#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.


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.


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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.

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.


Arts Archives as Catalysts for Change: DWAN collaborate

At the RNCM Archives, I’ve been poking at the idea of arts archives as arts resources. A lot of the collection at the College is either manuscript music, drawings, programmes or photographs. It’s a dream for outreach and engagement because so much of it created specifically to be engaged with. Music is for listening to, art is for looking at, etc..

Arts and politics, social change and protest have all been linked before and there are cultural and heritage institutions that recognise the potential for their sectors to make a difference in the here and now.

This hadn’t been the case so much for the RNCM Archives and I was itching to side-step into it, arms happily laden with politics and archives.

I’d been bringing artists and arty people down into the basement (not as Hammer Horror as I make it sound) for a good 18 months and they’d been loving the collections. Then, the opportunity to jump on the Digital Women’s Archive North Research and Development project was offered last year. It was timely and nicely experimental. Just what the archives needed.

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