I’ve had a brilliant summer delving into the archives and following the progress of the cataloguing team. You’ve hopefully enjoyed the glimpses I’ve offered you here on the blog at some of the more unusual finds. This week I hand over to Archives and Collection Officer, Jane Speller to tell you all about a national campaign…
Saturday 16 November saw the launch of the Explore Your Archive, a national campaign which is being run by The National Archives at Kew. This is the biggest public awareness campaign ever undertaken by the archives sector with hundreds of archives from all over the UK and Ireland taking part.
‘A world without archives is a world without memory’. EYA will encourage everyone to celebrate, explore and take pride in their archives, through a great programme of different events and activities.
Here at Quarry Bank we’re doing our bit for the EYA campaign by running special behind-the-scenes tours for our staff and volunteers. Myself and our Collection and Archives Officer Ally, are running the tours hope to give people a glimpse of some of the archive’s most interesting items. With material dating from 1690 onwards there were plenty of wonderful items to see and handle.
Ally explains what the visitors to the archive were able to see on the tour;
Visitors were able to view the newly found manuscript of Hannah Greg on her thoughts about the American War of Independence and her feelings about slavery. She wrote this in 1785 aged about 18 so we wanted to show how intellectual she was even as a young woman.
We also showed plans of the mill from 1844 to show them how things have changed and how it helps us in interpretation. There were photographs on display of the estate, houses and gardens to contrast them with how they look now, and we explained how they help other departments, like the garden team, to restore these areas.
There was also Robert Hyde Greg’s travel letters and sketches, the pattern book from Robert and Nathan Hyde’s textile merchant company.
We also displayed the ‘census’ book of the village, which lists the people living in the cottages and farms, their date of birth, occupation and wage. The book provides an insight into the different jobs in the mill, differences in wages between men, women and children, and social hierarchies in the mill itself.
The visitors all really enjoyed the tour and had several positive things to say about the experience:
“The extent of the material is amazing, and still being added to, so return visits are a must!”
“I knew there was a substantial archive but to see it really brought the history alive.”
“I could have lost myself in there for the day.”
“I did not expect to see so many fascinating items.”
“The degree of details and quality of presentation is remarkable. There are so many different strands to the story.”
“Being able to see historic material in its original place really brings the history of the site to life.”
For more information about the campaign and to see what’s going on in an archive near you, please visit the brand new EYA website:
Next week I’ll be exploring what the Gregs and the Apprentices got up to at Christmas time, including another archive find that continues from a previous post…
Photographs by Nick King.