We recently delivered archive training in Liverpool for members of the History of Place volunteer research group and members of Mencap Liverpool.
The morning session was for members on the Liverpool Volunteer Research and Archive Group. The training was delivered by the project Archivist Beth Astridge and took place at the Royal School for the Blind, Liverpool. This was the first time the volunteers had visited the school and accessed material from the archive and they were excited to see some of the objects they had heard so much about.
The school were welcoming and allowed Beth to arrive early and remove key objects from the archive to use in training. The objects Beth had selected included documents specific to our ongoing research so volunteers were able to investigate answers to their own questions plus other important objects such as the ‘our evacuation’ diary, minute books and photographs.
We really enjoyed exploring the archives whilst receiving advice on how archives work. The training provided us with a clear understanding of what archives are, what they contain, why they are important and specific understanding of what the school archive contains and its current state.
The afternoon session was for members of Mencap Liverpool to give them an understanding on what an archive is and help them think about the creative ways they could use their own collection of objects.
The session was designed to give members a basic understanding of what an archive is, some information about History of Place and the Royal School for the Blind, including looking at copies of the material held in their archive, and a craft activity to engage participants with archive material. Members had brought along objects from their own archive such as a banner, photographs, signs and paperwork. Members discussed how offended and upset they were with seeing words like ‘handicapped’ within their archive
The group then responded creatively by using some of the material we had brought along to create a newspaper based on the school or to consider what could be held in their own personal archive. The majority of members chose to write about their own archive and lives as a form of expression and memory sharing. Each member read aloud their work and the group asked them questions.
We discovered that one of the members had carried the Olympic torch, a couple of members described school life and all shared their interests and information about their daily life. A common theme from within their ‘archive’ was oppression and harassment and how Mencap Liverpool had enabled them to find a safe space, make friends and take part in new experiences. Thank you to the Royal School for the Blind, Liverpool for hosting our morning session and to Mencap Liverpool members for an engaging afternoon session.