Archives Service Accreditation presented

LEADING figures from the National Archives, based at Kew, came to the University of Huddersfield to bestow one of the most sought-after awards in the sector.

The University is the home of Heritage Quay, a £1.6 million, technologically-advanced archives centre that is highly accessible to the general public and specialist researchers alike. Now, it has officially been declared an Accredited Archive Service.

This is a distinction awarded by a panel including the National Archives and the Archives and Records Association. The certificate states that the aim is to “ensure the long-term collection, preservation and accessibility of our archive heritage”. Accreditation is a UK quality standard “which recognises good performance in all areas of archive service delivery”.

It was announced earlier this year that Heritage Quay – after an exhaustive application and validation process – had been granted Accredited Archive Service status. The award has now formally been made at a ceremony attended by Caroline Ottaway-Searle, who is Director of Public Engagement at the National Archives, and Melinda Haunton, their Programme Manager for Accreditation.

The University's Sarah Wickham (right) receives the certificate of Accreditation from The National Archives' Caroline Ottaway-Searle
The University’s Sarah Wickham (right) receives the certificate of Accreditation from The National Archives’ Caroline Ottaway-Searle

‌Members of the Heritage Quay team was present to receive the award, alongside University of Huddersfield Archivist and Records Manager Sarah Wickham, Director of Computing and Library Services Sue White and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Tim Thornton.

The nine-strong team at Heritage Quay worked on the substantial submission that was required to apply for accreditation. It appraised factors such as repository standards, the range of public services offered, the policies and procedures in place for managing and cataloguing collections, and the outreach activities taking place amongst a wide range of audiences.

After the document was completed, Accreditation Assessors from across the archives sector visited Heritage Quay to validate the submission.

Out of some 2000 archives in the UK, Accredited status has so far been awarded to 45. The University of Huddersfield joins a list that includes the National Archives themselves, plus London Metropolitan Archives, Lancashire Archives, the National Records of Scotland, the Churchill Archives Centre and the National Library of Wales.

Heritage Quay barcode When it announced that Heritage Quay had joined the list, the Accreditation Panel cited “the recent years of hugely impressive development to this archive service, and the overall uplifting and positive impression of the service in this application”.

It added that “outputs of recent years included a very sound policy basis for the service to develop in future, in addition to the significant achievements supported by a major grant award”.

Archivist and Records Manager Sarah Wickham has said that accreditation “has been a considerable achievement by all of the staff working in Heritage Quay”

“It recognises the high-quality work we do,” she added. “We are a relatively new team, so to achieve this endorsement in such a short space of time is absolutely fantastic.”
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•Heritage Quay was opened in 2014 by Gary Verity, Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), Yorkshire and the Humber, after the University was awarded almost £1.6 million from the HLF to develop a new archives centre. It is now regarded one of the most technologically-advanced archives in the UK, featuring a high-tech Exploration Space that enables visitors to sample archival material via touch screens and gesture technology. It mounts regular exhibitions and special events that have included lectures, concerts and theatrical performances plus public sessions such as a popular course on the history of brass bands in the Pennines. Heritage Quay has won many awards for its work including a Guardian Higher Education “Inspiring Building” award, and a special commendation in the Royal Historical Society’s inaugural Public History Prize

Story originally published at http://www.hud.ac.uk/news/2016/june/heritagequayreceivesaccreditedarchiveservicedistinction.php

Yorkshire and India in the 1930s: Co-researching the Whitley Collection

A team of students from our History department are in the searchroom today as part of their co-research into the Whitley Collection.

The following article was originally posted on the Historians at work blog by Prof Paul Ward

A group of undergraduate and postgraduate students and academic staff at the University of Huddersfield have come together to curate an exhibition, write a conference paper, and to publish a chapter in a book. Paul Ward, professor of modern British history, explains why engaging students as researchers and using a co-production approach to interpreting the past will lead to a better historical understanding about relationships between Britain and its Empire in the early 1930s.

The group are looking at JH Whitley, the MP for Halifax between 1900 and 1928 and Speaker of the House of Commons in the 1920s, whose papers are held in Heritage Quay. The project explores his attitudes to the British Empire. Whitley had a growing enthusiasm for the Empire Parliamentary Association as a vehicle for binding the British Empire more closely together through developing relationships between politicians from the dominions and Empire and those at the Palace of Westminster.

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Mohandas Ghandhi’s autograph in the Speaker’s visitors’ book, held in Heritage Quay

As a co-production group, we are going to examine Whitley’s role as chairman of the Royal Commission on Labour in India between 1929 and 1931, using the scrapbooks relating to his visits to India held in the J.H. Whitley collection to establish his cultural attitudes to Empire. We will:
•Look at Whitley’s statements on Empire as an MP.
•Research biographies of the members of the Royal Commission, including the female and Indian members.
•Map the Royal Commission’s travels across the Indian sub-continent.
•Analyse the newspaper stories written and the photographs taken and collected in a series of scrapbooks.
•Consider the members’ descriptions of their tour of India and the Report’s recommendations.
•Analyse Indian attitudes towards Whitley and the Commission, including the visit Gandhi made to him in 1933.
•Use a variety of conceptual tools to think about our research and the meaning of the commission in the early 1930s, including orientalism, colonialism and postcolonialism and subaltern studies.
•Examine relationships between Britain and India – and especially the locality of Halifax in Yorkshire – in the 1930s and the present.

This is a good opportunity for students to undertake training for primary historical research, exhibition curation and academic writing and the students will receive full credit as curators and authors of the exhibition, conference paper and book chapter. But it is also an experiment to apply collaborative research to a range of historical sources, including the Commission’s 600-page report, Hansard, and the Whitley collection itself. Using a group of researchers will enable sustained collaborative discussion about the meaning of the documents because of the multiple perspectives that will be available. Already we have benefited from the interdisciplinary nature of the project team – we have students from textile practice and politics as well as history – and through taking an open-minded approach to historical interpretation, we hope to be able to explore the workings of the Royal Commission in a variety of ways.

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First encounters with the Whitley scrapbooks in Heritage Quay.

All historical research has elements of collaboration – through working with archivists and other scholars. Yet we are embedding the collaboration into the heart of this project and at every stage. While the project was initiated through the deposit of the Whitley collection in Heritage Quay and History at Huddersfield‘s desire to make use of it, the students are involved in designing the research questions, undertaking the systematic study of the primary sources, conducting an extensive survey of the historiography, interpreting the evidence, and co-writing each aspect of the outputs. We have deliberately kept options open about what the outputs will look like – they will be textual but they will also be digital, visual and creative serving the purpose of interpreting the research in different ways in order to understand the past in different ways. We are also able to draw on the knowledge of the Whitley family who deposited the collection at the university. Amy Stoddart and Madeleine Longtin, a second year students, on the project explained why they had got involved:

Amy : I am fascinated by colonial India and keen to take part in research opportunities, so this project was a perfect fit for me. I am excited to be both involved in some original research and also to be working collaboratively, which is not something I have done before. I am eager to see what conclusions this project comes too and the way in which the different perspectives and opinions of all the people involved come together to shape the project. Also, I hope to go on to do a masters degree after graduating and so this is a great opportunity for me to gain skills and experience for that.

Madeleine : I sought to be involved with the Whitley research project because I feel like it is an extraordinary opportunity. To explore primary documents that have yet to be analysed, research collaboratively with members of University staff and post-graduates, and to be involved in the creation of a published piece of work are all experiences that are both rare and incredibly valuable for undergraduates such as myself. Consequently, I believe this will be one of the most important learning experiences I will have at the University of Huddersfield and I look forward to what seeing what our research may discover.

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Rob Clegg, Heritage Quay’s collections access officer, talking to Whitley students about using archives.

The radical historian Raphael Samuel wrote, ‘history is not the prerogative of the historian … It is, rather, a social form of knowledge; the work, in any given instance, of a thousand different hands.’ In this project, we want to foreground collaborative ways of working in order to understand the past and its implications for the society we inhabit today.

History at Huddersfield utilises research-led teaching and a commitment to public engagement to ensure that what we do is both useful to society and beneficial to the employability of our students. We see our students as researchers – partners in the development of knowledge with academic staff, often through co-production of knowledge with community partners. For more information see http://www.hud.ac.uk/courses/full-time/undergraduate/history-ba-hons/ and http://www.hud.ac.uk/research/history/

Motion graphics student work

Recently some of the students in the motion graphics club at the University of Huddersfield, from the undergraduate Graphic Design and Animation courses, produced a project, and work in response to the Wood collection.

All the work can be seen at http://cargocollective.com/georgewoodproject

It was also exhibited in Unit 21 of the Piazza Shopping Centre in Huddersfield, from Wednesday 4th May – Friday 6th May, 2016

This is just one example of the students’ work, by Jonathan Clementson:

Celebrating the Indomitables

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Sometimes working in Archives can feel a bit like being a detective and the research and investigations don’t end in the strongroom. We’re in the midst of developing content for our summer and autumn events and I’m working on one event in particular at the moment: Celebrating the Indomitables.

The rightly celebrated Great Britain touring side of 1946 remains the most successful to ever go down under and to celebrate the 70th anniversary of their achievements we have an event on the 2nd July where we are going to tell the story of the trip from beginning to end.

The first place to start was our own archives which are particularly rich in this area – the RFL kept some fascinating documents and there are photographs and programmes to do alongside. We also have a couple of player collections from Byrn Knowelden and Dai Jenkins which have a more personal dimension. The Dai Jenkins archive is particularly rich as he donated his trunk and all its contents to the RFL. Our volunteers have been going through all these great collections to see what stories we can tell but it’s not enough! We are also working with Simon Foster, son of tour star Trevor who organised a reunion event a few years ago at the George – he has already been in touch with some of his many contacts.

We have two special aims that are above our usual rugby league events here – we are attempting to invite the families of all the players on the tour, and to track down the shirts that were worn by the players – there are 26 in total.

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This is the one that belonged to Dai Jenkins – you can see the mud is still on it!

We’re going through local and national press, and contacts at clubs across the North and we are interested in speaking to anyone with a connection to the tour, particularly if they have stories of a family member, if they own any memorabilia or even if they served on the HMS Indomitable.

The archive would be really pleased to hear from anyone holding any items relating to the tour or with a connection to: Martin Ryan, Joe Jones, Eric Batten, Jimmy Lewthwaite, Ted Ward, Jack Kitching, Arthur Bassett, Willie Horne, Willie Davies, Tommy McCue, Fred Hughes, Ken Gee or George Curran.

To get in touch please contact me at d.smith@hud.ac.uk

Dave