When you see the word ‘archives’, what do you think? Do you think about old websites, caches of data, files of electronic information that you don’t need to access regularly? Or do you think about dusty basements, ancient pieces of paper, and researching your family tree?
Did you know that the museum has an archive? Or that three archivists work here?
You might be surprised about that. We’re a hidden treasure of the museum. Now that the museum has its new blog, the archivists will be sharing stories from the archive that surprise us, excite us, or make us laugh. To get you used to us talking about archives, though, here is a quick introduction to what we have in our stores.
Our earliest documents date from the late 18th century and are in our paper making archive. We also have books full of samples of printed fabrics from the textile industry, such as the above example. The oldest fabric sample book we have dates from between 1795 and 1805, and is full of designs from the Rossendale Printing Co.
At the other end of time, one of our most up to date documents is a Big Issue digital access card (above), made in 2012. That was the year that the Big Issue in the North launched the world’s first digital street magazine with a pilot scheme in Manchester. A more thorough catalogue record can be found in the new SMG Archive Catalogue.
In between the 18th century and now, we have archives that talk about the reach and influence of this most original and modern of cities. From the innovations of the locomotive engineers Beyer, Peacock & Co. to the musical hedonism of Factory (above, top) via the work of textile designers like Jacob Dimoldenberg and Jean Elizabeth Gregson (above, bottom) and electrical engineering pioneers Ferranti Ltd, we’ve got a slice of Manchester’s rich past waiting for you to explore.