Annual campaign celebrates archives
The third annual Explore Your Archive campaign saw organisations across the UK and Ireland open their doors for a packed programme of events in November
Hundreds of archives, museums and galleries across the UK and Ireland opened their doors for the third annual Explore Your Archive week in November.
Beginning on Saturday 14 November and running for eight days, highlights from the programme included behind-the-scenes tours of the archives at London’s National Gallery, a First World War open day at North Lanarkshire Heritage Centre in Motherwell and an exhibition on food and drink at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon.
One of the most active participants was the York Explore Library Learning Centre, which has more than 800 years’ worth of records relating to the City of York.
During the campaign week, the centre hosted 21 events, including an exhibition of maps that were created by local college students, children’s storytelling sessions, and a variety of lectures.
However, York Explore’s Laura Yeoman said her personal highlight was a ‘DIY Archives Day’, which saw 28 volunteers take part in cataloguing items.
“Most of the participants had never engaged with the archives at all before,” she said. “Yet in the space of six hours they managed to catalogue 263 volumes and a further 22 years’ worth of local MP press files, which will shortly be added to our online catalogue.”
Intended to promote the role of archives within society and local communities, the annual Explore Your Archive campaign is managed jointly by The National Archives (TNA) and the Archives and Records Association.
Although full statistics were not available at the time of going to press, a TNA spokesperson told Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine that the week had been “very successful” in terms of social media activity.
On Twitter, the official campaign hashtag #explorearchives was tweeted more than 14,500 times, reaching approximately 25.9 million unique users – an increase of 47 per cent from last year.
A series of themed hashtags were also tweeted on different days of the campaign week, each of which entered Twitter’s UK list of trending topics.
On Friday 20 November, dozens of archives and museums tweeted pictures of animal-related artefacts in their collections with the hashtag #archiveanimals.
Among those joining in was Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, which posted a photograph of a mummified cat in its collections, as well as the Library of Birmingham Archives, which shared a picture of a dog drawn by chocolate magnate Richard Cadbury.
Although the campaign officially ended on Sunday 22 November, a number of participating organisations are continuing to hold events under the ‘Explore Your Archive’ banner into the New Year. For listings, visit the website exploreyourarchive.org.
National Gallery Research Centre staff welcomed visitors and shared their personal collection highlights