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A tale about a toboggan from the Archives!

29 January 2019 by Vicki Caren

document next to computer screen showing info on George Ashworth Cobham Jr

This guest blog comes to you from Helen Ritchie, a University of Liverpool student currently undertaking a Masters in Archives and Records Management (MARM). Helen has reflected upon her recent placement here at the Maritime Archive and Library, which included the discovery of an unexpected tale:

“I was delighted to have the opportunity to complete a two-week volunteer placement at the Merseyside Maritime Museum.

During my time at the Maritime, I have witnessed what it takes to be an archivist within a museum setting and the constraints that the sector often endures such as funding and space management.

The collection I was asked to catalogue belongs to the Bryson-Cobham family collection which includes a large number of personal and business correspondence relating to the Cobhams, a prominent Liverpool family during the 19th century. One Cobham would later become a famous Lieutenant Colonel of the 111th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry during the American Civil War, following his migration to the United States.

lease document for the Black Dog InnThe placement has involved the use of Palaeography (deciphering old handwriting) as many of the records are handwritten agreements such as the agreement to lease the Black Dog Inn in Lancashire.

Perhaps my favourite discovery was a letter between solicitors concerning land on the Cobham estate from 4 January 1898. Amongst conversation of business, Mr Lee takes a moment to joke about Mrs Cobham being “run down on a toboggan by one of her daughters”, calling it an “unnatural crime… to her venerated mother”. The thought must have been amusing to him but he does, however, inform us that she makes a full recovery!

The placement has been fantastic, the staff have been so welcoming and supportive, and the collections held within the archives are vast and unique. The search room has recently been fully refurbished, so I highly recommend a visit!”

  1. Norma Patterson says:

    Has the research room been opened again? I have been waiting about 2 years I think. I want to see the Elder Dempster Line records.

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