Having recently been dealing with real and very old documents, materials that span for three hundred of local history, I have gained new appreciation for dealing with ‘the real thing’, the stuff that only historians and archivist touch- real life history. I now see how rewarding and beneficial such thing can be for one’s learning- not only reading what somebody found, but doing some exploring on your own. But not all can be as lucky as me. Sometimes there just aren’t any opportunities to access the original documents, be it because the access is restricted or because there is no way of making them available to public without the materials becoming damaged. So what would be the solution? Enter the ‘Turnpike Pack’. It is an old teaching aid that somehow found its way into Marjon’s archives. What it contains is reproductions of real documents and other materials concerning the subject of travel and transport in the years 1750-1850. Inside there are posters advertising coach travel, timetables and timesheets of real coaches traveling their routes and pictures of scenes showing the realities of coach travel. While this is not a substitute for the real thing, it gives a unique opportunity to learn and draw conclusions from unprocessed data that could be gained from a real historical document. But then, why bother with the real thing in the age of electronic information where any document can be digitized and accessed almost anywhere? Two reasons: not all documents can be digitized, some would not survive the process and the sheer volume of what is already traditionally preserved would make digitization the task for ages. The second reason is an example- holding and reading a diary of a man 200 years dead feels incredible. It feels like a superpower- ignoring time and looking straight into the past.
Category Archives: artefacts
Well, well, well. Seems like the old junk/fancy lamp from previous post is still in working condition, the lamp lits up and the lens is fine too. I actually got to see things that haven’t been touched since the advent of digital photography- slides, microfilmed documents and a commemorative reel made especially for the celebration of Marjons 150th birthday.
I even stumbled upon something of special interest to me, as a person interested in the history of microcomputers- a slideshow that was part of a presentation about role of computers in education. You know, the thing that was used before there was PowerPoint and those horrid gradient backgrounds. Here are a few pictures, you can still see what’s what even that the backlight is messing with my phone big time.
Today I think I’ll make a small quiz:
What is this thing pictured above? Is it:
A) a piece of old junk
B) a microfilm reader
C) a fancy lamp
D) all of the above
The answer, of course is D. This old piece of machinery is one of our library’;s decommissioned microfilm readers, now residing in our archives. I’m not certain if it’s working, even that it looks fairly intact. We plan to turn it into a fancy lamp if we can make the underside light to work.
This label comes from one of the donations from one of the former staff members. It is for a company that supplied medical and science equipment, most famously skulls and skeletons. They were operating in late 18th century and yes, it was a time when you could just go out and buy yourself a human skeleton neatly packed in a box for your convenience. Crazy, huh?
Sometimes the archives seem to be a catch-all for random stuff that gets cleared out from somebody’s office. Like this issue of Executive Post- a publication from PER.
‘So what?’ you could say. ‘Shouldn’t the university be in possesion of those?’ Certainly, but this particular issue is exactly as old as I am. Uh-oh, somebody is way behind cleaning in their office.:-)
On unrelated note: hey, PER people! Do you have anything that this starving artist could do?:-P