Following the success of our Bee Box the Archives+ team set to work on our latest object handling resource. This time we were feeling all nostalgic about sea side holidays so we decided to repurpose two old suitcases that just happened to be lying around (the things you find in an archive, honestly!).

In typical Archives+ style we started out with a mild obsession – this time instead of bees it was donkeys. Thanks to the Documentary Photographic Archive (DPA) held here at Central Library we have an amazing resource of family photographs dating back as far as 1840. As you would expect there are plenty of photographs of family holidays, group outings and day trips, such as the gem below.

A row of men sitting on donkeys at Blackpool, n.d. (GB124.DPA/813/32).

Our volunteer Caroline set to work digging through the DPA, archives and special collections relating to holidays and pastimes and put together themes including camping, postcards and holidays abroad. She also wrote interpretation for each of the themes. We then passed all of the images and text to Caroline Coates, a community artist who has done lots of work with Archives+ and Manchester Libraries. She set to revamping the suitcases and creating photo albums for each different theme.

Take a look at the finished suitcases, below, and there are more photographs on our Flickr stream.

Suitcase - Object Handling ResourcesSuitcase - Object Handling ResourcesSuitcase - Object Handling Resources

We launched the suitcases at our Saturday Spectacular with our usual variety of fun craft activities and we’ll be making the most of them during the summer at Central Library and at events at other venues. Keep an eye on the Archives+ website to see where we’ll be.

Of course, no seaside themed event would be complete without donkeys and this time we excelled ourselves with donkey colouring sheets, a donkey cut out which was hand drawn by Caroline Coates and coloured in by people at the event, and last but not least our very own donkey which was kindly given to us by the Bridgewater Hall.
Saturday Spectacular May 2015