Tales from work experience - Alfie

We were first given a tour of the Portsmouth history archive and the Conan Doyle archive as well as the library in general. We were made aware of the high security regarding the archives, which contain some of the only copies of certain materials that exist throughout the world. One thing that struck me was the meticulous nature of storage in the archives which took into consideration the temperature of the room, its humidity and the possibility of chemical damage. The specificity of knowledge required of an archivist is staggering.    

The Richard Lancelyn Green collection was especially intriguing to me because of its sheer number of objects, articles, letters, phenomena and records that all related to Conan Doyle or Sherlock Holmes. I was both impressed and confused by one or two individual of objects that had been archived. I wondered, for example, what the historical value of a dog that you can dress up as Sherlock Holmes really amounted to. Why would anyone need to study such trivia? It was then brought to my attention that the dog has recently been used in a PhD concerning the investigation of fandom pre-1930. In this context, the dress-up-dog entailed critical historical usefulness.

I think it made me realise the significance of things that are seemingly insignificant. We often don’t realise the importance of the mundane objects in our lives that will shape an investigation that a future historian may conduct. Everything that we accumulate and all the things that we write down are instantly primary sources. This only exalts the importance of the archivist, whose dedication to making the primary sources easily accessible expands the possibilities of historical investigation tenfold. The role of the archivist, in a manner of speaking, transcends time as they are directly involved in the investigation of someone who may not even be born yet!

The first day, if anything, made me appreciate such an occupation

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