A lot of the time up to the beginning of October was spent researching (search being the operative word) for information about Wood Hall, which was situated in Reddish. A community excavation organised by Dig Greater Manchester (DGM) and managed by the Centre for Applied Archaeology at the University of Salford gave all of the HLF trainees a chance to work on a community involvement project. As touched upon above, there is not much documentation on Wood Hall other than census records which show the inhabitants. Indeed, no known photographs or paintings of the hall exist, the only object in the collection directly including Wood Hall being a negative plate showing ‘A view of Stockport’. There are however some photographs of Wood Hall Farm and similar census records which show the inhabitants. Volunteers and school groups were to be involved in the dig, and so I created some interpretation in the form of posters and a timeline.
The posters showed images of objects in the collection, relating to the farming industry. These objects may well have been used at Wood Hall Farm. The timeline showed key dates in the history of Wood Hall and Wood Hall Farm as well as the Reddish area; and I put this into context by showing key dates and world events.
These can be handed to school groups, and can be used as background information for volunteers and other visitors to the site. The Libraries and Archives trainees produced a report about the history of Wood Hall and Reddish, using records and other sources – which is also available to read at the site.
The actual dig commenced on Monday 8th October, and will continue for two weeks – leading up to an Open Day at the site on the 20th October. I will create a new post with images from my day of digging once I am up to date with my blogging….
Another project I have been working on is to catalogue the documentation belonging to Stockport Heritage Trust. There are many files worth of research and reference documents at the Heritage Centre, with no way of searching for a specific item or area of interest. With my new experience of using MODES and cataloguing objects, this is a good challenge for me to manage. I immediately saw creating a database with Access or Excel as problematic; with visions of accidental deletions and various copies having to be made due to maximum document sizes… So I searched the internet and quickly found a free database, specifically created for museums and archives by a man named Jim Halpin. This database is called Museum Archive Software (MusArch for short), and can be found at www.musarch.com. It was decided that this was worth downloading and using to catalogue all of the documents in the Trust’s collection. To start with, it will be trial and error of how to configure the database in a way that works for the Trust and those searching for records. I have changed the numbering system I originally started using, and will also have to alter the descriptions of objects. This will be a long task, one which I cannot see through to the end due to my 12-month contract coming to an end in June – but can certainly help establish and create easy guildelines for volunteers to use so they can continue to document the reference collection. Here are some initial screenshots from the software.
Another recent task I helped with was to empty a case at Vernon Park Museum with Janny. Maintenance work which involved the inside of the WWII case meant all of the objects from had to be decanted, packaged up and taken back to the heritage stores.
A week later when the work was complete we were able to take the objects back to Vernon Park and re-display the items – which ranged from stockings to a fire log book – in the case. Vernon Park Museum is a lovely, traditional museum with fascinating displays of objects. I had never visited before, and realised that I have missed out by not doing so!
Finally, another of the projects I have started (but may have mentioned in an earlier post) is to document the reference material in the Hatting Information Lounge. At the end of September I started to rifle through box 24 and add records to the reference catalogue on MODES. When discussing how to go about this project, Katie and Nicola decided that there should be a system of recording each type of document: those with entry forms, those without, original delicate objects, photographs, books, photocopies of documents or photographs etc. Each document has a HIL number, and this will eventually make it a lot easier to use resources as we will know where certain documents are and can assist people with their enquiries in a more organised way.