The final stage of the Ellen Malos’ Archives project – a trip to Bristol University’s Special Collection store to deposit the catalogued items.
Sarah stands in front of her handy work
Don’t forget, Ellen’s archives are available to consult so do get in touch if you want to see them. As always, you will need to plan your trip in advance to ensure the items you want can be retrieved from store.
Here is archivist Sarah Cuthill’s update for May/ June….
The archive is taking shape. Following the survey at Ellen’s, I had to weed duplicates and non-relevant material from the boxes. This takes up a lot of table and floor space! The archive shadowers came to four sessions in May and June and contributed to the next stage of the work, arranging the material into categories. With a personal archive such as this, some of the arrangement is straightforward; some can be a little less obvious.
The ‘shadows’ worked on Women’s Aid, NAFE, Women’s Liberation Movement, and History papers. For them the breadth of material seemed to be striking, and for me the opportunity to discuss the papers and to make collective decisions was definitely useful. We began to transfer the archive into more appropriate housing, using acid-free four-flap folders and records management boxes.
On June 27th there was a chance to talk briefly about the work in progress at one of the Feminist Archive South workshops. By the end of June the arranging was nearly done, and I was using my initial lists to describe the individual folders. The need for detail varies from collection to collection, but this can be revised in the next stage of the job, which will be inputting on the CALM system at Special Collections.
Sarah Cuthill, the project archivist, is sharing the process of cataloguing Ellen’s archives for this blog. This is her first report….
The first month, about half of which was spent at Ellen’s house, where the papers were in much better order than anticipated! Originally covering the floor and tables of the first floor lounge, the archive comprises journals, business files, research papers, conference papers, badges, correspondence and ephemera such as fliers and posters for relevant events. Most of the papers were in folders or in homemade magazine files made by Ellen out of washing powder boxes. Eventually I boxed the collection up into cardboard grocery boxes from our local organic shop.
Ellen quietly added extra piles of papers over the days. It was a boon, and a novelty, to have the owner of the papers there with me to explain how various organisations grew out of each other and where she was involved. As well as Ellen’s own research, there are important runs of papers relating to Women’s Aid and the Women’s Centre. We spent one morning with Ellen giving me a potted history of her life since coming to Bristol. My primary mission in these first weeks has been to survey the papers and make a quick list of what is there I did this with pencil and paper which I then typed up at home.
Two and half weeks in, we transferred the papers to my house in 18 cardboard boxes. The next step is to arrange the papers into logical categories, and to rebox them. This is to be done with the help of archive shadowers who will join in and learn about the archive as well as the archive process.