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The Gloves are off

During the tour of the Acts room at the Parliamentary Archive, the archivist Mari took down a scroll from one of the shelves, albeit very careful and confidently – but with no gloves. There seems to be a popular notion that gloves are needed to handle historical documents. But wearing the archetypal white cloth gloves, effects dexterity and can increases the likelihood of damage. Not having to use gloves makes handling documents easier and more accessible.

So in my search for more information about what was happening in 1821 in Norwich, (and back in the Norfolk Record Office) a book ‘Norfolk Annals – A Chronological Record of Remarkable Events in the19th Century’ – snappy title, it proved to be very engrossing. Inside the front cover is a sticker with a coat of arms and the name of one Thomas Watkin Forster (actually I find that it’s not from this book at all but rather Blomefield’s Norfolk Vol.5 more accurate note taking needed perhaps!) This intrigues me as I am often interested in how objects have found their way into collections, museums and archives alike. I have resisted the temptation to find out who he is and instead focused on the contents of the book.

Within the remarkable events from 1821 are repeated mentions of the affairs of coach companies running between Norwich and London with one account from the 10th February detailing that it took 24 hours. No longer shall I complain about the delays on the Norwich to London Liverpool Street train line.

Inside the book there is a great quote:
“It is beyond the capacity of the human intellect to discriminate beforehand between what is valuable and what is valueless in the pursuit of historical research. What would we give now for newspapers and trade circulars illustrating the social habits of many bygone times and people?”
The Times May 4th 1900

This leads me to consider the acquisition policies of archives but more of that later.