Friday, 18 March 2011

Is now working on...


I have now been working at The Oxford and Cambridge Club for two months, I am part time two days a week. Splitting the rest of my time to my other jobs (archival and administrative at present)

Recently I have just starting listing the architectural plans that they hold. So far these are mainly working plans with an engineering bent to them, for example a plan of floor's hot and cold water supply. Alongside this I have started building up an list of words used solely in the plans (a tiny specialised dictionary) for ease of use later for researchers and also my own benefit while cataloguing.

While I am doing this, it has come to my attention how insular people are within any given profession and how as archivists we seek to expand (through catalogues) records that were meant at the time of their creation for a select few to as many as possible. As you can probably tell, through this process of listing I am becoming somewhat frustrated at the amount of code, abbreviations and what can only be known as 'squiggles'. I am indebted to the articles that go a lot of the way to demystify these terms and notation and am really happy when legends are put on the plan itself.

It also made me think about how many archival terms we bandy about and if we are as diligent at explaining these terms even if we do not know the last person who would be using the document that we will create.


  1. My particular archive term bugbear is 'fond's - I just don't think it's a useful term to use as who, apart from archivists, has any idea what it means. I think Collection, while more general, is an easier to understand concept for the majority of people who will be using our collections. Building up a list of words as you go along is a really sensible idea. As you say, it will save you time. Plus it will be incredibly helpful to future researchers who, as you highlight, may not be coming in with specialist knowledge of the terms assumed by their creators.

  2. Yes, I think you are right. I have in the past used 'fonds' and received very blank looks. Not really helping the cause there!

    On another note, it is exciting to be working with a different type of record. With some of the plans I am listing, the actual objects and sometimes machinery is just a few feet away. Marvellous!