Tuesday 17th November:
This time 5 of our older volunteers got their turn in visiting the new archive at the Keep, Falmer – the site of the East Sussex Record Office and the University of Sussex Special Collections as well as other local history collections.
Whilst our volunteers, and the project coordinator, have all visited archives before there is always something new to learn.
Conservator Melissa Williams took us through a guide to paper handling and the principles of conservation for books, photographic prints and photographic plates. For example only using non-ferrous metals (most commonly brass) for paper clips and staples as they don’t degrade.
We followed this by some relaxing map cleaning. Melissa showed us how and why the materials used to clean the maps had changed over time from drafting powder to modern Mars Staedler rubber erasers.
One of the most exciting events of the day was when Archivist Elizabeth Hughes took us behind the scenes to see where the documents, materials, books, etc. were quarantined then finally deposited in the archive.
The quarantine – a week in a blast freezer at -35 degrees C – kills off any moths or pests that could damage the rest of the collection.
We finished up with a look through the same coroner’s reports the students viewed on September 24th. The older volunteers brought new perspectives to our understanding of these from their personal experiences and research – e.g. a medical perspective and knowledge of the camp layout.
Thank you very much to Elizabeth Hughes and Melissa Williams for a thoroughly interesting day at the Keep. Four of our volunteers have even signed up for readers cards in order to visit the archive in their own time for their own research.