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Local records archive / Your folk legacy

VirginiaTam 25 Nov 08 - 03:47 PM
RTim 25 Nov 08 - 04:08 PM
peregrina 25 Nov 08 - 04:18 PM
VirginiaTam 25 Nov 08 - 04:24 PM
Snuffy 25 Nov 08 - 05:30 PM
VirginiaTam 26 Nov 08 - 02:06 AM
Sleepy Rosie 26 Nov 08 - 04:52 AM
JohnInKansas 26 Nov 08 - 05:38 AM
GUEST, Sminky 26 Nov 08 - 06:12 AM
VirginiaTam 26 Nov 08 - 01:50 PM
VirginiaTam 26 Nov 08 - 03:52 PM
Steve Gardham 26 Nov 08 - 04:15 PM
peregrina 26 Nov 08 - 04:28 PM
VirginiaTam 26 Nov 08 - 04:29 PM
Richard Bridge 26 Nov 08 - 04:34 PM
VirginiaTam 26 Nov 08 - 05:06 PM
Sue Allan 26 Nov 08 - 05:23 PM
peregrina 26 Nov 08 - 05:36 PM
VirginiaTam 27 Nov 08 - 02:51 AM
Melissa 27 Nov 08 - 02:56 AM
Sleepy Rosie 27 Nov 08 - 04:13 AM
VirginiaTam 27 Nov 08 - 08:11 AM
VirginiaTam 27 Nov 08 - 04:05 PM
Steve Gardham 28 Nov 08 - 01:28 PM
Sleepy Rosie 28 Nov 08 - 01:53 PM
VirginiaTam 28 Nov 08 - 04:03 PM
VirginiaTam 30 Nov 08 - 10:20 AM
danensis 01 Dec 08 - 10:01 AM
Jim Carroll 01 Dec 08 - 04:06 PM
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Subject: Do you use local records archive service
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 25 Nov 08 - 03:47 PM

I am curious. How many catters make use of local archive services?

Are there Morris Sides and folk clubs that deposit documents, audio and video materials to local records office for safekeeping?

How many use records office to search documentation of traditonal folk knowledge specific to geographical area?

Do or would you contact local record office and volunteer to provide oral history of local folk traditon?


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Subject: RE: Do you use local records archive service
From: RTim
Date: 25 Nov 08 - 04:08 PM

Because of my interest in the County of Hampshire - England, I do a lot of research using the Hants Family History Site. Se - http://website.lineone.net/~hantshistory/contents.html Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Do you use local records archive service
From: peregrina
Date: 25 Nov 08 - 04:18 PM

I have helped to mediate for the deposit of some folksong related material in an archive. Archives won't accept just anything, may need a signed agreement, and may have specifications about the form of the material. (Quality paper is much more stable and easy to archive than CDs, which have a rather short life, even for archival quality; and electronic formats require regular migration.) Having this sort of material available for people in the future is a great thing of course.


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Subject: RE: Do you use local records archive service
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 25 Nov 08 - 04:24 PM

Thanks Tim. I work for a local authority archive service. Recently we had a query from a Morris Side about where to deposit their documents.

It made me think, do Folk clubs and Morris groups archive their documents with local record office? Then I wondered how many mudcatters use local record office to do research. My wondering culminated in the above list of questions.

I guess this thread is half curiosity and half promotion to use record offices to fullest. It seems the safest way to preserve local folk tradtions, event information, etc.


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Subject: RE: Do you use local records archive service
From: Snuffy
Date: 25 Nov 08 - 05:30 PM

Shakespeare Morris have deposited much of their paper-based records with a local archive.

PM me and I will put you in touch with our Keeper of the Scrapbooks.


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Subject: RE: Do you use local records archive service
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 26 Nov 08 - 02:06 AM

Thanks Snuffy

This thread is intended to get catters to think about the posterity of their folking activities.

Anybody have any ideas how to get the word out to club and side members and festival organisers to make a habit of depositing documents and audio and video files?

Also how can we or should we encourage folkies to create oral histories and to push records services to accept them?


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Subject: RE: Do you use local records archive service
From: Sleepy Rosie
Date: 26 Nov 08 - 04:52 AM

I keep intending to! In order to listen to early recordings of Essex folk songs. And maybe even learn a few.
PM'd you btw.
Cheers, Rosie


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Subject: RE: Do you use local records archive service
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 26 Nov 08 - 05:38 AM

I haven't really researched the subject, but "local archives" appear to be subject to a lot of variation in the US.

It may be of interest that when I was nearing the end of my military service it was recommended that significant papers such as discharge orders should be "filed" as public records so that they would be "forever accessible" in case of loss of the originals. (The US Military has a "suspect record" for being able to retrieve information on service records, especially after discharge.)

The recommended method, probably fairly generally available anywhere in the US, was to take a notarized copy to the Clerk of the District or State Court, and request that it be filed. It should be given a "record number" and (sometimes) entered into a log of records, and the Court was obligated to preserve it (or "official facsimiles" of it) and to be able to retrieve it on valid request.

Since it would be mixed in with "Court records" which a judge could order "sealed" or that might otherwise have limited access, it was deemed important that you request it be filed as a "public record," since otherwise there might be significant "identification and validation" requirements for retrieval.

So far as I know, or have heard, only "paper documents" were eligible for filing in this way, although computers and "microfilm" were subsequently invented and new methods might permit other media in some places.

Unless the "document number" assigned by the clerk (and ideally, the exact date of filing) is kept safely accessible, retrieval of a specific document filed in this way may be difficult; but in most cases you do have some assurance that "it's there somewhere" as opposed to other places of storage where even that might be less certain. (According to acquaintances, at least one US Army Records Storage Warehouse burns to the ground about every week - since around 1890, based on US Gov't responses to requests for military sevice records.)

Some places appear to have "archive management agreements," often with Universities that have their own collections/archives, but in other places it seems to be left to the clerks who receive the material.

Some states require that all things filed be forwarded to State level archives, often with facsimiles retained locally, so sometimes a record can be found in either place.

In some places there may be other kinds of "archive repositories" but I don't know of others that are generally to be found.

Perhaps it's less complicated in other (outside the US) places?

John


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Subject: RE: Do you use local records archive service
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 26 Nov 08 - 06:12 AM

I'm prepared to wager that there is wealth of folk-related material buried away in unpublished diaries and journals, the problem is finding out where they are.

Here in Preston (Lancs, UK), for example, the Harkness Broadside collection is held in the Harris Library archives. Half a mile away is Lancashire Record Office which holds millions of historical documents relating to the county.

30 miles down the road in Manchester, the Axon collection is at Chethams Library, the Pearson, Harland and Swindells collections are in the Central Library Archives.

And these are just the well-known collections - Heaven knows where all the other stuff is!


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Subject: RE: Do you use local records archive service
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 26 Nov 08 - 01:50 PM

I said in another thread about folk tradtion, that I must be on a mission.

I PMd Sleepy Rosie that I fear there are documents, audio and video materials mouldering away in lofts, cellars, garages that will end up as so much landfill.

It is obvious in the present financial climate that archive services are about to suffer funding and staff cuts which will lead to reduced services. Record offices are going to start leaking archivists and conservators. If more people deposit documents and materials and make enquiries and use local facilities beyond capcity, the services may be retained. It requires the public pushing local authority buttons. Write letters, make demands. What the hell are our taxes paying for....... A wrath of voter kind of scene.

Once the capcity is gone, it is near impossible to get it back. The record offices are forced to reject more and more materials. More folk tradition lost. It is a filthy vicious cycle.

gulp gulp... I need to come up for air.

And these are just the well-known collections - Heaven knows where all the other stuff is!

Hopefully eventually if record offices ever get enough staff, there will be elctronic searching systems for everything they house. There are some out there and some are better than others.   Someday, someday, it will all be out there on the net.

But we will still need archivists. We don't always know what we are looking for or what to ask. That is where these people become so important. Their eyes see many things. They can help inform your search.

gasp gasp......

Ok shifting my soapbox back under the desk now.


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Subject: RE: Do you use local records archive service
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 26 Nov 08 - 03:52 PM

Soapbox just slipped under my feet again.

What is the best way to collect and collate folk memories?

Remember that fellow back in the day who played concertina and sang the funniest songs? He passed away a few years/months/days ago. You know a bloke could tell some great stories about him. He sings those songs now.

Remember Mrs.????? Recited those powerful poems about her childhood and being raised in coalmining community.   She's in ???? nursing home. I saw her daughter at my grandson's school the other day. I wonder if she still has those poems. They would be wonderful set to music.

This is making me crazy. All that memory vanishing. What a great shame.

There is a woman making vidoes of her elderly mother as she sings her versions of gospel hymns, probably learned from her mother etc. and so on. They are posted on you tube. This woman is creating an oral history of her mother's knowledge and musical memory. But how long will they be preserved on you tube?

Who do you know? What did you learn from him, her or them? Please start recording it now. Write it down, sing it into your PC sound recorder and copy to CD. So may years along, someone may deposit the materials for archive. Then another person happens onto them and writes a book or gives a talk, puts them into a radio show or a play or a film to make these memories live again.


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Subject: RE: Do you use local records archive service
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 26 Nov 08 - 04:15 PM

I have both researched folk material using local archives and deposited material in them. Archives in my area are just becoming interested in preserving oral tradition, but things move slowly and are subject to funding. One of the best places to preserve stuff and make it available is online but again funding is needed for this. Archives are doing a brilliant job of putting material online currently and we owe it to them to make full use of them and to keep encouraging them in this. Having said all this, as Peregrina says, good old-fashioned paper and ink is still the medium preferred by the archivists as it is the medium that currently lasts the longest.


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Subject: RE: Do you use local records archive service
From: peregrina
Date: 26 Nov 08 - 04:28 PM

My dream of one reborn-WPA project (the thread on that has fallen off the board) would be to have musical song collectors go round old peoples' homes and nursing homes to entertain the residents, but also to collect songs and stories from them.

    Then the archiving could be another reborn-WPA project.


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Subject: RE: Do you use local records archive service
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 26 Nov 08 - 04:29 PM

Absolutely true. Funny that the more technologically advanced we get the formats for preserving information grow less stable.

Still there is nothing quite like seeing an early 1900's morris side performing on scratchy black and white cine film.


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Subject: RE: Do you use local records archive service
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 26 Nov 08 - 04:34 PM

VT, you are right. When the Strood Rural local government offices were re-organised in one of the local gov't re-shuffles irreplacable material about rights of way was lost. But I am not aware of a systematic "local records office" service in the UK (and have been a copyright specialist lawyer since 1976).

What can be stored, with whom, and how is it retrievable?


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Subject: RE: Do you use local records archive service
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 26 Nov 08 - 05:06 PM

At Essex Record Office a letter from rep of a local Morris side recently crossed my desk for filing in potential depositor file. The enquirer was seeking to deposit documents and I believe film of his morris side. He was hoping for a deposit in the village in which the the group resides. I don't know if Essex CC keeps records at the one building they own in this village.

The enquiry now awaits the senior archivist's decision to determine if material will be accepted and if the side are happy for it to be kept in Chelmsford facility.

As to Systematic Local Records Offcie, Essex is hoping to embark on upgrading SEAX to be an all singing all dancing online records research. Through it you can find out what the ERO holds, then request photocopies (for a fee). I understand there are better ones already working. Supposedly Medway Council has a better online search tool.

In Essex, and I believe all over the country more and more vulnerable documents are being scanned, audio and film materials are being digitised. We have quite a big facility (6 strong rooms 7 miles of shelves) in Chelmsford ( and we need more space) and one of the best conservator's rooms in the country according to the British Museum. So efforts are underway. Yet under the current financial pressure I don't know if this will continue.


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Subject: RE: Do you use local records archive service
From: Sue Allan
Date: 26 Nov 08 - 05:23 PM

Many - but not all - records in county records offices in UK can be accessed via the A2A - Access to Archives - website www.a2a.org.uk . It's a good start, but usually you're best contacting your local records office staff about records relating to music, dance, song etc. They're usually very helpful.

Some libraries also have local history sections, which can prove useful in researching local tunes and songs, or the social context of these. My local history librarian has pointed me in the direction of lots of music, tunes, broadside ballads, books with references to songs etc etc. It's a wonderful treasure hunt, and one which I've been on for the past 30 years.

Re. depositing records: I have had trouble with this lately, when looking for a home for a particular collection (which had come my way from a musician and collector who had died some years go). Records offices have little space, fewer staff and less funding these days and I have been sent from one to another trying to find someone willing to house an important local collection. They seemed to be wanting to find reasons to refuse, suggesting Vaughan Williams Memorial Library - who had already said they had no space, no staff to catalogue etc etc ...

We need to be able to deposit material on traditional music, dance and song for future generations, but it seems as though the places to deposit such treasures may well get fewer as their funding gets squeezed.


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Subject: RE: Do you use local records archive service
From: peregrina
Date: 26 Nov 08 - 05:36 PM

I don't know if funding is being squeezed yet. Some archives will have statutory duties to their deposits. They can't dispose of their collections, though they may be unable to build new storage facilities or keep up with the the gallop of electronic technology. The first thing to be cut might be opening hours for public consultation. Archives are out of the for-profit loop.

I don't know if difficulty finding a place to deposit material will reflects the economic downturn or simply the information explosion that has plagued all libraries for decades.

--Vote for archives by using them!


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Subject: RE: Do you use local records archive service
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 27 Nov 08 - 02:51 AM

Right on Peregrina. Now how do we get more catters onto this microcosm thread? How do we spread the news?


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Subject: RE: Do you use local records archive service
From: Melissa
Date: 27 Nov 08 - 02:56 AM

if I'm any indication, there are already more catters here..quiet in the underbrush.


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Subject: RE: Do you use local records archive service
From: Sleepy Rosie
Date: 27 Nov 08 - 04:13 AM

This has been a very thought provoking thread. And I noticed your disarmingly simple response to the 'folk process is dead' comment on another thread: "it doesn't have to be...". It made me rather smile.

You've got a mission of many parts it seems!
*Awareness raising* amongst the rank and file in the folk community, alongside *profile raising* with potentially sympathetic organisations, are possibly a couple of the key requirements to ensuring your missions success?

For me, it's simply never crossed my mind that there are still songs and stories out there to be gathered, and that homes for such material, are not secure. So I imagine there may be plenty of average people like me with an interest in folk-song, who simply need their awareness raising, that there is still valuable material out there waiting to be found.
Keeping a discussion like this alive on a forum like this is a start...

Would it be worth composing a few letters regarding the continued importance of preserving folk history, to charitable agencies such as 'Help the Aged' or 'Age Concern'? And simply throw open some of the questions about how a succesful gathering process for such important materials, might be initiated with the groups of people they work with, who may still hold some of this material in memory or in physical form?

If yoyu could gain the interest and some support from *large organisations* who may recognise the significance of such a community project, it could help then give you exactly the kind of profile for the mission, required for local authorities to really take notice?

This one may sound a bit daft... But, I'd also be inclined to write a letter to R4's Womans Hour. It's exactly the kind of interesting little story, they may well take an interest in?

Then there's the how and where to go about it.

I noticed another thread on gigs at old peoples homes. Were enough people who perform for elderly audiences, to see recording relevant material from these people as another facet of their work, you may have mountains of material to deal with. In fact I think another poster on this thread mentioned something along those lines.

Each year we have an amazing village jumble run by the local Scouts. This year I'll contact the Scout HQ and ask them if they would be willing to ask about the kinds of relevent materials that may be buried in some of the lofts round here. In fact, it's the kind of community based project that organisations such as the Scouts might even think is worth taking on board.

There's probably a kazzillion things that could help. You need a lovely big piece of A1 paper, lots of coloured pens, a pot of coffee and an afternoons brain storming!

I think it could be a very inspiring project to become actively involved in. I hope others here feel the same. Thanks for raising the issue. Very interesting stuff.


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Subject: RE: Do you use local records archive service
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 27 Nov 08 - 08:11 AM

Thank you Rosie and others. I think I will do as Rosie suggested (in PM to me) and ask an MC moderator to change the title of the thread to something more engaging.

On the upside, Since Monday there has been a huge increase in Search Room attendance. This may be because the Search Room was closed for 2 weeks prior for Stock taking and Disaster planning exercise. But it is encouraging.

I do love the ideas of getting partner organisations on board. I do know that too long ago, the ERO Sound Archivist was involved in a project of recording memories from residents of an elder day care facility. He was working in conjuction with an Alzhiemers group I believe.

I have a dream of starting a charity and working with Age Concern and Social Services to get computers and training into homes of elderly and adult house bound. I want to start a sort of Grey Face Book to get these people talking to each other, meeting up online, virtually visiting.

I need to make stuff happen. I think I will start looking at some grant writing info.


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Subject: RE: Do you use local records archive service
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 27 Nov 08 - 04:05 PM

Talking to my boss today about difficulty people have depositing folk materials she told me that ERO recently invested in equipment for digitising audio and video material to preserve it.
She wants me to join the East Anglian Traditional Music Trust. But how on earth do I get to Suffolk for meetings?

The morris side enquirer is being invited to deposit his materials with ERO.

What do you think about changing the title of this thread to

Your folk legacy. It's richer than you think.

or

Your folk legacy. What will you leave the future?


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Subject: RE: Do you use local records archive service
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 28 Nov 08 - 01:28 PM

We have been discussing many of these issues in recent months at Traditional Song Forum meetings all over the country.(Google Tradsong)

One member suggested we should be putting out a national request for all those old recordings families have of grandad and grandma singing. Mine are already safely housed in the BLSA. I think this was being followed up on Folkopedia. Again digitisation and housing were problems.

One of my pet subjects at the moment is the lack of access to 18th century street literature compared with that of other centuries. I have been spending long hours in the BL writing out in pencil versions of scarce ballads. The problem is the archives won't digitise the 18thc stuff as it's either tightly bound or too delicate. The irony is, and this is what we need to get across to them, that once they are digitised and on the net no-one need ever touch them again.

Yorkshire Garland Group recently came into possession of many thousands of slides owned by the Hudleston family of Cayton, noted song collectors in Yorkshire. Okay most of them were of architecture and holidays abroad in the 50s 60s. We offered them to various museums without success but Malcolm Deakin has taken them and has offered to digitise them all eventually and make digitised copies available to whoever at cost.


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Subject: RE: Do you use local records archive service
From: Sleepy Rosie
Date: 28 Nov 08 - 01:53 PM

I like the latter title best.


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Subject: RE: Local records archive / Your folk legacy
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 28 Nov 08 - 04:03 PM

Wow that was easy... Joe very wisely indicated that we need to keep some element of original thread title.

Thank you Joe


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Subject: RE: Local records archive / Your folk legacy
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 30 Nov 08 - 10:20 AM

refreshing after last Mudcat blackout


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Subject: RE: Local records archive / Your folk legacy
From: danensis
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 10:01 AM

My father in law was a prolific "inventor" though "Improver" may be a better term. When he died, I deposited most of his papers in our local record office. I still own them, but they are now accessible to anyone who wants to access them.

Amongst his inventions, for which he never received a penny, were the wire rope crash barriers, and the use of epoxy resin for socketing ropes on suspension bridges. He also improved the design of dies used for wire-rope drawing.

I study family history, and was quite upset on viewing some parish records at a county archive (which shall be nameless) to find they had been handled so many times without gloves that the grease on the edge of the pages had made many of the entries indecipherable.

John


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Subject: RE: Local records archive / Your folk legacy
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 04:06 PM

Ireland has two magnificent national archives devoted to folk material. The Irish Traditional Music Archive in Merrion Square Dublin (housed in a beautiful 6 story Georgian house) took the first steps this year to put its collection on line. The other, the archive of the Folklore Society is based at University College, Dublin.
Up to around fifteen years ago Irish music was treated with contempt by the arts establishment and the media as diddly-di music; the turnaround has come about by taking the music seriously, fighting to get it recognised as a serious performing art and above all, having a clear, uncompromising attitude on the meaning of the terms 'folk' and 'tradition'.
As well as the national archives, regional ones are now starting to spring up.
Here in County Clare we have set up a county-wide organisation and within the last twelve months, have purchased premises which we hope, by the middle of next year, will be functioning as a teaching facility and an archive and information centre for the traditional arts.
Jim Carroll


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