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A Year in Archives 2014 -15 Identity Creativity Accountability Community Learning


Images kindly reproduced with the permission of featured archive services Š Crown copyright 2015 You may re-use this publication (not including logos) free of charge in any format or medium, under the terms of the Open Government Licence v3.0. To view this licence visit; or write to the Information Policy Team, The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU; or email This publication is also available on our website at Any enquiries regarding this document/publication should be sent to us at

I am delighted to welcome you to the third edition of A Year In Archives highlighting some of the inspiring collaborative and innovative work that has taken place across the archive sector throughout 2014-15. In times of rapid change, archives are demonstrating their creative and entrepreneurial spirit, working in partnerships with a range of businesses, charities and with each other. Locally and online, they have found new ways to showcase their unique collections and engage audiences. Archives are investing in the skills and talents for the future, as the evolving digital landscape brings the sector fresh opportunities. It is an exciting time to be an archive. This year’s publication comes to you during our third annual Explore Your Archive campaign. We hope you can join your archive in the UK-wide celebrations and achievements, and also find out more about our new and ambitious four-year strategy, Archives Inspire 2015-19. Jeff James Chief Executive and Keeper, The National Archives


Archives are helping connect people to their nation, organisation and company, instilling a sense of belonging in everyone The Black Cultural Archives was founded with the mission to collect, preserve and celebrate the heritage and history of Black people in Britain. What started in 1981 in a couple of rooms is now a state of the art building in the heart of Brixton.

Since the opening of the building in July 2014:

The new location is delivering greater access to collections, dedicated learning spaces and a varied programme of events. No longer simply a keeper of records, the Black Cultural Archives is now a hub of activities that illuminate the unique stories of people from African and Caribbean descent and their contribution to shaping contemporary British society.

These numbers represent a really positive inaugural year at the new facility. And while there is a great deal more that staff members are hoping to achieve in the future, it is clear that this year has had a transformative effect on the link between the Archives and its community.

• 713

people have visited the reading room

• 111

workshops for students have been delivered

• 273

individuals have toured the centre

• 8,343 people visited the Re:imagine exhibition with its focus on Black women in Britain

#DayintheLife #DayintheLife One One of of our our volunteers, volunteers, Carl, is in today. He’s working Carl, is in today. He’s working on on aa podcast for our website. podcast for our website. St St Paul’s Paul’s Collections Collections @StPaulsLondon @StPaulsLondon

2014 was a significant year for the historical and cultural heritage of the John Lewis Partnership. Firstly, it marked the Partnership’s 150th anniversary, solidifying its status as one of most important and iconic brands within the UK’s commercial landscape. Secondly, the sale of the factory that housed their textiles archive, along with the closure of the warehouse containing their historical business records, necessitated the relocation of these collections to new premises. The site needed to engage the public, while acting as both a reference point and source of inspiration in the development of the brand’s future product lines. So, John Lewis built a new

Heritage Centre on the site of an old farm in Maidenhead. The Centre is now the cultural heart of the business. Open to the public for one day a week, it has a programme of talks, team days, events and craft activities. But equally important, the archive is now fully established as a resource that is helping to shape the company’s ethos and identity. The new centre helped in the development of the partnership’s JL150 branded products, including designs from 1864, and a particularly well known ‘Daisychain’ design created in the 1960s by Pat Albeck. In addition to the commercial value of this product line, John Lewis received some great media coverage for their brand, ranging from print and online articles to television and radio. http://www.johnlewismemorystore.


Archives are boxes of treasure that can inspire wonderful creations

It is not widely known how the old-established Piccadilly store of Fortnum & Mason played a significant role in the war effort. In an era when officers had to provide themselves with uniforms and equipment, the store had a war department dedicated to the task. They also supported British servicemen in the field with food parcels containing Fortnum’s particular specialities. Using material from the archive in collaboration with the Ministry of Defence and Harewood House in Leeds, the store has now produced ‘Tommy’s Tin’, a replica of a brass tin containing chocolate, sweets and tobacco sent to troops for Christmas 1914 at the suggestion of Princess Mary. The modern version was sent out to British men and women on active service over Christmas 2014 in commemoration of their predecessors. a-christmas-legacy-continues/

To Journey’s End and Beyond: The Legacy of R C Sherriff is a project, led by Surrey Heritage, that highlights the archive and the cultural legacy of the playwright, R C Sherriff. Having served in the East Surrey Regiment, Sherriff’s seminal drama, Journey’s End, offers a brutal and heartbreaking depiction of trench life, based on his experience, during the First World War. Working in partnership with the R C Sherriff Trust and Kingston Grammar School (where he attended as a youth), the project aimed to catalogue and conserve records from Sherriff’s life, while promoting youth drama work. The play, How Like It All Is – based on Sherriff’s life – had a rehearsed reading by Kingston

Grammar School students at the Rose Theatre in June 2014. A full performance is planned for late 2015. In addition, a number of workshops, ‘One Among Millions’, took place in four schools in Elmbridge Borough. Using Sherriff’s wartime letters to his parents, the aim was to help students understand what it was truly like to serve in the trenches. themes/subjects/military/surreys-firstworld-war/sherriff/

Out of the Box is a project designed to improve access to archive and local studies collections. Things that are second nature to those working in archives can sometimes represent barriers to the public wishing to access collections. In 2013, Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives initiated a partnership with a local disabled-led arts agency, filmpro, who are experienced in supporting disabled people to undertake creative work. Its lead artist Caglar Kimyoncu came up with a way of engaging project participants with the collections.

The project received funding from the Arts Council in 2014 for a touring exhibition of artwork. The pieces were produced from a series of creative workshops which used the local history library and archives collections as inspiration. Project participants were encouraged to create artwork in any format, on any subject relating to the archives. Sixteen participants contributed to the final exhibition, which toured libraries in the borough of Tower Hamlets over the period of nine months. Each piece of artwork was accompanied by audio and British Sign Language descriptions.

‘The word ‘archive’ – like the word ‘love’ or ‘family’ – conceals its true treasure beneath an unassuming simplicity. Only by exploring and cherishing these things do we discover their true value.’ Stephen McGann, Explore Your Archive ambassador


Archives provide the perfect environment for hands-on learning experiences for both professionals and visitors

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is the leading charity in promoting the life and works of the most celebrated playwright in history, William Shakespeare. The trust cares for various important heritage sites and makes available to the public the world’s largest Shakespeare museum and archive. The 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth marked a tremendous opportunity to engage learners with their collection. With such a rich primary source it was crucial for the archive to create links with partners to illustrate how their records could be used in a creative way to inspire new learning materials.

A decision was made to embark on a week long programme supported by over 90 cultural organisations. Shakespeare Week is planned to take place in 2016. It will offer cross-curricular resources and activities to teachers and families, inspiring them to explore Shakespeare in new and creative ways. The trust is looking to continue with the development and delivery of a high quality educational experience, enthusing a new generation of Shakespearians and establishing lasting links with partners. The trust has set themselves the target of engaging with 3.5 million children within the next five years. Read the full case study here: schools/shakespeare-week.html

The Transforming Archives Traineeship project is part of the Heritage Lottery Fund ‘Skills for the Future’ programme. It was designed to create a new route into the archive sector. During the first year, The National Archives, together with partners has helped 13 trainees achieve the Foundation Level of the Archives and Records Association CPD Framework. Here is what one of our trainees said about her experience:

archive services across Greater Manchester and organise and upload blog posts written by their volunteers. I have also organised two celebration events for GM1914 volunteers as a reward for all of their hard work, and have been asked to set up a Volunteer of the Year Award for Greater Manchester volunteers in 2015. I have been able to take advantage of a range of different training opportunities during my traineeship, including digitisation and digital preservation training, equality and diversity training, and how to work with young people and volunteers.

“So far, the traineeship is providing me with a fantastic insight into the day-to-day running of two local archives; Wigan Archives in Leigh and Archives+ in Manchester.

I am thoroughly enjoying my time as a Transforming Archives trainee and I definitely feel the traineeship has put me in a fantastic position for when I start the Masters in Archives and Records Management course at the University of Liverpool in September.”

At Manchester I am involved in the maintenance of GM1914, Greater Manchester’s First World War blog. This means I have to interact with different

Find out more about Transforming Archives: transforming-archives.htm

Bringing the past to the future: my experience as a Transforming Archives trainee A blog from Becky Farmer | Archives and archivists


Archives contribute to better decision making by providing transparent and accessible information

The Hillsborough disaster resulted in the deaths of 96 people at a match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield, in April 1989. In 2009, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, made a commitment to release all documentary material relating to the disaster.

This led to the setting up of the Hillsborough Independent Panel in 2010 and one of the largest cross-organisational disclosure projects, bringing together records from central and local government, wider public authorities, the emergency services, individuals, and private organisations. In September 2012, the panel disclosed more than 450,000 pages of historical documents online from 85 contributors. Sheffield Archives became a hub for the archive side of the project as it already held a large amount of related material from various South Yorkshire

organisations. Other relevant contributing organisations and individuals were identified by the panel and asked to undertake detailed searches for documents and other material. The panel recommended a ‘Permanent Archive’ should be established for all the Hillsborough material. Much of the documentary evidence for new inquests and an Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation has come directly from the historical material that has been collected, collated, catalogued and made available through the panel’s disclosure process.

Nearly 500 courts and prisons and over 450 NHS organisations covered by the change

Government decided that from 1 January 2015 public records of local interest will transfer earlier to local places of deposit under the new 20-year rule.

Over the last year the following archives achieved Archive Service Accreditation

Barts Health NHS Trust Archives Glamorgan Archives Gloucestershire Archives Institute of Education, London University Jersey Archive The National Archives is committed to Lothian Health Service Archive supporting local authorities with this National Records of Scotland transition. To assist with the cost of the 12 training events delivered, with change ÂŁ7.1 million of transitional funding Norfolk Record Office 159 members of staff is being made available. Earlier this year, we Flintshire Archives from transferring provided additional guidance and delivered organisations trained Manchester Central Library a major programme of training across University of the Arts Archives and England and Wales, which is set to continue throughout the coming year. Special Collections Centre Warwickshire County Record Office Red Cross Museum and Archives sector/20-year-rule-and-records-of-localChurchill Archives Centre Over 100 places of interest.htm deposit affected by The National Library of Wales the change Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists University of Edinburgh, Centre for Research Collections Wigan Archives Service An estimated 79 ÂŁ7.1 m of transitional funding identified

linear kilometres of records will be processed earlier


Archives are inspiring everyone to get involved in public life and their local community, providing a range of volunteering opportunities

It was a year of success for the archive at the University of St Mark and St John, Plymouth. The archive celebrated its 175th anniversary and won the ARA Volunteer Team of the Year award for its ‘Connected Catalogue’ project. The project was designed to encourage future users by making the service more inclusive

with fresh voices and new perspectives of the collections. The volunteers were recruited through the Plymouth Guild Volunteers and two local employability schemes designed to support vulnerable people into work. Participants were asked to choose a topic from the archive that they felt a connection to and find a unique way to share it. The volunteers submitted blogs, books, wiki pages, exhibitions, a rough guide to getting started for non-archivists, a Remembrance Day drama, a young people’s archive and a pop-up parliament.

The ‘Connected Catalogue’ project was successful in bringing people together by helping them to connect with their communities as well as their past. Participants were also able to enhance their knowledge and increase their employability with new transferrable skills. One of the volunteers, who never finished his education back in the 1960s, said, ‘I’ve finally got something to be proud of to put on my CV.’ Others found the process transformative simply by being valued and included in a public institution. news/557-university-of-st-mark-and-st-johnwins-2014-national-volunteering-award.html

Looking back on our #explorearchives 2014 tweets:… with @SwanseaUni students #archiveselfie RB Archives @SwanUniArchives

Heritage Heroes is a relatively new and ongoing project funded by Arts Council England engaging with people across the world through a programme of digital volunteering. The project was developed by Shropshire Archives and Museums, who have for many years developed innovative programmes for in-house volunteers. However, the ground breaking approach taken with the Heritage Heroes project is unlike anything the archive had previously attempted.

The project offers a wide range of opportunities for volunteers to decipher, describe, transcribe and index archive and museum resources from a number of institutions across the county. Records enhanced by the volunteers are moderated and then integrated into the core cataloguing systems used by partners. These records are then updated on the online catalogue creating a much improved online resource, better highlighting the importance and value of the collections. These records are on the online catalogue at

A recent addition to the Commonwealth Games Scotland Archive, Archives & Special Collections, University of Stirling – a teacake costume used in the opening ceremony of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games

The National Archives, Kew, Surrey TW9 4DU @UkNatArchives #YearInArchives

A Year In Archives  

Highlighting some of the inspiring, collaborative and innovative work that has taken place across the archive sector throughout 2014-15

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