Last October I started my Transforming Archives traineeship at Archives+ in Manchester and Wigan Archives specialising in digitisation, outreach and engagement. It is hard to believe it has been ten months already and the traineeship will soon come to an end.
I have had the opportunity to be webmaster for GM1914, a blog about Greater Manchester during the First World War, a role that involved editing volunteer blog contributions from all ten Greater Manchester authorities. I have been particularly proud of developing our Battle of the Somme 100 year anniversary commemoration season which involves posting a volunteer-contributed blog once a week about the story of Greater Manchester, its soldiers and the Somme.
During the traineeship, I edited two books that are now on sale in the Greater Manchester area, including ‘Steady Progress: The Making of Modern Leigh’ by local historian and Wigan Archives volunteer Yvonne Eckersley. Working with Yvonne and helping turn years of work into an interesting and engaging book was a brilliant experience that I am proud to have been a part of.
I have really enjoyed the chance to recruit, train and manage my own team of volunteers working on GM1914. It has been a really rewarding process helping volunteers to gain the skills and experience they require to help them progress with their goals. To support this I completed a Volunteer Management course with Attend Academy, which was a great experience and something that I will hopefully be able to use in my career.
I have loved running the Wigan Archives Facebook page and helping to develop a really active and interesting community on the page. Our reach has grown lots over the last year (though more likes are always welcome!) and it has been a rewarding process deciding which content to post and how best to use Facebook to promote the archives.
One of the most rewarding parts of my traineeship has been working with the Greater Manchester Sound Archive. I had the chance to digitise oral history interviews with First World War soldiers, left-wing activists, sex workers and more! I’ve learnt lots of technical skills, including how to digitise cassette tapes and minidiscs, which I hope to use going forward. I’ve blogged using sound archives and taught volunteers how to do so. While we are still trying to find the best ways to engage people with sound archives, I am well and truly in love – even listening to oral history interviews on my morning commute!
Something I wasn’t expecting to be doing when I applied for my traineeship was planning awards ceremonies, but in November last year I planned and delivered the Greater Manchester Archives and Local Studies Partnership Volunteer Awards Ceremony at the lovely Ordsall Hall in Salford. I am glad to say the event was a success. It was made particularly memorable by GM1914 receiving the Archive Volunteering Award for 2015, which is sponsored by the Archives and Records Association of the UK and Ireland (ARA) and sector partners to celebrate the contribution of volunteers within the archive sector. I am currently planning this year’s awards ceremony which will take place on Thursday 8 September 2016. I am very grateful for the opportunity to develop events management skills and I am convinced they will come in handy in my future career.
I would like to thank everyone at both Archives+ and Wigan Archives who have made my traineeship so interesting and helped me in so many ways over the last 10 months. Looking to the future, I hope to be able to build a career working with volunteers and continuing to engage with communities.