Explore Your Archive: Exploring our heritage

Over the last 5 days we’ve joined archives across the UK to celebrate our collections and activities as part of Explore Your Archive week.

Our journey has taken us through battles for basic rights, to the ways in which our rights and responsibilities have been formalised.  We’ve seen hardship and the search for meaning captured in prose and song.  We’ve heard from those who help us uncover and share the richness of our collections, and about ways in which this material can inspire the creation of something new. Continue reading

Explore Your Archive: Scalding swine and casting bones

Today we’re used to different tiers of government.  Archives provide insight into times when rights and responsibilities for ordinary people weren’t always as straightforward.

The ‘Red Books’ of Gloucester Borough were created by the Mayor and burgesses and contain details of the various decisions, acts and ordnances made by the borough for governing the city.  They provide a great insight about the governance of the local population and how the daily life of the city was administered by a wealth of eclectic by-laws. Continue reading

Explore Your Archive: Inspirational archives

Because archives are frequently top-heavy with records created by officialdom, it’s easy to lose sight of the amazing things that can be found.

Image of 16th century music manuscript

Illuminated notation, used as cover of manor court book [D4289/M1]

Taking music as one example, we have a hugely diverse range of records.  One interesting piece is an illuminated fragment of medieval religious music from the 1400s that was re-used as the cover of a manorial court book in the 1500s. Continue reading

Explore Your Archive: Exploring together

We’re constantly amazed by the dedication, time and energy our volunteers bring to helping us gather, keep and share the documented heritage of Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire, and often by the things they find too!

One group from Cheltenham have been visiting us regularly, for more than a year. They’re steadily working their way through a collection of solicitors’ papers, adding information to enhance our catalogue. We asked two of the group’s members what they get from this role: Continue reading

Explore Your Archive: Working for rights

People in the past had to fight for many of the rights we take for granted today, although the battles they chose and the way they fought depended on their individual circumstances.

For suffragettes like Mary Blathwayt – daughter of a prominent South Gloucestershire family, active member of the Women’s Social and Political Union, and dedicated diarist – speaking at a rally in Bristol in 1909 brought particular dangers: Continue reading

Explore Your Archive: Inhuman Traffic

“Nothing can be more shocking to Human Nature than the case of a Man or Woman who is delivered into the absolute Power of Strangers to be treated according to the New Masters Will & pleasure; for they have nothing but misery to expect” [D3549]

These words were written by anti-slavery campaigner Granville Sharp who, after a chance meeting with a young slave called Jonathan Strong in 1765, committed himself to the campaign to stop what he referred to as “the inhuman Traffic”. Continue reading

Explore Your Archive 2015

explore-your-archive-primary-message-largeThe Explore Your Archive campaign – led by The National Archives and the Archives and Records Association – runs once a year to increase public awareness of the role of archives in society, to celebrate our collections and to emphasise the skills and professionalism in the sector.

This year Explore Your Archive runs from 14th to 22nd November. As it’s the Magna Carta’s 800th anniversary year, many archives services across the UK will be reflecting on the development of democracy and rights in general, through events and activities. Continue reading