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.


Step two: Make sure it’s for you.

The toolkit is not really written for those who are working with an already established collection in a professional repository. However, you may find some of the advice about sharing the material and promoting the collection useful. Either way, if you’re curious, give it a once over and let me know what you think.

The toolkit is designed specifically for all of you who are not archivists and have never worked with an archive before but are thinking of creating one from scratch. This applies to community groups, charities, businesses, historical societies, clubs, book clubs, lone rangers, basically the rest of the world who have never done this before.

It can be daunting, starting an archive project and it feels like a lot of responsibility to the past and for the future. The toolkit introduces all the things you should be thinking about and gives practical advice from years of experience with lots of different collections and organisations, about how to approach and deliver the different parts of the process.


Step three: Figure out your starting point

You may not have started yet, have done a bit, be half way through, nearly finished or definitely finished and wondering “what next?” Any stage is completely fine and the toolkit should be able to help you no matter what.

The toolkit is split into distinct sections covering:


Certainly have a read through it all because you never what could be useful to you in reviewing what you already have done, correcting any mistakes already made or preventing future frustration. However, if there is a section that’s particularly relevant to you then go right ahead and soak all that up.

Step four: Ask for further advice

Be aware that because the toolkit is designed for use by pretty much everyone, it is by necessity quite broad. It covers the basics in the key topics and issues to consider and signposts to more information. If you have specific questions about your project or collection then I urge you to get in touch with a professional archivist, either from your local record office or a consultant like myself (your local archivist should be able to recommend a consultant best suited to your work).


If you have questions about the toolkit itself and its content then feel free to get in touch with me. I’m happy to chat.

Step five: Check out the other toolkits

Manchester Histories published FOUR free toolkits. They are designed to give absolute beginners the skills needed to design and deliver key aspects of working with heritage. The other three cover how to deliver a research project, how to deliver an oral history project and how to evaluate a project. Download them all for free here.

Step six: Share any thoughts

What do you think? Is there anything that was particularly useful? Anything you don’t understand? Are you using it with your work? Let me know! I’d love to hear from you.


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