Mass Observation of COVID-19

Hey Heritage Quay! Where’s your COVID Mass Observation archive?

Across the GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) sector, there was a rush of calls in March and April asking for participants for mass observation-style projects, aiming to capture the everyday experiences of COVID-19. Subsequently, there has been a series of projects looking to document the Black Lives Matter 2020 protests. There’s a lot going on this year, and GLAM people want to make sure it’s documented for future researchers.

At Heritage Quay we seriously discussed the idea of doing a COVID project ourselves, asking for submissions from the general public in the form of diaries, audio visual materials etc but decided not to. We realised our efforts were better spent on making sure that our organisation, the University of Huddersfield, is documenting its approach to this unprecedented crisis, but that’s it for now. One of the things that we took into account was the multitude of other projects out there, which I’ve listed below. These were repositories better set up to take in and process the contributions, and were often more relevant for communities. We would just be adding more noise into the mix.

We are considering setting up activities for staff and students at the University to contribute when campus has reopened, which would be more about processing through creative activity or conversation with the option of donating afterwards. For us, this feels like the right approach.

Some recent writing has raised interesting questions about this impulse of cultural institutions to collect in times of crisis and how much they exploit people’s grief (read this link). We’d love to know your thoughts on this.

On balance we don’t consider these projects, which are asking people to share their potential trauma, to be exploitative, if they are done right but we are aware that that can be a tricky line to tread. If you are creating a document of your experience at home, and are thinking of donating it somewhere, check out national and local projects and find the one that feels right to you.

As always, stay safe, and we hope to see you at Heritage Quay soon

Some projects for you to consider:

CoronaDiary at University of Swansea (link)

Lockdown Diaries at Lambeth Archives  (link)

Covid Diaries in Leeds (link)

Community, Covid & You at the Open University (link)

OVID-19 Diaries for Salisbury at Salisbury Museum (link)

West Yorkshire Archive Service  (link)

COVID-19 Pandemic Project at FACHRS (link)

West Sussex Archives (link)

And of course, the 12th May MO project at the University of Sussex did this over one whole day (link)

Covid-19 (coronavirus) update June 2020

Heritage Quay facilities remain closed as with the rest of the University campus. However staff continue to work remotely as we have done since March.

We are working hard to undertake risk assessments and plan new ways of working so that we can make the necessary changes to be able to open our facilities.  This will take place as soon as it is safe to do so and will likely be phased over a period of time. The wellbeing and safety of our visitors, staff and volunteers are our priority. We will be working in collaboration with other providers where appropriate and in line with government guidance. 

In the meantime we continue to respond to emails and we will respond to essential enquiries where we can.

Further updates will be made on our website and social media channels.

Please continue to adhere to official advice to protect yourselves and others: Public Health England, and do not travel to Heritage Quay.

A statement from Heritage Quay

Like many other institutions and individuals we observed blackout Tuesday on 2nd June across our social media channels in support of #BlackLivesMatter.

As a memory institution we believe that we have a social responsibility to protect our collective memories. However, unequal power structures result in many forgotten, undervalued and erased histories from various under represented groups. These include LGBTQIA, Disabled, BAME, neuro-divergent, working class and women. We acknowledge that the collections at Heritage Quay currently perpetuate this situation, and are taking steps to dismantle this.

We want to stand with those who are striving for a real change and against oppression, racism, injustice and inequality. We believe it is important to take concrete action as well as standing in solidarity.

At this particular time our actions include: sharing resources so that we can continue to educate ourselves about the issues. Highlighting social media accounts will inevitably miss many out, but here are a (very) few I follow to listen, support and learn: MuseumDetox, Natalie Morris, Jass Thethi, Ibram Kendi, Afua Hirsch, Angela Saini, Reni Eddo-Lodge, The Conscious Kid, gal-dem, Black Cultural Archives.

The job of being educated is ongoing. Again, there are very many resources out there but I’d like to recommend reading these practical and thought-provoking pieces from the last few days:

Finally, if you haven’t yet listened to “About Race”, a podcast presented by Reno Eddo Lodge, I’d really recommend it.

For those with children, Black Curriculum is a social enterprise run by young black people challenging the lack of Black British history in the UK curriculum. There’s also this fantastic thread of books for children (US-focussed but excellent for kids here too) and another great book list for supporting conversations on race and racism with children, including short blurbs and recommended age ranges. 

As individuals, we can donate to organisations in the front line of tackling racism. There are many groups who need support – some examples include UK Black Lives Matter fund and Hope Not Hate in the UK, and in the US Black Lives Matter and support for people arrested while peacefully protesting. Our team members are signing petitions and undertaking other lobbying in support of systemic change: Zing Tsjeng has a useful list.

If there are other ways you think we can become better allies and a better service, please let me know.

Bundles of Birds – the Ted Hughes Archive

Hi, my name is Abbi, I’m a second year English Lit with Creative Writing student – and I have spent part of the last year on placement with the Ted Hughes Network, cataloguing their collection in Heritage Quay. Cataloguing is a fairly simple but time consuming task which involves handling the materials, which can include broadsides and limited edition press books, listing it on a spreadsheet and giving it a catalogue number before boxing it.

The catalogue number is unique to each item – and we decided to use a collection/sunfond/year of publication-title-type, for example, the item ‘Animal Poems’ has the catalogue number: THN/PN/1967-Animal-BK1. This means that it’s collection is THN (Ted Hughes Network), the subfond is a subcategory with ‘Animal Poems’ belonging to the Poetry Limited Editions and Prints subfond, it was published in 1967, first word of its title is ‘Animal’ and BK stands for book.

Abbi having fun researching the collections with fellow History student Michael.

The Ted Hughes Network collection is in its infancy but constantly growing, and it’s really exciting to see some of the recent acquisitions; which include the beautiful Bundle of Birds – which is a handbound, handwritten collection of Ted Hughes’ poems, made by Hughes and his son Nicholas as a gift for Olwyn Hughes, Ted’s sister and his literary agent. This item is exquisitely detailed and totally unique – and I would really recommend taking the opportunity to come and see it and other items within the collection. You can also find the collection online on the Heritage Quay website at*/.

Some of the items I listed were also made part of a Heritage Quay’s exhibition called ‘Hughes and Larkin: Poets and Rivals’ which gave an insight to the working and personal relationship between the poets – with some items on loan from the University of Hull.

It’s been a really exciting placement to work on and I’m really pleased to see my work on exhibition – even if it’s just the catalogue numbers. I’m hoping to continue my work with the Ted Hughes Network in the future – and will be using my experience to underpin future studies here at Huddersfield.

Heritage Quay at Home: Tell it!

As part of our series of Heritage Quay at Home activity packs today we’re exploring the theme of Tell it!

This theme is all about creating and sharing stories, which is ideal for any budding curators and writers. Archives are full of stories waiting to be discovered and can also inspire new stories.

Who am I?

Whose is this?

Location, Location, Location

You can also have a go at curate your own exhibition with our handy how-to guide

If you want to share your stories with us, post them on our social media with #HQatHome and tag us in @Heritage_Quay

Heritage Quay at Home: Discover it!

Our final theme in our series of Heritage Quay at Home activity packs is Discover it!

This theme is all about sharpening those research skills and playing detective.

Why not have a go at making a historic map featuring your home or school? Download our how-to guide to find out what to do

Something else you can do at home is look out for the pests that can damage archive collections.


Download this sheet first, then the ones below to create your activity pack

The images of the pests can be downloaded here and the labels here

and answers here

Educational Resources

We also have a range of educational packs with videos, which you can find at the website.

Heritage Quay at Home: Draw it!

These activities are simple and straightforward to do, since we’ve all got pens and pencils lying around the house, but still offer a chance for kids to get their creative juices flowing. Click on the images to download.

Drawings of old fashioned Rubgy League kits from 1922

Rugby League colouring sheets. Parents can have a go at this one too as a bit of colouring in is a good stress-buster. These colouring sheets are inspired by our Rugby Football League collection – stick to the colours of your favourite team or if you fancy having a go at fashion design, think outside the box (or the lines).

Make a Victorian-style newspaper advert for a weird and wonderful invention to solve a modern-day problem.

Take a picture of your finished artwork to share on our social media with #HQatHome and tag us in @Heritage_Quay

Heritage Quay at Home: Build it!

As part of our series of Heritage Quay at Home activity packs today we’re looking at the theme of Build it!

These hands-on projects show you how to design and create your own buildings from materials that you probably already have at home.

These activities were originally inspired by an exhibition at Heritage Quay about local buildings but are just as relevant now. Click on the images to download the instructions.

Think like an Architect instructions. If you want the original text instead of an image please get in touch

Think like an Architect

Build your own Queensgate market with LEGO instructions

Build Queensgate Market Hall from LEGO

Create a Cardboard town instructions. If you want the original text instead of an image please get in touch

Create a Cardboard Town

Take a picture of your finished architectural masterpieces and share it with us on social media using #HQatHome and tag us in @Heritage_Quay.