During this summer I had the chance to join the team at Archive Services to complete a Club 21 project. Following the recent conservation and digitisation of two Visitor Books from the New Lanark Mills collection, I worked on transcribing some of the original, handwritten entries in order to make them more legible for users. During this time I worked my way through the visitors for the summer of 1821 (ref. UGD42/7/1/2) to provide the Archive Services team with a base on which to build.
By 1821 New Lanark Mills were owned by Robert Owen (1771-1858), a Welsh industrialist who held a strong commitment to social reform. In the same year, various supporters of Owen’s ideas wrote to The Economist anonymously to discuss the logistics of putting them into practice. These pages from The Economist are also part of the New Lanark Mills collection.
Visitor records reveal that by 1821 New Lanark was confirmed as a site of global importance, with people travelling from as far as Bermuda or Trinidad and Tobago, either to do business with Owen or to learn from the success of the site. They also reveal that within British industry New Lanark was of central importance, with visitors travelling from a considerable range of locations in Scotland and England, including numerous visitors from Ireland. At a glance the entries reveal a steady stream of visitors to the site. Over the months I covered, the visitor numbers per month never went below 75 and showed a marked increase of up to 220 in August.
The Visitor Books are only part of an array of items available at Archive Services from which one can learn about New Lanark’s rich history.
The project is a perfect example showing that Archive Services can continue to make its resources even more accessible. The original handwriting in these visitor’s books can be difficult to read if one is only familiar with more modern script. Turning these entries into a more legible form will make them easier to use for those who need to quickly reference specific details. That said, the original documents continue to be interesting, showing the different styles of handwriting.
I have thoroughly enjoyed learning about New Lanark by taking part in this project and believe that it will continue to be useful in the future.
Categories: Archive Services