West Yorkshire Archives Kirklees at Heritage Quay project

THE archives of Kirklees have received initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the West Yorkshire Archives Kirklees at Heritage Quay project, it was announced today. The project aims to improve access to Kirklees’ archive collections, create opportunities for volunteering, formal and informal learning and exhibitions for the first time, and to radically improve the storage and physical conditions for the collections. This work will achieved through a partnership between Kirklees MBC, West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee and the University of Huddersfield.

Thanks to National Lottery players development funding of £80,100 has also been awarded to help the project partners progress their plans to apply for a full grant at a later date. If successful, the Kirklees archive collections will move to the multi-award winning facilities at Heritage Quay on the University campus in 2019. The move of West Yorkshire Archive Service Kirklees to the University site will not impact on the provision of the local history service in Huddersfield Library and offers a great opportunity to further strengthen the relationship between the Archives Service, University of Huddersfield and Kirklees Libraries.

Graham Turner and Val Slater The unique and irreplaceable archive collections cover the whole of the current Kirklees Metropolitan District including Batley, Cleckheaton, Dewsbury, Heckmondwike, Holmfirth, Huddersfield, Liversedge, Marsden and Mirfield. They fill more than 26,100 boxes (some 522 cubic metres) and are composed of parchment, paper, volumes, textile samples, photographic media including glass-plate negatives, transparencies and prints. Overall the collections are important because they are unique and key sources for understanding the place and the identity of communities who have helped shape it over 850 years. Whilst the collections cover most aspects of people’s lives there are particular strengths in textiles, canals, industry, trades’ unions, womens’ rights, culture and sport.


Cllr Graham Turner, Cabinet Member Kirklees – Asset Strategy, Resources & Creative Kirklees (Arts) said: “This is a fantastic opportunity, to not only create a valuable resource, but to strengthen the relationship between the Archive Service, the University and Kirklees Libraries, which I believe is very important.”

Tim Thornton “At West Yorkshire Archive Service we are very proud to be home to the largest archive service outside of London, with nationally and internationally significant collections, spanning over 800 years” said Cllr Val Slater, Chair of the Archives, Archaeology and Trading Standards Sub-committee, West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee. “Our office at Kirklees plays an important role in preserving the unique written history of the area. But without new storage and access facilities the long-term survival of the collections could be in jeopardy after The National Archives identified our buildings as being unfit to store our irreplaceable archives. It’s great news that we have secured initial approval from HLF to seek funding to move to the university site, and it will represent a full house of new buildings for WYAS, and provide an unmissable opportunity for closer working with the University and much improved public access in existing, high quality facilities at Heritage Quay.”

Sue Bower Professor Tim Thornton, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Huddersfield, said: “We’re delighted to be able to develop our partnerships with Kirklees and the West Yorkshire Archive Service, building on the multi-award-winning success of Heritage Quay. This will allow us to propose new activities with new archive materials involving even wider audiences in the remarkable heritage of the communities of the Kirklees area.”

Sue Bowers, Deputy Director of Operations, Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “We are delighted that this project will unite these important physical archives, and keep them on one site, in Kirklees. This support from National Lottery players will create fantastic opportunities for volunteering and allow many more people to explore the collections, and we look forward to seeing the final proposals in the near future”.

Read the Press Release here


Holmfirth High comes to Heritage Quay!

For the last two weeks we’ve welcomed two students from nearby Holmfirth High School into Heritage Quay for their work experience placements. Here’s what they’ve had to say about becoming archivists for a couple of weeks, and you can see them hard at work in the photo below!

Tom and Joe hard at work in the archives

I decided to come to Heritage Quay to do my work experience, because of my love of history and my fascination with local history and knowing about our ancestors. Whilst I’ve been on this placement I’ve done some intriguing and horizon broadening activities. One day I logged volumes of books onto the online system giving me a glimpse into the inner workings of the archive catalogue, I’ve also been listening to music and researching it for upcoming listening clubs.

This experience made me think hard about my options after school and education, and completely opened my eyes to many different job opportunities that I had never before thought of. This has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience and would gladly come again if another chance arises!

I choose to do work experience at Heritage Quay because of my interest in history and archives. While there I helped list dissertations and photography into the online database, moved books from shelf to shelf and researched various items and collections from the archives. I particularly enjoyed working on the Frobisher collection as it was extremely interesting to see a large collection of records from a single family’s history.

Although I am still uncertain about to do after school my work experience here has taught me many useful skills and shown a lot about the workings of the archives so I am very happy to have done my work experience here.

You can check out Tom and Joe’s contributions to the archive catalogue at the following links:


Collection Focus: Wesley Historical Society (Yorkshire)

This collection was deposited at the University of Huddersfield in 2005 and forms part of the Non-conformist collections.

Wesleyan and Methodist heritage is an integral part of the history of countries worldwide The Society has regional Societies one of which is Yorkshire which started in 1962.

Methodism is a Christian denomination which began in mid-eighteenth Century in Britain by John Wesley although the sect originated in Germany. The history of Methodism can be found here. The site explains how the different sects were combined to form the United Methodist Church:

In the twentieth century most of the different Methodist denominations united together. The New Connexion, Bible Christians and United Methodist Free Churches (another breakaway following a major controversy in the Wesleyan church from 1849) came together in 1907, forming the United Methodist Church. That in turn joined with the Wesleyans and Primitive Methodists in 1932.

The Wesley Historical Society website states the aims of the society – which were set down at its formation in 1893 – were to promote:
1. The study of the history and literature of early Methodism.
2. Research into the Wesley family.
3. Investigation into the beginnings and development of Methodism.
And afterwards this scope widened to include:-
1. The history of all sections of The British Methodist Church that United in 1932.
2. Other Wesleyan and Methodist denominations.

This is a wide ranging, nationally important resource comprising over 13,000 books and archive items collected by the Yorkshire branch of the Wesley Historical Society. Items include Methodist Magazines, Conference Reports, Class Tickets, Biographies of prominent and interesting members of the Methodist Church and various documents relating to chapel events. Histories of many of the chapels are included although no registers are held in this resource. The Collection also has circuit plans, books, postcards and photographs showing individual Ministers, churches and various outings or events held by the Methodists, directories, histories of Chapels, class tickets, conference reports, bills showing forthcoming events, Methodist publications such as Methodist Recorder.

When the collection was deposited it was not electronically listed but details were held in a card index system. This is still available as a cross-reference tool in the Heritage Quay search room. The Collection catalogue is now available via our website at www.heritagequay.org. The collection is still growing as deposits are made each year by the Society.

methodist circuit plan

    Collection Highlights

WHS/5939, The Life of Ida May Haigh: The Child Vocalist of Golcar. This book is quite attractive and tells the story of her life, although ends sadly as Ida May died very young.


WHS/11881 Illuminated document showing the historical genealogy of the Otley circuit.


    Society of Cirplanologists

Registers of Methodist Circuit Plans 1770-1860 produced by the Society of Cirplanologists with supplements at various stages e.g. 1963, 1970

These plans detail ministers and lay preachers who were grouped into circuits. By 1770 this lead to the development of a matrix for the quarterly scheme of appointments which in turn formed into a directory showing preacher’s names, addresses details of chapels and other information. The Cirplanologists study these and they publish their research which is useful for family research.

Expert Researcher Series: Inside Catalogue Structures

I blame google! That one little search box has become so ubiquitous that we expect it everywhere, and to reward us immediately with the right answers. Except… remember all those times – with increasing frustration – you’ve to click on to page 4 of the search results with no success? Well, you might on occasion find yourself in a similar position in an archives catalogue (Tip 1: Try adding info into fewer search fields. Just the keyword field if possible. Despite the number of options, less is often more in search). Although standards exist to try and ensure that archives are described in broadly the same terms everywhere, collections that have been processed by different professionals over potentially different decades may well have slight differences, and that’s before you take into account institutional quirks!

Plus even if you hit gold on your first search, how do you know there isn’t an equally relevant stash of material you might be interested in (yes, I know, the Related Material field, see Part One!) but might not be related to the material you’re looking at (ha, gotcha!)? A basic understanding of how an archivist structures an archive catalogue can help you browse and discover new material. The sector is trying to make this more obvious via linked data, indeed you may have noticed tags starting to appear at the bottom of online catalogues that link to collections with a common subject/person/theme on some of the online portals. There’s an awful lot of work to be done to make all existing catalogues compatible with this, so being able to navigate a catalogue yourself is still a useful skill!

You might find it helpful, as I do, to imagine archive catalogues like family trees, although if they are displayed as a ‘tree’ they more usually look like computer file system trees. The broadest descriptions are at the top and the most specific at the bottom, or in our catalogue the broadest on the left and most specific on the right. The broadest description is the collection level description, in the trade we often call it the fonds record (it’s French but if you ever see it bandied about think: collection, as that’s broadly what it is). This record should be the broadest descriptor and encompass everything underneath it, from subject content to included formats.


If you have access to an extract of a tree, you can often navigate up to the top and see if the ‘siblings’ of the records you were looking at are helpful, as they will contain similar levels of description. They are known as Series in catalogues, and irrespective of containing multiple records, may well be on a similar or related theme, as we can see by the numerous committees in the example. This is where browsing is most helpful, take this example from West Yorkshire:


So if your results landed you in KMT18/12/2/13 Huddersfield Council Concerts Committee, you might not realise, until you get to this view of the catalogue that it might be worth looking in KMT18/12/2/3 Huddersfield Arts Committee, or to see if Lindley or Almondbury have an Arts Committee. Browsing has now opened up three other possible research avenues you may have not considered.

If you know a particular form of words is in use this might help you find it in other parts of the catalogue or even other archive catalogues. If you’re researching death rituals and have been searching for cemetery records, then KMT18/12/2/8 Burial Grounds Committee probably wouldn’t have come up, but you can try your search again with burial grounds to see if it brings new results. So jumping into search can be great if you have a specific query in mind. But if you want to widen your research net, or you’re struggling to bring up what you need through search, browsing a catalogue can often be worth a go!

Expert Researcher Series: The ‘Related Material’ field

Welcome to the Expert Researcher series. This is the first in a series of blog posts designed to clue you in on some of the parts of the archive catalogue you may not have paid much attention to before and how they can help you in your research. Whether you’re a budding family historian or a PhD student with a looming deadline, hopefully you’ll get something from this article. Requests are welcome! Whether you’d like to know what a particular catalogue field means, or which bit of the catalogue to look in to find a particular piece of information, just let us know, and we’ll do our best to help.

When I talk about ‘fields’ I’m talking about the fields of a database in our collections management software (we use CALM if you’re interested). There are 26 fields of data in the ISAD (International Standard for Archival Description) standard, although only five of these are ‘mandatory’ for a basic catalogue. Title, Creator, Date, Extent and Description. This is what you’ll find in all basic catalogues or finding aids. We’ll often complete lots of the other fields too, during the course of our cataloguing. This is to prevent all the information remaining in the head of the Archivist and inaccessible to colleagues or other researchers. As I approach the end of cataloguing the University collection, I am now trying to come up with ways to splurge (it’s the right word, trust me) all the information I’ve picked up over two and a half years poking about in the records into print as much as possible. Yet if it’s not in the description field, only a small number of you may ever notice it, and whilst it may or may not show up on an online catalogue or printed list, if you know the information potentially exists, you may end up asking your local, friendly Archivist to check their system for it. This is a good thing.

So… the Related Material field. This is where we can refer to other collections with a link to the one we are cataloguing. Also known as doing some of the legwork of your research so you don’t have to! Archives are collected on the basis of provenance rather than by subject. So we hold the records of the University of Huddersfield that were created and used here. But we may hold records sent from other institutions and vice versa. They will remain with that institution and we’d link to them. Or there may be close subject links with other collections. For example, we hold the records of JH Whitley, local MP and Speaker of the House of Commons, and related material might include links to the collections at the Houses of Parliament, to other local contemporary MPs at other local archives or universities. The link should also mention the level of detail the catalogue goes to, so Collection Name, University of Whatever (fonds) would mean a collection level description exists, whilst Collection Name, Name of Business (item) would mean each item in that collection has been catalogued. See this in action in the Related Material field of the University of Huddersfield collection: http://heritagequay.org/archives/hud*/?view=item Maybe it’s one of those things that you’ve just never noticed before, but here it is again in the Lister collection at our neighbours, West Yorkshire Archives: http://catalogue.wyjs.org.uk/Record.aspx?src=CalmView.Catalog&id=CC00001

Knowing if there is any information in the Related Material field can help to kick start your research, by giving you links to other collections meaning you don’t have to start from scratch. Depending on the ways catalogues are displayed, this field might also contain links to articles written on collections or mini bibliographies the Archivist has used in cataloguing the collection. Strictly speaking, this belongs in the Publication Note field, but Related Material sometimes stands in for it when a catalogue is put online. And if the catalogue you’re looking at has no Related Material field, or doesn’t display this in the online catalogue, remember you can always ask your friendly searchroom staff or Archivist to check for you!

Next Time: Catalogue structure – What exactly is a fond anyway?

Archives hold the key for teachers: Discuss!

Remember the debate surrounding the new history curriculum when it was unveiled back in 2014? Some of the more exciting elements got a bit lost in the furore about pre-history and the chronological approach to teaching. I’m thinking about the renewed focus on historical skills and the introduction of local history studies at KS1 and 2. Funnily enough, both elements which archives are very well placed to help with!

If you’re a teacher who’s slightly flummoxed by the local history study requirement, why not get along to your local archive where you will not only find a wealth of well organised information about the local area, but also a resident expert to guide you through. Collections are often surprisingly eclectic, which is great for cross curricular links and increasingly, archives offer school workshops, online resources or teaching packs to support curriculum requirements.

Taking a class of KS2 pupils on an archive visit offers a unique opportunity to handle original artefacts and documents, and to encounter a piece of history which has resonance within their immediate experience. The history curriculum requirement to learn about significant local events, places and people is an ideal opportunity to deliver genuine child centred teaching – teaching which begins with what they already know. When children become engaged in the stories behind familiar buildings, local characters and street names, they develop a sense of immediacy and a thirst to find out more – what happened next? why?

As they progress, pupils realise that the answers to these questions are not always straightforward. Archives offer a fantastic opportunity for pupils to examine and compare resources side by side. By developing skills of historical enquiry – learning how to source, analyse, appraise and interpret the narratives which so engaged them at KS1- pupils start to develop an understanding of the connections between local, regional, national and international history. Further on in their school career, they can begin to extract wider historical themes from local history – the role of women, the development of empire, or technological change.

Here at Heritage Quay we’ve been busy developing and piloting school workshops with links to the curriculum from KS1 – 3 – and they’re all free! If you would like to know more, come along to our Teatime Taster on June 9th. You can grab yourself a goody bag, take a tour behind the scenes, and find out what other schools thought of our workshops! Places are limited, so please contact Trizia Wells at T.Wells@hud.ac.uk or ring 01484 473168 to register your interest.

University Challenge: Genealogy in the institutional archives

Are you interested in which of our collections might be useful for tracing your family history? Have you ever considered looking at the institutional records of the University of Huddersfield?

Our institutional collection contains a myriad of records that could help you find your ancestors, or put their lives in greater context. Some more modern student records are subject to closure periods because of Data Protection legislation, but we do have student records dating back to the 1860s, and details of prize winners, photographs and newspaper cuttings identifying students. We also have records about staff and their career development whilst with the Technical College.

You can find out more about how you might use the institutional collection for family history purposes by looking at the slides of a talk given to a local family history fair:

University Challenge presentation

12 Events of Christmas, an HQ redux!

If you’re a regular blog reader, you may remember from this time last year, our ’12 days of Christmas’ themed ‘Developments in the Archive’ post, reviewing the year that we moved into our new facilities at Heritage Quay. This year, as our programme of events has escalated, I thought it might be nice to review 12 important/exciting events that have happened in Heritage Quay this year. If you missed out, don’t worry, check the Events Calendar and make 2016 the year you join us to learn more about our collections!

12. Twelve meetings have taken place this year for some of hosted societies, like the Local History Society and the Local Archaeology Societies. They have hosted talks on a wide variety of subjects, from the First World War to the female Pharaohs of Egypt.

11. Eleven students from a local school joined us in November for a national Kids in Museums Takeover day. Spending a Friday with the Archivists and Engagement staff, students learnt basic conservation techniques and how to protect documents. They learnt about using digitisation as a method of preservation and providing access, carried out some market research for us, all the while reporting on their day across social media on their activities!

group photojazzhands

10. Many more than ten university students and classes have joined us in Heritage Quay since the beginning of term to hear one of our Introduction to Archives skills sessions! These started off by appealing to students in subjects like History where we have natural connections, but over the past few years we have broadened this to appeal to Textiles, Music, English and Computing students! There’s something for everyone in archives!

9. From fiction to fact, and the 1980s miners strike to 1940s war torn Europe, Heritage Quay has hosted a number of film nights throughout the year, either related to our own collections, as December’s ‘Dangerous Moonlight’ featured a track from our own British Music Collection, to Pride, hosted by the university’s Unison reps, to It’s a Wonderful Life, part of a series of films shown by the University’s Health and Wellbeing team.

8. We’ve been challenging students across the university to use the space in Heritage Quay in different and non-traditional ways and they certainly haven’t disappointed! In March, Fashion students staged a vintage fashion show, ‘with a twist’, that being all the seating was arranged in a spiral instead of a traditional catwalk. Sound design and music students came in to demonstrate their new music projects through our sound system in December, and we hope for new and exciting innovations in this area next year!

7. This year, we again joined in with the nationwide campaign to ‘Explore Your Archive’. Last year this took the form of a display of one of our political collections in the library, this year, we decided to spread the word about good archival handling and care skills by running a course for interested amateur archivists to learn collections care, cataloguing and promotion skills. Soon we’ll be running a course on palaeography (studying old handwriting), so get in on it while you can!

6. Over the past year, our Archivists have gone out to many local and national organisations giving six talks on our collections and the work we’ve been doing in Heritage Quay. These include a presentation on the history of Rugby League to the British Records Association, using the University collection for genealogy at Huddersfield Family History Fair, and Pecha Kucha talks on the engagement work going on as part of the HLF project.

5. We were joined by composers of the future, during the HCMF’s Under 5’s event ‘Music at Play: Graphic Scores for Under 5s.’ Toddlers (and their parents) explored the group space, and the textures, objects and sounds provided in order to inspire them to create a giant hands-on graphical score!

4. For four weeks, Rugby League history fans joined us and some eminent RL historians for a course exploring the Roots of Rugby League and birth of the game. This involved studying some of the objects from our extensive Rugby League and Supporter collections.

RL Heritage Forum 25-04-15-6 compressed

3. This year we’ve run three Highlights exhibitions in our exhibition space. At the beginning of the year our Rugby League exhibition was still in situ. In April we installed an exhibition looking at important buildings in the fabric of Huddersfield landscape. The Local History, Civic and Archaeology societies and University history department all contributed their ideas and choices for streets and buildings important to their idea of the development of the town. This Autumn we welcome an exhibition on contemporary music, co-curated by many of our depositors, and featuring cases on dance band, brass band and 20th century music.

2. For this year’s Heritage Open Days, we ran two Lego serious play activities, once again exploring some of the architecture featured in our Huddersfield Gems exhibition. Youngsters could rebuild local landmarks, like the Lindley Clock Tower, from Lego, and design and create their own architectural landmarks.

1. Mikron Theatre Company visited us for the second year running this October, this time bringing the sweet smell of fish and chips for a performance of their sell-out show, One of Each! Rival fryers vied for the coveted Golden Fish Fork Award and the audience participated in voting for Cod over Haddock as the favourite dish of the day!