Ringing the changes

Hi all, it’s Justine here. Welcome to the newly tweaked City Making History blog, which I’ve rejigged and updated slightly to better reflect the archives service as a whole and where we are today, moving on from the original format of this blog as an online diary for the City Making History project.

All the original content and your comments are still here, we’ve just got a fresh look and more accurate information on the services we have going on at the moment.

I hope you like it, I think the new twitter panel down the side is a nice addition as it gives a proper look at our tweets without you needing to have a twitter account. Shiny. It’s also more easy to see who has written which post by looking at our names and job titles in the yellow tags on the left side of the screen – if you want to read posts by one person for example, just click their name for a list to choose from.

The eagle eyed among you may notice that the new design ties in with the new Explore York website, over at www.exploreyork.org.uk, with our signature light blue colour. Now we are a separate organisation from CYC we have our own website and branding that you’ll start to see more of around York as we update our buildings and services. Every household in York should have received a leaflet talking about the transfer with lots of photos so hopefully you’ll have an idea of who we are and what we are doing. The website will soon be updated to include lots of information on the new community benefit society and how you can be a member, so keep an eye out.

Thanks for following the blog for the past (nearly) two years, I hope you like the new design, just let me know if you come across any broken links or oddments and I’ll fix them as I tidy up the loose ends next week. Going forward there is going to be a post a week from one of the ALH archive team, and maybe a few sneaky extra ones when we have something we’re burning to share and can’t wait our turn. Have a nice weekend in the sun, and I’ll see you again soon.

A New Year a new project!

Happy New Year and welcome to the first post about the York: Gateway to History Heritage Lottery Funded project.

‘York: Gateway to History is an exciting project to create a 21st century Archive and Local History Service for York – a service which serves and reflects all communities and cultures, past and present, in this ancient city’

Sarah, Community Collections & Outreach Archivist with the York: Gateway to History activity plan

Sarah, Community Collections & Outreach Archivist with the York: Gateway to History activity plan

I’m Sarah, the newest member of the team, working as Community Collections & Outreach Archivist. I’m responsible for building connections with community groups across the city and supporting these groups in the creation, storage and celebration of their archive collections and heritage.

To improve access to the collections I’m also going to be working on the currently un-catalogued non-civic archive collections. As with Justine’s York: A City Making History project, I’ll also be using MPLP to gain greater intellectual control over the collections, to make them more accessible to new researchers.

So, what can you expect from my posts over the next 2 years? Well, I’ll be keeping you updated with both the cataloguing and outreach elements to the project with some relevant theoretical discussion thrown in! I’m also keen to include some guest blog posts, hopefully from some of our newly formed community links as it’s a great chance to share some different perspectives on the project from across the city.

I’ll be giving you regular updates on this project through this blog but also through our Facebook and Twitter pages. You can also tweet about us using the hash tag #gatewaytohistory. So get involved and send us your comments and we hope you’ll be as excited about this project as we are!

Happy 1st Birthday CMH Blog!

Worldwide distribution of hits to this blog in the past year.

Worldwide distribution of hits to this blog in the past year.

I logged into WordPress today to be met by a little icon of a trophy in the dashboard, “ooh, what’s that?” I thought, well I clicked on it to find out and it seems that this blog is a year old this week. Cool. Time flies! Let’s dig a bit deeper into what we’ve been up to together this past year.

Part of the fun of running a blog is checking your statistics to see if anyone out there is a reading it. As of right now this blog has received 10324 hits. That’s clicks rather than users, so if someone finds the site and clicks around a few pages (which is good because it means they’ve found something of interest!) then that shows as 3 hits. That might not sound a massive amount in a year by interweb standards, but it’s still pretty good by archive standards – that’s thousands of people interacting with and learning about this collection that otherwise might not have done so.

That particularly applies to online visitors from overseas, who we wouldn’t expect to just pop in and visit us in person. I love checking the country stats, and wonder who is sat behind a computer or mobile at the other side of the world looking at this page. It’s just so great the way the internet brings people to your virtual door through search engines, twitter links or facebook friends. In total I’ve had visitors from 81 countries. Here’s the top ten:

Top ten countries by visitor numbers

Top ten countries by visitor numbers

Also fun and interesting to observe are the search terms people  typed into Google which led to us popping up in the results. Some are highly specific – people looking for this project, this archive, or me. Others are more general history and archive queries, and it’s great to get these because it shows that my blog is a useful resource for a wider audience than just those interested in York.

My most popular search term is “archives” which is pretty exciting. It’s only responsible for 1% of my hits but if people are typing that into a search engine and coming across our little corner of the web then we must be doing something right! Other archive specific terms include “more product less process” “history of strongrooms”  “functional vs structural” and “archive shelves.”

Then there’s the local search terms which include things like: “old photos York” “chamberlain’s books city of York” “history projects in York” and of course our perennial favourite “floods in York”! It’s good that people with questions about the history of this city are making their way here and hopefully finding something useful, because that’s exactly what the archive is here for in the first place.

Then there’s the random ones that always make me crack a smile; “woman broom cobweb basement” “military moustaches 1880s” (and many other moustache queries) “swans paddling furiously image” and most weirdly… “firebird aquilegias”. I have absolutely no idea how that one led somewhere here… Any guesses? 

Soldier from thought to be from Strensall barracks on a motorcycle. From a page in a scrapbook belonging to a lady from Strensall.

Soldier thought to be from Strensall barracks on a motorcycle. From a page in a scrapbook belonging to a lady from Strensall. I love this image.

So that’s random visitors, what about regulars? Well 66 of you follow me by email, hello subscribers! I can’t see those who follow directly through a blog reader, but hello to all you good folk too! The numbers keep going up, rather than down, so hopefully that’s a good sign. Then, we have the VIP visitors – those of you who not only stumble upon, or follow the site, but actually join in and contribute to it by commenting. A massive thanks to all of you, you turn this blog into more than me just spouting off into the ether. A special shout out to two regulars, Dick and Aiudrey – one local, one international, who I enjoy hearing from so much and hope you all do too. Thanks to Aiudrey for sharing her reminiscences of when she used to live in York, and Dick for proving that at least one person out there doesn’t mind me talking about archival theory – therefore giving me the permission to do so!

It’s been a big learning curve this year, running a blog on my own, but it’s been a really worthwhile experience so far. Together we’re mapping the story of this project, exploring the collection and building an information resource that will stay on the web, open to anyone with internet access (and via a local library if you haven’t!) whether searching deliberately or stumbling fortuitously.

As a little postscript, the art gallery move was completed yesterday so as soon as I get my hands on the photos I’ll do a writeup here. It all got very physical at the end with door frames being taken out and holes put into walls, but the archive spaces have now been finally handed back to the art gallery and the records are in storage. Next job, building a new repository!