I was lucky enough to work as a researcher on Newcastle University’s Archive scoping project, and got to spend days on end exploring and mapping archival materials held in the Northumberland Archive at Woodhorn (above), the Tyne and Wear Archives, Newcastle City Library and Newcastle Literary and Philosophical Society.
The project indulged all of my research interests enabling me, as a local girl, to dig through Newcastle’s history but also to think about the value of the archives for local people. It started me thinking about the importance of place in the archive and coloured my own thinking about the evolution of regional and national identities, something which I touched on with my Storm Jameson project.
The project was sponsored by Newcastle University’s Gender Research Group and the Group for Medieval and Early Modern Studies and led to the production of a resource detailing not only the holdings of collections throughout the North-East but also crucial tips on access and use of archives for young researchers and students.
This work informed a range of projects, cementing my love of archive work (and the North-East!) but also allowing me to think about ways of encouraging the public, and particularly undergraduate and postgraduate students, to get into archives. It led to a successful bid to the Arts and Humanities Research Council to train postgraduates in the use of archives and then to send them out to local schools to show the materials to pupils and make films about their responses. The films were shown in a public screening at the Tyneside Cinema in July 2014.