Farewell from your Community Collections & Outreach Archivist

The time has come to reflect and officially bring to a close the York: Gateway to History project. It has been an incredible two years and we at Explore have come together as one Library and Archive service.

My role on the project is also coming to an end this week and I can’t believe how far we have travelled since that first week. So here is my personal journey on the project. Enjoy!Sarah with HLF project plan

January 2014 – The activity plan strand of the project gets underway when I started as Community Collections & Outreach Archivist. I was daunted by the challenge but excited to get started!

February 2014 – We got straight in and worked with Lord Deramore’s Primary School in Heslington to unlock the history of the school and discover it’s place in the local community. We worked with three fantastic volunteers who wrote a whopping 17,000 word resource and presented it to the school.

Our three experienced and dedicated volunteers hard at work at the school. From left, Alan Bollington, Phil Batman and Roger Barham

June 2014 – By now I’m travelling all over the city by bus, car and on foot to meet all kinds of different community groups. By the end of 2015 we had created a network of 170 individuals from 78 different community groups. You can see where I went during the project on this handy map!

We also started working with the York Normandy Veterans Association on a project to record their memories and preserve their archives for future generations. In 2015 we hosted a celebration evening for the Veterans and created a special short film about the project.

July 2014 – To help manage over 400 community archives and to support outreach activities in 2015, Georgie and Francesca came onboard as Community Collection Assistants!

CCA staff

October 2014 – We launched the Poppleton History Society archive in Poppleton Library with an event to showcase the collection and network with members of the local community.

IMG_2107

November 2014 – To support First World War commemorations we worked with York’s Alternative History Society to launch our pop-up banner exhibition. The banners went on display at York City Screen Cinema before being toured across all our libraries during 2015.

20140905_161426

January 2015 – We opened our brand new Archives & Local History service at York Explore! During 2015 we welcomed a grand total of 94,858 visitors to the service who came to look at archives, browse our local history books and research their family histories.

Archive Reading Room

February 2015 – We hosted the first of our Gateway to Your Archives workshops. In total 98 representatives from 52 different community groups attended a workshop in 2015 and 98% said they felt more supported by Explore as a result.

One of the Gateway to your Archives workshops.

One of the Gateway to your Archives workshops in progress!

If you are interested in learning about how to manage your community archive, all new resources will be launched onto the Explore website next month. Included in this will be our new training films, on YouTube now!

March 2015 – Alongside the Workshops came the Archives Roadshow. We toured all 17 of Explore’s libraries and asked people ‘What Should York Remember?’.

A grandmother, daughter and grandchildren share York memories with Explore staff and volunteers and Tang Hall Library

We gathered 600 responses to the question and even created a vox-pop short film featuring local peoples thoughts!

May 2015 – We said goodbye to Francesca and hello to Jenny as Community Collections Assistant. Jenny took over responsibility for cataloguing and supporting our outreach activities.

 

June 2015 – To help us catalogue our community archives we set up a Community Collections volunteer project. We got 8 volunteers in total who worked to catalogue 5 large collections adding up to 99 boxes, 203 volumes and 32 rolls!

20150716_110850

The volunteers also worked to create content for the Voices of the Archives booklet and pop-up banner exhibition. They provided quotes and unique insights into our community collections along with our community partners and researchers.

combined booklet and banner image

Group with cake_1August 2015 – We worked with York Learning throughout the project to help adult learners explore the archives and use them as a starting point for art and creative writing. Learners on an art project explored the local history of Acomb to create a piece of public art in Lidgett Grove Church and we were invited along to the launch. A local resident even made a special cake!

September 2015 – We commissioned artist Emily Harvey to interpret the 600 responses from our ‘What Should York Remember?’ activity. She created York Panorama: What York Means to Us which is a tactile representation of how York’s residents and visitors view the history and culture of the City.

Emily busy creating the panels in her studio!

It’s a permanent legacy to the project and is available on the 1st floor at York Explore Library and Archive!

...and watching people enjoy the artwork at York Explore!

November 2015 – We finished off the project by hosting a celebration event at York Explore. City Archivist Victoria Hoyle and HLF Board Member Sue Mendus gave inspirational talks to our community partners and we all shared a drink to celebrate our success!

IMG_1154

So here we are in March 2016 and we have completed our evaluation report and submitted it to the Heritage Lottery Fund. It was a chance to reflect on everything we have done and think about the future.

Sarah in her final week at Explore with the completed evaluation report

Sarah in her final week at Explore with the completed evaluation report

All that is left to say is thank you to everyone that has come on this journey with us! It has been incredible and we couldn’t have done any of this without your support and dedication. We at Explore have an exciting future with new projects, partnerships and catalogued collections. You can take a look at our ambitious plans in our Access Plan. If you have any questions or comments about the project please do get in touch at archives@exploreyork.org.uk

The archives team at the end-of Gateway to History project celebration event

Advertisements

What makes you a Yorkie?

I’m sat in one of our branch libraries and a member of the public walks in;
I ask, ‘What do you think York should remember?’

The member of the public replies, ‘O, well I’m not from York’
Probing further I ask, ‘How long have you lived here?’
‘Around 30 years’ they answer, quickly followed by ‘…but I grew up elsewhere’

The Archives Roadshow has been running since February 2015 and has been to 12 of our 16 branch libraries and gathered over 300 responses to our question ‘What Should York Remember?’ I’ve had this same conversation with people more times than I could count and it has led me to think a little more about what a sense of place really is and what truly does make you a Yorkie.

A grandmother, daughter and grandchildren share York memories with Explore staff and volunteers and Tang Hall Library

A grandmother, daughter and grandchildren share York memories with Explore staff and volunteers and Tang Hall Library

So where does our sense of place come from, and at what point do we decide where we’re from? We tend to say that the place we spent most of our childhood is where we’re from even if we no longer live there or haven’t since we were teenagers or young adults. Where we grew up is perhaps part our individual identity that has shaped who we are today. I’m no exception, I’ve lived in York for just over a year but even if from now on I always live in York, I think I’ll always say I’m from Merseyside as its part of who I am and my journey to get here.

We all have an important part to play in the past, present and future of the communities we live in. Several people have commented on the Roadshow that ‘York is like a big village’. I’d certainly agree with that but around 70% of people we’re spoken to on the Roadshow didn’t grow up in York. How does the fact that so many of us don’t associate ourselves with being from York affect our almost taken for granted community cohesion, in a city already so crowded with tourists?

Museum Gardens. Imagine York Collections, City of York Council, Ima

Museum Gardens. Imagine York Collections, City of York Council

I believe that everyone has some attachment to the city, especially if you’ve lived here for 30 years, so I always ask, ‘How has your community changed since you’ve lived here?’ I’ve found this to be a great way of exploring personal community connections and usually encourages people to share stories about their own children and grandchildren such as ‘feeding squirrels in Museum Gardens’. Childhood, whether it’s your own or your family’s, seems to increase our attachment to a place. It’s not just places that people are attached to as there seems to be a real sense of ownership around recent local events such as the Tour De France and Tour De Yorkshire. Perhaps it reveals the true social value of these events as well as attracting tourism and funding.

Roadshow attendees feel a strong connection to events that take place in the city such as the Viking Festival.

Roadshow attendees feel a strong connection to events that take place in the city such as the Viking Festival.

Our experiences in local places and feeling part of events play a vital role in community identity. The responses to ‘What Should York Remember?’ give us a snapshot in time as to what is important to residents in 2015, whether they have been in the city all their lives or just a few months.

So what does make you a true Yorkie? Someone on the Roadshow said it wasn’t until you’ve seen the Minster without scaffolding. We might be waiting a long while for that to happen but maybe as soon as you move to York you become a Yorkie, after all are we not part of one big village?

Coming soon – Wondering what we’re planning do to with the 300 ‘What Should York Remember?’ responses? Well watch this space for a sneak preview of what’s coming up later this year.

Coming soon to a library near you…

This year we’re pleased to announce that we’re taking archives and local history out across Explore’s branch libraries in our first ever Archives Roadshow.

We’re thrilled with our new archive service at Explore York but we know that for many of you, the local library is still the heart and soul of your community. That’s why Francesca and I will be touring all branch libraries during 2015, giving you a chance to discover more.

We've had all our publicity professionally designed so you'll know what to look out for in your branch

Seen these leaflets around? It’s all Gateway to History!

Expect to see shiny pop up banners and leaflets advertising the Gateway to History project and the Gateway to Your Archives training workshops; discover how to use the archive catalogue; see copies of items from our community archives; ask us all about the new archive service and share your local history stories with us.

But we’d like you to get involved as well. Throughout 2015 we’re asking you, What should York Remember? We want your thoughts on the people, places, events and memories that have shaped our city and the way we live.

We launched this event at Residents Festival in York Explore on 31st January and we got some facinating responses including ‘The remarkable lives of ordinary people’, ‘the smell of chocolate’ and ‘disability rights in York’. We had some truly inspirational discussions and even some children popped in to draw us a picture of York Minster!

Examples from our activity at Residents Weekend 2015

Examples from our activity at Residents Festival 2015

If you’d like to have your say and learn more, the first 3 dates of the Roadshow are:

Tang Hall Library – 17th February 2015
Clifton Library – 25th February 2015
Acomb Library – 26th February 2015

Expect to see us at each branch library at least twice throughout 2015 and we’ll be advertising more dates throughout the year. Keep a look out for this eye catching poster in your local library to see when we’re next coming to you!

Look out for this poster in your local library!

Look out for this poster in your local library as it will include dates for each branch

From April 2015, you’ll also get a chance to see our popular WW1 pop-up banner exhibition as it tours the branches. Its currently upstairs in the foyer at York Explore Library so if you’re popping in, take a look. Check with your local library over the coming months and discover when its coming to you.

Our WW1 banner exhibition - coming soon to a branch near you!

Our WW1 banner exhibition – currently on the landing at York Explore

We look forward to meeting you all as we travel around the city and discover what York should remember!

The Archives need You! Get involved with the city’s heritage at York Explore

With the dawn of a new year comes the start of our new archive service, which is now up and running at the beautifully refurbished York Explore. If you haven’t already popped in to have a peek at what’s new, then maybe our upcoming events are the perfect excuse to get acquainted!

Residents Weekend is the ideal time to get a flavour of what our archives are and how you can get involved. On Saturday 31st January me and Sarah Tester will be on hand in the shiny new Local History room telling you all about the fantastic community collections we are working on as part of the HLF funded Gateway to History Project. We will be showing off our new online catalogue, which has been made publically available for the first time, and are looking forward to demonstrating how it works and answering your questions. We hope it will inspire you to begin your own journey into our collections!

On the day you will also be able to see some of the types of fascinating documents we have in our collections as well as have the chance to tell us ‘What Should York Remember?’. Your responses will help us to understand what is important about York to local people and make sure we are recording a balanced history of the city for all time. The feedback we gather will also form part of a exciting future project – so don’t miss your chance to make history with us!

If you can’t make it on Saturday then don’t forget that highlights from some of our newly catalogued collections are on our Community Collections Pinterest Board.

Pinterest

As if that wasn’t enough we are also pleased to announce that as part of the Gateway to History project that we are now taking bookings for our Gateway to Your Archives workshops. These are a series of one-day interactive workshops for local groups and organisations (ie. societies, groups, businesses, charities etc.) aimed at giving local people the help they need to create, manage and use their own archives. The workshops include lunch and refreshments and run from 10am-4pm at York Explore on the following dates:

Thursday 12th FebruaryFULLY BOOKED
Saturday 25th April
Thursday 9th July
Thursday 24th September
Saturday 24th October

Extra date added due to popular demand:
Thursday 19th February – LIMITED SPACES

Gateway to Your Archives Workshop Leaflet

Click here to see our Gateway to Your Archives workshop leaflet

Places are filling up fast so please book soon to avoid disappointment! You can do this by popping into your local library or by emailing sarah.tester@exploreyork.org.uk. If you need any more information or have a large group that cannot make any of the dates, please get in touch.

On top of that, we are also running a special one-off Gateway to Your Archives: Social Media and the Digital Environment workshop on the 19th March. If you think a representative from your organisation would like to attend, then please contact us for more details as spaces are limited.

Phew! We hope that you can join us at these events and more throughout the year, so make sure you stay tuned to our blog, Twitter and Facebook for all the latest updates.

See you there!

Something new is coming to Poppleton…

I’ve been quiet for a while on the blog, but we’ve had some fantastic posts from Francesca and Georgie,  keeping us all entertained!

Our new archive facility at York Explore Library will open on the 5th January, but how does this affect our branch libraries? I’m pleased to announce the launch of our latest pilot project with Poppleton History Society (PHS) which is  giving  us the opportunity to share archives and local history through our branch libraries in collaboration with a community partner.

The project started with PHS  approaching us and requesting to store and make accessible their archive collection in Poppleton Library. Initially there were concerns around whether we would have enough space, as Poppleton is one of our smaller branch libraries. The Society had purchased two filing cabinets to house their archive material and we agreed to put the cabinets in the Library asking them to  select items of local interest to go inside.

The Filing cabinets are in a great location in the library

The Filing cabinets look great in Poppleton Library!

We tasked PHS with cataloguing their own collection, as we felt they knew more about it than we did. I provided them with a box list template to make sure they captured the most important information. It was great to see them rise to the challenge and enjoy the process! They enjoyed it so much that three members of the society have been the first to book onto the Gateway to Your Archives  training workshops running next year (details to follow shortly).

PHS will be creating a display of their archive to spark visitors interest.

PHS will be creating a display of their archive to spark visitors interest.

We had no idea what material they had stored away in the garages and attics of their members but we were thrilled with what they came back to us with. The collection contains a wealth of information on the history of Poppleton especially relating to local schools and historic buildings, including the Tithe Barn. It also includes information on events and projects the Society have been involved with, in particular the themed historical banquets they run every year. The Society are currently transcribing a series of oral history recordings, and these will be made available as part of the collection over the coming months.

Justs a sample of the treasures waiting to be discovered in the archive

Justs a sample of the treasures waiting to be discovered in the archive

We held a fantastic launch event for this project a couple of weeks ago, everyone was so positive and pleased to see a new resource being made available in their local library. You can see all the photographs from the event on our Flickr page.

IMG_2107

Sarah at the launch event thanking PHS and Debbie, manager at Poppleton Library for their hard work on the project

This pilot is part of the HLF Gateway to History project and demonstrates new and innovative ways of sharing archives and local history with our branch libraries. We’ve now got a fantastic working relationship with PHS which will enable us to work more with them in the future.

Julian Crabb, Secretary of PHS shares his experiences working with Explore on this project

Julian Crabb, Secretary of PHS shares his experiences of working with Explore on this project

The Poppleton History Society Archive is now available in Poppleton Library for anyone to view. The collection is still owned by PHS so if you have any questions about the history of the village or the collection you can contact Julian Crabb, Secretary,  at  johnjcrabb@gmail.com.

Watch our website over the coming months as the catalogue for the PHS archive will be made available on the Poppleton Library page. Why not head over to Poppleton Library and take a look at the archive for yourself?

Exhibition extra! More local stories from the First World War in York

This week we launched our new First World War pop-up banners at the York Picture house to be displayed alongside the York Alternative History Group’s WW1 film season. Running until late November, our exhibition gives people a sneak peek into the York Explore archive collections and highlights documents relating to the impact the First World War had on York.

20140905_161426

You may have read in my last blog post that I was just beginning to pick out documents to display in the exhibition. This was a tough job as our archives contain so many interesting stories that it was very hard narrowing down the final documents to be displayed. However, I thought that if I could not fit them on to the banners, I would give them a blog post of their own! So here are a few exclusive exhibition extras…

muffinscrop2

muffins

muffinscrop1

1. Intriguingly titled “Muffins Business” this set of documents includes a letter from Reverend W.O.F. Campbell who asks the York Citizens Committee to help Misses Amelia and Annie Baker who owned a muffin and crumpet shop in Friargate. They were soon to be put out of business by the Food Restriction Orders which would ban the production of muffins and crumpets. Unfortunately, the Committee refused to help, fearing that if they put the case before the government they would be told that “the ladies must adjust the nature of their business to the new circumstances”.

newspapercrop

 

 

2. Here is a very telling newspaper article from our conscientious objector collection. It tells the story of a man “found drowned” after failing to obey military orders and later refusing to take part in work at the Home Office on conscientious grounds. Described by his fiancée as “extremely depressed” his story demonstrates the immense psychological and legal struggles objectors often went through to stand up for their beliefs.

 

 

3. Letters were sent to the Lord Mayor thanking him for sending serving men from York a box of chocolates for Christmas.postcard2 The letters came from a variety of locations and even included those at German prisoner of war camps like this postcard from Christopher Bridgewater, interred at Salzwedel Detention Camp in North Germany. The “Geprüft” stamp means that it was passed through censors whose job it was to check that letters did not contain compromising information.

You can have a sneak peek at other documents in our First World War collection on our pinterest board.

The Explore Archives First World War exhibition is displayed alongside The York Alternative History Group’s season of films which runs until November 24th at the York City Screen. Tickets can be booked on the York City Screen website.

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 (www.feelinginspired.co.uk). I’m looking forward to seeing you there!