Monday 31 August 2009

Society of Archivists Conference, 2009

The annual conference of the Society of Archivists (SoA) takes place in Bristol this week and both Pat and Caroline are scheduled to speak.

Pat's paper, Employer v Society: Ethics and morality in the workplace environment, is at 11am on Thursday 3 September and develops ideas first presented at the conference of the Association of Canadian Archivists earlier this year. Caroline gives a paper entitled Let's not be Luddites: Why the digital future is our past and present as part of the conference conclusions at 12pm on Friday 4 September. They are also involved in the FARMER Colloquium on Education and Continuing Professional Development for records professionals at 9am on the 4th.

Chris is attending the conference as a delegate. If you're interested in his research please take the chance to speak to him.

The SoA have made an effort this year to make information about the conference available online. The conference blog is available here and the official conference twitter feed is available here or by following @SoAConference09 from your own twitter account. Pat and Caroline, like many other delegates, will also be using twitter to share their thoughts as the conference progresses via our twitter account, @CAIS_Archives. The agreed hashtag for the conference is '#soa09'. You can use twitter search to look for that, or there's an account that's been set up on twapperkeeper to store all the tweets with that tag. We would like to encourage anyone attending or commenting on the conference to use 'soa09' as a tag for blog posts too so that information about, and responses to, the event can be aggregated later.

Friday 28 August 2009

Project blog

Chris launches the blog for his project 'Practical Approaches to Identifying, Preserving, and Providing Access to Electronic Records' today. He will be using Practical E-Records to share ideas and raise issues as his research develops during the year that the project takes place. He's already posted lots of information about the project on his blog and in an earlier post here.

Thursday 27 August 2009

Reflections of a Masters student

I’m posting the following on behalf of our colleague Durham who is working with ARMMS whilst studying for his Masters degree in Archives and Records Management with CAIS.


I started working for Archive Services at the University of Dundee in 2008 and enrolled on the Centre for Archive and Information Studies’ Masters programme in Archives and Records Management by Distance Learning in September of that year. I’ve completed three courses so far (and my first year on the programme) and have studied topics such as archival theory, access and preservation issues and the ethics of record keeping. I am about to begin my fourth course which is about information legislation such as the Freedom of Information and Data Protection Acts. The past year has seen me having to learn to juggle the pressures of work whilst coping with the demands of study. It’s a challenge I wouldn’t have missed for the world.

Given the way that the programme combines theory and practice, I’ve found working and studying at the same time to be an invaluable experience and one that has been highly beneficial to my personal and professional development. Being able to study theoretical issues and apply them to a working environment has allowed me to not only consolidate my learning but, crucially, place it within a practical context. It is an approach that has directly informed my work based practice and has allowed me to develop working competencies across a range of professional responsibilities including, for example, cataloguing and archival description. I am looking forward to continuing with my studies, further developing my skill set across a range of new subject areas and, at the same time, expanding my understanding of the profession and broadening my awareness of the demands that are placed on those working within the field.

Monday 24 August 2009

Zoology Museum Blogger

One of the sites that Museum Services helps to look after is the D'Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum in the Carnelley Building. Currently open to the public every Friday afternoon, we also open by appointment for those not able to make it on a Friday. The other week we had a particularly enthusiastic young bone collector along who then wrote about the visit on his own blog - so I'll let him do my blogging for me:

At his current rate Jake's collection will be bigger than ours soon!

Thursday 20 August 2009

Welcome Visiting Scholar Chris Prom

The Archives, Records and Artefacts blog welcomes new poster Chris Prom, who is visiting ARMMS and CAIS under a Fulbright Distinguished Scholar Award. Chris will be with us through early June 2010 and is sponsored by the US-UK Fulbright Commission, the Council for International Exchange of Scholars and the Centre for Archive and Information Studies at the University of Dundee.

Chris will be leading a research project concerning "Practical Approaches to Identifying, Preserving, and Providing Access to Electronic Records." He is undertaking this project whilst on sabbatical from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he is Assistant University Archivist and Associate Professor of Library Administration. Chris also holds an appointment with the University of Illinois' Graduate School of Library and Information Science, where he is Adjunct Associate Professor of Library Administration and where he teaches a distance-learning course concerning the administration and use of archives.

Here is Chris's first post:

"I'm thrilled to be visiting ARMMS and CAIS for the next 10 months. My project is intended to test some of the software and conceptual approaches that have been developed for working with 'born-digital' records having archival value. There are many tools to identify and test, and I have much to learn since this is a bit of a new area for me."

"I think ARMMS and CAIS will be great sponsors. My colleagues here are keyed into the electronic records work being completed in the UK and elsewhere. The CAIS program puts them in touch with the practical needs for archival education as well as a ready supply of students who will bring their own ideas and thoughts to the table. Finding easy and effective ways to work with electronic materials are issue number one for current and future archivists not only in the US and UK, but worldwide."

"The main goal of the Fulbright Program is to increase international understanding within a shared realm of experience. While I feel very humbled to have been selected for an award, the simple fact of the matter is that the Fulbright Commission sees problems relating to electronic records as important and as an area where shared knowledge and expertise are critical to future success."

"One of my highest goals vis-a-vis the Fulbright is to work with a significant Scottish organization or individuals whose records or papers are currently 'slipping through the cracks' or are at risk of loss or deletion. While pursuing this goal, I look forward to making many new friends and colleagues both in Scotland and in the rest of the UK. I welcome contact from anyone who would like to work with me or who can supply records to be used in my data testbed."

Thursday 13 August 2009

Musings on the Titanic

This headline from a copy of the The Daily Mirror 16th April 1912, which appears in a collection held by Archive Services, struck us as interesting for several reasons. Firstly passengers were still being reported as safe a day after the disaster, something which could never happen in today’s world of tweets and blogs. Secondly a number of published reports of the sinking appear scattered throughout the archive collections - people kept them as ‘souvenirs’ and they have been passed onto the archives with the rest of their papers. These ‘accidental’ inclusions in an archive can often be as illuminating as the official record. What kinds of mementos or reminders of newsworthy events do people keep today and how will these be preserved in future? Will blogs appear in the archives 100 years from now?

Our interest in the Titanic was sparked by some records in our collections which detail the history of the Californian, the ship that was only 5 miles away from the Titanic when she sank. The crew on the Californian saw the rockets fired from the Titanic but did not suspect a disaster, had they done so many more lives may have been saved. Details of the Californian can be found in copies of the Ingram Shipping Registers, held by Archive Services, which note the history of ships built in Dundee, Arbroath, Perth and Fife including where they sailed and their builders, owners and masters. The Californian, the largest vessel ever built in Dundee, met her end 3 years after the Titanic when she was torpedoed off Cape Matapan, Greece.

Thursday 6 August 2009

A day in the life of a Scottish businessman in the early 19th century

Do you want to know who was shopping for what in Dundee in the 1820s? Staff in Archive Services have recently transcribed two diaries written by Thomas Handiside Baxter, a grocer and dry goods merchant in Dundee in the early 1800s. The diaries cover the years 1810-1811 and 1820-1830 and give us a fascinating insight into Scottish life during the early 19th century, particularly from the point of view of a Dundee businessman.

They record a multitude of details including daily weather reports, the best pub for gambling and drinking and the latest political gossip in the local coffee shop. The juxtaposition of tales of daily life and international events can be seen from the following two entries from 1830:

‘to the Inn by Nine where I anticipated a comfortable glass of Todey over some cigars J Geddes had with him but the Blockhead never came in altho I sat anxiously waiting him ¼ past Eleven - he stopped about J Davidsons played cards & staid all night’

‘…in France the Elections having gone against the Government – the King has Issued several Decrees which in fact changes or rather abolishes their Constitution altogether – abolishing the liberty of the Press – dissolving the newly Elected members of the Chamber of Deputies – prohibiting any others from being elected except from Counties and Several other despotic & arbitrary changes which I have not got time yet to understand, but which its said will bring back the old French Despotism – the news only came yesterday & it remains to be seen whether the French people will Submitt to Such Tyranny after having tasted the Sweets of freedom – our Papers are Indignant at Such proceeding even the Courier condems it’.

The photograph, from the mid-19th century, is almost certainly Thomas Baxter and is from the James Rorie collection.

Tuesday 4 August 2009

New blog

Welcome to our new blog. We hope to use it to keep everyone updated on news and events from Archive, Records Management and Museum Services (ARMMS) and the Centre for Archive and Information Studies (CAIS) at the University of Dundee. We'll be highlighting items from our collections and the more interesting aspects of our work, sharing our thoughts on events we attend, giving you advance notice of events we're staging and keeping you informed about the courses offered by CAIS. Inevitably, the things we post will change over time as we have new ideas.

As you can see the blog is quite new so it is likely that the design will change now and then as we develop the site. Don't be surprised if things move around or change colour over the next few weeks and thanks for your patience.

We would be pleased to hear any thoughts or comments you might have about the blog. Feel free to contact us at with your suggestions.