Enhancing Impact…

…and Inspiring Excellence!

Image of conference audience, one main figure and several behind

Delegates reported that they found the day inspiring

Wednesday 4th September was a busy day! It saw The National Archives and the University of Birmingham deliver a one day conference at the University which explored partnership and collaborative working between the archive and HE sectors. This free conference, sponsored by The National Archives, Research Libraries UK, Adlib Information Systems, and the Institute of Historical Research, brought together 39 speakers, from 36 separate institutions, and over 140 delegates, to explore how archives and universities can work together more effectively.

A full auditorium, with raking seats sloping downwards, seeing from a high vantage point from the back of the room

The conference was attended by over 140 delegates – a great turnout

Hosted and co-organised the University, the conference began with speeches from Ian Grosvenor (Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor for Cultural Engagement) and Oliver Morley (Chief Executive and Keeper of the National Archives), before a fantastic array of papers were heard from across the UK. During the conference’s seven panels, papers were given regarding archives and undergraduate teaching, postgraduate supervision, joint research applications, collaborative doctoral partnerships, joint publications and lecture series, and collection knowledge and development. The processes and pitfalls of collaboration were explored and some ‘handy-hints’ shared between delegates. Who makes contact first? How do I find the right academic? What if I haven’t got a university nearby?

A man uses a wall-mounted touch screen to explore some map data

The day provided opportunities to get to grips with innovative display options for heritage collections

Throughout the day, delegates stressed the importance of these discussions and how useful it was to come together to consider the opportunities available and the challenges they faced. Discussions were also held about how archives can better capture their contributions to academic research, the wider changes within the academic landscape, and the funding opportunities available. A ‘market place’ was available throughout the day with stalls from the AHRC, Campaign for Archives, Adlib and Ashgate Publishers. It really was a very busy, but very enjoyable and productive day! After a full day of papers, delegates, speakers and sponsors enjoyed an evening reception in the University’s digital heritage suite where they were able to continue networking over wine, nibbles and state-of-the-art ‘touch tables’. Presentations and podcasts will follow shortly on The National Archives’ website, as will a piece of guidance regarding academic and archival collaboration.


Photographs for this post were taken by Melanie Cheung of RLUK and are used with permission.


  1. Jefny Ashcroft says:

    Crammed full of interesting things.
    A personal highlight was Hull History Centre’s presentation on how they worked with students. Full of practical information about how they organised things but never too much detail. Honest enough to share the rough with the smooth however: I was somewhat taken aback to hear that some male first years thought it was OK to laugh at pictures of women in Victorian mental institutions. Modern sensibilities!
    Also some useful ideas on how to dramatise (and thus make available to a much wider audience) oral history contributions from Keele/New Victoria Theatre.
    The OUI/ PRONI paper was an object lesson in double-act presentation. Brilliant stuff.
    Finally, despite being sceptical about their more general use in institutions – I was only really sold on the idea of them supporting exhibitions – it was genuinely instructive to be able to try out the touch-tables at the reception. I believe they are a feature at the Hive which sounds like a wonderful new “must see” place.
    Thanks to Matt and others involved for organising such a stimulating day.

    1. Melinda Haunton says:

      Many thanks Jefny – that’s very good to hear, and I’ll ensure Matt gets your thanks and feedback.

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