Throughout the past week, West Sussex Record Office has been celebrating the annual National Archives and Archive and Records Association’s ‘Explore Your Archive’ campaign. The campaign ‘aims to open the phenomenal archival collections held by organisations – public and private – across the UK and Ireland, whatever their size and scale, and wherever they are’, and saw archive services across the country open their doors and their collections for people to explore.
Following on from the
success of our 70th Birthday Open Day last year, which coincided with the Explore Your Archives launch 2016, we decided to take the theme literally and once again invite people in to explore our archive. On Monday 56 people attended our ‘behind the scenes’ tours, and enjoyed a look through our strongrooms, with a peak at some of our favourite original documents, as well as our conservation and scanning suites, and displays of current projects.
Online, archives from all over the country took part in the campaign. With different themes for each day on social media, we fully embraced each hashtag, and shared examples of photographs, posters, letters, and books amongst our collections. Monday began with #archivecatwalk, and a look at some of the beautiful and bizarre fashion choices in our catalogue. From dressmaking at Chichester College, to the strong look of a Petworth Polo team, the residents of West Sussex gave us plenty to choose from!
Tuesday was the turn of our #edible archives, and as ever we couldn’t resist the urge to share our connection to famous Chichester-based food manufacturer Shippam’s. Best known for its fish and meat pastes, we share a blog post from our ’70 favourite records’ series last year, where former employee Ellen Butler discussed her time working at the factory. Attempting to cater for all tastes, we also shared photos for veggies and meat-eaters alike, with photographs of a butchers shop façade and award winning garden beans. However the highlight of the day was definitely a family recipe book from the 1950s, which included everything from ‘railway pudding’, and ‘Findon haddock pudding’, to our favourite ‘mysterious pudding’, which we’re certainly going to try making as soon as possible!
On Wednesday we had plenty of photographs impressive beards and wonderful hairdos to share for the theme of #hairyarchives, but found our most popular post was the macabre examples of real hair. Labelled ‘cut off after death’, and found amongst the correspondence of novelist Anna Eliza Bray, the locks of hair are from poets Robert and Caroline Southey, and became the subject of some discussion on twitter regarding the possibility of a poet-based Jurassic Park experiment made possible by all the locks of hair found across the nations archives and museums! As well as photographs of both the young and old getting a trim in a Chichester salon, a personal favourite from the #hairyarchives theme was our image of Mrs Haslett in 1890.
Here at the Record Office we have plenty of innovative and pioneering collections, but the theme of #archivescience on Thursday gave us the opportunity to once again promote one of our current projects. The pioneering work of Sir Archibald McIndoe at the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead, and the cases of injured WW2 airmen who dubbed themselves the ‘Guinea Pig Club’ are the subject of a cataloguing and digitisation project at the Record Office that aims to records the innovative advancement of the treatment of burns victims.
On Friday, the theme of #lovearchives gave us the opportunity to spread a little romance to end the week on a high. As well as a wonderful wax seal depicting a delicate heart on a grant from 1517, we were able to share some images from 2 of our largest and richest photographic collections. The George Garland collection and the Chichester Photographic Service collection both have beautiful wedding photographs from throughout the years, which not only show celebrations of love, but hark back to an earlier theme and highlight the changing fashions across history. As romance is not the reserve of the young, we also shared some wonderful photographs of couples celebrating golden and diamond wedding anniversaries in West Sussex, and celebrated the true meaning of #lovearchives.
Thank you to everybody who has liked, shared, and commented on our posts this week. We appreciate the support, and hope you have enjoy exploring our archives!