Representatives from the University of Cambridge Museums Archive Collections Network attended a ‘History Day’ in London on Tuesday 31st October. The History Day took place at Senate House – a stunning Art Deco building in the heart of Bloomsbury, London. The event was organised by the Institute of Historical Research and the School of Advanced Study. The day offered the chance for researchers to learn more about archive resources across the UK.
Why did we take part?
We wanted to inspire researchers to come and use our collections! After all, the University of Cambridge Museums (UCM) have some fascinating archives – records which have long term significance – and Cambridge is only a hop, skip and jump away from London.
Some of our treasures include:
- Diaries of Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton (Thomas Manning Polar Archive, Polar Museum)
- Excursion scrapbooks of the Sedgwick Club, the oldest student geological club in the world (Sedgwick Museum)
- The archive of artist John Linnell (Fitzwilliam Museum)
- Excavation notebooks and site plans from sites such as Jericho (Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology)
- The papers of artist Elizabeth Vellacott (Kettle’s Yard)
- Garden maps and plans (Botanic Garden)
By taking part in the History Day we would be able to tell researchers about the collections across UCM and Cambridge more broadly, and who to contact. Of course, we could also be encouraging everyone to visit the Museums and Botanic Garden!
What happened on the day?
There were over 200 attendees including undergraduates, postgraduates and established academics. They ‘shopped’ among the 56 tables – these included the National Archives, The British Library, The Royal Society Collections, the Wellcome Library, the Geological Society Library and many more.
At our stall we had flyers, postcards, pencils and sweets (it was Halloween after all!). We also had a ‘rummage box’ – facsimiles of documents printed onto foam board – this was very effective at showing the variety of archives that can be found across UCM, and proved to be popular with visitors.
We were approached by those with an eclectic mix of research interests. These included 19th century herbals, zoological sexology, female lawyers, 19th century social movements, museum & archive collections sent to Nigeria and Ghana, early garden design and gardens as therapy, South American History, and the History of Alchemy!
We also directed researchers to other Cambridge resources – the numerous Cambridge College Archives and Libraries, the University Library and Janus, an online resource to search catalogues of archive material in Cambridge.
What happens now?
We certainly inspired researchers to come and visit Cambridge, so mission accomplished! This was also a really fun day for us meeting researchers and other colleagues, and we are keen to take part in 2018. Before then some of us will be taking part in the National Explore Your Archive Campaign which starts 18 November.
If you would like more information about Archive Collections please contact each museum’s Archivist or Collections Manager, or email Sandra at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be back in London again next year, so if you are in the city then please do come and say hello! #HistDay18.
For more information about the Explore Your Archives campaign, please visit their website: www.exploreyourarchive.org