A phase of confusion, debate and hostility: Our insights from the IRR newspaper clippings collection

Library Assistants Waqar Younis and Letitia Budu have had some important insights whilst re-organising our Institute of Race Relations Newspaper Clippings collection…
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The IRR newspaper clippings collection focuses on race related matters from the late 1970s until the early 1980s. In the process of reorganising the clippings to make them more accessible, we’ve also been able to understand how far the UK has come in terms of race equality and where improvements still need to be made.

It’s important to look at history to prevent it from repeating itself. Looking back at the past might help us in the future!
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Respectful descriptions of marginalised groups in Archives

Members of our collections team also attended the workshop on describing and managing racially insensitive archives earlier this year, along with Jass Thethi – a colleague (And good friend) of ours over at the John Rylands Library.

In this blog post, Jass uses two concrete examples to explore how archivists might approach potentially insensitive catalogue descriptions and documentation, without ‘white-washing’ history.

John Rylands Library Special Collections Blog

Items within special collections can date back hundreds of years, so it’s no surprise that within these materials it is possible to find outdated or problematic attitudes and language. I am currently researching potential ways to manage this.

In May 2018 I attended ‘Protocols for describing and managing racially insensitive archives,’ a workshop facilitated by Arike Oke and Simon Demissie, from the Wellcome Library,  based on the Master’s Dissertation by Alicia Chilcott. This workshop explored the racial insensitivity in archival descriptions and potential solutions.

In June 2018 I attended ‘Museum Remix,’ a workshop facilitated by Museum Detox at the University of Cambridge. Here, we explored how the use of insensitive descriptions in record keeping can bleed into online catalogues and exhibitions. This spreads misinformation by misrepresenting marginalised groups: an injustice to the educational value of archives and the communities surrounding them.

This blog post will focus on how…

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Introducing our community archive

What is an archive? How does community heritage material end up in our archive? What do we do with it? Who uses it?

To encourage more BAME community groups to consider donating their heritage project outputs to our (or another relevant) archive, we’ve produced a short film to demystify the archive.

 

Many thanks to our dedicated Institute for Cultural Practices placement students Naomi Weaver and Yang Li for producing this. You can read more about how and why the film was made over on our Coming in from the Cold blog.

Thank you Carly!

By Hannah

Last week we said farewell and good luck to our Collections Documentation Assistant Carly Morel. Carly joined the Resource Centre team in 2015 and made a big impact during her time with us. She bravely tackled our backlog of uncatalogued physical archive material, creating in the region of 18 new collections and working in some capacity on countless others, with enthusiasm and sensitivity.

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We couldn’t find a good picture of Carly at work, so here she is on holiday! Source: Carly Morel

She has the capacity to be interested in just about anything and to dig out the most obscure and revealing aspects of a collection. Many a time she’d lean over and say ‘Hey Hannah, listen to this’, read something out of the letter / pamphlet / report she was cataloguing, then launch into an analysis of what it means for Trump’s America / Brexit Britain / the Mediterranean migrant crisis, or whatever was happening at the time. All of which made her a great archivist and lots of fun to share an office with.

But perhaps her biggest impact has been on our digital archive work. Carly also works in the digital technologies team at the University of Manchester Library and her expertise in digital preservation came at the just the right time. The nature of our collections means that much of it is born digital, and thanks to Carly we now have polices and procedures to properly care for this material.

Why use the AIU Centre archive?

cartoon books and globe on shelvesResearch Skills Series

By Alison Newby

Anyone putting together a research project or hammering out a dissertation topic has a lot to think about. What’s the subject? How’s it going to be investigated? What kind of information will be necessary? And where’s that information going to come from?

Here are two reasons why I believe the AIU Centre archive is a resource worth considering for studies covering a wide range of subject areas. It might not be immediately apparent that a Centre making available materials facilitating the study of race relations would be relevant to you, but hopefully by the end of this post its potential significance may have become clearer.

1. Qualitative data brings quantitative data to life Continue reading

Developing the ‘Honour’-Based Violence Collection: The Beginning

Becki Kaur has recently submitted her PhD, which explores how professionals working in the domestic abuse sector understand, explain, and address ‘honour’-based violence. We’re excited to have her working with us on a six-month project to develop the library’s resources on this very important topic.

I’ve heard some people say that, by the time it gets to the end of their PhD, they’ve fallen out of love with their research topic. In this respect, I consider myself fortunate. Although the nature of my area of research – ‘honour’-based violence – is (to put it nicely) deeply unpleasant, I feel as passionate about raising awareness of the subject as I did when I started my research journey four years ago. So, when the opportunity arose to work with the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre (AIUC) to help develop ‘honour’-based violence-related resources, I didn’t have to be asked twice! Continue reading

what is an archive?

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This gallery contains 3 photos.

Originally posted on Coming in from the Cold :
We currently have two postgraduate students from the Institute for Cultural Practices (ICP) at the University of Manchester on a placement with us.  They have been investigating the value of historic documents and…

The Language of Catalogue Descriptions

This week I (Hannah) met with Jessica Smith, Archivist for the Christian Brethren Archive held at the University of Manchester Library. This collection contains, amongst other things, a large number of lantern slides of the Brethren’s missionary work in India, China and Africa during the early 20th Century. All of which are now digitised and available via the University’s open access image database.

Our conversation quickly got onto the challenges of archiving material from colonial times; how to do it in a way that is accurate, useful for research purposes, but also culturally sensitive.

Here is Jessica’s recent blog post about this topic – very interesting food for thought.

John Rylands Library Special Collections Blog

The Heritage Imaging Team has recently completed a project to digitise 901 lantern slides held in the Christian Brethren Archive. As mentioned in a previous blog post, in the case of many of these slides, we had very little contextual information, or information relating to their provenance.

The creation of a catalogue for visual material without much knowledge of origin or content presents certain challenges and concerns.

If you are unable to identify the origin of the image, and the scene it depicts, the cataloguer may be reduced to simply describing what they can see, and thus descriptions like ‘Man under tree holding stick’ are born. As there were several cataloguers involved with this project, there are further concerns in terms of the standardisation of language, as one person may decide to to describe the same moving body of water as a river, and another as a stream.

There…

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Narrowing the gap between community engagement & collection development

What happens to the outputs of community-led heritage projects? Why are they so rarely accessioned into registered collections? Can we create a model for projects that benefits both communities and collecting institutions?

These are the questions that Jennie and myself (Hannah) explored back in November at the National Archives’ annual  ‘Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities’ conference (DCDC).  We shared the findings of the first phase of our HLF-supported project Coming in from the Cold, and also our experience as a heritage organisation with a more holistic approach to community engagement and collection development.

Watch the conference video below, and you can download the Coming in from the Cold audit report from the project blog.

Ways into the Collection: Serendipity

cartoon books and globe on shelvesResearch Skills Series

By Alison Newby

In previous posts, we’ve discussed the importance of the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre (AIU Centre) and its collections, touched on some of the realities of archives and archival research, and looked at the kinds of questions we need to ask ourselves before engaging with an archive collection. We’ve also delved into the two main ways into the collection:

We might be forgiven for thinking that’s about it. However, we’ve briefly mentioned a third way into the collection, which we’re going to take a look at here:

  • Serendipity (just going in and browsing)

So you’ll be able to dip into this post to find information that’s particularly interesting to you, I’ll be looking at serendipity under the following headings:

  1. What is Serendipity?
  2. Serendipity in action

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