Reflections on a year in the Archive

Since last August I have been one of the University of Glasgow Archive Services Graduate Trainees though my time here is drawing to a close with the posts soon being advertised for next year’s trainees!

It was a Club21 placement in the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons that initially sparked my interest in the profession as I found it fascinating working with the old documents and artefacts. I was thrilled to find a letter from Arthur Conan Doyle in the collections of RCPSG!

The Searchroom at Glasgow University Archive Services

I have spent a lovely year here, getting to know the University and student records (some charters dating back to the fourteenth century!) I was also surprised to find out about the vast collection of business records held here, from ship and locomotive plans to colourful and beautiful carpet designs from the Stoddard collection.

My main role here has been as Searchroom Assistant, helping readers with their research and keeping an eye on the documents they are using. I really enjoy getting a glimpse of the various projects the readers are working on and helping them find the right sources from the archive. It’s great getting to talk to the readers about their research and you learn some fascinating things about a very wide range of subjects. In the searchroom I have met, amongst others, professors from Australia who visit yearly to research shipping and trade, a PhD Student from London studying military organisations, and also a student here at Glasgow, studying oriental design using material from the Stoddard collection.

As well as helping readers who come through the door, I also get the chance to help answer remote enquires. I especially enjoy graduate enquires where you get to do a bit of detective work and trace their graduation and matriculation records, schedules and maybe even any prizes they won.

Example of a student matriculation slip (R8/5/17/5)

Another role I have here is to promote the collections through contributing posts to the Archives blog. I write posts about people visiting the searchroom to conduct research and posts about interesting items or themes in the archive. I really enjoy the discipline of trying to write concisely but engagingly about aspects of the collections, and, of course, in the hope that it sparks some more interest in the archive!

This traineeship has given me some fabulous experiences and it helped me to secure a place on the Information Management and Preservation Masters course at the University of Glasgow. Being able to discuss what I’ve learned on the Archive Services traineeship in my application was a big bonus and not only that, my experiences here will compliment the archival theory which will be taught on the course.

I am looking forward to going back to University for the course where I will undertake a cataloguing placement, learn about appraisal and record keeping and gain skills in digitisation and cataloguing archive collections.

Glasgow University Archives Services is such an interesting place to work, and gives the perfect experience for budding archivists. It has been a great year for me and I’ll be very sad to leave though look forward to learning more in my next four months here, and also the new challenges the MSc will bring in September.


Rachael Egan

Archives Assistant

Categories: Archive Services, Reflections

Tags: , , , ,

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