Inspired by Franklin…

The hidden talents of the Record Office team have been stirred… inspired by the Sir John Franklin story some of our staff members have specially recorded some traditional music to accompany our new online exhibition for Google Arts and Culture.

The tradition of singing, or chanting, of sea shanties and ballads aboard ships flourished during the 19th century. Long journeys at sea and repetitive hard work were alleviated by the singing of hauling and working songs, alongside tales of tragedy and loves lost documented in tunes and laments. ‘Handsome Molly’ is an old-time banjo and fiddle tune with a maritime theme, and this fantastic version has been recorded for us by ukulele player and singer Mark Psmith (our records manager!).

‘I wish I was in Londond3311drawing03-copy
Or some other seaport town
I’d set my foot on a steamboat
And sail the ocean round

While sailing around the ocean
While sailing around the sea
I think of Handsome Molly
Wherever she may be’

 

 

Folk music has long taken inspiration from historical tales, and what better than a story that meets such a haunting end as that of Franklin and his crew. ‘Lady Franklin’s lament’ is a traditional folk ballad, which first appeared as a broadside ballad around 1850. It speaks from the perspective of a sailor on board a ship, who dreams about Lady Franklin and her plight to find her lost husband.

Franklin

‘We were homeward bound one night on the deep
Swinging in my hammock I fell asleep
I dreamed a dream and I thought it true
Concerning Franklin and his gallant crew

With a hundred seamen he sailed away
To the frozen ocean in the month of May
To seek a passage around the pole
Where we poor sailors do sometimes go’

 

This version was recorded by folk singer and musician Ewan D Rodgers and features vocals and whistle playing by Clare (our assistant conservator!).

 

 

 

Two tales of self-adhesive tape

Next time you meet a paper conservator, just mention the words ‘self-adhesive tape’ and watch their struggle to retain some self-control.  It is the bane of our profession, the tapes used by very well-meaning people, who were trying to look after or even save important, precious documents and ended up destroying them in the process.  Two unrelated items came into the Conservation Studio yesterday, which show different ways in which self-adhesive tape has been used.

The first is a minute ‘book’ from the National Union of Mineworkers, dating from the mid nineteen eighties (D1920/1/1/39):

D1920 1 1 39 whole - Copy

Each page consists of a backing sheet with a typed up page of minutes sellotaped to both sides of it. That’s two hundred backing sheets with four hundred pages of minutes:

D1920 1 1 39 open tape - Copy

In some cases the adhesive is no longer sticking to the backing sheet, leaving the minutes lying loose; in all cases it has migrated into the paper, causing significant discolouration and weakening of the paper. Removing each piece of sellotape will require a combination of heat, a sticky-stuff removing erasure and quite probably solvents, such as acetone and toluene. The problem is, you see, that in most cases the tape doesn’t come off cleanly, but leaves a little bit of sticky residue which also needs to be removed.  So that’s one thousand six hundred pieces of sellotape to remove, at a very optimistic average of five minutes each: eight thousand minutes – or about 134 hours – of work.  Obviously we can’t justify that amount of time spent on an item that can be studied in its current condition, so all we’ll be doing for now is give it some extra packaging so at least there’s no risk of pages tearing, and adding it to a list of jobs to consider in the future.

The second item is a sale catalogue from 1912 (D7108), which is in a far worse condition:D7108 UL before whole - CopyIn this case the kind person trying to mend the pages has used a combination of different self-adhesive tapes, even ordinary white labels:

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Clearly this item isn’t safe to be handled or looked at, so we will be conserving it in 2019 and we’ll let you know how we get on…

 

Thank You Matlock Ladies Luncheon Club!

A big thank you to Matlock Ladies Luncheon Club who have given us a £70.00 donation for our Junction Arts photographs project.  The charity Junction Arts celebrated its fortieth anniversary last year and deposited its archive here at the Record Office so future generations would be able to marvel at the wonderful work they do.  Although all the paperwork is undoubtedly fascinating, the nearly three thousand photographs and two thousand negatives are what makes this collection so special: seeing the smiles, the joy, the happiness of children, adults and the elderly, as communities come together to create art.

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To make sure these wonderful people will continue to make everyone smile for centuries to come, we need to package the photographs in archival quality polyester sleeves so they’re save to handle and can’t get damaged by rubbing against each other or sticking together, as some are already doing.  The total cost for packaging all the photographs and negatives is £853.82 – rather too big an amount for us to conjure up, which is why we’re fundraising:

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So next time you’re in Matlock, do have a look at our donations box and display in reception – every pound saves five images.  And if you’re feeling especially generous, of course we accept donations over the phone as well: just call us on 01629 538 347 and be sure to leave your name if you’d like your own personal thank you on our display.

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Cricket in Derbyshire – have you got a story to tell?

Lien and I visited the County Cricket Ground in Derby on Friday the 19th, to meet heritage enthusiasts from a range of cricket clubs across the county.  We were there to offer some practical advice to clubs that look after their own archives, covering the best ways of managing and caring for old records.  If your heritage group would appreciate a training session on archive management or conservation (very reasonable rates), do get in touch and we will do our best to help.

The photograph above was taken during a moment of gravely studious concentration.  For balance, the picture on the right is rather more animated, being Thomas Rowlandson’s 1811 depiction of what is reckoned to be the first recorded women’s county cricket match, between Surrey and Hampshire (the subject of one of Helen’s posts back in 2013).  This match must have been the subject of many a treasured tale, and we are fortunate to have Rowlandson’s illustration to remember it by.  Memories of other events and experiences, by contrast, slip by without being documented in this way – how much heritage is lost when the stories stop being told?  David Griffin of the Cricket Derbyshire Foundation, organiser of Friday’s event, told us a little of the Foundation’s current oral history project, which is all about capturing those memories for future generations.  I bet they would like to hear from you if you have a tale or two to tell about the game and your own experience of it.  For more on the project, see the Cricket Derbyshire Foundation website.

 

Arch I’ve Conserved

Join us here at the Record Office on Thursday 23 November from 10.30 to 12.00 to celebrate Explore Your Archives week with a talk and demonstration on how we repair paper and parchment documents.  It’s a free event, but with limited places, so booking is essential. The easiest way to book a place is via our Eventbrite page, or call us on 01629 538347.

Please be aware that although the talk will be delivered in a room accessible via a lift,  the conservation studio – where the practical demonstration will be held – is on the second floor and can only be reached via stairs.

Arch poster

 

A history of the archives service for Derbyshire

Late last Spring I began what came to be a rather extensive piece of research into the development of the archives part of Derbyshire Record Office. After so much work I wanted to share what I had found, and on Monday we ran an event featuring a talk about the history of the archives service, an exhibition of our own archives (by which I mean the records we actually created rather than those we look after on behalf of the county) and a behind-the-scenes tour of some of the record office building. We couldn’t do the whole building as it is so big, and to be honest once you have seen one or two of our strong rooms, you have really seen the other 12 or 13 (yes, we do have 14 in total for archives and local studies).

I hope many of the people who read this blog are interested to hear how the record office has developed, and I do intend to write further posts in the future so please watch this space. For now here are a few photographs from the event

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‘Is there any post?’ -FitzHerbert project catch up

The FitzHerbert project has been quiet for some time so I wanted to write a catch up blog to update you on progress and share with you one of the highlights of the collection.

Firstly, I want to mention the title of the post: this is surely a familiar phrase in every British household. Especially with the increase in email usage there is always a keen sense of anticipation when you are expecting something to arrive in the post, especially a letter. When something arrives unexpectedly it is always exciting (except if it’s from the bank!). Continue reading

Digging up information about Burial Locations

Some of the diverse subjects that have been researched in the Local Studies card catalogue this week include air wrecks, monetary equivalents, the surname ‘Lomas’ and Florence Nightingale.

Cards

Florence

 

In particular though, this week, burial locations have been a frequent feature of research requests, so we thought this subject was well past its expiration date (if you’ll forgive the pun) for a mention.

In many cultures, the idea of being able to visit the physical location of a place of rest is reassuring for friends and relatives. Here’s how to make a start on searching.

Burial Registers

Burial Registers (found in parish registers) record information relating to the date of burial and the person buried rather than the location of the grave. Unlike civil cemeteries, it is unusual for churches to deposit grave registers at the Record Office, usually because they are not created in the first instance.

Memorial Inscriptions

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For some Derbyshire churchyards, groups of volunteers have created transcripts of the headstones and plaques in the church. These transcripts are known as Memorial Inscriptions, and include information only about those graves where the headstone/plaque was extant and legible at the time the transcripts were created usually, most were created in the 1990s and later. The Memorial Inscriptions do not include information about unmarked graves or graves where the headstone is no longer visible or legible.

They do also sometimes contain a very useful background to the cemetery or churchyard, and in particular these are a regular feature of the The Derbyshire Ancestral Research Group  transcripts. There may also be a graveyard plan.

Cemetery Records

Cemetery 5Cemetery 2

Cemetery Records can be tricky and a little time consuming to search as the indexes, although alphabetical, are not usually alphabetical after the initial letter.  For example, as shown above, under the ‘Hs’ you are very likely to find ‘Hewitt’ after ‘Hill.’ If the name you require is found in the Index, there will usually be a reference (normally a number and folio reference).  You then need to make a note of this in order to then search the Burial and/or Grave Register to find more details about the location. As with all records, the information provided varies from Cemetery to Cemetery.

Online Catalogue

Of course it is always worth searching our online catalogue for any information regarding graveyard plans or burials as you never know what you might unearth!