Thursday 29 September 2022

Joel's Record Office Resumé

This blog was written by one of our work experience students, Joel, who spent a week with us over the summer.  Thank you for your work Joel! 

Being at the Record Office for four days, I learnt a lot of different things, from research skills to conservation, as well as what goes on behind the scenes. The tour of the building right at the start of my time there really gave a good insight into the various jobs that happen in the archives, as well as allowing me to enter one of the strong rooms where all the records are kept. I also attended two Microsoft Teams meetings in which the new archive buildings were discussed and upcoming events were planned out. In total I worked on three big projects for the archives.

The first main project I worked on was looking at a scrapbook made by the various mayors of Chester between 1936 to 1979. Continuing where Archie left off, [Archie's Archives Experience blog can be found here] I looked at the entries made between 1947 to 1957. One of the most interesting things I found was that there was a great difference in the entries, including a letter relating to the death of King George VI, menus and table plans for luncheon at the Grosvenor Hotel, Christmas Cards, an invite to a Turner exhibition in the Town Hall, a programme for the presentation of new colours to the Cheshire Regiment and (perhaps most strangely) an invite to the 51st Annual Conference of the Llay Angling Society on Northgate Street. 


The randomness of these events is fascinating to me, and they give a really good indication of the duties undertaken by the mayor of Chester. The work on the scrapbook also gave me the opportunity to have a go at the conservation process and learn how the Record Office preserve their archived materials.

As well as the scrapbook, I was also given the chance to work with the Local Studies team. My work for them involved looking at photographs of Chester and seeing whether or not they were on the online image bank. For those that were not, I was given the task of creating online descriptions and catalogues for them. Some of these included photos of The Church of St. John the Baptist in Guilden Sutton, The Suspension Bridge by the Groves from the 1920’s, The Blue Bell on Northgate Street, King Charles Tower and Children in Fancy Dress from the 1910’s. Seeing how the city has changed over time (and how things have stayed the same) was really interesting to me.

The third and final of my projects was related to the Parkside Asylum, which was located in Macclesfield. The first part of it involved using Zooniverse, which gives you a case note to answer questions on. Though it was tricky to begin with (due to handwriting being difficult to read) I soon got the hang of it. After finishing the Zooniverse tasks, I began to look at Parkside case notes on the online catalogue in order to log the diagnosis of individuals (death, transfer, recovery etc) and to see if the case notes came with a photograph of the individual. Seeing photographs of real patients brought a greater connection between me and the work.

One of the highlights of the four days was the people working and volunteering at the records office, all of whom were passionate about what they do. They were also extremely helpful and happy to answer any questions I had or to talk to me about what they were all doing.

In the future, I wish to be a historical researcher for television, films, and video games, and I believe the skills that I have acquired at the Record Office will help me with this aim.

The documents and photographs Joel worked with are available to view at Cheshire Record Office in Chester. 

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