Saturday, 12 November 2011

At the Town Archives (FMTSO: Letter A)


Normally I take part in Friday My Town Shoot Out from my Picture Book blog. Yesterday however was not a normal Friday. For one thing I was away from home most of the day; and for another I couldn’t think of Anything At All to do with The Letter A, which was the theme for this week’s Shoot Out

But then today it was Open House at our Town Archives, which suddenly struck me as an acceptable A-word. So I decided to link to FMTSO from here even though it’s both the wrong day and the wrong blog. Daring, but I hope we shall all survive!

(I’m putting the post on this blog because my own private complicated archiving system tells me that’s the best place for it.)

The photo is from the Town Archives’ Research Hall, which is really just the Anteroom to the bigger labyrinth of the archives. Normally when you visit, you ask an archivist for the article you want, and it is they who will enter the Chamber of Secrets* or Department of Mysteries* to get it out for you.

Today at Open House however they also had guided tours into the Restricted Section* (the actual archives). For some reason though I forgot to take pictures in there. Maybe they cast some kind of memory spell* on you when you enter!

[* Sorry for all the Harry Potter references. I’ve been watching HP films seven nights in a row; still waiting for the eighth.]

One of the things I learned from the visit today is that our town was one of the first in the country to establish a Town Archive.

Besides records (and photos) of the development and decisions of the town, they also keep for example original copies of the local newspaper, and certain court records etc. They also provide archive space for non-profit organizations, societies and clubs. And even some ‘private’ collections.

One of the reasons why I wanted to take the opportunity to learn a bit more about this place was that I’m hoping they might also want to take in some of the local history research notes left by my granddad and dad. On an occasion like this I could of course only ask general questions, but I think it might be worth pursuing.




  1. we have one here, but it is called the historical society library and has been there for a hundred years. you have quite a few A's here and i think we will survive the wrong day, wrong blog and i love it. there is no LAW that says where when and what day.

  2. Ooh - fascinating place! (And I enjoyed the HP references...)

  3. Well, this is very cool, and I love your Potter references. Department Of Mysteries makes the whole post mysterious! So did you research anything while there?

  4. No Ginny, I did not research anything - only learned about what kind of records it is they keep there.

  5. A perfect topic for the Letter A. As you went to learn something I'd say it's better that you listened rather than take photos. I, for one, can't do both at once.

    Wrong blog, wrong day? Who says? (There's still a little of the rebel left in these old bones!)

  6. Excellent choice. Archives are full of the best stories - real ones!

  7. Nice interpretation of the theme. Loved the HP references.

  8. Pauline, there was a little archive irony hinted at with the wrong blog, wrong day... ;) I used to work as a secretary, keeping things in place!

    You're right about listening vs taking photos. When I take the role of photographer I focus on the visual impression. So I guess when I'm interested enough in a lecture or conversation, I tend to forget about the camera.

  9. Needless to say, as an ex-libraraian I would have loved to accompany you - even if I would have needed it all translating. I think it's a great letter A and don't mind when it was posted.

    (I'm glad to know you are a Wodehouse fan as well. Gussie Fink-Nottle and Lord Emsworth are among my favourite characters.)

  10. I love libraries, and how cool that you were able to tour the archives.

    When we were in Ireland a few years back we visited the library of Trinity College, which is where the Harry Potter library sequences ere filmed: wonderful!

  11. I would have thought that such a place would be an ideal repository for your family's local history notes. It would be good if they could be of use to others.

    I must go back and re-view the HP films I have seen and then start the ones I've not seen. I was in the DVD hire shop today and they had a large display of them. They are terribly dark towards the end though are they not? Leastways they seem to be.

  12. Forgot to click follow-up!

  13. Kerry - Lucky you! ;) My family travelled almost all over Britain in my teens but we never got to Ireland.

    Graham - Sounds like a good idea to start over with the HP films to have the earlier ones fresh in memory when you get to the later ones. It's all one story and yes it does get darker. But also focus on friendship, loyalty, courage and hope; and a lot of humour in details. The last four books are thicker than the first three. Some of the later films I think suffer a little from having to densify the story. Knowing the books inside out before I saw the films, it is hard for me to judge how it all might appear to someone who did not read the books. But seeing the films again all in a row now also brought home some points... seeing the young actors growing up along with their film characters enhances the message of the story.


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