Tim is our newest volunteer and already he has achieved a great deal! Here he gives us a glimpse into what he has been up to…
I have been volunteering at the Archive for a little over a month now, and I can safely say that it has been quite a learning curve, though a thoroughly enjoyable one!
Having graduated from the University of Kent last year with a degree in History, I moved back to my parents’ house in Guildford and began thinking about my career. History students are notorious for being unsure of which career path they want to follow, and few actually end up working in a historical environment. However, I wanted to engage directly in historical preservation and research, and archives seemed the best way to do it!
Therefore, in order to gain experience for an internship or traineeship in archives, I decided to volunteer for the University of Surrey Archive. To begin, I catalogued a sub-series of press cuttings into the Battersea Polytechnic Archive, some of which had previously been a part of the University Archive. Looking for connections and patterns between the press cuttings was fascinating; I had never heard the term “Domestic Science” before, and it was remarkable to discover how important it was to the Polytechnic’s curriculum.
I then moved on to an even more exciting project: cataloguing the Lilla Bauer Archive. This was my first experience of cataloguing at a collection level, and I have learned valuable lessons from it. My tasks included deciding on the structure of the Archive, writing descriptions for the individual records, repackaging items to meet archival standards, and writing a name authority record. Watching the life of Lilla Bauer, a ballet dancer of Hungarian origin, develop and unfold through these items was intriguing to say the least. Her correspondence with Rudolf Laban showed the prestige that her talent had earned, her dissertation and printed lecture revealed that she was a scholar as much as a dancer, and her photographs from the 1930s demonstrated her photogenic nature. I hope that the archive is able to assist researchers when it is uploaded to the catalogue, and that they find it as interesting as I have.
I am now moving on to digitisation, planning a mounted display, and possibly undertaking other projects after that! I would thoroughly recommend the University of Surrey Archive for anybody who wishes to participate in volunteer work in an archive environment, regardless of their prior experience. The archivist is an excellent teacher, and everybody here is relaxed and friendly. I only hope I’ve been able to help them as much as they’ve helped me!