Greater Manchester Archives and Local Studies Partnership Volunteer Awards Evening

On the 19th November the Greater Manchester Archives and Local Studies Partnership held their volunteer awards evening at the lovely Ordsall Hall in Salford.

Volunteer Awards 8

Ordsall Hall 

As my part of my Transforming Archives traineeship it fell to me to plan the event and I really enjoyed making sure the evening went smoothly and most importantly of all that the volunteers had a brilliant evening.

There were four award categories on the night: outstanding contribution by a young volunteer, outstanding contribution by a team of volunteers, GM1914 special award and volunteer of the year. In the run up to the event I received lots of nominations from all over the Greater Manchester area and it was really interesting to read about all the great things that the volunteers have been doing. The nominations were then passed onto the judging panel who made the decision as to who would be winning the awards. Councillors Alistair Cox and Ann-Marie Humphreys were present to hand out the awards to the volunteers after very interesting opening remarks by Sheena Macfarlane.

The first award handed out on the night was the outstanding contribution by a young volunteer. In this category the judges decided that there were two worthy winners of the award James Fagan who volunteers at Archives+ and Laura Earnshaw who is a volunteer at Oldham. The judges said “we were impressed by both of the winner’s digital and research skills. They have made a big difference to the services they volunteer at and can help encourage other young people to volunteer in archives across Greater Manchester”.

Volunteer Awards 1

James and Laura receiving their awards from Councillors Alistair Cox and Ann-Marie Humphreys.

Next up was the Volunteer of the year award which was won by Sue Mitchell from Tameside. Unfortunately Sue was unable to attend the evening but we have made sure that she will receive her certificate and prize at a later date. The judges said “We were impressed by this volunteer’s long standing commitment to family history in her borough. The Family History Help Desk she manages makes a vital contribution in developing the digital skills of both residents and volunteers. She has also gone out to engage directly with communities on projects.”

It was then time for the outstanding contribution by a team of volunteers award. The judges had again decided that two of the nominees were worthy of being the winners. Firstly, Digital Salford which had impressed the judges by the way the volunteers on this project have gone beyond the cataloguing & digitisation to help engage with schools and local communities. The project has also led to employment opportunities for some volunteers. The outcome of over 10,000 digitised old photographs is also very impressive. Secondly, The LGBT Foundation about whom the Judges said they “were impressed by the contribution these volunteers have made to preserving and making accessible an important part of Greater Manchester’s history. They were also impressed by the amount of hours contributed and the hard work of the team.”

Volunteer Awards 2

Digital Salford Volunteers receiving their award

Last but certainly not least was the GM1914 Special Award which was won by Margaret Koppens who volunteers at Bolton Museum and Archive. The judges were impressed by the number of blogs produced by the winner, but also their contribution to their local community in terms of local history. As part of my role is to manage the GM1914 blog I would particularly like to thank Margaret for her amazing work for the blog and would encourage everyone to head over to GM1914 and read some of Margaret’s brilliant blogs such as this one- https://gm1914.wordpress.com2015/04/30/the-bolton-war-hospital-supply-depot-and-the-role-of-the-womens-relief-corps/ and of course all the other great volunteer blogs.

Volunteer Awards 5

Margaret Koppens with her GM1914 Special Award certificate

During the awards ceremony the Greater Manchester Archives and Local Studies Partnership were presented with the the Archive Volunteering Award for 2015 which is sponsored by the Archives and Records Association of the UK and Ireland (ARA) and sector partners to celebrate the contribution of volunteers within the archive sector and to promote good practice in volunteering by the President of the ARA Dr Alexandrina Buchanan.

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Dr Alexandrina Buchanan from the University of Liverpool presenting GM1914 with the Archive Volunteering Award

The judges were unanimous in their selection of GM1914, which has been running since 2013 and involves a collaborative effort across ten local authority archives, led by Greater Manchester Archives and Local Studies Partnership. The project has improved public access and engagement with archives in Greater Manchester and has maximised the potential for volunteers to develop life-long skills in the sector.

Volunteer Awards 3

GM1914 Volunteers accepting the Archive Volunteering Award

It was great for so many of the GM1914 volunteers to be there to accept the award and all of the volunteers who have so far contributed to the blog either through creating a post themselves or researching for a post can be very proud of what they have achieved. I would also like to thank the previous National Archives trainees Nicky Crewe and Becky Farmer who were heavily involved in creating and then maintaining the GM1914 blog over the last couple of years. I will aim to keep up to these high standards throughout my yearlong traineeship with the help of all of Greater Manchester’s brilliant volunteers.

The evening ended with a tour of Ordsall Hall which was very interesting and everyone really enjoyed it.

Volunteer Awards 7

The Great Chamber, Ordsall Hall

Sadly, I didn’t see the Ordsall Hall Ghost but apparently she saw me!

twitter screenshot


Archives and Wikipedia

On Saturday we hosted an introductory session on Wikipedia run by Andy Mabbett. We learned the basics of Wikipedia and Wikimedia and then Andy helped us to start editing and adding articles.

Archives and Wikipedia

Some of us concentrated on adding to existing articles on the women shortlisted for Manchester’s new statue including Margaret Ashton, Ellen Wilkinson and Elizabeth Raffald. Top prize went to Yvonne who started a whole new article on Thorley Smith from scratch!

I learned so much from the session. Probably the most important aspect was gaining a bit of confidence in Wikipedia etiquette and formatting. Now I can’t stop!

Something I didn’t really consider until Andy explained it is the importance of not getting caught up in a conflict of interest. I work at the library. So although it’s OK for me to post external links to unique sources held in the library, it probably wouldn’t be OK for me to contribute to the article on the library itself.

The potential for Wikipedia to transform how libraries and archives present themselves and enable their users is clear. Wikimedia could also be a useful tool for surfacing non-commercially valuable assets.

I like how democratic the platform is. And how users are encouraged to communicate to resolve differences. But the big plus is how easy it is for people with basic IT skills to start contributing to Wikipedia, sharing their knowledge and getting acknowledgement for their efforts.


Transforming Archives- a look at the ArchivesPlus Exhibition

As I head towards the end of the third week of my Transforming Archives traineeship at Archives+ I thought I’d introduce myself and tell you about some of the great stuff that is available to view here. I went to university in Manchester at MMU studying History before drifting through a variety of jobs including working in a library and as a teaching assistant for SEN children. When I saw the opportunity to apply for this traineeship I jumped at the chance to use my passion for history in a more direct way and of course to move back to sunny Manchester!

My traineeship is in digitisation and outreach and engagement and over the past three weeks I have learnt loads about these different aspects at both Archives+ and Wigan Archives and Local Studies splitting my week between the two sites. I have particularly enjoyed digitising some old Palace Theatre programmes for an exciting upcoming exhibition with young people from MaD Theatre group.

Marie Lloyd Palace 20.07.03

Palace Theatre Programme from the 20th July 1903

One of the best things about working at Archives+ is being able to interact with the exhibition which is opposite the main entrance to Central Library as it is a great way for people to find out more about archives and how they can use them. It is an amazing space and I really recommend coming along to Central Library and having a walk around the exhibition when you next get a chance as you will learn so much about Manchester’s history.


The Archives+ Exhibition

My favourite part of the exhibition is the Radical Thinking section as it is home to some brilliant material relating to a number of my historical heroes including Henry Hunt and Lydia Becker. At the moment the display includes Henry Hunt’s prison diary which is an amazing item to view if you have an interest in the Peterloo Massacre and it’s aftermath. Anyone who is planning a visit to the great People’s History Museum should make a stop at Archives+ and learn more about the radical thinkers that have shaped Manchester’s history.


The Radical Thinking Exhibition

I’ve really enjoyed my traineeship so far and can’t wait to learn more about archives over the next year. I’m especially looking forward to visiting the National Archives at Kew next month for a weeks training with all my fellow Transforming Archive trainees.

Transforming Archives at ArchivesPlus – a view from behind the scenes

I’m two weeks into my Transforming Archives Traineeship at Archives+ and I’ve learnt so much already.  I’ve always had an interest in heritage, culture and the arts and many years ago I studied Library and Information Studies, here in Manchester, and I had a little dream of one day working in the magnificent Central Library.  In recent years I have worked as a freelance photographer and a photography tutor, before that I worked in travel.  When Central Library reopened in March 2014 after a complete refurbishment I really wanted to get involved so I volunteered my skills as a photographer for Archives+ and as a result photographed at many of their events, created images for their website and also produced a photographic treasure trail of the library.

A year later when I saw the advert for the Transforming Archives Trainee it felt like an amazing opportunity to get much more involved and learn lots of new skills.  I was thrilled to be the successful candidate and I’m really excited to be on this new career path which brings so many of my interests together.  I’m looking forward to a year exploring fascinating historical materials and making them accessible to all, either online or through the permanent interactive exhibition space we have here on the ground floor.

Digitising with BookEye scanner

Here I am on the BookEye scanner

The particular specialisms of my traineeship are digitisation and outreach & engagement.  In the last fortnight I have had an overview of each area within Archives+ and I have started to use the catalogues and retrieval processes to order material from the strong rooms (the basement where the archives are kept on an impressive 20km of shelving!). For my first blog I thought I would share a little of what happens behind the scenes and some of the work I will be involved with.

Anyone can search the archives catalogue online at GM Lives and then order up material to view in the Search Room.  Every day at midday the strong room team work through the orders that have come in over the previous 24 hours, locate each item and then take them all to the Search Room ready for viewing the following day.  A triplicate record of issue is created – one stays with the item, one stays on the shelf and the third is kept as a record that the item is currently in use.

Archive retrieval from the strong room

Archive retrieval from the strong room

My work includes digitisation of archived materials which covers a wide range of items such as records, pictures, photographs and maps. There are a few different methods used here which includes photographing items with a digital SLR camera, using an Bookeye4 scanner or, in the case of film, using a negative scanner.

Ordsall Hall

Ordsall Hall bound archives and order slip

This week I have digitised part of Charles Halle’s archives, old records of Ordsall Hall and some beautiful pictures of venomous snakes and Hindu paintings. These will be used by the RNCM, the BBC, our events team and for a range of Archive+ online engagement.


Digitising negatives in Archives+

Scanning negatives from the DPA collection.


As photography is a particular interest of mine I have especially enjoyed learning about the Documentary Photography Archive (DPA) project carried out by Manchester Polytechnic in the 1980s (which is coincidentally when I was studying there). This collection includes over 100,000 images of Greater Manchester’s people and places dating back to 1840. The project had two aspects to it: firstly to gather old photographs, including from the public’s own family albums, and secondly to commission new images which were created by photographers between the mid 1980s and the 1990s. Every image was painstakingly catalogued with dates, descriptions and contact details of the source or donor.

So that’s just a little of what I have learnt in the last couple of weeks. In two weeks time I’m travelling down to Kew to spend a week training at The National Archives with the twelve other Transforming Archives Trainees from around the country. So there will be lots of new insights to be had and I’ll be back to share some of them with you very soon.

Searching the Archives – a final poem

I wanted to write something about the trade unionist Eva Gore-Booth and her partner, Esther Roper, for my final piece as Writer in Residence. When I went searching for a reference using one of the index cards, however, I couldn’t find what I was looking for. I could have asked someone, but thought the mystery of it might be more interesting than what I found out. 


Gore-Booth, Eva

A memorial window to her, unveiled in the Round House, Ancoats, by Miss Esther Roper.

See F942.7389 M138 Vol 2 p. 236


Gore-Booth, Eva








A memorial window to her

Gore-Booth, Eva


unveiled in the Round House, Ancoats, by Miss Esther Roper, Rev Charles See

Microfiche Newspaper cuttings

[farewell sermons]

Nov 20, 22, 23 1905, Roper, Rev Edward

18381876 see also in 234 R1 Roper, Henry

F942.7389 M119, vol. 3, p. 172

M119 F942.7389 M138, vol 2.


Gore-Booth, family of Salford, tree and notes

F942.7 M10 p. 30, 31, 32, 33


North West Labour History No 28


Female trade

unionist and


Gore-Booth, Eva unveiled by Roper, Rev Esther, David, Rosalie

friends who don’t answer back”