Today, Her Majesty The Queen will unveil a new memorial in London’s Green Park to honour the 55,573 men of the RAF’s Bomber Command who died in the Second World War. The National Archives holds 4,603 files from Bomber Command held within our AIR 14 series.
This series consists of records of Bomber Command dealing with operational and technical matters. In particular it contains reports by the Bomber Command Development Unit, Bomber Development Unit, Bomber Support Development Unit, Bombing Analysis Unit, British Bombing Research Mission, British Bombing Survey Unit, and Operational Research Section. Also included are many technical reports dealing with aircraft, aircraft losses, armaments, bombing techniques, navigational and photographic aids, and other equipment.
Bombs and target indicators Nuremburg 11 April 1945 (Catalogue reference AIR 14/3647)
I wanted to share with you some photographs from our image library which come out of this series.
And so, England’s football team comes home. Sunday evening’s defeat in a penalty shootout at the European Championships in Ukraine followed a familiar trend where effort and determination were to the fore, but disappointment was the team’s ultimate reward. Out but not down; defeated but not beaten.
Kevin Keegan in the 1976 COI film, 'Children's Heroes'
At least, they were not beaten in the sense alleged by a previous England tour to Eastern Europe 38 years ago. Then, in June 1974, the team arrived in Belgrade from Sofia to play the Yugoslav side in a friendly (following a 1-1 draw with East Germany and a 1-0 victory over Bulgaria) but events at the airport – in what would become known as ‘the Keegan affair’ – led to some frantic diplomatic manoeuvring, the detail of which is available in a Foreign Office file available here at The National Archives (FCO 28/2657).
Artwork of Alice and the Cheshire Cat by John Tenniel
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
- Lewis Carroll; Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
I do a lot of work supporting government departments that need to migrate across information management solutions, usually because the old one doesn’t support the business / users anymore. The extract above from Lewis Carroll is a perfect explanation of why you need to understand your business requirements before piloting any software.
As many of you may know, last year The National Archives undertook a project, ‘Africa through a lens’, to digitise thousands of Colonial Office photographs of ‘life’ in the British colonies, spanning much of the colonial period.
Photograph from the Tanganyika collection (CO 1069/157/79)
Comments on CO 1069/157/79
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Wouldn’t it be cool if every digital file created could be identified with a signature or ‘magic number’ of some kind? This would make preservation, and the concept of knowing what you’ve got in order to be able to preserve it, that much easier.
By design or otherwise, for some file formats this is actually the case. The title of today’s blog post provides two such magic numbers used to identify Java class objects and Java pack200 files. These aren’t the first examples to use magic numbers but 0xCAFEBABE is the one I find the most striking as an introduction to the concept. You can read more on the origins of 0xCAFEBABE at Wikipedia. Continue reading »
As a conservator, my favourite archival material has always been photographs. There’s just something magical about photography’s mixture of chemistry and artistry that particularly captures my imagination. Therefore, I’d like to share one of the photographic projects we’re tackling in the Collection Care studio.
Recently, as one of our large, ongoing projects, we’ve been conserving and re-housing part of the COPY series. The COPY series comes from the Copyright Office at Stationer’s Hall and contains the forms of application for registration of proprietorship from 1837-1912 of different artistic, commercial or literary categories, one of which is photographs. Attached to most of the forms submitted are one or more photographic prints, providing a representation of what was being registered.
Example box from COPY 1 series before re-housing
So here’s our challenge: We have 250 boxes each containing up to 600 forms and there is both physical and chemical deterioration to the forms and photographs.
The forms are housed in over-stuffed boxes, large photographs are folded to fit in the standard size boxes and handling has meant that the photograph was often bent to read the text on the form. The chemical damage includes colour change to the photographs or the forms due to adhesives used to secure the photographs to the forms, or due to transfer of the image of a photograph on to a paper form it has been in contact with. Continue reading »
Detail of Ordnance Survey 1:1,056 sheet London VII 33 (1922 edition), annotated in 1947-1948 to show the London Underground Metropolitan Line. (Document reference OS 7/5)
Some colleagues and I recently visited the Mind the Map exhibition currently on at the London Transport Museum. This exhibition explores the role of transport maps in art and everyday life, and it inspired me to choose a set of maps related to the London Underground as the subject of this blog post. Continue reading »
Knebworth Cottage Home (Copyright the Childrens Society ref 1540)
I wanted to bring you a flavour of what my colleagues in the Private Archives team do, because it really underlines the breadth of our work supporting the archives sector. Today’s blog is an interview with Philip Gale, Senior Adviser – Private Archives (Private and Institutional Owners). I thought you might enjoy hearing from Philip in his own words!
Philip has a particular focus at present on supporting the institutional archives of the voluntary sector, so I started by asking:
Q What is the value of institutional archives?
I’ve just googled ‘how many universities are there in the UK?’ and, according to the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) website, ‘there are over 300 institutions in the UCAS scheme including universities, colleges of higher education and further education colleges that offer HE courses’. I’m hesitant to agree to visit them all but, nevertheless, the Research Team at The National Archives are keen to visit as many as is relevant and practicable to talk to staff and students about the work we do here.
We’ve already visited a number of universities over the past year and have presented on a number of different topics from the history of The National Archives and the Public Record Office to the challenges of developing a new catalogue.
Just a few weeks ago we were at the University of East Anglia presenting at an interdisciplinary post graduate research seminar on ‘The Archive’, in all its aspects from organisational to philosophical and critical approaches. Organisers asked for more information about the ‘Digital Archive’ specifically so we were able to call upon the expertise of colleagues in the Digital Preservation department who came along with us to present.
Petition for decree of nullity of marriage 1863
In 1861 a marriage took place between Henry Wells and Martha Cottam, both of ‘full age’ and after the calling of the banns on three successive Sundays. There was nothing to distinguish this wedding from countless others, but the story that unfolded afterwards was very unusual indeed. Sadly, the marriage was not a success, and in 1863 Mrs Wells petitioned for a divorce on the grounds of her husband’s adultery and cruelty. She alleged that he had not only committed adultery but had given her a venereal disease. He was also violent, having held a loaded gun to her head, and on another occasion hit her on the head with a lobster!
After she filed her petition, and her husband made a reluctant response, no further papers were added to the file. A petitioner might drop a case for all kinds of reasons, perhaps lack of funds, or some kind of out-of-court settlement. Neither was the case here. Instead, a completely new suit was filed a few weeks later, from William Henry Wells against ‘Martha Cottam, falsely called Martha Wells’. William Henry Wells was not her husband, he was her father-in-law, and the petition was not for a divorce, but for a decree of nullity. His contention was that his son, George Henry Wells, was aged only 18 at the time of the marriage, and therefore a minor, unable to marry without his father’s consent, so the marriage had not been valid in the first place. Furthermore, the banns had been called and the marriage performed using only the groom’s middle name, Henry, in a deliberate attempt to avoid detection by his father.