More questions than answers

People come to the archives for many reasons: they want to know about their families, they want to know about the area and history. In general, they come to get answers for their question. But sometimes the archives give more questions than answers. Documents, pictures items are donated often after the death of their original owners and their meaning gets lost. Those are the questions I got while digging through the many boxes in gathered in the archives.

There is a professionally taken picture of a man in traditional teacher’s robes. Something you’d see on the back of a book or possibly in a newspaper or magazine. Who is he? A principal? A celebrated lecturer? Well, he’s Clancy. That’s all we know about him,  since that’s all what there is written on the back of I the picture.

There are two letters that were returned to Marjon because the addressee moved away. There is a note on them that they’re to be forwarded, but for some reason they weren’t. Both of them are still sealed, so there is no way to tell what’s inside. The main question is: what should be done with them? Should they be opened and risk the knowledge there is something utterly boring inside or should they remain a tantalising mystery?

There is a postcard of a very old, restored double-decker bus. Why do we even have it? It hasn’t been written on. Was somebody connected to us that took that photo? Or driving this bus or one just like it? Or maybe was it just like Kirsty, one of our volunteers, suggested- a bus like this used to bring people to St. Mark’s College.

It might seem like that kind of mysteries would be impossible to solve, but sometimes we get lucky and the baffling object gets an explanation somewhere else in the archives. There was this group picture of soldiers in various uniforms. There was no explanation or date on the back. But the answer to questions about that picture was hidden in one of the year books. There was a reunion held for those who survived the WW1 and that’s why the picture was taken- to commemorate the reunion of the students who served in different armies and regiments.

Just when I started to think that I know what’s what in the archives, I found myself completely baffled with the things I’ve found. Who knows what else I’ll find next week?

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