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!

When a ‘tache was for life, not just for Movember

It’s that time of year again when family members, colleagues and friends cast aside their regular grooming habits in aid of mens’ health charities and grow a moustache for Movember. This spectacular seems to be growing in popularity every year, offering men carte blanche to experiment with their facial hair without scaring off their nearest and dearest.

My dad has gone back to his trusted David Seamen tache from the 80s’, but looking around you can see a variety of styles, many evocative of a particular place or historical period.

So for today’s post I’m going to share with you a collection of moustaches from our fair city of York from 1880s-1920s. It’s interesting to see from the group photos when moustaches were ubiquitous, and when they were more about personal taste and expression.


Close-up from group Police photograph, c.1888

Let’s kick off with this recently re-discovered gem from the archive, which appears to show members of the York police force around 1888. Facial hair was most definitely “in” ! This is a wonderful photo, hopefully we will be able to be identify some of the individuals by cross referencing the numbers on their collars with other records we have in the civic archive.


Aldermen Dodsworth, Sheriff of York 1897

Here we have another York character, Aldermen Dodworth, Sherriff of York at the time. Complementing his chain of office he has cultivated a snazzy moustache as benefited a civic gentlemen.


Moustaches were not just for police and officials, here we have a great photo of workers from the Terry’s confectionery factory taken sometime in the early 1900s.  A couple of them are clearly too young to “Mo”.

Terry’s workers from the packing department at Clementhorpe, early 1900s


York has a strong tradition of amateur dramatics – these gents are dressed as royalist civil war soldiers for the 1909 historical pageant.

This is a bit of a cheat! It’s clearly not a photo of actual civil war royalist soldiers, but was taken at the highly successful 1909 York historical pageant. Clearly moustaches were seen as part of the necessary costume – I can’t quite tell which are real and which are fake (click to zoom in) but there seems to be a mixture.


Edward, Prince of Wales and the Lord Mayor in May 1923.

The ultimate accessory for both casual and formal scenarios, this image shows the Lord Mayor, a jeweller, dazzling Edward Prince of Wales with his majestic mo. I love how the Lord Mayor is taking up the red carpet, so the Prince has to walk along the edge!

That’s it for the archives this Movember, and remember you’ve just two days left to snap a picture of the mo’s around you this month to record for posterity before they disappear on the 1st of December. Let’s see if we can confuse historians of the future…