Cataloguing the World Netball Archive


Hello, my name is Tobias Leech, and I’m a  final year history student at the University of Huddersfield who has been undertaking a work placement as a cataloguing assistant for Heritage Quay.

I helped to catalogue the World Netball Archive, including everything from photographs at championship matches to trophies and sports magazines. Working with them all has been brilliant, but I especially loved cataloguing the donated photographs as they all served as their own little puzzle. It was so fun to piece together the story of the picture through nametags, articles of clothing, decorations dotted around the room or familiar faces and locations. It let me use an entirely separate set of skills I had not been able to use on my history course and made my hours spent at the archives the highlight of my week. The World Netball archive is now available for viewing here.

My time at Heritage Quay has not only been exciting and fun but also inspiring as I processed and researched the items I was cataloguing; they all began combining and correlating into a story. Across decades, people have given their lives to Netball, from playing, to refereeing, to creating and running organisations dedicated to it. Photographs of players and coaches smiling are a celebration of multiple lifetimes of hard work and perseverance. A snapshot of a player aiming to

shoot became a display of the discipline and effort these athletes went through as discussed in their interviews in newspapers, magazines and reports alike. Going through this archive gave me a new perspective on the sport I was certainly aware of but not particularly familiar with. It taught me the history of an international force built on the foundations of equality, fair play and humanitarianism.

Even better, working at Heritage Quay has given me a new appreciation of the heritage sector and a whole new understanding of how history works. I would read through an article from the 1990s, and then later see the same events discussed with hindsight

in the mid-2000s. History, and more broadly, time is always moving, and through cataloguing these items I was seeing first hand revisions and versions of history being made. When I handled official documents from World Netball, I was getting to see through their eyes what the last 30 years of progress has meant. It has been said history is written by the victors, but working at Heritage Quay has shown me it is more true that instead history is written first come first served, and that often people, organisations or other third parties will already have their thumbs on the scale. My time with the archive team has involved practical experiences as well, from handling items, cataloguing them, and wrapping and protecting larger items for storage.

Working at Heritage Quay has been fantastic, and I would recommend visiting the archive and viewing the collections (which can be found here). My time as a work placement has given me a new appreciation for archival work and for Netball as a sport and international phenomenon.

Tobias Leech, BA History Student




If you happened to be walking past the library seminar room last Monday and wondered if you were witnessing preparations to combat the Viking apocalypse Ragnarok, predicted to take place this Saturday, never fear, it was just the latest batch of Archive volunteers getting to grips with some archives in need of some basic preservation!

Whilst we keep archive collections in special repositories where temperature and humidity are controlled, we often inherit collections that have been ‘in storage’ with their creators.  Think about where your office or family keep their papers.  Attics, cellars, offsite storage.  In archives we’ve seen it all, and it usually comes complete with damp, pest damage and copious amounts of dust!! Little Britain might encourage it as an appetiser, but dust is certainly no good for your health.  Many of the old Huddersfield Technical College student registers have spent decades in storage before coming to the archive, and the folders were covered with a thick layer of the stuff.


Our current batch of volunteers come from the History, Politics and the English department and some are volunteering as part of their course, others to see if a career in Archives might be for them. They will be helping us with a variety of tasks in the run up to the move to the new archives centre, and we’re very grateful for their help. Many archives nowadays rely on the support of enthusiastic volunteers, and we are no exception, although in return we hope to provide interesting and varied work and to involve people in the range of activities going on in a modern archives centre. All of our current volunteers were attending a Volunteer Induction Day, where we talked about how their work fitted in to our strategy map, introduced the Volunteer handbook and passed on some basic preservation skills using conservation equipment. Total folders cleaned by the end of Monday = 70! A fantastic achievement that makes a real contribution to the work the staff undertake in the archive every day.

We’ve worked hard to make sure that our volunteer opportunities fit in with ARA’s (Archives and Records Association – the professional body for archivists) policy on volunteering, and if you’re interested in finding out more about a career in Archives, the guidance on this page should be your first stop!