Events and Activities Opening the Archive Thinking about collections

Exploring archives and ‘Coming in from the Cold’

By Daniella Carrington

For the month of March, my placement duties have shifted focus, from collections to project work. I am assisting with the documentation of ‘Coming in from the Cold‘, the latest project of the Centre’s sister organisation, the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Education Trust. I get to do photography, which I always enjoy, and practise blogging, my current interest.

The project team had the idea of using a blog to provide updates and insights into the ‘Coming in from the Cold’ project. I was given creative liberties to revitalise an existing blog for the project. In coming up with a concept, I explored the archives at the Centre for visual content and inspiration. The Senior Library Assistant, Ruth Tait, at one point became an impromptu model while I photographed the Ann Adeyemi collection (more on the blog about Ann Adeyemi here). Listening to Ruth talk about the people and history within the collection, showed her knowledge but also her working relationship with the archives.

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I used my time in the archives to see and get a feel for the physical items, then I went into the digital records. These are scans or digital copies of objects, referred to as digital surrogates. While I was at one point holding actual photographs from the Manchester Caribbean Carnival collection, at another, I was opening a folder in the Centre’s digital archives viewing the same images. The digitisation of archival collections is a major undertaking, but it enhances and extends the accessibility of archive records to serve various functions for institutions like the Centre and Trust.

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The one image that struck me the most, was that of Ahmed Iqbal Ullah from the Legacy of Ahmed project. It was donated by a family member for the project’s archival collection, and we see Ahmed presumably at a parade or event where a band was performing. I was searching for a feature image as a header in the chosen blog theme and design. The intention was to find a visual representation of what the work of the ‘Coming in from the Cold’ project and by extension the Trust entails by giving a voice to Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities in Manchester.

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Digital image of archived photograph of Ahmed Iqbal Ullah from the Legacy of Ahmed collection

Ahmed’s image is often used by the organisation in promotional material. The lessons from his story have influenced their mission to combat racial prejudice by documenting the life stories of people like Ahmed and his family, who make Britain so culturally diverse. Using his image prominently in the blog, is a reminder to preserve his legacy, and in a way, I believe he is overseeing the work of the Trust for those who are ‘Coming in from the Cold‘.

Be sure to check out the ‘Coming in from the Cold‘ blog and subscribe for updates.

By aiucentre

An open access library specialising in the study of race, ethnicity and migration. Part of the University of Manchester and based at Manchester Central Library.

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