For Explore Your Archives we’re going behind-the-scenes with our archivist Eve to find out a little more about the day job. This varied role includes dealing with new additions to the collections, helping people with their research and providing an outreach service.
Each new accession we receive needs processing and listing. We go through the deposit to understand what is included, and add it to our Document Management System, assigning it a reference number and accession number. These numbers are then associated with the documents forever – it’s how we know what we’ve got, and where it’s stored in our strongrooms.
We repackage all of the documents into acid-free, archival storage folders and boxes, and we write descriptions of the items to help researchers find them using the catalogue. It can be a tricky process for big deposits, but it means we see every new document that enters our collections.
Our Local Studies Library collection is always growing too. We keep an eye out for new Somerset publications, are constantly searching for relevant topics, and also rely on researchers to tell us about their own works or titles they’re interested in.
New library acquisitions over the summer have included books about the cloth trade of Frome, the glove trade in Langport and commercial vehicles in Bristol. Our collections are nothing if not diverse!
Find out more about depositing documents
Explore the Local Studies Library
Often visitors to our searchroom ask us for specific documents, but we rarely find out why they want to see them. When we get a research enquiry we usually get a lot of background information as well. This means we get a better idea of why this piece of information is important and what it means to them that we can give them a copy of a marriage register entry with their great-grandparents’ signatures, or the photo of an old family home that’s since been knocked down.
An interesting request for me was to look through the diary of Aloysius Keen, who was evacuated to Rowbarton in 1944. His diary is full of day-to-day life like feeding the vicarage’s collection of fowl, coming off his bike on the icy streets, and calling on a young lady! He loved to doodle, and it looks like he was doing his own one-name study of the Keen family.
The research service is here for (almost) anything, from a single press clipping to a whole document transcription and beyond. And every question we answer helps us learn a little bit more about the amazing resources we hold here.
Find out more about the Research Service.
About once a quarter, we visit Weston-super-Mare Library with a trolley-load of documents to help people with their family, house or local history research; provide information about the archives held at the Somerset Heritage Centre; and to bring microfiche or digital copies of larger documents.
These visits provide an opportunity to meet even more budding researchers, and to help with their research, whatever that may be. Each visit brings new research enquiries and new researchers, but there’s also a fantastic group of regular researchers who attend each session.
Topics of research range from the early history of Kewstoke, the First World War in the Gordano Valley, and entertainers and acts on the Grand Pier at Weston-super-Mare. There’s also always a healthy dose of family and house historians, so it’s never dull.
The visits also provide the chance for new deposits to be transferred to the archive, and on this occasion new deposits included illustrations of proposed developments to Weston-super-Mare seafront, slides of images promoting tourism in North Somerset, and the minutes of the Weston-super-Mare and District National Trust Association.
Find out more about the North Somerset Archives Service
Explore Your Archive Events
If you’re interested in finding out more about the archives take a look at our special events for November’s Explore Your Archive.
The Explore Your Archive campaign is being delivered in partnership with The Archives & Records Association (UK and Ireland), The National Archives and local, business, university and private archives.