When thinking of war posters, the slogans ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ or ‘Make-do and Mend‘ might spring to mind, or perhaps the darker ‘Daddy, what did YOU do in the Great War?’ During the First and Second World Wars, posters were a vital method of communication; the government used them to increase morale, reduce panic and boost both agricultural and industrial output.
You could argue that they’re now embedded in the culture of the country. It’s highly likely every one of us will recognise Lord Kitchener’s ‘I Want You’ designed by Alfred Leete, in 1914. We have a collection of over 150 posters at Manchester Archives.
'Which is it be, Bonds or Bondage?' poster
Take this poster from the collection ‘Which is it to be; Bonds or Bondage?’ issued by the War Savings Office in Salford (date not known), which is unique to the area. Continue reading »
As we are nearing the end of preparing the Middlesex County Appeal tribunal papers for digitisation, we are beginning to get an appreciation of the type of people who were appealing their conscription and their reasons for doing so.
We have papers of former German nationals, Russian Jews, Socialists, Quakers, Christadelphians and large employers appealing on behalf of their workers.
Edward's appeal form
However, since this is a festive themed post I thought I would blog about the story of a man we have discovered called Edward Christmas Church.
Our ‘Mr Christmas’ is a great example of what you will typically find in the MH 47 records, as well as how you can link into other record series here at The National Archives.
Edward was born in 1878 in Edmonton and married Martha in July of 1912. His initial form submitted to his local tribunal tells us that he is appealing on ground ‘D’, serious hardship, explaining that he is father to three young children (two girls and a boy, all under the age of three). Continue reading »
It’s been a very exciting 2012 for The National Archives’ blog. Since our very first post, back in February, we’ve endeavoured to involve you in the extraordinary range of work we do here, and share the passion and enthusiasm our bloggers have for their work. Through comments, tweets and emails, we’ve had brilliant feedback from you, our readers, and hope to build on this success into 2013.
We’re currently posting about four blog posts a week (sometimes more, rarely less), and try to make sure that these cover a variety of subjects. The classic blog ‘list view’ (showing in date order) does mean, however, that posts are quickly pushed quite far down the ‘front page’ of the blog.
Blog front page 2013
So, in time for our first birthday in February 2013, we want to launch a new front page for the blog, one that lets us keep a lot more posts visible on your screen, without you having to work to get to them. You will still be able to switch to the current list style by clicking on ‘List view’ at the top of the page (click on the image on the right to enlarge it).
Continue reading »
With royal succession in the news, I find myself reminded of the life of Princess Beatrice, Queen Victoria’s youngest child. Princess Beatrice was born in the middle of the 19th century, commonly regarded as the Victorian Age because of the towering presence of Queen Victoria who reigned for nearly 64 years, from 1837 to 1901.
Most heads of the surviving royal families of Europe are descended from Victoria and her husband Albert whom she married in 1840. This was a deliberate policy, supported and encouraged by the Queen; she thought, falsely as it turned out, that a Europe linked by royal households related to one another would be a Europe less likely to go to war. As a consequence inherited diseases such as haemophilia were passed from cousin to cousin, who from Spain in the west to Russia in the east took to their sick beds or expired. And in 1914 the cousins and the countries they ruled went to war. But this was all in the future when Victoria married Albert. Together they produced nine children before Albert, worn out and plagued by typhoid, died on 14 December 1861.
Their nine children were Victoria (the mother of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany), Edward or Bertie (who became King Edward VII), Alice, Alfred, Helena, Louise, Arthur, Leopold and Beatrice. I have long been interested in Princess Beatrice, the youngest child, the daughter who was expected to stay alongside her grieving mother in the bleak years after the death of Albert, who was expected to have no life of her own, but who, in the end, did stage a minor rebellion, and married a German prince and established her own dynasty.
Continue reading »
Archiving the arts
We’re embarking on an exciting new collection strategy this month, called Archiving the Arts. Our work on collection strategies generally is about identifying those areas of our society which need support to ensure that their archives survive and are accessible into the future. Those archives won’t usually come to The National Archives – very often they will be collected and held by a big range of archive services across the UK, keeping collections with relevant communities.
There can be many reasons why a collection strategy becomes essential – in the case of Archiving the Arts, it is a direct response to the needs of the arts community, who are increasingly interested in exploring a ‘second life’ for their archives and collections. They want to reuse and respond to evidence of their own artistic heritage. The arts is a complex area to archive, because arts organisations’ and artists’ heritage is more than their documents and records: to capture the essence of an art form for posterity, a variety of audio and visual media are often needed, and objects can be a crucial part of the heritage too. Though many arts archives already exist and can be very rich and exciting in content, there is a real danger that other aspects of the arts will not be accessible in the future. Continue reading »
Despite over a decade in helping users understand information management and getting them to accept that shaping information in the way you need to use it can actually make them happier… it doesn’t matter. The only time I’ve ever seen users not default to a shared drive is if they are less than ten feet from a printer.
Applications have become richer in their functionality and what they can interoperate with to deliver ever more developed workflows and case management. There are tools which provide an entire platform that can let you do just about anything with information, from web publishing to day-to-day processing.
Still it doesn’t matter; shared drives trump everything, all the time, everywhere in the world. This blog post isn’t big enough to explore all the reasons why users do this (and there are many). But what I do have space for is this; two challenges – one for us and one for developers.
Challenge 1 – Us
Turning off the shared drive! I mean the complete shut down of the NTFS – no corporate drive and no user drives… nothing. Could it be done without risking information management and digital continuity? Would users spontaneously combust?
So the Opening up Archives programme is in its eighth month – we’ve passed the halfway mark and over half of us trainees have blogged here in our very own Trainee Tuesday slot. We’ve had posts on digital preservation, augmented reality, and we’ve learnt about projects and collections within our hosts’ archives, in Leicester Records Office and in London Metropolitan Archives. Oh, and we also learnt that one of our fellow trainees likes to masquerade as a frustrated 18th century spinster online. Well, to each their own.
A lot of collections we’ve seen so far are rooted in the 20th century onwards, but my traineeship goes back a little further than that. I and my fellow trainee, Amy, are based at the Borthwick Institute for Archives undergoing a traineeship that could easily be titled ‘learning to read really old things’. In fact that’s how I describe it to people who ask. Ours is the only traineeship which focuses mainly on these more ‘traditional’ skills: palaeography (the writing), diplomatic (the format), and Latin (the dead language).
And it makes sense really, when you think of the Borthwick’s holdings: an enormous collection of ecclesiastical records including parish registers, visitations, church court records, vast collections of diocesan records and probate records. Many of the documents we are interested in date back to medieval times. Don’t get me wrong, we do have records which date from – gasp – this century; we have a digital archivist and we even have a twitter account! However, in order for us to get anywhere in our traineeship we definitely need the skills we are learning.
In order for us to learn these skills we have to practice, and we’ve found that the best documents to practice with are Cause Papers and wills. The Cause Papers in particular feature a variety of English and Latin, follow a set format and often they can feature narratives which could rival a soap opera’s.
A boy who has found a horse. Document reference: CN 8/1/37 (detail)
My inspiration for today’s blog post comes from two things that stuck in my head when I read them. The first is a pearl of wisdom from the fictional detective Miss Marple, which I will quote later. The second is a recent comment made in response to a colleague’s post on this blog: ‘how can you research a record or collection if you do not know it exists?’
The trivial answer to this question is, of course, that you can’t. It does, however, prompt another, more complicated question: how can you find archival sources that are relevant for your research?
In previous blog posts, I’ve given some hints on how to get started and noted some attributes of really successful researchers. For this post, I’ve decided to offer a brief outline of three different ways of locating and identifying interesting records: serendipity, ‘brute force’ and archival logic. In practice, most people’s experience of using archives tends to involve some combination of these three. Continue reading »
Usually when I sit down to write a blog post, I begin by reflecting on the projects and work I have been involved in recently, to share the discoveries and events along the way.
This week however, I was inspired by another blogger – Claire Newing – and her post on ‘Disability in the UK Government Web Archive’ on Wednesday. Claire talked about the various ways website design is geared towards providing additional assistance to those that need it. This made me think of the British Sign Language (BSL) video podcasts available on our media player that deserve highlighting.
‘Introduction to Family History – British Sign Language video’ podcast
According to Action on Hearing Loss (formerly RNID), there are an estimated 9 million people in the UK who are deaf or hard of hearing, and a number of our users both online and in person may need assistance due to this. We have hearing aid loops in our Reading Rooms and staff trained in BSL to assist people onsite. Our podcast series is designed to share our collections more widely offsite, and using BSL interpreters on some of them means this can be as inclusive as possible.
Continue reading »
Western tentacles of the Great Western Railway (reference RAIL 936/48)
Edward Thomas (1878-1917), who was killed in action during the First World War, was a poet and essayist chiefly remembered for his poem Adlestrop which recalled the sudden peace and serenity of a village railway station in the days prior to the First World War.
Adlestrop by Edward Thomas
Yes, I remember Adlestrop –
the name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.
The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop – only the name
And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.
And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.
But was the train due to stop at Adlestrop anyway? Continue reading »