2023 has been a huge year for the EHU Archive (and we have this blog to prove it!). Here’s a look back at the past twelve months in the archive…
We had our first archive stocktake in January, a lengthy but exciting process of going through everything we have and checking for repackaging, condition, if it needs cataloguing or digitising etc.
The exciting part of the stocktake is opening boxes you haven’t opened before. There were many excited gasps when we discovered past students’ thesis’, letters from students detailing their experiences at the college, a large book of watercolours of Edge Hill by a member of staff from the 60s, and much more!
We had a student volunteer, Anezka, start in February. Anezka was a huge help in the archive with tasks such as digitisation and indexing.
Research Catalyst held a public event in March. Research Catalyst is a research group working to develop collaborations and innovative research using the Edge Hill University archive.
There were three sections to the event. Firstly, a discussion and talk about the research I’ve been undertaking. The research project spans from 1885-1909 and I have been looking into the lives of early Edge Hill students who studied at the teacher training college in this time.
Secondly, an award ceremony for the winners of our Research Catalyst competition. The competition invited children, young people, and adults to respond creatively to items from the archive.
And thirdly, for the first time publicly, a screening of Professor Helen Newall’s film that brings to life a First World War diary by William Bradshaw we have in the archive, through animation of accompanying photographs. Members of Williams family were present, and it was lovely to see how touched they were by Helen’s film.
There was an exciting exhibition launch in April as 19th Century Studies student, Roy Bayfield used archival materials to research and curate ‘Diversions: Theatrical Performance at Edge Hill 1885-1933’, an exhibition examining theatrical performance at Edge Hill.
The archive curated a display case with items of use to Roy’s research, Helen Newall made a short film animating photographs of Edge Hill Students in theatrical performances, Dawn Summerlin made picture-accurate costumes to display for the exhibition, and The Art Centre hosted the event.
The archive held a Learning at Work Week session for staff sharing case studies from the Women in the Archive research.
Women in the Archive is a research project I have been undertaking since June 2022. The process began by using early student index cards as a foundation to research each individual student from 1985-1909. Three spreadsheets and 1600 students later and we have uncovered many stories relating to EHU’s early students!
Among the students discussed in the session was Annie Williams. Annie was an Edge Hill student (1893-94) and went on to be a Missionary in Assam, India. She survived drowning, as well as one of the largest and most damaging earthquakes in Indian history. “Every building in Shillong was levelled, and Annie, hurt by falling debris, only escaped by jumping through an aperture, formed in one of the walls of the house”. Annie ultimately died in India from Cholera two weeks before her 23rd birthday.
In June, the Guild had their annual reunion! ‘The Guild’ is the association for female students who studied at Edge Hill, mainly prior to the first male students arriving in 1959. The archive brought some photographs for them to help trigger memories and lots of stories were shared.
One of the past students shared a story relating to when Princess Margaret visited the college in 1963. She said the cleaning staff told them that they had been instructed to change the toilet to a pink one during Princess Margaret’s visit, and then change it back once she’d left. I have my suspicions someone was pulling their leg!
Perhaps the most exciting new addition to the archive this year was an 1885 autograph album from a student in the very first Edge Hill cohort. We now have ten autograph albums in total, although we call them Friendship Books as they were used to commemorate and celebrate the friendship of early Edge Hill students. The artwork and writing in this friendship book is breath-taking, and we invite you to take a look at it – as well as the others – on our online catalogue!
Another exciting archive addition came to us this August in the form of a tiny (seriously, its TINY) mug with the very first Edge Hill crest on it!
September was a busy month for us in the archive. We undertook a day of oral history training, and we look forward to interviewing people from Edge Hill’s past and present to hear their stories.
Dan, the archivist, was interviewed on BBC Radio Lancashire to talk about our new friendship book!
There were also sessions for staff to see the friendship book. It was so exciting for us to spread the word about something we’d been giddily looking over for the past couple of months!
A new student volunteer, Marie, began in October! Marie has been helping with various indexing and digitisation tasks.
Research Catalyst held an event at FACT in Liverpool as part of the Being Human festival. There were many talks during the day; Professor Alyson Brown gave a talk about the historical context for the ‘Women in the Archive’ research; Dan Copley discussed the archive and gave some case studies from the ‘Women in the Archive’ research; Helen screened her film about William Bradshaw’s diary and gave some insight regarding the making of the film; Graduate Teaching Assistant and PhD student, Grace Marks talked about the Friendship Books and how they play a part in her PHD; and, Dr. Christine Lewis discussed one of Edge Hill’s many incredible alumni, the human rights campaigner and suffragist Ethel Snowden, and her many triumphs.
And finally, we have the Times Higher Education Awards to look forward to! Edge Hill University’s Library and Learning Services have been nominated for the Outstanding Library award, with a particular focus this year on the work of the archive! Not only are we proud of this nomination, but of all our other achievements over the past twelve months that has led up to it.
By Jack Bennett, Archive Assistant