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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Outreach and Engagement: Supply and Demand

A few months ago, God actually ages ago by now, I gave a talk to the International Association of Music Libraries (UK and Ireland branch) in Manchester.

I was asked to participate in their conference as the Royal Northern College of Music’s archivist, a fabulously fun job. The conference organisers fancied someone who could talk about outreach and engagement with collections, one of my priorities for the College’s collection. I said yes please and that was that. I was booked.

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Resilience and change: TNA’s Fundraising Cohort

Earlier this year I was incredibly surprised to learn that I had been accepted onto The National Archive’s Fundraising Cohort. I’m not part of a big service at the Royal Northern College of Music Archives. In fact it’s just half of me there. That doesn’t stop me from having big plans for it, though, including fundraising.

At the start, the Cohort met once every four to six weeks and over the period of a few months we accumulated an arsenal of methods to support our services. The main thing I was delighted to discover was that it’s all about the plan. I love a good plan.

Resilience and wanting change

See, the Cohort is more than just learning how to fill in bids. It’s about resilience. The archive sector is generally pretty good at writing fundraising bids – we’ve been doing it for a long time. It’s things like corporate sponsorship, crowdfunding, working in tandem with higher-ups etc that we are, on a whole, a little less confident with.

Truly resilient things are not unchanging. They are adaptive.

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Hidden Depths: The Institute of Race Relations Newspaper Clippings Collection — Reading Race, Collecting Cultures

We’ve recently done a little conservation and access work on our Institute of Race Relations (IRR) Newspaper Clippings collection. It really is one of the gems of our archive – a vast collection of race-related stories from provincial UK newspapers, covering the short but intense period of September 1977 to April 1984. The collection has […]

via Hidden Depths: The Institute of Race Relations Newspaper Clippings Collection — Reading Race, Collecting Cultures

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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An amateur’s trip to the archives (Part 1)

A great intro to using archives. Every expert was an amateur once!


A guest post by Lu Tolu. Lu is one of 11 community curators working with the People’s History Museum on our new exhibition on the fight for LGBT+ rights.

Call log books

Before starting this project, the first and only time I visited an archive was in Malta with my grandfather, more than 10 years ago. I remember the archive as very imposing with dusty paper catalogues, and large bound volumes carted around on trolleys in spacious halls. With only that memory to go off I felt like quite an impostor when I visited the archives at the Bishopsgate Institute. Could I belong in such a space?

So I apologised profusely as I introduced myself to the archive staff; I really didn’t want them to think that I knew what I was doing. Luckily they were all extremely helpful and ready to answer all my questions. Before starting I had to fill…

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Finding Aid Friday: Propaganda Archives Edition

A great resource for highlighting political archives in the US.
I still hold (and likely always will) a massive nuclear blazing torch for Labour History Archive and Study Centre, though.

Finding Aid

A few weeks ago, I put out a call for Finding Aid Friday ideas in WordPress’s Community Pool. Sarah, who runs Prejudice and Politics, suggested political propaganda.  (Prejudice and Politics is a really awesome blog in which countries are personified as if they were drunks at a bar sharing sob stories. The post on Brexit is great. I won’t mind if you bail on me to read it.)

I really wanted to include some international collections, but I’m limited to English, high school Spanish, college Latin, and five words in Russian (one of which is better suited for sailors, not searching finding aids). And Google Translate is better at bringing the giggles than anything else, so… I’m stuck with collections held by American institutions. Please feel free to let me know of any great collections outside the 50 States.

Without further adieu, propaganda poster finding aids!

Cindy  Domingo was an activist who organized on…

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Did I drop off the face of the earth? Quite the opposite.

Seriously, I have been so damned busy and it’s been amazing.

I’m going to tell you all about everything in good time but for now here’s a taster:

A couple of other things I can’t share with you yet but will do when I am able because I am SO EXCITED!

So, all these updates are coming up over the next few weeks. Things are moving so quickly and I’m thoroughly enjoying running with it all.

Ever feel damned privellaged to be able to do the work you do? That’s me right now.

Anyway, keep an eye out for updates and as always, feel free to get in touch with questions/comments/just say ‘hi’.


What the Culture White Paper means for you.

In March this year, the government released the first Culture White Paper in 50 years and this country’s only second one ever.

White Papers are policy documents. They’re designed and delivered with the purpose of setting out priorities for future legislation.

Legislation in the cultural sector covers all of the following:

  • the Arts
  • Historic environment including landscapes and buildings
  • Cultural property and heritage
  • Libraries
  • Museums
  • Galleries
  • Archives

And it’s not just those which receive government funding. We all should be paying attention as the reach of this paper stretches out to us all.

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