It’s the beginning of Week 4, and I’m settling in well. I’ve got my desk, door keys and (most importantly) I know where to find the tea.
For any cataloguing project, an archivist has to have a Plan – I can’t just pick up boxes and start making lists of what’s inside. My job is to get an understanding of the collection as a whole, and then share that understanding with everyone else (i.e by creating a catalogue) so you can then dig deeper and find out more.
So, the first thing I need to do is good old desk research. I need to learn about the bodies that created the records in the first place, how they worked and where they fit into the bigger historical picture. In this case I am lucky because there are plenty of books on the subject of York and on local government.
Here are some I’ve been reading in the last few weeks, they’re from York Explore and the archive’s own reference collection. The big red one, the Victoria County History volume for the City of York is also freely searchable online and can be useful for finding out tidbits of info about your street or area.
Learning from secondary sources first (such as books) means that when I see a primary source later (an original record) I will already have a gist of what it is about – and so save time having to look things up later.
My plan for the week is to keep going with the historical research and take a look at similar civic archives in other cities to see how others have approached these issues in the past.
If you’ve got any thoughts, questions, or suggestions for things you’d like me to write about, remember you can add a comment on any page or use twitter.