Widening the Circle: highlights from the ARA Conference panel 2018

“Widening the circle” was a panel at the Archives and Records Association 2018 conference on which myself, Gail Heath of the Pankhurst Centre and David Smith of Huddersfield’s Heritage Quay talked about working with community groups on archive projects. Here are the highlights of the conversation and a link to the full video.

Full video of the panel is here. Scroll to the bottom of the page for the playlist.

The main points covered are as follows: community-led engagement, planning, marketing and skills.

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#DonkeysToInnovators – Choosing what to keep

Top tips on making decisions about what to keep on Disabled Living’s Donkeys to Innovators project.

So, you’ve loads of stuff. You’ve loads of great stuff. But some of it, you’re not sure about. Do you need to keep it all?

Nope. Whilst less isn’t always more when managing archives, you will need to make sure that you keep things for the right reasons. Similarly, you need to make sure that when you discard of something, you’re making the right decision, too.

This is called appraisal and it’s a very important step in creating your archive. Have a look at my blog for simple tips on appraising photographs with Disabled Living’s incredible and vast collection.


For more information about creating your archive from scratch, and other examples of appraisal, have a look at my “Creating Your Own Archive” toolkit for beginners with Manchester Histories.


#DonkeysToInnovators project – a rare find

I’ve been working with Disabled Living on their Donkeys To Innovators archive project.

In their 120 years of history, Disabled Living have achieved some extraordinary things. Some are massive and ground breaking like championing new equipment and initiatives. Some are just simple, heart-felt, consistent acts of kindness.

Have a look at my blog about one of the rare finds in the archive, which really celebrates their huge heart.


Attending Pride without being proud

I have never felt proud of my sexuality. It’s not a source of pride for me. It is simply a matter of fact. Concepts of gratitude, accomplishment and ownership came to me in light of Manchester’s recent LGBT+ Pride events. I thought I’d try and work it out here.

Pride: the parade

I really enjoy going to watch the Pride parade and waving my flag and whooping support for nearly everything that goes past me.

Spartans! Whoop!

Line dancing! Whoop!

Tesco! Whoop!

Lost cyclist who didn’t know the roads were shut! Whoohoop!

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How to use my free archive toolkit

My role of archivist on the Hidden Histories Hidden Historians project by Manchester Histories gave me the opportunity to design and deliver a free toolkit on how to make an archive from scratch. This is how you can use it.

Creating Your Own Archive


Step one: Download it here


It has handy top tips, case studies, nifty little check lists, signposts to further resources and of course, all the advice I could manage to share.

Download it, check it out and then please do let me know what you think.

Check out the other amazing toolkit options.


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Bending the Rules: Cataloguing the Manchester BME archive

A more detailed case study of ‘A Side-Door into ISAD(G)‘ has recently been posted by the wonderful Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Research Centre’s blog. Check the extended blog below as I take you through an example of rule bending and manipulating catalogues.

Our freelance archivist Heather Roberts has been working her magic on our large, and until now slightly unwieldy, Manchester Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Communities collection. Here she reflects on the process and reveals some of the thinking behind her work: Arranging the Manchester BME Communities collection was an interesting adventure in flexing the rules. […]

via Bending the Rules: Archiving the Manchester BME Communities collection — Reading Race, Collecting Cultures

Brio vol.54, no.1 : “Supply and Demand: ‘more, more, more’ meets archives”

I’ve developed my (rather jazzy) talk for the International Association of Music Libraries’ 2016 conference into a proper published article.

IAML’s UK publication “Brio” got in touch (lovely people) and asked me to write it out since it was so well received.

Well! I’ve never really been published before and explained at the get-go that I could no longer be considered an academic writer. Those days are LONG gone. Apparently, my energy and delivery at the conference was something they wanted to shine through so I was given pretty much free rein.

I managed to restrain myself a little bit but overall I was very pleased with the outcome.

The article basically is a much deeper exploration into the case studies of my projects at the Royal Northern College of Music Archives. Those are outlined briefly in an earlier blog post.

If you manage to get your hands on a copy of the current Brio edition, do give my contribution a glance and let me know what you think.


Hidden Histories, Hidden Historians: history starts to take shape

If you’re curious about the exhibitions myself and Manchester Histories Festival are helping our 5 amazing community groups to deliver, have a look at my blog.

Community groups have been getting creative with their heritage and working towards delivering their own tailored exhibitions.

These are great examples of how digital exhibition spaces at the brilliant Archives+ offer opportunities for creativity to Manchester’s diverse communities.

Any questions, just drop us a line. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Auditing The Black Watch Museum Archive for research, learning and legacy.

Explore my week with the amazing archives at the Black Watch Museum & Castle in this short blog.

The Black Watch Castle and Museum

dav Heather Roberts, archive consultant during her time in The Black Watch Museum archive

I’m Heather Roberts, a professional archive consultant. This May, I had the privilege and pleasure of getting up close and personal with the archive at The Black Watch Castle and Museum. I was asked to undertake an audit of the archive to help guide the management of the collection and development of the service. Ever wonder what that entails? For a brief adventure in archiving, read on…..

The Black Watch Museum archive holds an amazing collection. Not only is the actual material so interesting (metres and metres of photographs, ledgers, letters, pictures, sketchbooks, etc.), but the story it tells is fascinating. Stories of soldiers and their journeys throughout the decades, of how battalions were managed and what their work meant. The Black Watch has a world famous reputation and its history is a compelling story to share.

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Hidden Histories, Hidden Historians: Why it matters (according to the archivist)

Hidden Histories, Hidden Historians is a really valuable project. Working with 5 community groups, myself and Manchester Histories Festival are helping them tell the histories that they want to share via Archives+ amazing digital exhibition spaces.

The wonderful groups include Manchester People First, Inspire Centre, FC United Sporting Memories, Oldham Youth Council and M13 Youth Project.

Read about why I think these kinds of projects are so important and useful in my blog post on the Manchester Histories Festival site.