Student Placements 2019 – Part Two

James is also a 2nd year History student and was working on the archive of conductor and musician Howard Rogerson.

My name is James Watmough and I am doing my student placement at Heritage Quay Archive as part of my second year as a history student at Huddersfield University. I have been working with the Howard Rogerson archive, Howard is a musician and composer across several musical organisations including Opera North as well as collaborating with the BBC for ‘Songs of Praise.’

This was my first experience working in an archive, luckily the collection was well organised before I approached it which instead allowed for me to do some research and familiarise myself with the items within the collection. The collection ranges from Howards youth where he studied at institutions such as the Huddersfield school of music and the Royal Manchester College of Music, all the way up until the present day to his orchestral work in Morecambe. The collection features a wide range of content including programmes from a massive amount of performances to correspondence with potential clients and organisations wishing to see a performance. Opera North was a huge part of the collection, there is a variety of colourful programmes from their many years of performances. Howard was a founding member of the orchestra and worked for them for 10 years (and freelanced for 12 years). There are several larger items such as a signed programme from opera singer Josephine Barstow (See Image) and sheet music from Christopher Beardsley’s ‘Striding Dales’.

One of the biggest challenges for me was the spreadsheet process and trying to create a useful referencing system in order for people to navigate the collection with ease. I decided to section each of the organisations that Howard had worked with into boxes and also have separate boxes for personal and biographical information as well as a box which contains tapes and CD’s of his music. I think that this was successful as it did not meddle much with the order that Howard and his wife had delivered the collection in. The process involved a lot of planning and I was constantly going back and changing my references to try and make everything as efficient as possible as the collection has lots of research potential. I was constantly aware of this factor so I think it was important to make sure that the collection was accessible for everyone, regardless of their knowledge of Opera and orchestras.

Overall, the cataloguing process was a fascinating challenge which allowed me to see the other side of the archival process and the steps that have to be taken in order to make a collection available for viewing. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about a subject that I otherwise probably never would have researched about and getting to interact with the items gave me a unique perspective on the subject as well as a brief look into Howards remarkable musical career. I am very grateful for the opportunity to get to catalogue a collection and further satisfy my curiosity of working in an archive and the heritage sector as a whole. 

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