For the first time in a very long while, yesterday I actually managed to spend a day doing research at The National Archives. It was not entirely surprising to find that I was in the company of around twenty other researchers whose paths had previously crossed with mine, as today is the Colonial Records Guild seminar at Kew.
Having lacked any time to plan my trip in minute detail, the start of the day revolved around the realisation that service users are now able to log on to the ‘TNA-public’ Wifi and, using the new Discovery Catalogue, download the image viewer records onto our own portable electronic devices. Wunderbar!
In the first hour, I was shocked to be informed that I had broken not one, but two rules. Never before have I been told that we are not allowed to take laptops in their sleeves into the computer area of The National Archives. Understandable in the Document or Map Reading Rooms but what were they expecting me to conceal within it? Secondly, it is apparently illegal to sit on the carpet and utilise a low table as a workspace. Who’d have thought it?
Despite all this, some wonderful discoveries were made including a divorce record (J77) in 1919 against a man’s wife who decided to have an extra-marital affair with a Canadian soldier and the IR58 Land Tax Assessment books for my two one-place studies of Luffincott and Tetcott, with some properties even being occupied by Sillifants.
You never achieve enormous amounts in one day at The National Archives as it is a vast place. However, when I tell you that a mini-marathon was run at 4pm when the memory card on the camera was full, you might just appreciate how many images were captured during the course of yesterday’s research.
And so today, to the Colonial Records seminar…. more later….