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Tell your own story at our ‘how to archive’ workshop

12 September 2017 by Mitty

family photograph

Rare picture that all of my siblings and both parents are in as one of us would usually be taking the picture. I still can’t keep my eyes open in pictures!

Heritage consultant Heather Roberts will be leading our Tell your story- How to archive workshop on Saturday – the latest of our fantastic free Sankofa project events. You can book your place by following the link here.

Heather tells us about some of the really interesting work she’s been doing in Manchester to support communities uncovering their own hidden histories:

“On the Hidden Histories, Hidden Historians project with Manchester Histories, I am working with five community groups on a wonderful archive project. I am guiding them through the process of finding, valuing and displaying their history.

One such organisation is Oldham Youth Council. They wish to reveal the heritage and histories hidden in their members’ families to highlight how diversity makes for stronger teams with shared goals. The members are all young people and have roots all over the world, from Oldham to Pakistan, from Japan to Italy.

The stories of their families and therefore of Oldham’s diverse youth were told mainly through photographs. Photographs are easily one of the most important and richest archival assets you can have, especially for telling the story of a community.

The amazing mix of photographs from Oldham Youth Council was astounding, and it was brilliant to hear the young people enthuse about their stories.

Ideas about how best to keep family photographs came up in the workshops. Here are some of my top tips for getting the most out of your photograph collection:

  • Label them. If you can, label the photograph with the following information: what the photograph shows; who is in it; when and where it was taken.
  • Bring them around to family and friends. If you don’t know what to label them as, have a chat with people who do. Use it as an opportunity to connect and reminisce but definitely take notes whilst you’re doing it!
  • Get rid of plastic packaging. If they’re stuck in photograph albums then that’s fine, just leave them. However, if they’re in plastic wallets then just remove them – the plastic can stick and make a mess of your gorgeous photos.
  • Get rid of elastic bands. If you’ve grouped photographs with those then carefully unbind them. Elastic bands can stain the photographs and when they dry out (and they always do) they glue themselves to your gorgeous memories and cause lots of damage.
  • DO NOT LAMINATE! If you have laminated photographs just leave them as they are but don’t laminate any more. The glue, heat and plastic damages your collection often irreversibly.

My last wish for your photographs is that you share them. Be proud of your journey and your family’s journey! Share memories and ask questions. Either share them online or with local history groups. You’ll find that it’s not just you who gets a lot of value out of the stories they tell.”

For more information on using and keeping archives, have a look at my “Creating Your Own Archive” toolkit, for beginners, free from the Manchester Histories website.

  1. Lesley says:

    What a wonderful project! Thank you for the links and all the good advice on caring for and using photographs. My dad was a devil for laminating photographs – thank goodness he stopped it when the laminator broke!

    • Heather Roberts says:

      Haha! You’re very welcome, Lesley. I bet your photos are brilliant. Look out for some archive workshops we’re doing (today & January) and bring ’em along! I’d love to see them (I am so incredibly nosey). Any questions in the meantime, just ask! Ta, Heather (HerArchivist)

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