Did you know that The National Archives has a Business Archives Advice Manager? Alex Ritchie is the man in question, and I thought today’s blog should introduce you to some elements of his work. It’s all part of a national strategy for business archives, in which The National Archives is a partner.
The home of the archives at F Hoffmann-La Roche
What’s so special about business archives?
The written heritage of Britain is not only in public hands, and represents more than individuals, families and organisations. Any commercial entity, from massive international corporations to small family businesses and sole traders, needs to maintain records to succeed. They keep accounts, staff records and production records. Designs, publicity, staff records and product images are also kept. Their value can be anything from heritage branding to patent information crucial to company income or Victorian engineering diagrams for structures still in active use today. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that many businesses retain an archive and that they are among the richest collections for historical research.
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“Claiming our history, celebrating our past, creating our future!” is the motto of LGBT history month which begins today.
LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) history has been in focus at The National Archives for a while now and we have many things going on to contribute to the aim above, and encourage future research in the area.
The rainbow of LGBT can be found in many archives and libraries. Source: www.flickr.com/photos/bluemarla/229631339/in/set-72157608188767044/
Today sees the re-launch of our Gay and Lesbian history research guide which has been updated and streamlined to make it more user-friendly for those starting out in their research. It suggests a number of areas where users may wish to begin, but also, importantly, it suggests historical terminology to use in our online catalogue.
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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.
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On Wednesday we released ‘Asia through a lens’, the latest batch of Colonial Office photographs in the CO 1069 collection.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the project, over the past couple of years we have been releasing parts of our CO 1069 photographic collection on Flickr. The photos are from the colonial period and feature images taken by government staff from all over the world. They range from around 1860, to when many colonies gained independence in the 1960s. You can read more about the project on my previous blog and our news story.
So far we have released images of Africa, the Americas and island territories (including the Caribbean) and the latest set released online on Wednesday are of Asia.
This set of photographs hasn’t disappointed – it is a beautifully diverse collection, with plenty of panoramic scenes, everyday life and events alongside the more unusual examples of typhoon damage, theatre performances and celebratory ‘bun mountains’! We also see a number of beautifully coloured prints that have inspired staff to order copies for themselves!
For all those still suffering with Olympics withdrawal symptoms, never fear – the Paralympics are here!!
In their honour, my blog today is dedicated to the story behind the London 2012 Paralympic mascot – Mandeville.
Mandeville mascot image from UK Government Web Archive
This cute little drop of steel from the Olympic Stadium (that’s what he is, apparently – you can learn more about Mandeville’s creation), is named after the original home of the Paralympics – Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire, on which we hold a number of files.
Sir Ludwig Guttmann was a pioneering doctor at the hospital in the 1940s who recognised the importance of physical activity in the rehabilitation of injured soldiers during and after the Second World War.
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Desert Island (by Flickr user ronsaunders47 - CC-BY-SA)
When you work in an archive, a certain amount of shelving is, of course, unavoidable, and as a word, I always feel ‘shelving’ has quite a pleasant ring to it. But while it’s euphonious, it’s not positive in every context. It can imply something interrupted, put to one side, and it’s just life that this is what happens, in a world of competing priorities, to some projects that seemed like good ideas at the time.