Training Day 2013

An introduction to arranging and describing your archive collection by Sarah Maspero

This course did exactly what it said on the tin giving a clear concise introduction to Catholic archives. Unseasonal March weather prevented a group from Kent getting to London, but the twelve attendees from a variety of parishes, dioceses and religious orders found it a really useful course covering theory with practical tips and good handouts.

Sarah started with the absolute basics of what is an archive and why are they kept.

She went on to the theory and best practice, but also made us aware that if our current systems worked for our group, then it wasn’t always sensible to change.

Her lucid explanation of the value of ISAD(G) and its importance and finding aids were very helpful in making us appreciate the need for consistency .

The handouts were very comprehensive giving us other resources such as websites where we could follow up for more examples and information. Practical tips e.g about brass paperclips and using pencil were discussed.  Pointers were given  to other publications covering classification and what parishes should keep.

For some of us the basic idea of appraisal and what we decide to keep is a really tough one. I liked Sarah’s view that if something is worth keeping the original should be kept for ever.

Discussions at the end made us aware that we are in a hybrid situation poised between paper and electronic options.  However the principles covered in this course are even more important when looking at digitisation and we did touch on various ways forward in using commercial data bases or standard databases  in relation to archives

Thanks for a splendid lunch and an opportunity to chat with others and share experiences.

It was good to be able to ask very basic questions and get good answers.

We all left with a realisation of the importance of preliminary planning and research before diving in to our own archives; detailed work and thinking at the start will save time later and make our material easier to retrieve and use. It is not a good idea to wait until our space is running out!

Una Morgan, Parish Secretary, Ledbury Parish