Friday, 30 August 2013

Last Day!

Well it is my last day today and what a year it has been. The time has flown by during which time I have met some lovely people, had the privilege of working with some wonderful material and learnt a lot about what is involved in running an archive service.

During my year I have
  • Done a display in the performance centre to accompany the Kneehigh performance of A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings
  • Completed a number of PowerPoint point displays for various events including the launch of the Gorsedh Kernow special collections launch, CSM reunion and 125th event and finally  the St Piran's day event.
  • Produced a resource list for students researching the history of Tremough Campus
  • Catalogued the Edwin Chirgwin Collection
  • Gone on a 3 day placement with a Records Management Unit in London
  • Created 2 exhibitions for the glass cabinet in the library: one for the special collection books and another for the 125th Anniversary of CSM
  • Research into the Grotto site on Campus
  • Audit of the archival stock
  • Orders for supplies
  • Digital Records course at Gloucestershire Archives
  • Presentation to staff on digital records
  • Assisted at a Public History day event
  • Measured and ordered book covers
  • Book Conservation course
  • Supervised volunteers and visitors
  • Visited St Ives Archive and University of Exeter Archive unit
  • Catalogued the Camborne School of Mines Journals putting them onto CALM
  • Answered enquiries
Just to name a few! This just emphasises the variety of work I have been lucky enough to be involved with.

It is going to seem very strange not to be here next week. I wish all the best to the new trainee and if they enjoy it half as much as I have, they will have a fabulous year.

So in Cornish style, Duw genes!

Thursday, 15 August 2013

A Records Management Placement

I arrived in London on the evening of Monday15th July to start a placement the following morning with a records management unit of one of the Royal Colleges. Having had very little experience of records management I was keen to try and get to grips with how the unit was set up and the policies and procedures in place to assist with the everyday running. As I am currently doing the records management module on my long distance course with Dundee, I had read a lot about the theoretical processes and ideas which should be applied and was keen to try and see these in practice.

Tuesday morning began with a short tour of the library and the three staff that work in the department as well as a quick look in the store room which was downstairs in the basement. This was quite remarkable as it was smaller than I had expected and the quantity of material within it was minimal, suggesting the records management system was working. There was even space on the shelves to put new consignments. I think my imagination had been working overtime as I was expecting a much larger space filled to the brim with records. One side of the room was given over to semi current storage and the other to archival material.

The semi-current storage
The room was kept fairly cold with an efficient air conditioning system keeping the temperature consistently low. Although the basement is not the best place for record storage, and is certainly not the recommended location within archival theory, office space, particularly in London, is at a premium and in house records management units are often allocated spaces which in an ideal world are not ideally suited. Having said that I did not notice any water pipes located within the space.The unit relies on an access database to enter items into the system as they are transferred and to identify specific lists of material should they be recalled by a department. All items transferred are accompanied by a transfer list which provides details of the authorising personnel, the quantity of material and its covering dates with a brief description accompanied by disposal and access restrictions. This is all entered into the system, the material packed into appropriate boxes and then locations are added to a separate excel sheet. As disposal dates approach the access database can be used to search files for the weeks review files or next months list of files due for review enabling the records manager to keep abreast of changing status of material. This provided an example of what can be done with relatively few resources as well as an interesting contrast to another records management of one of the Royal College's which I visited the next day.

The records manager there had been in post since 2011 having come from a high risk environment in a local authority which had a fully operational ERMS system in place. At the time there were very few systems in use. She was very quick to point out that although we have these lovely definitions of records as evidence of activity, a lot of what she does is actually information management. Information can be useful despite not necessarily strictly qualifying as a record. The example given was the large quantity of data sets which the College held as part of their research work. Whereas the normal approach may be to hold on to the final report and discard the research process documents, data sets have long term value and are therefore also kept.

As part of the Information technology team, the Archivist found her position within the organisational structure central to the activities of the organisation and consequently extremely beneficial to her role. There is good dialogue, but much of this is reliant on organisational culture - in fact she said she could not emphasise how important culture can be. As part of the IT team she found her position extremely useful as records were becoming more and more reliant on technology. It enabled early involvement from the moment of creation, rather than the traditional involvement as a record becomes semi-current and then archival, thereby offering a much more holistic approach to Information Management.

After her arrival in 2011 the records manager first began to establish an information management framework to meet issues surrounding risk. This was an important starting point and a good way of convincing management of the value of records management if you are able to highlight the potential risks of data protection penalties. A fine from the ICO of up to £500,000 can be a convincing argument with the emphasis on saving money and reputational damage. Policies were also written including an Information Governance policy, Data Protection policy and an Information Security policy. As reliability and integrity of a record are reliant on the security of that record this is a central issue for any records manager. This was followed up with classes on Data Protection and responsibilities of staff, which although time consuming were beneficial as staff got to know who she was. The College then started encrypting computers and memory sticks, again mitigating risk.

This visit providing a really interesting comparison between an organisation which was starting afresh with its records management program to that of an organisation with inherited systems and processes and not necessarily the organisational wide procedural framework. What did unite the two places was the need for good communication. You need to approach people in the right way to encourage participation rather than just force the point. The records manager at RCOG rejected using records management jargon as a means of communication emphasising the need for familiar and understandable language. This she maintained was imperative. If people don't want to cooperate then it makes your job a lot harder as they will become obstructive if you try and force the point. She advocated a soft approach emphasising the benefits of what you, as a service, can offer to your colleagues.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

The Grotto

With an increasing amount of interest in the history of the campus coupled with next years commemoration of the First and Second World War, the archive service have been preparing a  number of history projects for students of public history. One such project is based on the Grotto, which is located down by the gate house and is so tucked away that if you did not know it was there you would easily walk past without seeing it.

It consists of a star shaped pool which can still be seen, however, unfortunately due to damage the statues have had to be removed, but there were two of these depicting Our lady of the immaculate conception and St. Bernadette. The Grotto was consecrated by the Bishop of Plymouth in May 1944.

The Grotto was built by a number of American servicemen stationed here at Tremough during 1944, and their names are listed on a stone within the grotto. Unfortunately, it only gives the first letter of the Christian name so we are undertaking some preliminary enquiries to see if we can either find the names or find more information on what regiment the men came from. Initial investigation suggest it was the 97th Seabees Battalion of the United States Navy, however, research is still in its early stages. So watch this space!

Monday, 10 June 2013

Volunteers Day

This week we had a small get together to say thank you to all of our wonderful volunteers who so kindly give up there time to help us with the collections. It was deliberately arranged to coincide with volunteers week and our figures suggest that over the last year we have had 8 volunteers in all and they have clocked up a magnificent 200 hours.

This year particularly has seen a large amount of outreach activities and an increase in teaching sessions, which have all contributed to the service becoming increasingly busy. While this is encouraged as we want people to use the service, it means that in reality less time is available to spend working with the collections and completing those jobs which may be on the wish list, but unfortunately don't seem to get done.

This may be why volunteers are increasingly playing an important role in enabling organisations to get collections catalogued and therefore accessible to the public. CIPFA figures for 2006-2007 recorded 2136 volunteers working in Local Authority archives contributing a total of 188,333 hours
compared to a year later in 2007-2008 which stated 2742 volunteers contributing a total of 211,294 hours. A marked an increase of 22%.(1) The Archive sector update in August 2010 included a short article about a volunteering project at the University of Reading. This involved a collection of 608 boxes containing various contracts, documents and over 60,000 letters from a publishing house called Macmillan and Longman. The project started in January 2010 and is estimated to run for two years which gives a good indication of the time and effort involved, especially when you think that there are 20 volunteers taking part doing a minimum of half a day a week.(2)

We are then very grateful to our volunteers for all their help!


(1) Archive Services Statistics 2006-7 Actuals and Archive Services Statistics 2007-8

Actuals CIPFA, Quoted in Louise Ray, ' Volunteering in Archives: A Report for the National Council on Archives', June 2009, >[Accessed 7/6/2013]

(2) The National Archive, 'Archive Sector Update Autumn 2010' [Accessed 6/6/2013]

Tuesday, 14 May 2013


During the last few months the Archive Service has found themselves undertaking a large amount of outreach work. This has included a number of small exhibitions as well as participation in a public history event held on campus for the first time in March. Prior to the University's moving on to the Tremough site in 2004 it was a Convent school and before that Tremough house was a private residence. The estate has changed hands a number of times over the years and consequently records about Tremough are scarce or at least scattered in various locations. The Archive Service has numerous requests from students trying to find out about the history of the estate to inform projects that they are undertaking. Performance students are required to do a site specific piece on campus which often requires research into various aspects of Tremough. This curiosity is of course not just restricted to students, we also receive enquiries from external researchers. It was with this demand in mind that earlier this year we undertook the task to produce a Resource List to help guide researchers to the various organisations that currently hold records relevant to Tremough [see post 11th Jan 2013].

The opportunity to further this research was presented when interest was shown by the University of Exeter's Public History Course in organising an event in the form of a Public History Day. This was aimed at encouraging people who had connections to the school or other aspects of the site to come back and have a look around and re-connect with the place. Of course with anything like this you cannot predict how successful or how unsuccessful the day may be, but as it turned out there was an amazing amount of interest which just illustrates the strong human connection to places from the past.

Initially the Service's expectations of the day were minimal and it was largely seen as an opportunity to possibly begin discussions with people and allow them to put faces to the team, so that in the future we might be able to encourage donations of records relating to Tremough and in doing so enhance our understanding and ability to meet our users needs. Advocacy is something the Archive world is very familiar with. As Larry Hackman points out it is part of our core work, '...not an add-on or a 'nice to do' (1),  and so this was seen as part of what was going to be a long process of forming relationships with people who had connections to Tremough and learning about what records may exist, an excercise which proved to be very informative.

There were a number of items donated on the day which was certainly unexpected but very welcome. One lady bought a collection of items which had belonged to her father who had worked as head gardener on the estate. Others came to simply meet up and remember their experiences of the place and relive old memories. One such gentlemen had grown up on the Tremough Barton farm and remembered the soldiers who were billeted here during the war. Events like this provide a wonderful
platform for oral history so it was extremely useful to have CAVA (Cornish Audio Visual Archive) carrying out interviews with those who were willing to tell their stories and memories and allow them to be captured and recorded as a valuable source of information.

For me, though, the most valuable experience of the day was for the first time seeing Tremough in terms of a stage for all those personal stories and memories, rather than simply an historic house and grounds. Many former pupils of the convent school brought their children to show them where they had been taught. This importance of passing on information about your past and in so doing helping construct the identity and self worth of your children is interesting. It has been said that  'A sense of belonging and a sense of place are two important components of a person's sound metal health' (2). Archives can  and do play a very important role within that construction, a fact which has become well recognised with the huge growth in family history researchers, but also within social care professions (2).

Due to the success of the day it is planned that the event will be repeated next year and hopefully encourage more people to come and share their stories and records so that Tremough Campus does not lose its links to the past but is enriched by the experiences of those who came before.

(1) Larry Hackman, 'Love is Not Enough: Advocacy, Influence and the Development of Archives', Journal of the Society of Archivists', Vol 33, No.1, April 2012, pp9-21, p12.
(2) Judith Etherton, 'The Role of Archives in the Perception of Self', Journal of the Society of Archivists', Vol 27,No.2 October 2006, pp227-246, p227..

Monday, 22 April 2013

World Book Night

It is World Book Night tomorrow and to mark the occasion the library staff have got a number of novels to give away free to try and encourage people who would not normally read to pick up a book. The Archive service have put together a small display in one of the glass cabinets in the library to try and advertise and bring people's attention to some of the wonderful novels, both old and new, held in the special collections.  These are available for students to freely browse and include novels from Hollywood films taken from the Bill Douglas Collection to novels of Victorian Culture from the Chris Brooks Collection.

As you can see, titles are as diverse as Roy Rogers to The Brontes went to Woolworths! Here's hoping it inspires someone to explore the rolling stacks to find another gem of a story hidden away.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

The joys of research

One of the most enjoyable activities of this job is the research I get to do for people with enquiries which can range from family history to witty and amusing anecdotes for speeches, as has been the case this last week. The Camborne School of Mines Annual Dinner was held last week which also marked the 125th Anniversary and so I have been involved in helping various people find information for their speeches. During that research I have found some interesting little snippets and lively accounts, not just about student escapades, but staff aswell!

For instance did you know that CSM once unofficially adopted a rather scruffy, but charming little dog who took pride of place in the 1925 School photograph. He had somewhat mysteriously disappeared by the beginning of the new academic year, but it was reported that 'Old Ben' had been seen '...looking very forlorn, wearing a collar, with a Praa Sands address inscribed upon it.'

For all those students out there who complain about the habits of their house mates spare a thought for one 'Haughty Student' who wrote to the CSM magazine in March 1898 to complain about the antics of his landlady. Apparently, she had a partiality to corned beef and would eat the students stock and then 'conceal the delinquency by keeping up the level of the beef in the tin with the aid of bread put in from underneath, and who eats [his] sardines, and says they had to be "throwed away" because they had 'agone bad'.

One staff member in his early days as a student during the 1940s played a rugby match in Penzance for the school after which he and the wing forward went on a pub crawl. Some time later they clambered on board the student's motor cycle to return to Camborne. There they partook of 'one more' at the club before again mounting the bike and proceeding down the footpath which also happened to have a concrete post looming ahead. 'The pillion quaked in trepidation as to the width of the gap between post and wall. [The student] replied to his passenger in the usual way, by revving the engine, slipped the bike into gear and gave [a laugh] followed by 'we'll have to see'. The two remained friends so it would seem the bravado paid off, however during a more sober moment the gap was found to be just 2 inches wider than the handlebars!!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

The Art of Cataloguing

One of the central duties of an archivist is of course to facilitate access and this is largely acheived through a catalogue. This allows users to search and see exactly what material is held by a repository as well as providing some background detail or context about the person or organisation to whom the papers belong. The catalogue is structured rather like a family tree which should reflect the relationships between the documents. As a central element of the Archivist's role, I have been keen to get some experience of cataloguing and the different methods of achieving it. Therefore, during the last few months I have started cataloguing a small collection of material which is known as the Edwin Chirgwin Archive.

Edwin Chirgwin was a Cornishman born in 1892 in Newlyn and passed away in 1960. Throughout his life he was an ardent supporter of Cornish history, culture and language, writing poetry, stories, historical essays and giving lectures on these topics which so fascinated him. In 1932 he became a Bard of the Gorsedd of Cornwall and adopted the bardic name of Map Melyn (Son of the Mill).

The collection we have includes lecture notes and essays on the ethnographical make up of the Cornish people, the stone monuments of Cornwall, including Trethevy Cromlech and Boscawen-Un, as well as observations on churches and other historical subjects and folklore from within the County. There is also a significant amount of his poetry, but also stories written in the cornish dialect about local people and events that took place, although it is not always clear whether these are fictional accounts or true stories. There is a suggestion that at least some really happened as Chirgwin includes notes alluding to the fact that some characters at the time of writing were still alive.

Progress has been good with each item now entered onto the CALM database with a temporary running number. The next part of the process was to decide how the catalogue would be structured which is not without its issues when considering personal papers. If, for instance, you were dealing with an organisation, a provenance based structure reflecting the management hierarchy may be employed. This would begin with the organisation as a whole at the top e.g. Sweet Chocolate Company (known as the fonds or collection) and beneath that may be the Company Board and beneath that the various departments within the firm such as HR, finance department, marketing department etc. In some companies however, structures may have changed or may remain unknown. In that case a more functional structure may be adopted. This means rather than using the creating department as you would for a provenance based structure, you may use headings such as governance, sales and operations to arrange the collection. When applying this conundrum to personal papers the provenence is the creator which forms the fonds itself, therefore the supporting structure may well consist of functional groupings according to the persons different responsibilities or roles. The important thing is that the structure should best represent the person rather than an imposed order which has no meaning in context to the person.
With the Chirgwin papers it was unclear as to the source of the stories, many in Cornish dialect. Some referred to actual people, but it was not clear whether all the stories were true, old tales handed down from previous generations or entirely fictional. This meant our arrangement had to be carefully considered so as not to invent a new function for Chirgwin as a short story writer. Instead, we termed the material 'Accounts in Cornish Dialect' in an effort to avoid this, but also to encompass the possible variations as to the source of the stories. Another interesting issue for cataloguing was the fact that there was material in the Cornish language, and so to avoid making assumptions only minimal descriptions could be recorded. There was one record, a scrapbook, which did not appear to have any correlation with the rest of the material. After some deliberation as to where in the structure it should go we finally opted for it to remain separate under its format heading of scrapbook. Hence the final tree now has the following sub fonds: poetry, lectures, accounts in Cornish dialect, essays, translations and scrapbook. Although using format is not a recommended approach the item in question did not fit comfortably amongst the other groupings.

Many of the collections held at the Archive and Special Collections Department are fairly large and so it would be unlikely I would finish them before leaving in August. To be able to do a relatively small collection like this one has been really useful as it has enabled me to experience the full process from start to finish and to see the different considerations and issues that can arise.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Appraisal and the digital avalanche

Preservation of digital records has become one of the chief concerns for Archives everywhere and so it has been with interest that I began to look at this topic during my recent archive course module. One of the issues that has arisen is of course how to deal with the mass of digital material available which made me re-examine appraisal and the archival mission.

One of the contentious issues to arise and for which the profession has faced accusations of elitism during the last forty years, is its apparent failure to fully represent society . It was in 1970 that Howard Zinn addressed the Society of American Archivists and heavily critised current trends which saw the rich and powerful of society represented whilst the 'poor and impotent...[were condemned to]...archival obscurity'.(1) This was supported by other professionals including the President of the SAA, F. Gerald Ham. Ham stated the most important duty of the Archivist is to '...make an informed selection of information that will provide the future with a representative record of human experience in our time.'(2) He went on to question the very existence of the profession if '...we are not helping people understand the world they live in, and if this is not what archives is all about, then I do not know what it is we are doing that is all that important.'(3)

Writing in 2001 Johnston reported an improved situation in America but remained somewhat scathing of the situation in the UK. He suggested representation remained an issue which he attributed to the lack of debate in this country surrounding those actions which should encompas the archival mission, and went on to voice Ham's belief that for some in the profession the archival role remained a purely custodial one, as proposed by Jenkinson, and discussed in 'Appraisal To be or not to be', [Jan 24th]. (4) Whilst issues around representation have improved, appraisal has remained a necessary practice to prevent repositories becoming overun with material, a fact which is now further exacerbated by the digital issue.

So, with records threatening to swamp our repositories and with the lack of resources to inspect each file individually  in order that we may reflect fully the society we live in, how do we select archives and ensure adequate coverage is achieved.

Recently, I came across an article which put forward a fairly radical theory to address this very problem. It was by Robert Neumayer and Andreas Rauber of Vienna University of Technology, and was presented as a provocative position paper which certainly achieved its end, raising a number of interesting points and concerns. In essence it proposed that every nth record should be kept, a number dependant on the size of repository, and the rest discarded. The authors claim this would address representation by removing the Archivist's judgement of what should be selected for preservation, and in so doing, eradicate appraisal's natural inclination to favour dominant societal values.(5)

 In essence this returns to the Jenkinsonian premise of archival survival being guided by chance.  Whilst it seems to deal with the problem of mass, essentially it removes any responsibility of the Archivist in his/her role to represent society and make informed decisions about appraisal. It is this which the author's suggest will facilitate representation, however such a system can only be applied to the records which make it to the repository for selection which in no way ensures fair and equal representation.The profession has long struggled with how appraisal should be carried out and continues to search for the holy grail of standards or rules to guide the process. This is an attractive theory from this perspective, but also a troubling one. The Authors suggest random selection would deliver a high level of privacy protection, yet this is largely thanks to the imcomplete nature of the information. There is also that nagging doubt that whilst you may be preserving a rather nondescript invoice in the right hand, there is that ever present danger that in the left you throw away the Magna Carta of the future.

(1) Ian Johnston, 'Whose history is it anyway?',  Journal of the Society of Archivists, Vol. 22, No. 2 2001, p213.
(2) F. Gerald Ham, 'The Archival Edge', The American Archivist, January 1975, p1.
(3) Ham, p13.
(4) Ham,  'The Archival Edge', quoted in Johnston, 'Whose history is it anyway?',p216.
(5) Robert Neumayer and Andreas Rauber, 'Why Appraisal is not Utterly Useless and why it's not the Way to Go either.' [Accessed 18/2/2013]

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Appraisal: To be or not to be that is the question?

Previously, I mentioned a large amount of material from Falmouth University Marketing Department which had arrived following a clear out of old records (8th October, A Surprise). The quantity involved is substantial and so since then we have gradually been going through repackaging the items and listing them, but before any of this could be completed there is an important process for the material to go through, Appraisal.

Appraisal is the process of identifying '...the documents to be continuously preserved for an unlimited period of time.' (1) That is, a selection of records considered to be of value for long term preservation. It is then the action on which the development of an archive or collection is fundamentally reliant, so it is perhaps unsurprising that it has been described as the archivist's 'first responsibility'. (2) Yet, there are no hard and fast rules as to how to carry out appraisal. There is no step by step guide, rather it is something Archivists learn through practice and familiarity with records and their collections. With this in mind, it was a challenging task to be faced with the mountain of records and the decision as to what should be kept and what should be destroyed.

Archivists destroying material may seem an anathema of the purpose of the profession and yet the sheer quantity of records in existence today has made this decision necessary, indeed vital. It is a conundrum which has led the profession to struggle with this '..schizophrenic dilemma which we feel would not face us in the ideal world.' (3) This has been further exacerbated by the conflicting and deeply ingrained attitudes of past archival theorists; one of the first and leading theorists in the UK being Sir Hilary Jenkinson.

In 1922, Jenkinson's A Manual of Archive Administration was published exploring the issues around the management of a war archive following the First World War. In this work Jenkinson sought to explore the nature and characteristics of archives and subsequently the role of the archivist. He defined an archive as a document which

'...was drawn up or used in the course of an administrative or executive transaction (whether public or private) of which itself formed a part; and subsequently preserved in their own custody for their own information by the person or persons responsible for that transaction and their legitimate successors' (4)

This definition evolved from two important characteristics Jenkinson considered vital to the very nature of an archive: impartiality and authenticity. Authenticity was derived from the maintenance of an official custodial chain. Impartiality was, however, to place the onus of selection with the creator of the records and deny the Archivist any influence over selection of records or institutional policy. This would therefore maintain the neutrality of the Archivist so endowing the collection with the quality of impartiality and hence its value. The Archivist's role was confined to two main duties; the first was to protect these important archival qualities and the second to meet the needs of researchers and historians to the best of their ability. (5) Jenkinson firmly believed that the Archivist's role should be a passive one and it was this passivity which contributed towards the archival value of the records in their care.

Some years later, in America,  a man by the name of Theodore Schellenburg published his Modern Archives: Principles and Techniques (1956). Schellenburg recognised the mass of material was ever increasing and attempted to produce a system enabling selection of material in order to maintain the manageability of an archive. This he did through the application of value to the records; completely in opposition to Jenkinson. A record's primary value was related to its initial function and reason for production. In other words it had a use for its creator. The secondary value was its cultural and historical value to others and this was again broken down into two subsets: evidential and informational. Evidential value was the records ability as evidence of an organisations functions and structure, whereas informational value referred to the records content and how useful it would be for future historians and researchers. It was this secondary value which changed a record into an archive by necessitating its selection for long term preservation. (7) For Schellenburg the Archivist was an important participant in the process of selection, working with record creators to select and preserve those records deemed to embody secondary values.

With respect to Jenkinson, if I applied his theory to the University Records which the service has just received, then we would be bound to accept every document which the marketing department transferred. I would be unable to make any judgement as to whether a document was important enough to keep. Whilst this application of value systems is controversial it is inevitable. Postmodernism has shattered the idyll of an archive as a neutral record of the past. As Terry Cook succinctly stated 'We are What we Keep; We Keep What We Are'. (6) Any archive or archivist is a product of societal values and norms. If we follow Jenkinson's ideal, instead of keeping what we estimate to be 35-40 boxes of material, we would have to find storage for possibly 4-5 times that amount; much of which may be found in other repositories, for example large folders of newspaper articles or records from other companies such as marketing catalogues irrelevant to the institution's past.

So does this mean that available space is dictating what and how much is kept? I think every Archivist is aware of the amount of room available, after all space is finite; it will run out.However, even if we had space to save every record produced would we really choose to do so?

With that comes the difficulty of managing an unwieldy amount of material. Excessive records means increased storage and increased resources which may result in the neglect of other archival matter of greater significance or rarity. There are very few, if any, archive services who although carrying out appraisal, do not have a backlog of material waiting to be catalogued. Imagine the situation if appraisal was considered unprofessional, even unethical and everything deposited was kept regardless. Schellenburg's secondary value is a pragmatic approach to what was becoming a real issue at the time, that is the quantity of material; however, the application of value is in direct conflict with the attributed characteristics of archival material and hence archival theory unless, as Duranti points out, use becomes the qualifying element. (8) This idea that archivists should try to predict future research topics and essentially react to the changing needs of historical scholarship has been heavily criticised within the profession ever since Jenkinson (9). It is then of little wonder that appraisal remains such a controversial and unsettled issue.

How would you choose which records should be kept?

1 Luciana Duranti,'The Concept of Appraisal and Archival Theory', American Archivist, 57 (Spring 1994)328-344 p329.
2 Helen Samuels and Richard Cox, 'The Archivist's First Responsibility: A Research Agenda to Improve the identification and retention of Records of Enduring Value,'American Archivist 51 (Winter-Spring 1988) quoted in Terry Cook, 'We Are What We Keep; We Keep What We Are': Archival Appraisal Past, Present and Future, Journal of the Society of Archivists, 32, 2, (October 2011) 173-189, p174.
3 Felix Hull, 'The Appraisal of documents - problems and pitfalls', Journal of the Society of Archivists, 6, 5, (1980) 287-290, p287.
4 Jenkinson, Hilary, A Manual of Archive Administration, (Oxford: Clarendon 1922) p11.
5 Jenkinson, A Manual of Archive Administration, p15.
6 Terry Cook,'We Are What We Keep; We keep What We Are': Archival Appraisal Past, Present and Future, Journal of the Society of Archivists, 32, 2, (October 2011) 173-189.
7 Reto Tschan, 'A Comparison of Jenkinson and Schellenburg on Appraisal', The American Archivist, 65, (fall/winter 2002) p176-195.
8 Duranti,'The Concept of Appraisal and Archival Theory',p339.
9 Jenkinson, A Manual of Archive Administration, p22. F. Gerald Ham, 'The Archival Edge', The American Archivist', Vol 38, No.1, (1975), pp5-13.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Tremough Estate Resource List

The Archive and Special Collections Service sometimes get enquiries asking about information on the history of the Tremough Campus. Until recently, due to the fact there is minimal information within the service collections, people have been directed to other local repositories, without any real knowledge of what resources may be there. Therefore, it was decided that a resource list should be compiled to show what sources exist and where they can be found.

Consequently, over the last couple of months, various local organisations and archives were contacted to find out what material they had relevant to the estate. This involved visits to The Royal Polytechnic Society History Group and Cornwall Records Office, as well as assistance from a number of other local organisations such as The Cornish Studies Library, Penryn Museum and The Royal Cornwall Museum. Newpaper articles, archaeological reports, books, images and maps were just some of the records found which helped to tell us something about the inhabitants of Tremough House. One such man was Benjamin Cloak, whose uncle was Benjamin Sampson, owner of Kennal Vale Gunpowder Company. When Sampson died, Cloak was the main beneficiary with the proviso that he would change his name to Sampson. Consequently, he became a very wealthy man and some time later bought Tremough.

(C) Archives & Special Collections Service
It would seem that Sampson was not the most financially able of individuals and relied heavily on his attorney, William Shilson; so much so that when Sampson died without an heir, Shilson inherited the estate. Unsurprisingly, the will was challenged and so Shilson did not take possession until 6 years after Sampson's death. Interestingly, Shilson already had ties to the Penryn area and Tremough having attended the Belle Vue Academy as a young man. (1) This academy opened at Tremough on the 21st January 1799 with the intention of educating 25 young gentlemen ' the most useful branches of Classical and Mathematical Knowledge..' for the grand old sum of 25 guineas per annum. (2) By the time Shilson enrolled it had relocated within the town, but Tremough as an educational establishment is a theme which has reverberated throughout its history.

William was a very active man involved with many local organisations and groups, particularly within horticultural circles. He had been a patron and president of The Royal Cornwall Infirmary, he was on the board of Lostwithiel and Fowey Railway, member of the St. Austell Cottage Garden Society, Perran-Wharf Horticultural Society, and Royal Cornwall Agricultural Society to name a few. It is unsurprising that it was during Shilson's ownership of Tremough that the estate gained its reputation for rhododendrons under the expertise of the gardener at the time, Richard Gill. Indeed, Rhododendrons from Tremough even found themselves donated and relocated to Kew Gardens. Unfortunately, Shilson died in 1875, only 5 years after he took over the estate leaving Ann, his wife, who remained at Tremough until her death in 1896. They are both buried in Mabe Parish Church graveyard.

Certainly, this exercise has shown the power of archives to contribute towards our perception and understanding of place. A knowledge of the history and development of a site and those who have lived and worked there facilitates the process of place making and our understanding of sense of place.

(1) Margaret Grose & Shiona King, Tremough, Penryn: The Historic Estate, (Truro, M.H. Grose & G.M. Grose, 2003)
(2)Classified ads . Sun (London, England), Wednesday, January 2, 1799; Issue 1959
British Newspapers 1600-1900, [Accessed 20th Dec 2012]