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.