Student Placements 2019 – Part Three

Our final second year placement student this year is English student Umayyah. Read about her experiences in the archive below:

Whilst taking part in a student work placement at Heritage Quay I have worked with two very different collections; the first involved carrying out a survey and research into the Kirklees Image Archives (KIA), and the second was cataloguing a small sub-section from the Colin Challen Archive (specifically his work with the North Yorkshire Country Labour Party, and the Vale of York Constituency Labour Party).

The majority of my placement involved my work with the KIA collection due to the fact that there were so many boxes and items in that collection. Straight away I was able to dive right into the boxes and identify and research a wide variety of items ranging from Primus magic lantern slides, to novelty cards and postcards, to a whole array of local images. The lanterns and cards were always entertaining and often humorous and, due to the humour and standards of the dates in which they were released (1900s), they were sometimes controversial or even downright unacceptable by today’s standards. Nonetheless it was definitely intriguing to see the stark differences between the popular trends back then, compared to modern day trends.

One collection that definitely stood out was a series of travel journals by two sisters who seemingly lived around Huddersfield in the mid-1900s and travelled around Europe on and off for 30 years and donated well-kept logs of everything they did on their holidays. These journals not only included photographs and diary entries, but ticket stubs and receipts so that you could see the varying prices in the countries in question during those times. They were definitely an interesting read.

I also explored a variety of local images, some of which were from the Huddersfield Examiner, some were street restoration programmes and progress reports, and some were of buildings and streets that had been demolished or renovated. This gave me the opportunity to see the gradual development of Huddersfield (and surrounding areas) from the 1800’s to modern day and see for myself some of the iconic events that took place; royal visits, sports tournaments, weddings, street parties and more.

I was able to identify and survey boxes from approximately 60 shelves as part of the KIA collection and each one was filled with some new and exciting information which sometimes required research into certain companies, events, or people so that they could be fully understood.

The Challen collection was starkly different to the KIA collection, as they were all professional and political documents. The majority of content in these three boxes were financial records and promotional materials for the Labour Party (those which had been entrusted to Challen). In my exploration and cataloguing of these boxes I was given an insight into how funding worked in a political party scenario, how a party’s membership scheme is run, and how the Labour party specifically wanted to represent themselves to their constituents. I was also able to browse through some of the correspondences and meeting minutes to see what kind of local issues were discussed.

Overall I am grateful to Heritage Quay for giving me the opportunity to experience working in an archive and the understanding of how to find, record, and catalogue specific items.

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