The Heritage Bulletin Blog ran from July 2012 to January 2020, covering a huge range of subjects, from a day in the archives, to extracts from the WVS bulletins, and histories of various WVS/WRVS services.
It’s 219 articles have become a valuable resource in themselves, why not search them or just browse to discover something new.
Or even the fifteenth
century if you count the commonplace book which emerged as a way to compile
information such as sketches, poems, documents, recipes, etc. sound familiar?
Pinterest is a web and mobile app, founded in 2009, to
enable people to find and collect ideas on various topics. Royal Voluntary
Service has its own boards including preserve and bread making and you can find
and pin many posts about WVS or WRVS on the site. However this blog isn’t about
our history or records on Pinterest; it’s once again time to think what did we
do before the internet. How did we collect memories, images and news stories to
inspire others and create a record of our own interests? We created scrapbooks
is a method for preserving, presenting and arranging personal and family
history in the form of a book. Typical memorabilia includes photographs,
printed media, and artwork. In the twentieth century WVS/WRVS centres and
services made scrapbooks to record their work in a more personal and less
official way than the Narrative Report they produced monthly. Of course some of
these have made their way to the Archive shelves included in local office
collections or as personal donations to the collection. Like any other
traditional archive item they need to be preserved but also made accessible
here are some of the issues faced by archivists when caring for scrapbooks.
One of the major issues we face is how to preserve scrapbooks
which have usually been created using the enemies of the archivists; glue,
sellotape and paper full of acid I could go on but there isn’t enough
time. The major issue when preserving a
scrapbook is its condition. When it has just arrived in your collection you
look inside and some things have come loose. You have to think about how you
put it back/mark where it originally belonged; perhaps some corn starch glue of
a paper clip but it must be reversible. The book itself may also be fragile and
you should handle it carefully proper storage can help with this acid free
paper, folders and boxes can be a good start. The condition of scrapbooks may
also deteriorate where it contains materials which can cause damage in the
future, there are conservation treatments available however in terms of
preservation we must constantly monitor the condition of our archives. We do a
very good job here at Royal Voluntary Service the memories of service users and
volunteers carefully preserved. Today being an archivist appears to be like standing
in the middle of a seesaw and trying to balance it perfectly on one side sits preservation,
on the other access.
Scrapbooks are a unique way for showing current and future
generations the ideas and activities of people in the past while Pinterest
boards and digital scrapbooks are easily accessible (for the moment) archived physical
scrapbooks often sit on shelves and access means visiting the archive. You may
ask why don’t we just catalogue and digitise these collections however there is
a major issue here, copyright.
Scrapbooks are often compiled using many different sources
of course the creator but then they may have used newspaper articles,
publications and other documents whose copyright belongs to someone else so
before they can be made publically accessible in a digital format we’d need to
gain permission from several different people. Here many of our scrapbooks
contents will still be in copyright because are collection is a very modern one
(in terms of history). This isn’t the only barrier there is also the question
of how this would be hosted and maintained as some digital formats become
obsolete but of course were archivists I’m sure we could find a solution.
Perhaps a national project called save our scrapbooks (inspired by save our
sounds of course) a campaign to preserve these unique insights into history and
make them more accessible.
Obviously all traditional archives have similar issues which
we have to apply expertise to. As archivists we preserve scrapbooks in our
collection and find ways to allow the public access to them. However In the
twenty-first century we must also ask how we do this and do we need to start
focusing digital equivalents such as Pinterest or even people’s own artwork on
their home computers? But this is a blog for another day.