I have been fortunate enough to be able to spend two weeks at the archive, learning the role of an archivist and undertaking various projects from listing AIDS research papers to setting up displays for the Great War Bake Off. Here is a brief glimpse of a couple of the projects that I’ve been able to undertake during my time here.
The Great War Bake Off
As part of the national ‘Explore Your Archive’ week LSHTM Archive decided to hold a Bake Off with a wartime theme, chosen to commemorate the centenary of the start of the First World War. Many of the recipes used were from the Nutrition Collection and were available for staff and students to use. People were also encouraged to find and use their own recipes if they preferred, the only stipulation being to keep it authentic, and a debate did arise over the authenticity of cherries used in a Pineapple Upside Down Cake which were not included in the original ingredients!
Recipes submitted ranged from First World War Trench Cakes, one of which was posted to the archive earlier that week from the Postal Heritage Archive, traditionally wrapped in cloth and tied with brown paper and string.
Second prize went to a Second World War Pineapple Upside Down Cake. In all over twenty cakes were entered, all of which were judged by Robert Lovesey the school’s Catering Manager and Alan Dangour the Head of Nutrition Group. All the participants of the Bake-Off should be commended for undertaking the challenge of wartime baking, but there could only be one winner which was a delicious 1916 Gingerbread Sponge baked by Anna Quinn. The event was thoroughly successful and after judging, samples of the entries were enjoyed by all who came.
As part of this event I was required to create a display of the materials from the Archives’ Nutrition Collection, including copies of wartime recipes and nutrition studies undertaken in the colonies during the war, in order to provide an interesting sample of what records the archive holds. The event was a wonderful example of a successful outreach programme, drawing awareness to the archive and how the materials it contains are still relevant today.
Another aspect of my work placement has been learning about records management, an element of archive work that I had not previously experienced. I discovered that the archive manages records across the entire School, once they are no longer in current use by other departments. This includes an element of data protection, as some of the records on file contain personal details, and it is therefore the archives’ domain to keep this information secure and only available to those eligible.
My work relating to this has consisted of repackaging human resource files and entering the information into a database before they are removed to an offsite storage location; so that when they are needed the files can be found easily and quickly.
Throughout my short time at the school archive, I have learnt many new aspects of archiving and gained a vast array of valuable in depth knowledge, both medical and archival. I wasn’t completely new to the world of archiving, having done previous work placements elsewhere, but it has been a rewarding, worthwhile experience and one I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to anyone interested in an archival career.