Curatorial Traineeship Placements

Posted by in General Collections, Placement

Dundee University's Medical Archives

Dundee University’s Medical Archives

We collections trainees (Lynsey, Alison, Kayleigh, Louise, Bruce and I) are in the middle of our two week long placements.  Each of us are at different archives. I am at the Dundee University Archives in the office of Archive, Records Management and Museum Services.  The collections relate to the University and mostly to organisations in the Tayside area.  Material in the archives include extensive material from Dundee’s famous Jute and Linen Industry.  There is also the NHS Tayside archives containing fascinating records from many hospitals and various other institutions.  I am really enjoying the opportunity to work with these collections and to work alongside the archivists at this special archive.

Lynsey is based at Edinburgh University library which looks after numerous collections, including the Edinburgh College of Art archive.  Lynsey is specifically cataloguing external relations material which includes sorting through files from every year of the art and architectural degree exhibitions and fashion shows.  This entails cataloguing not only paper documents, such as degree show catalogues, posters, leaflets and invitations but other paraphernalia like badges, t-shirts, and carrier bags. Sounds like this is an interesting as well as visually pleasing archive!

Alison is at Callendar House, Falkirk, working in a beautiful Georgian house.  The Falkirk Council archives hold all the local archives from church records to items of general interest. The search room is very unusual for a council archive.  A rope separates the archives from the public providing a truly integrated museum experience for both visitors and the archivists.  Alison is really enjoying spending time here and cataloging some of the brilliant items they hold.

Kayleigh is at the West Lothian Archives and Records Centre.  She has been given work from the Livingston Development Corporation, which was set up to create Livingston, Scotland’s fourth new town.  She is listing the contents of 16 cabinets of architectural and engineering plans, whilst learning about the history of the area.

Louise is on placement at the Heritage Hub in Hawick, home to the Scottish Borders Archive.  She is enjoying cataloguing material relating to the local knitting industry, in particular the Peter Scott & Co. collection.  Louise has been re-housing documents relating to the company’s production during the two World Wars and it’s expansion as one of Scotland’s best known exporters of knitwear.  She has also been working alongside members of staff  to help people in the search room trace their genealogy, using Scotland’s People and local records.

Bruce has been enjoying the first week at Perth and Kinross Council Archive.  Here, he has been filing and assisting with public enquiries and was even able to answer a query by directing a member of the public to a Canmore site.  He was successful in answering a query about a property sale after looking through 50 years of valuation rolls and committee notes from the late nineteenth century.  Bruce is now looking forward to working on specific projects which will hopefully see him adding new items onto the catalogue next week.

The placements are a really important part of the traineeship.  Our one year traineeship focuses primarily on cataloguing and re-housing the different collections at RCAHMS.  This entails working with RCAHMS fascinating collections in the main store but does mean we don’t get out much!  The placements are a great way for us to gain experience from different archives and gives us the opportunity to try out different databases and meet new people.   At the end of our placement we will share our experiences by producing a report and presentation on the skills we gained.