In this post I describe what I’ve been getting up to in the world of archives so far in my Transforming Archives Traineeship at the Hull History Centre. Many thanks go to Emma Stagg, Transforming Archives Project Manager, for coordinating these- I’m looking forward to seeing all the other trainee’s posts about their traineeships!
Here’s a quick video I made of the Hull History Centre recreated in Minecraft as part of our HullCraft project. My idea behind recreating the centre in the game was so Minecrafters could be introduced to the concept of archives in an immersive and relatable way, the centre being the first building they see on entry to the HullCraft server.
From the searchrooms to the archive strongrooms, Minecrafters can explore the centre before heading through a portal to plots of land where they will recreate historical architecture from one of the archive’s architectural plans.
My video was recorded using the default texture as to be instantly recognisable as a Minecraft build. It gives a simple tour of the archives and (a very brief!) mentioning of some of the collection themes, hopefully providing an introductory overview of what the Hull History Centre has to offer!
Firstly, on the 16th April I went to Heritage Quay with Simon Wilson, Acting University Archivist, and Claire Weatherall, Project Archivist to speak at the Northern Collaboration Learning Exchange event. The theme of this event was “Developing Archives” and was highly relevant with it being based on university archives (I am seconded to the Hull University Archives at the Hull History Centre).
Simon carried out a highly interesting talk on the Hull History Centre’s joint partnership model between the University of Hull and the Hull City Council and how this works in practice. It was great to see photos of the development of the History Centre from 2010 (which I had never seen before!) and to see how far the archives had come along. It made me feel very proud to be working there!
Myself and Claire presented on Architectural Archives: New Models of Outreach based on the collections of architect Francis Johnson. Claire began the talk explaining her role as project archivist for the Francis Johnson & Partners collection (U DFJ) and the many strands that she has developed from her cataloguing work- including exploration of the possibility to use a GIS mapping interface with the catalogued works, use of volunteers, and the development and implementation of Lego & Craft days called History Makers.
For the second half of the talk I presented on our HullCraft project which stems from Claire’s work with the Francis Johnson collection. I explained how we are using Johnson’s architectural plans to engage a wider, and younger, audience using the computer game Minecraft as an educational platform.
It was great to hear from the other speakers talk about their archives- the team at Heritage Quay and Alison Cullingford (University of Bradford). Thank you to Heritage Quay for having us! A day at Heritage Quay could not go without mentioning their brilliant interactive displays- it was like a dream come true for me! We experimented with their giant gesture-recognition wall which was linked up to their online catalogue, and also their touchscreen displays (see photos below).
Once Northern Collaboration was over, I ventured to London to the Wellcome Collection to present a poster session called HullCraft: Using Digitised Archival Collections for Outreach at the Museum Librarians & Archivists Group (MLAG) conference “The D-Word: Tips & Tricks for Digitising Library & Archive Collections” (24th April 2015).
This conference featured a fantastic set of speakers who gave advice on every part of the digitisation process, from planning, writing a funding proposal, technicalities, accessibility and digital preservation. Many thanks to the Internet Archive for giving us a tour of their sophisticated digitisation suite.
I was carrying out a poster session on our HullCraft project, telling delegates the story of how we are digitising architectural plans of Francis Johnson’s work and engaging a hard to reach audience using Minecraft. I had a very enjoyable day talking to a wide variety of people from other archives and museums about the project, and was was thrilled to find out that other archives are beginning to plan their own Minecraft-related projects.
Overall it was a very useful event (and highly organised- thank you Melanie Grant and Jane Bramwell!) and I came away with lots of great digitisation advice that will be of use during my Transforming Archives traineeship at the Hull History Centre. If you want to find out more about the conference I highly recommend viewing Caitlin Moore’s Storify as it provides a great summary of the event!
On the 20th January I was very fortunate to have presented at the Arts Council’s national conference “Digital Utopias” on the Hull History Centre’s archives engagement project “HullCraft“.
“Digital Utopias was a one-day conference which inspired and sparked debate about how new technologies are enabling creativity across the arts. The conference captured topical and diverse approaches to curation, archiving, collecting and creating from a range of art forms, from the visual arts to theatre”. (Arts Council England)
The conference was held at the Hull Truck Theatre and there were lots of big tech, arts and culture names there, from the Google Cultural Institute to the V&A! See the programme to view a full list of speakers.
As I was there representing the Hull History Centre, you can read my full extended blog post here on the Hull History Centre blog.
I’ve been blogging on the Hull History Centre’s blog recently where you can read about the HullCraft project (engaging young people with archival material using Minecraft), and my work digitising the Grand Tour diary of Francis Johnson, a local architect.
In late November I spent a week at The National Archives in Kew which was insightful. It was my first visit and I was accompanied by all the other “Transforming Archives” trainees who are based at different archives services nationally. To read more on my week at The National Archives have a look at my Hull History Centre blog post.
I was also promoting HullCraft at the Platform Expos 2014 at Hull College accompanied by Joel Mills and our recycled archive boxes Creeper and Steve. This was a fantastic day of speaking to gamers and teachers about the project, recruiting new HullCrafters and showcasing the server live on a big screen. The server features a reconstruction of the Hull History Centre and took approximately 18450 blocks to build!
The next coming year brings lots of events that I would recommend for anyone interested in digitisation and digital heritage.
I have a showcase session with Joel at the Digital Utopias event in Hull on the 20th January 2015. We will be demonstrating the HullCraft project and looking at re-contextualising archives using Minecraft.
Do you play Minecraft and want to contribute to a real, community project based on the amazing City of Culture that is Hull?
HullCraft is an exciting new heritage project I have been involved with in my work at the Hull History Centre and the University of Hull using Minecraft. We need lots of players to join our server and recreate real historical buildings from Hull’s history, starting with the beautiful Georgian architecture of Bridlington architect Francis Johnson. All of the buildings you will create will be from the archives based at the Hull History Centre, from simple townhouses to elaborate churches.
YOUR builds will be used to create a Minecraft world of Hull’s past periods, enabling you to travel back in time, adventure, learn, collaborate and ultimately have fun!
The project is for all ages and suitable for both newbies and Minecraft experts. Parents- if you would like your child to be involved there is information on our website on safeguarding and getting started.
The HullCraft server will have its official launch at the upcoming Platform Expo event in Hull- how exciting! So if you are in Hull on 14th November come and say hi to Joel, Simon and me on the HullCraft stand, we are always looking for players to join the server.