The Experience of the Archive

Gerald Aylmer Seminar

Friday 29 April 2016

Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, London

This seminar follows  the IHR Winter Conference 2016 – The Production of the Archive, this second event focuses on the individual, personal and community experience of the archive and the ways in which that experience affects how the archive is understood and used.

Just as the production of the archive is neither neutral nor static, the use of the archive is a matter not only of the content found there but also of the manner in which the archive is experienced. In a digital world, the experience of ‘reading’ the archive may be very different from the traditional engagement which required a scholar to travel through time and space to read the archive. Is there something of the physical experience of being in the archive which is still valuable? What other insights does the experience of the archive bring?

Following the keynote by Professor Carolyn Steedman `In the Archive, Hearing Things: Lord Mansfield’s Voices‘, the seminar will offer four thematic sessions in which speakers will address issues from multiple archival and scholarly perspectives.


10:00-11:00         Keynote, chaired by Peter Mandler

Carolyn Steedman (University of Warwick): `In the Archive, Hearing Things: Lord Mansfield’s Voices’

11:00-12:15         Session 1, chaired by Jeff James

Paul Carter (The National Archives): ‘Finding, reading, understanding… “a bit”: the Central Poor Law Archive at The National Archives’

Katrina Navickas (University of Hertfordshire):  ‘Making sense of the Home Office “disturbance papers”: radicals, spies and magistrates in the early 19th century’

12:15-13:00         Lunch

13:00-14:15         Session 2, chaired by Val Johnson

Maryanne Dever (University of Technology Sydney): ‘What matters:  materiality and the potential of paper’

Jenny Haynes (Wellcome Library): ‘The archivist who came in from the cold: the changing value of archival experience’

14:15-15:30         Session 3, chaired by Lawrence Goldman

Michael Hughes (Bodleian Library, University of Oxford): ‘From acquisition to access: modern political archives in the Bodleian Library’

John Campbell (biographer): ‘Writing political biography – with and without the papers’

15:30-15:45         Tea   

15:45-17:00         Session 4, chaired by Elizabeth Shepherd

Filippo de Vivo (Birkbeck, University of London) and Claudia Salmini (Venice State Archives, Italy): ‘Period eye in the archives: what archivists and historians can learn from each other’


Register here (waitlist only available at this stage)