Authenticity Hoo-Ha pt. 1: Did the Rolling Stones sign the guest register at The Temple Hotel?

Sir Hilary Jenkinson’s “Manual of Archive Administration” (1922) maintains that authenticity is one of the defining characteristics of the archive.  A trio of authentication problems have imposed on my time recently, so I thought I would share them with you in three blog posts.  Here is the first.

Derbyshire Record Office recently accepted the donation of some records from The Temple Hotel in Matlock Bath (D8116). The hotel is no longer open for business, but has a long history of hospitality behind it.  Among the signatures in one of the guest registers, you can find the names of Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts, giving their address as The Rolling Stones, and the date as 16 January 1965. I hope it was really them! The names are in the same hand (fishy, do you think, or easily explained?) and they do not bear much similarity to autographs that can be found online.

D8116 1 2

D8116/1/2: Temple Hotel visitors book, Nov 1963 to July 1971

This is the only bit of the register you will get to see without an applicable exemption under data protection legislation! But these registers will be freely available to all researchers in generations to come.

Several fan websites go into minute detail about where the band were at any given moment, and from these it seems that the Rolling Stones were making a live appearance on Ready, Steady, Go! on the 15th and were then in a recording session in Los Angeles on the 17th. They must have spent the 16th on a transatlantic flight. Mustn’t they? Does anyone remember seeing 2/5 of The Rolling Stones around Matlock Bath that winter?

Let us suppose the signatures above are not genuinely those of Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts. What then of archival authenticity?  Good news: Sir Hilary would still regard the register as an authentic record of the hotel’s activities, deriving as it does from the business function of recording guests’ details. Since the Immigration (Hotel Records) Order 1972, hotels have actually been under a legal obligation to maintain such a record – but of course there was already a long-established practice of registering hotel guests. And there was an equally long-established practice of hotel guests signing in a false name for nefarious purposes, or just for a giggle.  It’s an authentic record of a transaction – it’s the transaction itself that was lacking in authenticity.

Fun fact about hotel guest registers: one of America’s greatest writers signed himself “Samuel Clemens” and gave his profession as “Mark Twain”.

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50 years ago: this week’s Hit Parade, from the Derbyshire Times

A New Year, and a new resolution…to highlight the number of newspapers we hold on Microfilm in the Record Office. This week, we bring you our most popular, The Derbyshire Times, dated Friday 7th January 1966.

In addition to the usual newsworthy stories (many, sadly, about road traffic accidents over the New Year period), there was a full page spread advertising holiday getaways, bookable in local travel agents, some weather statistics for December, showing not much change in our current January outlook!

Interestingly, there was also a music column written by Peter Murray, reviewing the previous year’s releases, as well as showing the Top Twenty for that week.

TopTwenty

Who remembers any of these?  An attempt to find consensus among eleven members of Record Office staff has failed – but we generally like The Beatles, Peter Sellers and The Who.  But who doesn’t?

Treasure 14: the John R Biggs collection

This treasure (collection reference D3562) was nominated by our erstwhile Artist in Residence, Paula Moss.  She writes:

John R Biggs (1909-1988) was a distinguished wood engraver, typographer, graphic designer and writer, born in Derby, who early in his career established a much admired private printing press.  The archive, from which this book and printing blocks are taken, covers his life’s work – from his student days in Derby to the final years of his retirement from teaching – and is a wonderfully inspiring collection, a real treasure.