Fresh perspectives: work experience at the ERO

Abbie Wheeler, who came all the way from Edinburgh to work with us for a week, blogs for us about her time here…

I went to the Essex Record Office for a one week work experience from 3 to the 7th of June. I was able to look into and experience all aspects of the Record Office. I worked with Marion and had a look at how all the documents and archive papers were photographed and digitised. It was fascinating and a great experience to see the amount of work she puts in to make the documents clear and defined to view on the screen.

I had a peek into the conservation room and had a look at a map that the conservators took months to repair because it was so badly damaged.

I also checked out the Sound and Video Archive section of the Office which really astonished me with the vast range of technology they used to identify video clips and sounds of history.

On the Thursday I worked in the Searchroom and gained an insight into how documents were retrieved for the public, catalogued, checked then stored back into the repositories. Retrieving specific documents for the public is really well executed and the amount of organisation that has to be done so the repositories are catalogued correctly and the right documents are given to the right person is unbelievable and I think the whole system is really well set up and resourceful .

Most of my day would consist of cataloguing. As a work experience student I was cataloguing building plans and I definitely underestimated how much detail needs to be put into the Seax system so each plan is identifiable. On the whole my week at the Record Office was an eye opener into the working life of an archivist and I really appreciate all the advice and help all the staff gave me. Thank you so much for such a helpful and enjoyable work experience!

Work Experience in the Conservation Studio at ERO

Hello readers!

My name is Jillian and I am currently studying on the Masters program in Paper Conservation at Camberwell College. In order to gain more experience and improve my technical skills, I have been undertaking work experience at the ERO, one day a week since July 2011.

Hard at work in the Conservation Studio

During this time I have undertaken a wide variety of projects, from repairing mould-damaged documents, badly damaged photographic material, and architectural drawings, to cleaning parchment and wax seals, and more recently carrying out a large scale map lining using the map wall.

Cleaning a seal

 The photographic project in particular was very interesting as my background is in photography. The photograph in question was torn into several pieces, had missing areas, and had areas of the gelatin emulsion that were folded back on themselves. Treatment for this object included humidification and flattening, stretch lining, infill repairs, gelatin consolidation, and finally housing.

The badly damaged photograph before conservation work

The photograph during the humidification process

The photograph after conservation work was completed

All of the projects I have undertaken so far have helped my technical ability and confidence grow immensely. I have also now experienced first hand specific techniques and treatments that I had previously read or heard about, but had not necessarily been able to carry out at University.

Work experience at the ERO has been, and continues to be, immensely useful and worthwhile, and ERO conservators Tony and Diane, continue to be fantastic in sharing their expertise, and providing advice and support.

If you are interested in finding out more about some of the projects and work I have undertaken, please feel free to have a look at my website.