Oct 4, 2010

Archive Project Underway


A grant of £46,000 from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) has allowed the Sedgwick Museum to undertake much-needed work in its archives.
Category: 2010
Posted by: Sarah

A grant of £46,000 from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) has allowed the Sedgwick Museum to undertake much-needed work in its archives.
A project to employ a professional archivist for a year to re-box, arrange and describe some of the collection has been funded by a grant from the Museums, Libraries and Archives (MLA) Council Designation Development Fund (DDF).
The records of both the Sedgwick Museum and some of those relating to key individuals from the Department of Earth Sciences are being stored at the Museum's Geological Conservation Unit. The Project Archivist, Sandra Marsh, will be working until March 2011, continuing the work of Dr Lyall Anderson who has been box listing the material (over 500 boxes so far!). Future tasks involve re-packaging the records into conservation grade boxes, and arranging and describing some of them to enable researchers to locate material safely and more easily.
The collections contain records dating from 1680 onwards, and are still growing today; material related to the ongoing work of the Museum and individuals associated with it are being continuously acquired.
Records include:

  • The notebooks of Adam Sedgwick, Woodwardian Professor of Geology at Cambridge from 1818 until his death in 1873, and tutor to Charles Darwin in 1831.
  • Maps which have been annotated and hand-drawn in some cases, including some sent to Adam Sedgwick by John Otley, a topographer and geologist in the nineteenth century, famous for his maps of the Lakes. 
  • Field notebooks including those of Sir Vivien Fuchs (geologist and explorer), Alfred Harker (petrologist), and Professor James Marr (Woodwardian Professor). 
  • Photographs and manuscript catalogues of specimens in the Museum, which also includes Albert 'Bertie' Brighton's original card indexes. 
  • Albums and minute books relating to the Sedgwick Club, a geological club formed in 1880 encouraging students to give geological papers, and attend field excursions. The club is still very active today. 
  • Artwork and photographs of key individuals associated with the Museum and its history.

The papers of individuals with an association with the Museum and Department of Earth Sciences have already been assessed. These include those of Stuart Olof Agrell, Maurice Black, Philip Cambridge, William Deer, Alfred Harker, William Macfadyen, Thomas McKenny Hughes, Norman Francis Hughes, Peter Lake, Tressilian Charles Nicholas and many more. These collections often include correspondence with contemporaries, notes about specimens, teaching resources and some personal records such as postcards and photographs.
The collections will provide a wonderful resource for those studying the history of geology in the 20th century, as well as the social history of the period in which these individuals lived and worked. In some cases they may also provide invaluable additional information about specimens already in the Museums' collections.
The aim in the future would be to describe these collections in greater detail at file level, to enable researchers to locate material of interest more easily. Specialized software (Mobydoc GAPI) which is compatible with the Museum's collection management system has been installed, enabling links between specimens and relevant documentation in the archives.
Please email the Collections Manager, Dan Pemberton, or Project Archivist, Sandra Marsh, for further information and details of how to access the collections.



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