in order to create a virtual archive for your use, researchers have searched through masses of documents in physical archival buildings, locating, selecting, and transcribing documents relevant to the Norman case.

The sources in this virtual archive are organized by type. This is similar to the standard form of archival organization, where records are grouped by “provenance,” i.e., by their original location (for example, by government department, by particular individual or family, or by company) and in the order in which they were originally created and organized. The citations will tell you in which archives, newspaper, or report the original may be found. And the About this Source files linked to each document will give more details on why and how historians use these sources.

References to secondary sources and websites can be found through the Beyond this Site link.