The new series of Mint Yard lectures is finally announced!

I realise I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog recently, but don’t worry – I’ve been working away behind the scenes. Over the last few weeks I’ve been spending a lot of my time pulling together the new autumn programme for the Mint Yard Lectures. The lectures offer members of the public the opportunity to learn more about the history of Yorkshire from nationally-recognised experts, and form part of our contribution to the council’s Inspire programme.

Mint Yard map

The lectures are named after the old Mint Yard, which stood on the land now occupied by York Explore.

There has been a lot to do – I’ve had to track down speakers, write the content for a leaflet and poster and have them designed, write a press release and put together the content for the council’s Inspire website (as well as writing this blog!). I’ve also had to work out the logistics of how to get the right numbers of chairs, tea and coffee to the right places in time, so it’s been all go!


Mint Yard lecture leaflets and posters

The new Mint Yard lecture leaflets and posters arrive on my desk.

I’m pleased to say that my hard work has just about paid off, and tickets for the new series of lectures are now on sale from Explore libraries. The first lecture takes place at Haxby Explore Library next Wednesday (3rd September) and will be by Professor Mark Ormrod from the University of York, so book now to avoid disappointment! Mark’s lecture is entitled Immigrant Communities in medieval Yorkshire, and in it he’ll consider attitudes towards the many thousands of people from continental Europe who made their lives and livelihoods in Yorkshire during the period of the Hundred Years War and the Wars of the Roses. It sounds a brilliant subject so I’m really pleased that he has agreed to kick-start the new autumn programme.

On 9 October the series moves to Dunnington Reading Rooms, which will play host to an examination of the Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066, the final victory of Harold Godwinson, last Anglo-Saxon king of England. The speaker, Chris Rock, is co-founder and current Chairman of the Battle of Stamford Bridge Society and will discuss the reasons for the battle, its course, consequences and its wider role in history. Chris has previously spoken at Acomb Library, so I’m really happy he’s agreed to present another lecture for us.

Battle of Stamford Bridge poster

Chris Rock of the Battle of Stamford Bridge Society will lecture on the battle in October

In November it’s time to get on your bike with Jim McGurn, Chief Executive of Get Cycling, as he discusses the history and future of the bicycle. We know cycling is practical, sociable, egalitarian, ecological, healthy and fun, but why is it also so divisive? Join Jim at Rowntree Park Reading Cafe on 6 November to find out what the bicycle is: technically, intellectually and socially.

The final lecture for 2014 will be Esther Graham’s Remember Scarborough, which will be held at Acomb Explore on 3 December. As the centenary of the 1914 attack on Scarborough by the German navy approaches, Esther, who is Project Officer for Scarborough Museums Trust’s Remember Scarborough project, will discuss the impact of the bombardment on the town and the Museum Trust’s commemoration of the event.

Whilst it has been a lot of work pulling everything together for the programme, I’m happy we have a good range of subjects on offer and four fantastic speakers. All lectures start at 7pm and tickets are £5 each (including tea and coffee) so why not pop down to your local library and get yours now? Alternatively you will shortly also be able to purchase them through the Inspire website ( I’m looking forward to seeing you there!


A Library Girl in the Archives

Hello, I’m Georgie. This is my third week of a three month secondment to the York: Gateway to History Project as a Community Collections Assistant. I’ll be working alongside Francesca  and Sarah to research and catalogue our community collections archives and explore how these can be used in future projects to engage local communities with our Archives.

At the end of my first week!

At the end of my first week!

Community collections are the records of groups, organizations, families and individuals who played a role in the city’s past. The project also involves engaging with a wide range of current community groups to help them make decisions about how to preserve their own archives for future generations.

I have actually worked for Explore York Libraries and Archives for ten years, as a Reading and Learning Advisor. I worked at our central branch on Museum Street up until it closed for refurbishment in June 2014. After that I was based at our Acomb branch, and although I enjoyed working there, I missed my daily contact with our Archives and Local History department. I was very excited to be offered the opportunity to be seconded to the Gateway to History project, and to get the chance to work in an archives environment.

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks researching some of our community archives, particularly focusing on those of families and individuals. I have come across some fascinating and quirky records and I hope to share some of these in future blog posts.

Join us – Education and Public Programmes Officer

I’m thrilled to announce that we’re now recruiting for another new post as part of the ALH team, Education and Public Programmes Officer.

The post is for 1 year (part time) and we’re looking for a creative, innovative person to develop and deliver our learning programme for primary and secondary schools, and families.

I’m already doing a lot of work with communities right across York as Community Collections & Outreach Archivist but until now we’ve set aside schools and family learning for someone with the right skills and experience to deliver activities to these groups. This post will complete the team for the Gateway to History project and continue to build on the community engagement success we’ve already had.

We’re looking for someone with knowledge of the National Curriculum to design education resources for Key Stages 3-5 that engage students with York’s archives and local history. Our vision is that the post holder will design a range of on-site experiences for schools at our Explore centres and libraries, as well as events that raise the profile of archives amongst teachers. This role is all about relationship building across the city with local education providers and learning specialists, to form the basis of a sustainable offer that continues after the end of the Gateway project. By working with Explore staff we are also looking to deliver a programme of informal family events that make archives engaging and fun.

In addition to an enthusiasm for engaging children and young people with the past, we’re looking for someone with an excellent knowledge of British History and the national curriculum as well as a graduate teaching qualification or relevant postgraduate degree, e.g. Archives, Museums, Public History, History. This post would suit someone with experience of using historical sources or archives in a teaching environment.

Interested? You can find out more by downloading the application pack from by navigating to the ‘Us’ section or following the link to Current Vacancies at the top of the page. If you are unable to access the website please contact or call 01904 554247 (8.00am – 4.00pm, Mon – Fri) to request an application pack quoting the job title.

The closing date for applications is Monday 25th August at 12 noon.  Interviews will take place in York on Monday 8th September.

This post is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the £1.6m York: Gateway to History project.    

An archaeologist in the archives

Hello! I’m Francesca – the new Community Collections Assistant working on the York: Gateway to History project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. For the next six months I will be working alongside Sarah (Community Collections and Outreach Archivist) where I will be making a start on cataloguing our community archive collections whilst also identifying where these can be used for outreach and engagement projects in the future.

Me at the end of my first week at Explore!

Me at the end of my first week at Explore!

Before coming to explore I worked at the Borthwick Institute for Archives, designing and delivering outreach projects such as Who Were the Aero Girls? – so I look forward to using my experience to promote Explore’s fantastic collections!

Firstly I have a confession to make – although having worked with archives, I’m not an archivist. I’m really an archaeologist by training, so my interests mainly lie in reconstructing the everyday lives of people in the past by using the objects they left behind. But archives fit into this really well. Rather than being hunched over in a muddy trench in torrential rain, I now get to ‘dig’ through archives containing historical papers, correspondence, books, photographs (and more) to reconstruct past lives instead. It’s every bit as interesting but a little more comfortable!

One of my first tasks here at Explore is to help create a WW1 pop-up exhibition in partnership with the York Alternative History Group to accompany their autumn film programme at the York City Screen. It is my job to dig up some interesting local stories that will highlight the effect the war had on the people of York themselves.

Me and Gary Craig from the York Alternative History Group exploring our collection at Yorkcraft. Here we are looking through our collection on conscientious objectors which includes photographs, postcards and other correspondence.

Me and Gary Craig from the York Alternative History Group exploring our collection at Yorkcraft. Here we are looking through our collection on conscientious objectors which includes photographs, postcards and other correspondence.

Yesterday I met with Gary Craig from the York Alternative History group to have a rummage through our collections and uncover some of these stories. It was fascinating to see how much of a ‘war’ was being fought at home as well as on the front lines. There are numerous accounts of people losing their livelihoods due to rationing and new legislation, or losing their homes as a result of the Zeppelin raids. There are also records about conscientious objectors, in particular William Varley who was imprisoned as a result of his refusing to obey military orders. Some of these stories we hope to tell in our pop-up exhibition.

I will keep you updated with my progress on the exhibition and other projects I will be working on at Explore so stay tuned to the blog and our twitter feed – I look forward to updating you soon!

The York Alternative History Group’s Remembering World War I film season runs from August 4th – November 24th at the York City Screen. For more information see the flyer below. Tickets can be booked on the York City Screen website .

CityScreen Flyer