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.
Now things are returning to ‘normal’ and we’re all starting to venture out into the wider world again, we thought now would be a good time to look back on what Heritage Quay staff have been doing whilst working from home during lockdown, what we’re up to now we’re back on site, and our plans for the future.
Working from home
You’ll all have your own opinions on the pros and cons of home working. Personally I liked the flexibility that it gives you, since it’s simply a matter of logging on to your PC with no trains or buses to catch. But there is the downside of not being able to chat to colleagues in the staffroom nor being able to have impromptu meetings (video calls are not always an ideal substitute for face-to-face interaction, after all). Not to mention, if your house is anything like mine, that the constant knock at the door announcing the arrival of a parcel meant a lot of leaping out of your desk chair and snatching up your keys. And of course, our research room was closed to the public, meaning they couldn’t get hands on with our archival material. It’s always interesting to chat to researchers about their projects, and I missed that.
One advantage of working from home was that it gave us a chance to do a bit of digital housekeeping. Our online catalogue has had a bit of a tidy, and we’ve also looked at streamlining our digitisation process, which will be a big help going forward.
We’ve been showing our social media channels more love and sharing some highlights from our collections through them. This has been a lot of fun, and gave us a chance to be a bit creative. Taking part in the History Begins at Home (#HBAH) campaign and ARA Scotland’s awesome #Archive30 has been especially enjoyable (hoping they’ll run #ArchiveAdvent again this year).
You might have seen earlier posts about our educational package as part of our Heritage Quay at Home project. As one of the members of the HQ team who developed the worksheets for home schooling, I must say that putting the package together was a lot of fun. We hosted an online Sports Study Day with two sessions on England Netball and Rugby Football League, which we received great feedback on from those who attended – there were certainly some engaging discussions going on between participants. My favourite project of ours from the first lockdown period has to be the scavenger hunt. Coming up with clues was sometimes tricky, but I certainly flexed my writing muscles!
What we’re up to now
One of our top priorities now that we have access to our physical collections once more is working through our (rather long) back catalogue of enquiries from our researchers, who have been very patient and understanding in the meantime. There’s also lots of cataloguing work to catch up on – not including the 100+ boxes of some very exciting stuff that we recently acquired (watch this space). We’ve also been trialling some in-person appointments in the hope of re-opening fully to the public in the autumn.
I don’t mind admitting that coming back to campus was a little daunting initially, and it took some time to get used to the health and safety measures, but after a while you built habits. I have a regular routine for wiping my desk at regular times. Working with the archives in the strong rooms requires a little bit of coordination between staff to maintain social distancing, but it’s manageable. If you’re working with lots of boxes, you ‘adopt’ a trolley for the day and put your name on a piece of paper so everyone knows not to touch it, making sure to wipe it down before home time.
While we hope to re-open the HQ space and research room to everyone soon, in the near future we’ll be introducing remote sessions for the benefit of researchers who are unable to visit us in person. This will allow the researcher to view archive material via video link, with one of our Archive Assistants on hand to help. We’ve invested in some snazzy camera equipment, which researches can view material through, and are currently having fun testing it.
The last year and a half has been challenging for us, as it has for everyone, but it’s also been a chance to develop and try new things. We’ve got lots of exciting projects planned for the future and we’re looking forward to welcoming our lovely researchers back to our research room!
We invite you to solve the clues, follow the trail and conquer the Heritage Quay scavenger hunt
It’s easy to become lost in the labyrinth that is an archive catalogue so we’re going to give you a series of clues to follow. Each clue will lead you to a place in the catalogue which will have a letter hidden somewhere within it, and the clue to the next location. You’ll need to collect all eight letters by the end of the hunt to reveal the password to a special webpage.
Some of the clues are hard and you might need to spend some time thinking about them or ask for help. If you’re really stuck you can ask us for a hint on our social media channels @heritage_quay.
Before you start, you’ll need to know a little bit about how an archive catalogue works. Here’s an example of what an entry looks like
This is called a Reference Number. All you need to know at the moment is that ‘RFL’ is the code we’ve given to the Collection, HR is a section of that Collection (in this case, things about staff and managing people) and the three numbers are sub-sections which get more specific as you go along. The last number is usually an individual item or a few items. It can help to visualise it like a tree.
Let’s start with an easy one. Put www.heritagequay.org/archives into your browser. On a desktop computer you should see a search panel on the left and a list of archive collections on the right. On mobiles and tablets the layout may vary.
Scroll through the archive collections (remember to check more than the first page but you don’t need to go too far!) until you find one that matches the following clue, and click on it:
My title is national, my content is musical and I’m full of scores and recordings
You’re now inside that collection. There are two things to spot.
1) It now says the collection name in the search panel under the Reference Number. This means that any searches you do in the other boxes, (like adding a date) will only search in that collection.
2) The right hand side shows the different sections of the collection.
We’re looking for a musical score (the section code for this is SC) whose title is a Greek mythical story about a long journey
Keeping the collection code in the Reference Number field, type the name of the story into ‘Title or Description contains’ and press go. You should get 6 results.
The score you’re looking for is just for singers
Click on the one you think it is to see if you’re right. There should be a letter in the description (keep a note of it) and the next clue attached as an image. If you can’t see these, you’re not in the right place yet. If you can see the letter but the the image isn’t loading – get in touch and let us know!
The way we view the contents of archives change and evolve over time as they are examined, arranged and catalogued. As we unpick the contents of boxes (and do some research!) we discover connections and relationships we didn’t know about before. But occasionally – especially with older collections – there may not be any paperwork, or it cannot be discovered anymore, so all we have is the collection. The papers or objects in it may or may not tell their story easily. Today’s collection is just one of those archives. It’s called the Glass Plate Negative collection and is full of slides taken by someone who has travelled extensively through the United Kingdom and Europe. Some annotations on each slide suggest there may be a connection to Methodism, but we don’t really know! We do see a journey through Europe before the scars of two world wars marked the landscape, and even after the First World War – exploring landscapes, natural features, tourist locations, the lives of ordinary people and great events, like the coronation of George V.
Our student helper Michael has painstakingly sorted, repackaged and catalogued this fragile format, to ensure researchers can discover these wonderful images in future.
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
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.
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.
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 https://heritagequay.org/archives/THN*/.
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.