#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

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.


Send me to the basement and don’t come looking.

Ever been to Contact Theatre on Oxford Road? It’s the kind of building that people call “iconic” and “landmark”. I  call it “mad fantasy”.

It is shaped like a post-apocalyptic castle; all sheet metal and lights with four large cooling towers in the shape of medieval turrets. Inside is a wash of purple and orange and no straight edges in sight. I adore the thing.

I also hadn’t been in, ever, until I was asked to create their archive for them.

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A side-door into ISAD(G)

Cataloguing is basically problem solving. You have  a jumble of stuff and you want to get it into an order that helps people understand what’s in it and how it all relates to each other.

To do this, it’s not just a case of referencing our international standard ISAD(G). Sometimes, the basic elements of ISAD(G) that you must include for every catalogue aren’t enough. However, nor are the other twenty-odd elements. I’ve recently found that it can make more sense to put your efforts into a sort of side-on approach in order to make it work.

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