We present a guest blog by Georgie Whittock who spent some time gaining work experience with us recently, an experience both pleasant and useful for all concerned!
I am a second year archaeology student at Lampeter University, and I have been doing work experience at the Ceredigion Archives over the past few weeks, as part of the Go Wales programme which operates in every Welsh University allowing students with work limiting issues, including disabilities and specific learning difficulties, and/or from a low employment area, the opportunity to gain work experience.
During my time here, my view of the job role of an archivist and the work they do has changed; I did not realize they do so much! I thought their work focussed predominantly on the conservation and cataloguing of documents and materials, however I have since realised they also do research for members of the public who wish to find out more information about various topics, generally about their family history or specific places or events, as well as aiding them in their own research by putting them in the right direction of record books and documents that may also be helpful.
Over the course of my experience, I have written descriptions for three collections of documents, helped with enquiries regarding family history, handled a number of documents, researched the Spanish Influenza Epidemic of 1918 to 1919 for the BBC, and was even given the responsibility to open the strongrooms!
The second collection I looked at contained photographs of performances by the St. David’s College, Lampeter Amateur Dramatic Society [ref. MUS/474/3/1 and MUS/474/3/2]. Here are two autographed photographs from the play “The Terror” performed at Lampeter’s Victoria Hall by the Society. C. 1950s.
Viewing a collection of documents and writing their catalogue descriptions may seem a monotonous task, but, actually, it isn’t (though that may be because I’m new to this). To handle these documents, to read them, to explore them, and to write about them has been so fascinating, and finding out the background to the documents and the people and places they relate to has enhanced my research skills. I have had the opportunity to work independently with the documents, as well as working as part of a wonderful team, who have made the experience thoroughly enjoyable.
The experience has opened my eyes into the work an archivist does, and has made me consider a potential career route into archives*.
*Ha! We got another one! [Ed.]