Following on from my first and second blog posts, these registered designs for ‘straw plaits’ demonstrate how the image capture and processing technique of Polynomial Texture Mapping (PTM) enables detailed examination of finely textured surfaces. This fosters appreciation of the exquisite quality of the ‘plaiting’ and also demonstrates the richness of the BT Design Register as a resource for understanding the history and technology of the straw hat industry.
Posts under the 'Records and research' category
Research at The National Archives is going from strength to strength! We have more good news to report as The Thames Consortium, comprised of The National Maritime Museum, The National Portrait Gallery and The National Archives has been awarded six Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships (CDPs) per year for the next three years to support doctoral students.
The CDP studentships are distributed by the Arts and Humanities Research Council to sustain and promote high-quality research and skills in the sector. Maintaining the skills base in the arts and humanities is vital, and The National Archives will now be able to extend more opportunities for interdisciplinary research, knowledge exchange and training. We are really pleased to be involved and are thrilled that students will have access to a museum, an art gallery and an archive through which to explore their themes.
Inspired by the likes of the Great British Bake Off, I have for some time wanted to look in to recipes within The National Archives and what they can tell us, and so took the opportunity for my blog post this week.
The wonderful thing about taking a topic such as ‘recipes’ or ‘food’ as a theme in archival research, is that it cuts across many series, subjects and people.
Following the positive feedback from my first post, here are two further designs represented using Polynomial Texture Mapping (PTM), including one application of Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI). These designs were chosen in order to explore the effects of this image capture and processing technique on shiny surfaces: a ‘gilded’ and embossed envelope showing the Crystal Palace, and knitted silk gloves with ‘floss’ silk tassels. Continue reading »
I was quite pleased when I was given the opportunity to contribute a post to the ‘My Tommy’s War’ series as it gave me a a great excuse to resume some research my family started a decade ago.
I’m not sure when I first found out that my Great Granddad King, my mum’s paternal grandfather, was killed in the First World War. It’s one of those things that it feels like I’ve always known. I remember taking his medals in to primary school to show the class when we were studying the world wars. As a child I felt sad that my lovely grandad, who was just six years old when his father died, had never really known his father. Some years later my mum showed me a precious album of photographs of the King side of the family which featured the photograph on the left. It shows my great grandparents with their three sons. My granddad, the youngest, is on the right. We think it was taken shortly before great-granddad went overseas and I think you can see the fear and worry in their faces. My mum had learned some details of her granddad’s story from her grandmother. She knew that before the war he worked as a bus conductor and was involved with the Labour Party. She also knew that he was injured while serving abroad and that her grandmother had visited him in hospital in the UK before he died. We were keen to try and find out more. This is the story of how we, two amateur family historians, researched our Tommy’s war.
The vast collection of The National Archives includes nearly 3 million ‘ornamental’ and ‘useful’ designs, registered by the Board of Trade Representations and Registers of Designs, between 1839 and 1991. The BT Design Register, as it is commonly known, aimed to foster design innovation; put simply, registration gave copyright protection to the designs.
Many classes of materials and products were registered, including metal, wood, glass, earthenware, paper hangings (wall paper), carpets, and six classes of textiles including shawls and lace. The representations of the designs take many forms: drawings, tracings, photographs, small samples of the products, as well as whole artefacts, e.g. embossed envelopes, straw bonnets, collars, gloves and printed cotton handkerchiefs.
Over the last year the other Opening Up Archives trainees and I have blogged on everything from Richard III and ice cream to medieval archives and LGBT history month. We’ve created a Polish Community Project, apps, trained archivists on the digital preservation process, and one of us even ventured outside to an archaeology dig. As our traineeships are coming to an end we’ve picked some highlights and interesting archives for one last blog post.
Julie Thomson – Leicester and Rutland Archives
It’s been a busy, slightly wacky, but overall rewarding year of digital preservation training! The best part is that I was able to throw myself into the day-to-day functioning of my host Record Office in a really hands-on way, and at the end of it all feel like I’d made a significant contribution to preserving its holdings. I also hope my work (both digitising large numbers of items and helping to create an accessible, commercially viable online image library) will ultimately generate some real revenue for the Record Office, as well as promoting local heritage to a global audience. I’ve genuinely enjoyed learning about my colleague Kasia McCabe’s Polish Community Project too. Archives are definitely looking like a viable career path, especially with regard to digital technology.
Personal favourite archive item? That is a tough one. We’ve had Richard III material, Isaac Newton’s property rolls, and a lot of interesting medieval documents. But the photography collections are especially rich, and dealt with exciting material from throughout the 20th century. One of my most abiding interests is the role of women on the home front during the First and Second World Wars. I’ve cheated and made a collage because there are too many good ones!
Just over a year ago the 1940 census of the United States was released, causing much excitement and activity in the genealogical community there. Unlike recent census releases in the UK, it did not arrive fully indexed, but as soon as the census images were made public a massive crowd-sourcing project got underway to create name indexes. This is no mean feat since that census contains over 132 million names. The project was jointly undertaken by FamilySearch and by two commercial companies, findmypast.com and Archives.com with batches being allocated to volunteer transcribers and moderators using FamilySearch indexing software. The enthusiasm of the volunteers exceeded expectations, and the whole project was completed ahead of schedule within a few months. Quite independently of this, two other companies, Ancestry.com and MyHeritage.com, also compiled their own indexes.
I indexed a few batches myself, because I thought it was a worthwhile project, but also because I have an interest in American records. My own ancestry is all Scottish and Irish so far, but learning about American records is useful to me because I keep finding distant relatives whose families migrated there in the 19th and 20th centuries, and I have an American daughter-in-law. It’s also relevant to the day job, since many Americans have British or Irish roots, and when I am answering their research enquiries on British records it helps to know a little about the kind of records they are used to.
Nationwide or federal censuses have been taken in the USA every ten years since 1790. In Great Britain there has been a census every ten years since 1801, with the exception of 1941, and in Ireland every ten years from 1821 to 1911. There was no Irish census in 1921 because of the Troubles, but a census was taken in 1926 in both the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland. There is a lot more US census to look at, and not just because it is a much bigger country. There are lists of names all the way back to 1790, albeit names of heads of households only before 1850, while in Great Britain no name lists at all were collected centrally until 1841 (although some lists from 1801 to 1831 do survive in local archives). But there is also a great deal of extra census material in the USA, including state censuses, often taken half-way between the federal censuses. There are also ‘Non-population’ returns for some years, recording details about agriculture and manufacturing.
For the past six months I have been working on a challenging yet fascinating one-year conservation research fellowship at The National Archives on transparent papers. Today I’d like to tell you how readers at The National Archives are providing valuable information for this project via the Readers’ Transparent Paper Survey.
For the purposes of my project, transparent papers are defined as those papers for which transparency was vital for its intended role. For example, maps, overlays, copies of artistic designs, and engineering or architectural plans are relevant while pages of text on thin, and consequently transparent, paper are not.