Archives deposited every day into the care of Hampshire Archives and Local Studies come in all shapes and sizes. They range from a single parchment deed, to a whole van-load of volumes. Processing the material, or ‘accessioning’ as our archivists call it, is approached exactly the same way, no matter how big or small the deposit. It involves making an accurate record of the content, extent and physical condition of the archives.
However, what most people perhaps don’t realise, is that most of the records the County Council looks after, don’t actually belong to us, but are entrusted to us as long-term loans on behalf of their owners - so recording the origins and background to the deposits is also crucial.
All of this means that we have a duty of care to depositors, as well as our users. One of the daily challenges professional archivists face, is the need to keep these two, sometimes competing demands, in careful balance.
Archivist Adrienne Allen reveals: “One of the joys of accessioning is that you never know quite what is going to arrive in your to-do pile, or who is going to turn up at the front door.
“Much of it is routine, of course, but once in a while, something comes to light which stands out as a rarity and a lucky survival, and really does make those stressful days on the frontline of a busy public service seem worthwhile.”
In the new Hampshire Archives and Local Studies blog, she tells us more and attempts to fill in the blanks behind a fascinating find on the Pilgrim’s Way.