Sedgwick Museum Archives

From exquisite 17th century drawings of fossils to unique historic geological sketches and letters from the frontline in World War 1, the Sedgwick Museum Archives contains over 1500 boxes of irreplaceable records.

The archive includes the papers charting the history and development of the Museum, as well as the famous Sedgwick Club, started in 1880 in memory of Adam Sedgwick (1854-1875), after whom the Museum is named.

The Archive also includes the many field notebooks, sketchbooks and specimen catalogues of Adam Sedgwick himself, as well as other geologists, palaeontologists and mineralogists with an association to the Museum’s collections or to the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge.

How are the Archives being processed?

Sandra Freshney, a professional Archivist has been employed as a permanent member of staff since May 2014 thanks to the benevolence of former Museum Curator and volunteer Dr Colins Forbes (1922-2014).

Building on her earlier temporary employment, generously funded by Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) and Trinity College's Isaac Newton Trust, Sandra has been able to determine the scope of the archival collections, begin cataloguing parts of the collections, answer enquiries and invigilate researchers, develop two exhibitions in the Museum, and improve 

The Archivist, with the assistance of Dr Lyall Anderson and several volunteers re-boxed the archive and undertook some simple listing of records in 2010-2011. This ensured that the records were easier to access and safer to use for research.

The Friends of the Sedgwick Museum generously donated funds to enable the Museum to employ Dr Lyall Anderson to look in more detail at the notebooks of Alfred Harker in 2012. Alfred Harker (1859-1939) was a world-famous petrologist, although very little was known about him other than through his published work. Lyall completed the project in 2012, and the catalogue is now on the Archives Hub

In 2014 research was undertaken at the Sedgwick Museum with an Arts Council England (ACE) grant to look at the ways in which members of the Sedgwick Club contributed to the war effort, geologically or otherwise. An exhibition opened in the Museum in February 2015.

In October 2014, with support from the Isaac Newton Trust, mobile racking was installed. This doubled the capacity of the current Archive Store.

 



Historic fossils from Agostino Scilla’s collection within the Sedgwick Museum’s Woodwardian cabinets are currently on display in the Royal Society’s summer exhibition in London. Called ‘Science made Visible: Drawings, Prints, Objects’, the exhibit explores the questions of how and when science become visual; how drawings, diagrams and charts came to be used alongside words and objects; who made them and what made them scientific?




All the Museum and Department were very sad to hear of the death of former staff member Rod Long. Rod, Uncle Rod as he was affectionately known, was to many people the face of the Museum. Dave Norman, our long time Director, has kindly written his recollections of a man who, put simply, we all loved him for his friendly, helpful and kind nature.
Liz Harper