I have been a professional archivist since leaving university. My training started with at Australia’s National Archives where we were introduced to the Commonwealth Series System and the emerging continuum theory of records management. Later study at Monash University under archival doyens, Professor Sue McKemmish and Dr. Frank Upward, broadened my training in the innovative archival theory and practice. I have worked as an archivist in government, business, school and religious archives. Currently I work for the Loreto Sisters, a religious order of women, where I have had the opportunity to manage their Province Archives in Ballarat and working with their international archives team on policy and future proofing. I have prepared on-line guides, programs of outreach and annual exhibitions. I am a passionate advocate of records management and archives and believe in the contribution that our profession can make to the many global issues we face.
“It’s life’s illusions I recall…”* Can we, as archivists, improve on this?
Often archives are considered repositories of narratives but narratives or stories can be changed according to political expediency and can lack reliability and authenticity. Can we transcend the keeping of the record of the illusion of lives and activities to capture an authentic record or are we destined to be the keepers and conveyers of ‘stories’?
I would like to discuss the effectiveness of an archive to record authentic evidence and truth in the context of an archive of a religious order and to look at the role that the creators and subjects of the archives, the people of the archives, have in optimising the integrity of a collection.
The Loreto Archives is a record of people of a singular social grouping. The collection is exclusively a women’s archive. A mixed collection, it includes corporate in-house archive and personal papers of Loreto women; corporate and personal records complementing and corroborating each other. The integrity of the collection is dependent upon the quality of contributions and ethical management. I will look at how the members of the organisation in their creation of records, capturing of records and use of the records in many ways define the authenticity of the collection.
I will address some attempts to achieve the optimum collection of a genuine archive of the lives of Loreto Sisters by the application of archival practice and the engagement of the people of the archives and particularly the integration of personal and corporate records.
*from Joni Mitchell’s ‘Both Sides Now’
JOHN SHERIDAN (presenting with Andrew Janes)
I am Digital Director at The National Archives with responsibility for digital services and digital archiving capability. I provide strategic direction, developing the people and capability needed for TNA to become a disruptive digital archive.
I hold a degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of Southampton and a Master’s Degree in Information Technology from the University of Liverpool.
Previously Head of Legislation Services at TNA, I led the team that created legislation.gov.uk, and oversaw the operation of the Gazette. I led an Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project, ‘big data for law’, exploring the application of data analytics to the statute book, winning the Halsbury Legal Award for Innovation.
Strongly interested in the web and data standards, I was formerly co-chair of the W3C e-Government Interest Group. I serve on the UK Government’s Data Leaders group and Open Standards Board, which sets data standards for use across government.
When I was 13 every careers questionnaire I did at school suggested I become an archivist. In rebellion I studied History of Art before giving in to the inevitable and undertaking the distance-learning qualification from Aberystwyth, while working at King’s College London Archives. Post-qualification I moved to London Metropolitan Archives to undertake the mammoth task of putting all their fonds-level descriptions into AIM25.
In January 2013 I relocated to the East Midlands and became the first professional archivist in post at De Montfort University. The role – and the archive – has grown substantially since then, and has included involvement in the creation of a small museum on campus. I also somehow find myself crossing the streams by working on a PhD on the history of the institution.
“I didn’t know you were here”: increasing the visibility of a university archive among staff and students
Archives are meaningless if not used, there is little as sad as row upon row of boxes that never see the light of the reading room. Fundamental to the accessibility of archive collections is of course cataloguing, yet adopting an ‘if you catalogue it, they will come’ approach does not seem to work to attract readers, particularly those who have never used an archive.
Contributing to the “People Using Records” strand of the conference, this paper will examine ways in which De Montfort University Special Collections has increased awareness of its service among staff and students of the university. As a relatively new service, with a professional archivist only in post since 2013, there has been a lot of work needed to publicise the archive among students at all stages of study. Methods to be considered include giving talks and seminars, using social media, recruiting student ambassadors, mounting exhibitions and displays, creating guides and leaflets, and embedding the archive into formal teaching. The success of each method will be considered, including an analysis of whether expected benefits outweigh the commitment of resources. The paper will also examine the value of outreach to staff, who are not only best placed to influence students, but also act as ambassadors amongst external researchers and assist with collections development.
By sharing lessons-learned from the last five years I aim to spark discussion about ways in which archives can make themselves more visible to an academic audience, from undergraduates upwards.
I am the archivist for HarperCollins Publishers, overseeing the day to day running of the archive as well as undertaking internal and external outreach. I received my undergraduate Master of Arts in German and Russian from University of Glasgow in 2009. After graduation, I volunteered at Glasgow Women’s Library where I got my first experience of working in archives. I went on to complete my Master of Science in Information Management and Preservation in 2011. At the same time, I continued volunteering in various archives including Glasgow Print Studio and the Ballast Trust, gaining a wealth of experience. In 2012, I started at HarperCollins Publishers where I have had the opportunity to improve the archive and see it go from strength to strength.
People Make Records, People Shape Records - Celebrating all voices within a business archive
Within the archive, archivists and record keepers must maintain a certain level of neutrality. However, we must also acknowledge that everyone comes with their bias and this effects how they view the world. This in turn, will affect their judgments and in archive terms, this can have a direct influence on how the archive will support its organisation.
Instead of focussing on the negative aspects of our bias, it could be considered important to acknowledge and moreover celebrate them. If we are to consider our view on our neutrality, then maybe we can change our perception. It is not only the record creators who make and further shape their records but the caretakers, the archivists, the volunteers and any others who have had a role. All voices should be acknowledged.
With this presentation, the aim is to discuss the voices within the HarperCollins archive and how each of these has an impact on how our archive functions today and how we present our history to the world.
David is the Public Engagement Officer for Heritage Quay, the home of the University of Huddersfield archives service. His background is in museums and galleries working on community engagement projects and engaging the public with historical collections.
Widening the circle - a panel discussion about independence and support
At Heritage Quay we have supported a range of history and heritage organisations to help them take better care of their collections. One of the areas I’ll be talking about is training; who should it be targeted at, who delivers it and what level of training is appropriate? Can training also feed into community building and including external groups in decision making to create something greater? I’ll be talking about some of the ways that we have tried to do this, the learning to take forward for the sector and looking to have conversations about issues of power, control and the remit of professional repositories in this context.
Claire is a book and paper conservator at the National Library of Scotland. She trained as an apprentice bookbinder at Napier College of Commerce and Technology. She has worked in the Library’s Conservation Unit for over 30 years and has experience of treating a wide range of books, manuscripts, maps and other formats of material, with a specialised interest in photographic collections. Her other responsibilities include planning and organising large-scale conservation surveys; preparing and installing exhibitions; undertaking preventive conservation work, in particular disaster planning; supervising conservation interns; and managing externally funded projects.
My Story of “The Chimney Map”
Claire Thomson, Book and Paper Conservator at the National Library of Scotland, will talk about the conservation of the ‘Chimney Map’. This is a rare 17th Century map found in Aberdeen, which arrived at the library stuffed inside a plastic bag. Claire has spoken often on the detailed process of conserving the map, and so she will take this opportunity to instead discuss the media aspect of the story. She will focus in particular on the short film produced by Trina McKendrick and Kev Theaker, which followed the treatment process through to its completion and generated a huge amount of media attention across the globe.
I have been an archives and records management professional for 12 years, with my current role being as the Corporate Archives Manager for Transport for London. My two professional passions are developing services in a strategic way to deliver the above and beyond, and providing as much access to archives as possible – after all, why keep a record if there is no intention of letting it be used. Among other things, our service is currently working on our upcoming internal exhibition on the effect of World War I on the organisation, getting transfer to the Archives embedded within the Major Project’s documentation processes, overhauling our classification scheme, and developing our digital preservation policy. It keeps us busy!
Harnessing Volunteer Expertise: Case Studies in the Volunteer and Archivist Relationship
Volunteers can often have particular technical knowledge or contextual information about the records in our collections that the Archivist lacks. But the volunteer lacks the grounding in archival theory, standards, and practice that the Archivist has.
In this session, I will look at some specific archival processes and give practical case study examples of how TfL Corporate Archives have benefitted from the technical and/or organisational knowledge of volunteers. I will look at:
I was 17 and the youngest researcher in the room by several decades when I used my first archive. It’s been clear to me since then that archives need to think more about who uses and doesn’t use their services. I’m passionate about encouraging more people to engage with archives.
I began my career in local government archives. For 5 years I was Archives Development Officer for MLA North West developing and implementing regional strategy. Since 2006 I have worked as an archives and heritage consultant, supporting new and established services to review and develop their ways of working. This has involved supporting projects such as Heritage Quay, Rambert Archive, Archives+ at Manchester and the forthcoming Silverstone Experience. I was a lead consultant on the scoping and writing of the UK Archive Service Accreditation, 2013, I am a Fellow of the Clore Leadership Programme and a former ARA Trustee.
Why aren’t we talking about audiences? Archive audiences and how to grow them
Audiences for archives are changing. People want to use archives and get involved with archive services in different ways. In 2015/6 the Taking Part survey reported that 3.1% of respondents visited an archive service, down from 5.9% in 2005/6. Archive services are responding by putting archives online, providing new audiences and engaging people in places such as care homes and dance classes.
Starting from an examination of data on archive audiences this paper will consider who is using archives and why, seeking to identify the recent trends in archive usage. Based on audience research for archive services from across the UK we will consider the barriers preventing people using archive services and how to overcome them. This paper will also explore how people want to engage with archives and archive services and the implications for archivists. Finally, we will consider how archive services have responded to these changes by listening to audiences, changing services and successfully growing audience numbers and diversity.
Following my retirement in 2012, after 30 years working in the charity sector, I studied with the University of Dundee for the M.Litt in Family and Local History, graduating in 2016. I am now a doctoral student researching “Objections to Compulsory Smallpox Vaccination in Scotland between 1863 and 1915”, something which requires me to visit archives across Scotland
I also own a small family history research company; Recover Your Roots, making me a regular visitor to local libraries and archives in. both England and Scotland researching on behalf of my clients helping them to discover more about their families. I am a member of the the Association of Scottish Researchers and Genealogists in Archives (ASGRA)The Association of Professional genealogists, and an Associate Member of the Association of Researchers and Genealogists in Archives (AGRA). I am also a Director of the Register of Qualified Genealogists.
Confessions of an Archive User (or What a Family Historian and Researcher wants from the Archives.)
Once a family historian realises that not everything is available on line, the time comes for that first occasion when they have to step over the threshold of the archives. Their reception will be a lasting memory and affect their ongoing relationship with the whole archive sector. New users are going to need support in order to get the best from their visit, but that support does not always mean taking up valuable time of archive staff. Some of the users are going to have accessibility needs, not always obvious, which are not always easy to accommodate. Whilst there can be no substitute for the expertise of an experienced archivist this paper discusses some ideas for the tools such as clear sign posting, user guides and detailed catalogues (online and paper) which can not only help the researcher but also save valuable staff time.
Digitisation of material, which is available either directly on a website, in the archives or via subscription websites, can mean a reduction in footfall which in turn makes archive services vulnerable to yet more cuts. Reductions in staff and opening hours put the viability of the service at risk but researchers also appreciate how funders might think archive services could be an easy target for cuts – to the detriment of all. Having visited a number of archives around the UK, both for client work and for my doctoral research, I will share my experiences and those of some of my research colleagues, with the archive professionals.
Those of us working professionally as researchers are well aware our visits do not resemble episodes of Who Do You Think You Are?, rather ,we appreciate the hard work required to find that elusive record and we value your advice. Our experiences are both good and not so good, and I will also consider how archive users and professionals can support each other e.g indexing record sets, promoting the use of archives and campaigning, and how we users can have positive relationships with archival professionals.
I am originally from Glasgow, though studied in Edinburgh and Budapest, and I also lived in Barcelona for two years.
I attended Edinburgh College of Art, graduating with a first in 1993, before completing a Master of Fine Art there, and then going on to a year at the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts: I have retained an ongoing interest in the art of Central and Eastern Europe, particularly the art of the Cold War.
I also gained an MPhil in History of Art at the University of Glasgow, and though I went on to study for my PhD, working as a Graduate Teaching Assistant along the way, I also became a parent and took on an awful lot of paid work, so didn’t complete my doctorate.
I have since then worked as a library assistant at University of Glasgow and, over a period of about 3 years, worked part time and for a while also full time on secondment, in what was then the university’s Archive Services. During my time in Archive Services, I worked closely with the Conservation Officer, Ela Gorska-Wiklo, and gradually became more involved in preservation tasks.
In 2015, I was given an opportunity to work full time for 6 months on a preservation project, The William Simons Ship Plans Preservation Project; a collection which included some of the oldest ship plans in the university’s archives extensive shipbuilding collections. It was a pleasure to work on this project, because of the plans themselves, the interest involved in the preservation of the collection, and the opportunity to promote the collection, including through a number of publications in professional journals, as well as via social media. Also, I am also an active trade unionist, a Workplace, Equalities, and Health and Safety Representative for my union, at the University of Glasgow. Given the industrial history of Clydeside, especially in shipbuilding, all this, combined with the fact that the Simons plans are impressive, sometimes beautiful documents, gave the project personal resonance too.
Clydebuilt connections to people
The slogan ‘people make Glasgow’, echoes an older saying that Glasgow built the Clyde and the Clyde built Glasgow, in turn confirming that there can be few more endeavours more mythologised in this part of the world than that of shipbuilding. In terms both of luminaries associated with the industry, the well-known business and engineering names like Scott and Williams, Yarrow and Fairfield, and the equally renowned personalities of the labour that did the actual building, Jimmy Reid and Jimmy Airlie, as well as the throng whose lives intertwine with these histories, it’s clear that people are at the core of these narratives. The records, many held in University of Glasgow Archives, connect both those who preserve and consult them today, with those who feature in and created many of them in the past.
In the early years of the twentieth century, a fifth of all the world’s ships were built on the River Clyde, in Glasgow and the other towns along its shores, Overall, an estimated total of 25,000 naval, merchant and passenger ships built on the Clyde and its tributaries since the Scott family set up in Greenock in 1711.
Given the global reach of Clyde shipbuilding, inevitably some vessels played a key part in in the major historical narratives of their era.
Among the historical connections reflected in the University of Glasgow Archives’ large collection of Clydeside shipbuilding plans, are plans for vessels built to beat the Union blockade of the Confederacy during the American Civil War.
To coincide with the 150th anniversary in 2013 of the middle of the American Civil War, University of Glasgow Archives and Special Collections launched a conservation project to preserve the ship plans of William Simons & Co Ltd; including plans for the so-called blockade-runners.
The drawings testify to the Clyde’s engineering and shipbuilding prowess - which resulted in world leading technology and the production of the fastest vessels of their time.
However, this impressive engineering history parallels a more complex narrative within business archives, which also record shipbuilders’ involvement in a morally ambivalent enterprise, one which effectively provided tacit support to the slave owning Confederacy.
This paper presented by Ela Gorska Wiklo and Colin Vernall, focuses not only on the issues associated with ethical challenges in the conservation treatment of industrial heritage archival materials, but also on the challenges associated with an understanding of heritage as a series of complex histories. This complexity includes the myths and legends that have grown-up around blockade-runners and which made the Simons Plans Preservation Project one of the most interesting projects undertaken by our conservation team.
Ela Gorska-Wiklo, Preservation Manager
Colin Vernall, Preservation Assistant during Simons Plans Preservation Project
RUTH WASHBROOK (Presenting with Rachel Nordstrom and Stephen Rigden)
Ruth is the Moving Image and Sound Collections Manager at the National Library of Scotland and is responsible for management of the Moving Image Archive and National Library of Scotland at Kelvin Hall.
Caroline Williams has been Head of Research and Collections Development at The National Archives in London since 2007. Prior to that she was Director of Liverpool University Centre for Archive Studies (LUCAS) and its postgraduate education programme in Archives and Records Management. Her early career was spent in a series of local authority archive services. She is a former chair of FARMER the Forum for Archives and Records Management Education and Research in the UK and former member of the International Council on Archives Section on Education and Training. She is co-editor of the Journal of the Society of Archivists. Current areas of research interest and publication include the history and diplomatic analysis of the record, and the interface between theory and practice.
Volunteering reaches further than you think: impacts on people, services and the sector.
Since Louise Ray’s report on volunteering in archives 2009 for the National Council on Archives we have been well aware of the value and contributions of volunteers to the archive sector, but have never before actually tried to measure the real impact these contributions have, not only on volunteers themselves, but on paid staff, archive services and the wider sector.
Research commissioned by ARA’s Volunteering Sub Committee in October 2017 produced new information about such impacts: social, human, cultural and economic. Existing evidence (which is particularly strong for local authority archives) was supplemented by new qualitative data from underrepresented sectors such as businesses, higher education and voluntary and charitable bodies. These different contexts demonstrated profound differences in attitudes to, and the use made of volunteers, whether expert, social or career focused.
Impacts both on individuals and services were found to be substantial and significant. Volunteers feel the long-term effects of improved health and well-being, new and reinforced skills and enhanced prospects of employability. Services find that volunteering can impact on strategic aims, service development, profile raising, workforce development, access and use, and add capacity and expertise. Services might increase such benefits by focusing more purposefully on impact as they plan volunteering projects. There are challenges too, but nothing that cannot be met by good planning, management, communication and commitment. There is scope for further exploration to provide a more balanced account of volunteering impact across the UK and Ireland’s disparate archive sectors to show how at a more strategic level volunteers might further contribute to the delivery of national and local outcomes.
HIU KAM RACHEL WONG
I graduated from the MA programme in Archives and Records Management from UCL in 2017. I have undertaken research projects regarding social services, education and social policy for over a decade. I have co-authored a book, the oral history of garment workers in Hong Kong in 2008 and have taken part in a book publication about the history of the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union, which received the 10th Hong Kong Book Prize in 2017. I am currently an independent researcher in Hong Kong.
The Silent Dragon: In Quest of the Democratization of History in the Community Archives in London
Although community archives bring in diverse history from below and potential positive social impacts, practitioners should problematize the existing power relations reflected in community archives in order to question to what extent community archives could democratize history and why this is the case? In this vein, in what way could heritage be democratized in community archives?
This paper uses the Chinese Community Archives Collections at the London Metropolitan Archives as a case study to examine the making of the Collections. This study looks at the boarder context in order to give a clearer picture of how the interplay of forces are in place in the archival process. Four actors are scrutinized: community, community archive, professional archive (London Metropolitan Archives) and funding body (Heritage Lottery Fund).
The findings confirm that the layout of community archives are loci of power which mirror the power structures in society at large. The social groups on the fringe of the Chinese community, such as women and people who have emigrated from the places other than Hong Kong, second-generation immigrants and people from humble backgrounds are underrepresented in the Collections.
The research shows that the degree of heritage democratization in the Chinese Community Archives Collections is low, being attributed to limited community participation; limited community archive control over the Collections at LMA; and the fact that putting community in the lead is not part of the HLF’s funding requirements. Its other criterion -- a wider community engagement -- tends to favour more established community archives, which in turn places less full-fledged community archives at a disadvantaged position in the race within the funding arena.
Some recommendations are made to accelerate democratization. Funding bodies and professional archives should work along the lines of an increase of institutional accountability and of facilitating community participation in record collection and in continuous management of collections deposited in professional archives. In the meantime, the extent and prevalence of unreserved trust of community archives in the professionalism of institutional archives is suggested to be explored. For community archives, an overhaul of collection gaps is necessary for better representing the changing community demography and for including more archival values rather than evidential ones. The paper also asks community archives to re-examine the meaning of community as the disparaging social memories and self-identification of different subgroups under an umbrella term will have an impact on their readiness and willingness in building community archives collections.
Chris has worked in the heritage sector for nearly 30 years. In a long and varied public sector career he worked as a practising conservator and conservation manager for Dorset County Council, a senior manager (Head of Preservation) at the Bodleian Library, Oxford University, and as Director of Collection Services for the Tae. He has been providing consulting services since 2007 and following its genesis while a Senior Research Fellow at University of the Arts London, Chris founded NCS in 2010, NCS is a not-for-profit membership organisation for archives, libraries and museums and currently has over 120 members across the UK. He is noted as a specialist in the conservation of archival manuscript and photography collections and is chairman of the committee for BS PD5454 and BS 4971, the standard guide for archive and library repositories and conservation, having led their recent revision. He is also a convenor of the new European standard that will replace 5454 and PAS 198. He is currently advising and supporting over 50 institutions UK wide on care and storage of their collections, including many new buildings and building redevelopments and funding bids.
Switching to passive ‐ emerging lessons from archives across the UK
Since 2009, previously held notions of what constitutes environmental control and 'stability' have been challenged and tested, resulting in new standards for storage buildings and the conservation management of archival collections. NCS has been working a members around the UK to review their collection needs, explore their existing buildings, understand why their control systems don't work properly and to specify new ways of managing the environment without reliance on mechanical air handling. This presentation looks at some case studies of this work with members and how BS4971:2017 reflects the changes in thinking about how archives can be better protected.