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.
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.
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 .