Archivist Update

Having been in post now for five months, I thought it would be a good time to update blog readers with my progress. On Tuesday, I unpacked and listed box 142. This was not papers but a box of objects including these shields:

These are one of the few objects to have a label: “Steel shield inlaid with gold and silver wire, North Indian, Sialkot work of mid-Nineteenth Century. Bequest of Major R.G. Gayer-Anderson ‘Pasha’ 1945”. I’d already discovered Major Gayer-Anderson had donated a metallic dish, and in a late afternoon ‘explore’ of the library office filing cabinet discovered these letters telling of the donation:

This is one of the joys of being an archivist – beginning to re-collate the stories behind objects and papers. The letters, too, need to come out of the cabinet and be archived. So my sorting is not yet finished. However, I am beginning to think towards organising the collections in an appropriate way for cataloguing.

Back to the story of Major Gayer-Anderson – the Internet sometimes is a good source for gleaning information. The Fitzwilliam Museum’s biography of Collector: Gayer-Anderson, (Major) Robert Grenville ‘John’ (1881–1945) provides more information about him. And so, when I come to cataloging, all this information will help to provide a more accurate entry. Of course, for others, the Internet appears silent, and so other sources will have to be researched.

As well as sorting and blogging, writing Tweets have become part of my work life. Here I am also discovering willing ‘helpers’. So tweeting these objects:

led eventually to their identification as brass and enamel ware from Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh, dating to around 1900. And tweeting of this:

led to the suggestion that the grip is decorated with script naming the Twelver Shi’a Imams. I am very grateful to people freely giving of their time to help in the quest for identification and information.

Though this blog has highlighted objects more than the papers in the archives, it has also been exciting to be able to help researchers in their quest for material and to know that my list, provisional as it is, has already enabled access to material to answer some inquiries. This can only improve as my knowledge of the the collections increase and its ordering and cataloguing gets under way.