Articles tagged with: catalogue

Magical History Tour

on Monday, 23 January 2017. Posted in Archives

Part of catalogued collection 2027 on the shelves

The main background task of an archivist, when not assisting researchers in person or by email, involves the sorting and cataloguing of archives in order that they are made accessible and available. In a well established service such as Wiltshire and Swindon’s, which celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, much of this consists of additions to existing collections, usually of more recent material, reflecting our commitment to the continuing process of preserving the past for the future. In this way our service is very much an organic one.

However, new sources do present themselves, and bring with them the excitement of serendipity. One such case is the archives of a Marlborough solicitors’ firm, that we collected in 1983 and which I have been working on over the last couple of years. Far from reflecting tardiness or inactivity on our part, it should be understood that archives have been collected in vast quantities often without much warning, to the extent that they occupy eight miles of shelving, and a cataloguing backlog is unavoidable. Furthermore this collection presented particular challenges in terms of its size and level of disorder that led to it slipping down the priority list.

When colleagues came to collect the material they were directed to a house stuffed full of papers and books, to the extent that just entering the building presented something of a challenge. However, they were gathered up, the volumes shelved and the documents  decanted into 350 boxes our old Record Office in Trowbridge: the first aim of our service, preservation, having been achieved.

My first task was to produce a rough list of the contents of each box and then sort them accordingly.  The volumes all were the firms’ own records and consist of ledgers, registers of deeds and letter books. The boxes contain the archives of former clients, ranging from landed families like the Pophams of Littlecote, covering its extensive estates and several manors, to an individual whose only business was the administration of their personal estate at the ends of his or her life. Each in its way fascinating and informative, providing insight into the lives of our predecessors. Having identified the records of the major clients in about 120 boxes, I faced the remaining boxes with some trepidation. However, while it sat unassumingly on our shelves the technological revolution had brought new tools, in the shape of computers and software, which enabled this mass of material to be sorted far more easily and efficiently than the traditional methods of pencil and paper, and to become available far more speedily than ever before.

And what does the archive contain?

Sitting Pretty with Picture Postcards

on Saturday, 26 April 2014. Posted in Archives, Photography

With the help of our Sheldon 6th Form volunteer Laura Bailey and our work experience students we have been making great inroads into our vast collection of uncatalogued postcards from the early 20th century. The aim is to give each an entry on our electronic catalogue alongside a digital image to enable easy access for the public via the online site Wiltshire Treasures (see link at end of this article). At present we have over 4,000 postcards catalogued. I thought it would be interesting to discover a little more about the history of postcards in this country and just why they became so popular during this period.

The ‘Lacock Unlocked’ project needs YOU!

on Thursday, 21 February 2013.

Regular readers of our blog will know that last year we applied for Heritage Lottery Funding to acquire and make accessible the wonderful archives of the Lacock Abbey estate, dating back at least 800 years. After a nail-biting few months we were both relieved and delighted to hear at the end of last year that our application was successful. The HLF have kindly agreed to donate £490,000 to acquire the archives and promote their use by the public.


Now the real work begins and we need your help to make this project a success – there are lots of ways in which people can get involved.

We need volunteers to help:


• Catalogue and index original records

• Conserve and repackage records

• Photograph documents to facilitate indexing from home

• Test a mobile phone ‘App’ being produced by Wiltshire College students

• Write about Lacock’s history for the new Lacock community archive website

• Moderate and administer the new website

• Record oral history – whether interviewing local people, or being interviewed, about memories of life in Lacock; plus editing and transcribing the resulting interviews

• Run outreach activities such as family learning workshops and creating an exhibition

No previous experience is necessary, and full training will be given. Please note the project is taking place over three years so not all the activities will be happening at the same time, and you are welcome to take part in as few or as many as you like.

We also need people to take part in the workshops and use and enjoy the ‘App’ and website when available. Everyone is also welcome to attend the regular community archive forum meetings which help steer the overall project.

We will be holding an open evening on Wednesday 24 April between 6 and 8.30 pm where you can come and view the archives and find out more about the volunteering opportunities available.

In the meantime if you are interested in taking part, please contact Claire Skinner in the first instance – e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or telephone 01249 705500 and leave your contact details. We can then send you more detailed information about the activities involved, and an application form where you can specify which activities you are most interested in and let us know your availability.

Thank you very much in anticipation – Claire Skinner, Principal Archivist.

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