Cataloguing Shepard Artwork

Sadly, by the time you read this, I will have finished my project to catalogue the new additions to the EH Shepard Archive. I have really enjoyed the last eight weeks, so thought I would provide an update on my progress.

Following a survey of the collection, I ordered archival packaging for the new items and began to consider a catalogue structures. Through discussion with Mel Peart, the University Archivist, we agreed to use the publication process as the basis for the cataloguing structure. Since this collection was deposited by a publisher, Egmont UK Ltd, the drawings were already separated into groups representing the books they were published in. We decided that maintaining these distinctions would be faithful to the original use of the collection, whilst also providing a structure that would be easy for researchers to understand.

With an established structure, I could proceed to catalogue the collection. Archivists are encouraged to maintain the ‘original order’ of collections, as the filing of working documents or correspondence reveals valuable details of relationships between people, departments and companies. However, since the majority of the material in this deposit was artwork, there was no clear ‘original order.’ I therefore chose to impose an order using the placement of the drawings within AA Milne’s books. This again provides an intuitive order to the collection, whilst highlighting that, to the publishers, the drawings were working documents. (It also meant I had the enviable task of reading Milne’s prose and poetry whilst I catalogued, to ensure I had the correct page numbers in my catalogue descriptions.)

The V&A poster advertising the new exhibition

As regular readers may recall, several books and drawings from the new deposit were due to feature in the upcoming exhibition ‘Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic’ at the V&A Museum in South Kensington. Following my cataloguing efforts and a visit from one of the V&A’s conservators, the requested items were deemed ready, then carefully packaged and transported by courier to the museum. During a recent visit to the museum I was excited to see a poster marking the entrance to the room which will house the exhibition. The whole Archives and Special Collections team are fortunate to have been invited to a private view of the exhibition in early December and we are looking forward to being some of the first to see our material on display.

Having catalogued over 1000 item and piece level entries onto our digital catalogue database, Axiell Calm, I then packaged and labelled the collection, before recording the location of each box on the database. Little brings more joy to an archivist than returning recently catalogued records to a shelf in their new inert boxes with smart, legible labels.

New boxes

I have found the project highly rewarding and a valuable opportunity to expand my skills by seeing a project through from beginning to end. Although the last day of the project is the 21st November, I will be staying at the University until the middle of February to work on another two projects. Details will be revealed in further blog posts!