FRIDAY Fast Five: Merry #InternationalArchivesDay

I'm not going to lie - I totally forgot that Friday was happening this week. I blame Queen Elizabeth for having a birthday and messing up my regimented existence. Thanks a lot Queenie. However, in what feels like a happily serendipitous moment I realised that June 9 was #internationalarchivesday. Happy day everybody. Judging by the Twitter posts, it seems that the occasion was marked by many, many celebratory cakes. Oh and sharing archives of course. So today’s FF is a quick rundown of some of the wondrous #InternationalArchivesDay mentions that graced our Twitter feed…


1. Hocken Collections, Otago University

Ahhh, the Hocken. A second home for me while I completed my Art Hist Honours dissertation on Colin McCahon. Such an incredible resource, and one that keeps on getting better on more accessible. Honourable mentions to the  Marsden Collection. Not only a wonderful resource relating to one of our historically significant people, but a great exercise in digital access. As the Hocken website points out:

"This was a collaborative project undertaken by the University of Otago Library and the University’s Centre for Research on Colonial Culture. The project to create the Marsden Online Archive set out to achieve a number of objectives including:

  • Creating digital objects from historically significant, unique, items in the Hocken Collections.
  • Providing appropriate metadata for these resources, so to enrich contextual information and extend discoverability.
  • Identifying and deploying appropriate technical and discovery standards to ensure accessibility, preservation and curation.
  • Developing an appropriate platform, structure and web interface to make the collections useful as a research asset."

Also must mention the recent donation of a bunch of McCahon and Hone Tuwhare material. The bequest includes almost 100 letters written by McCahon and a poem written by Hotere in response to nuclear testing in the Pacific. In other words, a bumper crop.

2. Special Collections, Otago University

This one is a particularly special shout out. My Mum has been spending a bit of time in the Special Collections at Otago Uni recently. She recently text me, ecstatic, as she had been reading letters written and sent by Apollinaire (one of her literary heroes) to his fiancé while he was encamped on the Western Front. She was stopped in her tracks. There is such power in this – in the ability of archives to collapse history, allowing us to commune across, and in spite of, time and space. This is so perfectly surmised in the experience my Mum had in that moment - reading letters at a university in New Zealand’s South Island, written by a French literary great in the trenches of Europe 100 years ago. Miraculous. Tip o’ the hat to all ye Special Collections out there.

3. Favourite records of Archives New Zealand staff

Maori School , Ralph Hotere, 1953, BAAA 1006 28a [Attendance register BAAA 1006 5a]

Maori School, Ralph Hotere, 1953, BAAA 1006 28a [Attendance register BAAA 1006 5a]

I love getting wee glimpses into the personal side of our GLAM organisations and their people. I have a particular fondness for 'staff fav' lists. Yesterday NatArch gave us the low down on a few. Natalie from the Auckland regional office chose the drawing above - Maori School by Ralph Hotere, 1953. As Natalie says "He wrote several reports relating to arts and crafts programmes in the Northland area, which had been introduced into Maori schools in the late 1940s at the recommendation of Apirana Ngata to develop a more comprehensive approach to teaching Maori culture in schools." This sketch was likely done during this time.

4. Archive of a refugee scientist, University of Melbourne Archvies

Tracing a human life through a personal archive is a remarkable and humbling act. When I read or catalogue a personal collection, it feels like history's white noise gets turned way down...the individual's records and documents often reveal much larger events or movements in our history, but in that moment you're communing with it under a macro-lens. I love this account of tracing a personal archive from the University of Melbourne not only for the great individual story,  but also for how they choose to talk about it as "the wanderings" of an archive. It gives the material a sense of humanity and reconnects it fully with it's origin. 

5. International Council on Archives are holding their congress - Archives , Harmony and Friendship - in September this year in Seoul. "Friendship" -  how cute is that. There is a focus on the possibilities of both in and outside sector collaboration in the digital era, and of indigenous archives, particularly the "relationship both to their own records and archives and to the work of non-native communities in recordkeeping and archives management "

This track doesn't have much to do with #InternationalArchviesDay but I've had it on repeat for 3 days straight (if there is a Guinness Book of Records category for the most someone has listened to a song on repeat, I think I might be in with a chance)....