Archives for Everyone!

Archive blog post image

In the past we’ve written blog posts about the collections we hold in the archives and also how to find archive collections in other UK repositories. In this post I want to introduce some of you to the archives just for fun or personal interest, not necessarily for your coursework or research. I think often the archives seem like an impenetrable fortress that only people with a proven academic reason can visit – that is not the case! Throughout the year we take part in lots of events which help us to showcase our collections to people who may not have been to an archive before. We run tours of the archives on Heritage Open Day and at the annual Garden Party and we also provide exhibitions for various events going on on campus. Last year we provided a display for the Play Festival about our theatre collections which is now on display on the 2nd floor of Founder’s library and earlier this term we held two sessions for the Feminist Society looking at the history of the College at the forefront of women’s education.

Next week we will be holding an event looking at the effect World War One had on the lives of students and staff at both Bedford and Royal Holloway Colleges. The event will have two short talks from Stella Moss (History) and Anne Varty (English) on life at the College during the War and student poetry written during the war. The event will also include a display of items and information from the archives. If you’d like to come along (the event is free and includes tea and biscuits!) you can book a ticket here.

In addition to events and displays we also have lots of examples of items from the archives on our website. There are online exhibitions on College Fashions (including sections on clothes for sport and academic and evening dress), College Community and Sustainability (including sections on the introduction of men and the infamous College fire drills) and Social Life at the Colleges (including sections on the importance of tea and student discos and balls).

We also have an exhibition which includes highlights from the Roy Waters Theatre Collection. The Collection contains Roy’s lifetime collection of theatrical ephemera including material on the backstage workings of the theatre and satirical productions.

The website also contains all the items of month (now in its thirty eighth month). These are a chance for us to show items from the archives, rare books and art collections that we think are interesting or are related to a current event or news story. This month’s relates to World War One and the event we are holding. Some of the most popular editions are the polar bear painting from May 2013 and these dashing chaps from November 2012.

Hopefully these little insights into the archives will give you an idea of the kinds of things we hold. Don’t be shy if you want to find out more about the archives, our contact details are on the website and we are on the third floor of Founder’s library if you want to pop up and take a look at the display we have up here about the opening of Royal Holloway College.

Annabel Valentine, College Archivist