Archives Outside

For people who love, use and manage archives

Archives Outside - For people who love, use and manage archives

Link love in the GLAM sector


So, not that much data then?

Think again!

The Library of Congress’s digital collections are growing at a rate of 1.5 terabytes per day (that means, by the popular measure, we collect a “Library of Congress” worth of data each week, if anyone’s counting). The Repository Development Center, where we work, builds software and services to help manage and preserve the digital collections of the Library of Congress. What is a digital repository? There are whole books written on this topic, but we understand a digital repository to be software and hardware that:

  • Keeps digital material safe from accidental or unauthorized change or destruction;
  • Makes it possible to get material in the door, described, managed, preserved and available to the people who will use it.

Read the full post »

This is How the Vatican Will Digitize Millions of its Documents

Digitizing the Vatican’s 40 million pages of library archives will take 50 experts, five scanners and many, many years before the process comes to a close. The Vatican Library was founded in 1451 and has around 82,000 manuscripts, some of which date back about 1,800 years… When workers start handling documents, they’ll wear gloves and have to remove all jewelry so as to avoid scratching the paper. Observers from the Vatican will see to it that the rules are followed.

Read the full post and view the video »

Previously Unknown Warhol Works Discovered on Floppy Disks from 1985

A multi-institutional team of new-media artists, computer experts, and museum professionals have discovered a dozen previously unknown experiments by Andy Warhol (BFA, 1949) on aging floppy disks from 1985.

Read the full post »

Lost cities and found documents: do we ever discover in archives?

Discovery is not about seeing something but about making a connection. Researchers look at documents every single day which might be thrilling if read by someone else but aren’t the thing they personally are looking for and so are passed over. The real myth about discovery in archives is not discovery itself – it happens! – but that the discoverer is solely responsible. But this myth is widely peddled all over the place. The myth of the lone scholar is as tired as that of the lone entrepreneur: research and innovation are collaborative. No one ever does it by themselves nor have they ever. In order to make your discovery you first read quite a lot of books by quite a lot of people, used catalogues and online systems they built, bounced ideas off your colleagues, partner, friends, pets and therapist. Read the full post

19 (legitimately!) astounding photos from the Museum of Natural History’s newly digitized archives

For over a century, the amazing photographs in the American Museum of Natural History’s vast archives were squirreled away in the fourth-floor research library of a museum in Manhattan’s upper West Side. But thanks to a large-scale digitization project begun in 2006, more than 7,000 images went online this week — and they’re just the start of an eclectic, legitimately wonder-inducing collection of 1 million photos the museum eventually wants to put online.

Learn more


What impact have archives had on your life?

A world without records is a world without memory. Archivists, record managers and conservators invite you into the UK and Ireland archives where the records of your life, your community, your business, your nation and your world are collected, kept safe and made accessible. From this page you can begin to explore your own history and your own interests, online or through visiting an archive. You can learn more about the endless variety of records held by archives and how they contribute to education, business, identity and democracy.
Check out this great site

Link love in the GLAM sector

Queen’s historic tour heralded a new era for the royal family (via Tim Barlass @ Sydney Morning Herald)

“in 1954 the 27-year-old Queen Elizabeth made the first visit to Australia by a reigning monarch. That visit is now the subject of exhibitions by the Parliament of NSW and soon also State Records NSW.”

Teaching effectively with primary sources

“Welcome to a new, innovative way to teach in the archives! Based on an award-winning project at Brooklyn Historical Society, shares our teaching philosophy and findings with a global audience of instructors, administrators, librarians, archivists, and museum educators.

Approaching Principles for Independent Archives

“…. I’ve collected some basic principles for an independent archiving project. These are some of my thoughts on approaching the project and an open invitation for thoughts from others which I’ll collect and weave in. The more projects support each other to develop their ideas and practices, the more effective we can all be—

No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else.   Joy’s Law

When it Comes to Keepsakes, What’s the Difference Between Physical and Digital?

“Now, I affirm that all keepsakes vary in the degree to which they resonate in our hearts. But there is something slippery and uncanny about a digital object as a memory token. First and foremost there’s the question about where and what the object is. Unlike my poster, a digital file can’t sit in plain sight. It requires a machine to view. The object also can be hard to find in the first place because it likely lives with thousands of others in a virtual environment that may be difficult to navigate. There can be multiple copies, some identical, some not.”

Valuing mud

“Australian Museum mineralogist, Thomas Hodge-Smith was asked to report on a collection of Deep Sea Mud samples.

Later, in 1929, he was asked to put a value on the samples.”

Super sleuthing in The Commons

An exhibition inspired through community engagement

Power to the people!

“…#HoodsHarbour represents the power of our Flickr followers, who have returned each day to our feed to comb through the collection and unlock its secrets…”

Exhibition at Australian National Maritime Museum

Exhibition at Australian National Maritime Museum

Create an app EOI for the Scott Sisters collection and enter to win $15,000! #apps4nsw

Embedded image permalink

The Competition

apps4nsw is a program of events to encourage the use of NSW Government data to create innovative web and mobile applications.  It is currently running an online EOI (Expression of Interest Competition) in which entrants are asked to develop a concept for an app to meet one of two challenges. One of the challenges is posed by the Australian Museum and involves developing an EOI for an app to make the world of scientific illustration, in this case the Scott Sisters collection, accessible to a wide audience.

The Scott Sisters collection

Original watercolour by Helena Scott (AMS193/3) - Bent-wing swift moth - Reproduced with the kind permission of the Australian Museum Archives

The Scott sisters collection is a collection of illustrations, diaries, manuscripts, published books, social histories and botanical and insect specimens from the 1840s to 1890s linked to current data on Australian moths, butterflies and plants. The Australian Museum curated an exhibition of the Scott Sisters work in 2011.

Turn back the pages as you uncover the captivating story of these two extraordinary women whose love of nature and tremendous skill in rendering its beauty enabled them to distinguish themselves amid the male-dominated world of 19th century science.

The highlight of the exhibition is the 60 watercoloured paintings created between 1846 and 1851 for their father A.W Scott’s landmark publication Australian Lepidoptera and their Transformations.

Further information about the collection and the Scott family can be found on the Australian Museum website.

Submissions close: 2 December 2013

Ready, Set, Go!



Everyday street scenes, Sydney

Inspired by a recent Buzzfeed post on everyday street scenes in New York City, we had a look at our collection for some everyday street scenes of Sydney. All photos are from our Flickr photostream

Wexford Street, Sydney 1900 (from the Plague photo albums)

Wexford Street, Sydney (NSW)

Observing the cleanup in Sydney, 1900 (from the Plague photo albums)

Observing the cleanup in Sydney, 1900

Cumberland Place, The Rocks 1901

The Rocks, Sydney

Cambridge Street, The Rocks 1901

Looking south on Cambridge Street, The Rocks (NSW) [Rocks Resumption photographic survey]

The Argyle Cut, The Rocks 1901

The Argyle Cut, The Rocks

Gloucester Street, The Rocks 1901

Gloucester Street looking north from Essex Street, The Rocks (NSW)

George Street, 1910

George Street, Sydney 1910

George Street, n.d

George Street, Sydney

Watching the departure of the Australian Olympic Team on the S.S. “Ormonde”, 1924

Watching the departure of the Australian Olympic Team on the S.S. "Ormonde", 1924

Manly Wharf, 1936

Manly Wharf

Bondi Beach, n.d  Manly n.d. (see comment)

View of southern end of Bondi Beach, Bondi (NSW)

Barrack Street and George Street (DJs), 1950s

Bustling Sydney

Sydney traffic, c.1960

Sydney traffic, c.1960

ok, not everday (and not Sydney) but it is a street

Visit to Wentworth - horses pulled us out

Again, not Sydney, but a nice one to finish on

The lamppost is real

Applications for History Week 2013-“Picture This”

History Week

Strike a pose, there’s nothing to it. In the image conscious 21st Century photographs shape the world. How has the development of the visual changed, informed and shaped society? How do historians use art and photography to inform their research? Who were the original mad men of the advertising industry? Long before the Kardashians, the rich and famous manipulated their images and throughout time people from all backgrounds and cultures have created their view of the world through visual representations. History Week 2013 will bring the past into view through the frame of images.

All members of the History Council of NSW are entitled to host an event during History Week. History Week events will be published on the website from August to September. The History Council of NSW also runs a statewide publicity campaign and event hosts receive an event host kit with advice on promoting their event and templates.

There are three ways to participate in History Week 2013:

1. Create your own event

Put on an exhibition, host a lecture or seminar, run a walking tour or throw a theme inspired party.

2. Register to host a speaker

Once again in 2013 the History Council of NSW, in partnership with the Royal Australian Historical Society, is offering member organisations in regional and suburban NSW the opportunity to receive speakers during History Week.

3. Speak at a History Week event

As part of History Week 2013 the HCNSW is seeking talented historians to travel to community and local government organisations in regional and suburban NSW to deliver exciting and thought provoking talks.

Applications for History Week 2013 are now open and close 30 March 2013.

Visit the History Council website for more information.

Happy holidays (who’s up for some photo hunting during the break?)

The end of the year calls and we’ll be having a break here at Archives Outside… but, never fear! It does not mean an end to all your fun. We wish you all the best and thank you for all the brilliant knowledge, facts and fun you’ve contributed in the last year.

Seasons Greetings from Archives Outside. Digital ID 16410_a111_1[1A]_000073A_p1

A tinted Seasons Greetings from Archives Outside! Digital ID 16410_a111_1[1A]_000073A_p1

A virtual holiday tour
(goes nicely with those virtual boxes of chocolates)

Although there should never be anything virtual about chocolates…

We recently came across some wonderful travel brochures hidden in the deep, dark depths of our catalogue and managed to curate some digital galleries for your viewing pleasure (more to come in the New Year).

While browsing this holiday brochure you immediately sprang to mind because some of the photos in this brochure may look familiar to you.

Can you spot which ones are on Flickr and in Photo Investigator? Happy hunting and see you next year!

Snapshot of the Holidays in NSW Travel Brochure

Most viewed 10 posts/pages for 2012

1. Did you watch Underbelly last night? Check out some real life mugshtos of the razor gangs (still)

2. Useful tips for reading handwritten documents

3. Conservation Tip 5: Removing mould from records and archives (it was definitely a wet year)

4. Australian soldiers in black and white

5. Digitising your collection – Part 1: Project Planning

6. Conservation Tip 3: Removing blood from documents

7. What are your tips for dating photos?

8. Regional Archives Centres

9. Digitising your collection (PDF download)

10. Social media strategies for archives – what we learned

Congratulations to all of our photo sleuths this year who have solved many a mystery! Here are a couple of cases in the “unsolved” category from this years Moments in Time series.

November 2012 – Link Roundup


Chris Hurley’s Stuff

An essential bookmark for all of those who are interested in professional accountability, governance and description. Chris Hurley has generously made his writings available online.

Chris has taught recordkeeping and written extensively on the subject. This site gathers together much of his published work. He continues to write and present at conferences and seminars. In recent years his work has appeared only on-line.

Ideas for making submissions to the current Commonwealth Government review of FOI legislation #foirev

Some FOI food for thought from the Recordkeeping Roundtable.

The following represents potential areas for a submission to Review of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (C’wealth) and the Australian Information Commissioner Act 2010 (C’wealth) currently being carried out by Dr Alan Hawke at the request of the Attorney General Nicola Roxon. These were identified during the Recordkeeping Roundtable event ‘FOI under attack’ in Sydney on November 20, by our speakers, Brendan Molloy and Paul Farrell, and the participants.

Danish Flag

Danish emigration archives

Emigration lists compiled by the Copenhagen Police from 1869 to 1940. These lists give the name, last residence, age, year of emigration and first destination of the emigrant from Denmark. The records are made available for the years 1869 to 1908 (394.000 emigrants)The Danish Emigration Data Base compiled by the Danish Emigration Archives and The City Archives of Aalborg

The Danish emigration material and the database
Following a number of scandals in which unsuspecting emigrants were conned by Danish emigration agents, The Danish parliament passed more stringent regulations on May 1, 1868. According to the new law, The Copenhagen Chief of Police was to approve and monitor all emigration agents in Denmark and authorize all overseas tickets made out in Denmark. This was to be done whether an emigrant would be traveling directly from Copenhagen to the United States or indirectly via another European harbor for destinations overseas. As an extra measure of control, all the information from each ticket was copied down in ledgers, and thus became the Copenhagen Police Records of Emigrants. A total of 90 thick volumes were compiled, containing the same type of information for every emigrant.

Past/Lives – Revealing Traces of a Former Sydney

Sydney’s past is still visible beneath the facade of today if you look close enough.

Past/Lives seeks to uncover the secrets, reveal the hidden parts and tell the forgotten stories of Sydney using the clues that have been left behind through the years.

Past/Lives chronicles those instances of poorly reconstituted Pizza Huts, lazily retooled milk bars and forgotten former points of significance we notice every day, but never really stop to look at.

Water Damaged Bathing Beauties

Coping with water damage (via @spellboundblog)

This 10-minute video provides step-by-step guidance on dealing with water damage at museums, libraries, and archives. Practical tips on safety, simple equipment, and salvage priorities also make the video a useful guide for home owners who want to rescue treasured family heirlooms.

 A look at the Digger Picture

In 1919, when William Ifould, the principal librarian of the Mitchell Library, placed a newspaper advertisement offering ”good prices” for the original diaries of Australian soldiers who had taken part in the Great War, there was a promising response.

But Ifould was a hard man to please: he was scathing of some offerings and rejected others in his quest for good-quality accounts for future students.

Now, as the centenary of the start of World War I nears, the diaries are being re-examined, rediscovered and digitised for a new audience online…………………

…….Elise Edmonds, a librarian at the State Library, says some 1000 diaries by 400 diarists are being transcribed by a small group of volunteers fuelled by cups of tea.

pulse - detail

National Digital Forum Conference 2012

Last week the National Digital Forum Conference was held in New Zealand.         Fortunately @armchair_caver has created a twitter archive for the event, which for those of us who were unable to attend is the next best thing. It is jam packed with insightful commentary, posts and links (with occasional references to alcohol).


October 2012 – Link Roundup


A Scary Halloween Blast From the Past

In honour of Halloween lets take a look back at an old post about the story of Fishers Ghost

Want to hear a ghost story? Well, make yourself comfortable.

The origin of this story dates back 184 years, to 1826. When murderous intent was nigh…

Frederick Fisher and George Worrell were the best of friends and worked a farm in Campbelltown. George Worrell (or Worrall) was a waggoner from Cheshire who had been transported for life to New South Wales. He arrived in 1813 on the Earl Spencer. In 1818, when he was 31 years old he petitioned for and received a Ticket of Leave – the petition described him as being  of “Industrious habits, and of an honest Character….and Sober”…

Anyone up for a Halloween Challenge?

Nova Scotia Archives has tweeted a Halloween Challenge. Is anyone willing to try and recreate this photo?

Look mum, that's me

The social life of photographs: State Library NSW on Historypin

The State Library of NSW has more than 1 million photographs in our collection, including theearliest known photograph taken in Australia (1845).  The Library also has a Flickr Commons account where many of our images can be viewed.  In the process of testing social media tools for delivering library services we thought Historypin offered something different…

Can you use Pinterest for Genealogy?

Pinterest is almost completely visually oriented, so whether or not Pinterest would be useful for genealogy would seem to be a really good question. Pinterest is the one of the newest social networking websites, but has grown rapidly into one of the most popular sites.


The Future Proof Mythbusters!

As a profession we urgently need to start mythbusting. I think we need to start countering the negative myths and stereotypes that are surrounding our role because persistent myths and stereotypes about records management are starting to threaten business information.

Calling all Postcard Lovers

Do you love postcards, cigarette and trade cards? Then the website of the New South Wales Postcard Collectors Society Inc. could be the place for you.

Postcards, Cigarette and Trade cards:

* depict almost every aspect of human activity, endeavour and interest.

* provide vivid and often attractive images of great relevance to a very wide range of people with interests as diverse as local history, military and naval history, Australiana, advertising, sports such as cricket or football, art nouveau, entertainment, ethnography, anthropology, railways, shipping, aviation, fantasy, children’s art, animals and birds (both domestic and wild), glamour, humour, rural life and traditional industries such as timber, mining, wheat and wool, fine arts and crafts.

Moving House - big move

To Keep or not to keep? Records appraisal and moving house

Rob Johnson from The National Archives (United Kingdom) examines the art of appraisal for both house movers and recordkeepers alike.

Anyone who has moved house will understand that when it comes to the logistics, size really does matter. Because my new home is smaller than the last, I had to ‘appraise’ my belongings to determine their value, and dispose of items accordingly.

As I sat there on a dusty floor with a bin bag, I realised that my home and working lives had suddenly collided…

The process of knowing what you have and how valuable it may be is fundamental to Information Management. Records ‘appraisal’ is a core part keeping an organisation running efficiently – without knowing what value your records hold, useless stuff will clog up your cupboards and servers, whilst useful information remains inaccessible and unexploited.

How did I know what to keep ahead of the big move? Today’s blog is about the types of value Government records and my ‘stuff’ at home may have in common…

Collaboration is our destination

A large goal for cultural heritage institutions should be to support the engagement of the community and to work with appropriate people in schools to support common interests. I have spent my career on the cultural heritage side, reaching out to schools and others to demonstrate what resources such institutions can share. I am now on the other side, but remain dedicated to the idea of promoting the value of museum, libraries and archives.

September 2012 – Link Roundup

Our link love for September

QueryPic Exploring digitised newspapers from Australia & New Zealand

Check out the coolest new digital history tool from @wragge.


QueryPic provides a new way of seeing, searching and understanding the digitised newspapers made available by Trove and Papers Past.

Follow changes over time. Map trends and patterns. Follow a hunch. Frame a question. Explore…

To start using QueryPic visit the Home page.

To learn more about QueryPic visit the Help page.

For inspiration and possibilities check out the Explore page.

Bristol's traumatic last public hanging

Guides to the Gallows

The archives in the Harvard Law School Library include broadsides that accompanied executions in England. The collection of broadsides at Harvard began in 1932, complementing the extensive collection of 18th and 19th century British and American trial documents.

On Nov. 30, 1824, a London banker named Henry Fauntleroy was hanged in public outside Newgate Prison, one month after being sentenced to death for embezzlement. There were 100,000 onlookers.

Many of those watching paid a penny each for a broadside printed just that morning. The single sheet describes Fauntleroy’s reaction when his appeal was denied….

…During England’s Bloody Code period, the number of crimes punishable by death escalated from 50 in 1688 to 220 by 1800. By then, a man, woman, or child could be sentenced to death for “uttering” (passing along fake documents), forgery (Fauntleroy’s crime), poaching, prostitution, insanity, petty theft, or fortune telling.

Read more at the Harvard Gazette

Bilateral Digitization at Digital Frontiers 2012

A transcript of a talk given by one of our favourite crowdsourcing bloggers Ben W. Brumfield.

……. In 2012, the democratization of digitization technology may favor informal collections over institutional ones, privileging online access over quality, completeness, preservation and professionalism.

Will the “cult of the amateur” destroy scholarly and archival standards? Will crowdsourcing unlock a vast, previously invisible archive of material scattered among the public for analysis by scholars? How can we influence the headlong rush to digitize through education and software design? This presentation will discuss the possibilities and challenges of mass digitization for amateurs, traditional scholars, libraries and archives, with a focus on handwritten documents.

View the full talk and slides at Collaborative Manuscript Transcription


Govt Wages War on paper

The decades-old pipedream of the paperless office will be within reach in three years – because taxpayers can no longer afford to put it off.

National Archives of Australia director-general David Fricker says federal government agencies are now spending about $220 million a year storing their paper records.

“And that amount is only going to grow, as more information is created,” Mr Fricker said. “Two-hundred-and-twenty-million dollars is not sustainable; it’s wasteful.”

The director-general and Arts Minister Simon Crean, who oversees the archives, toured the agency’s Mitchell repository today, where some of the government’s most important historical documents are conserved.


Mr Crean warned public servants they had until 2015 to shift to a digital archiving system, as the government would not allow paper files to be produced after that date.

Read the full article at The Sydney Morning Herald

Library seeks help to digitise collection

THE NATIONAL Library is seeking a partner to digitise its collection of genealogical and other material in a move that may mean the state institution puts its collections behind an online paywall.

The library has sought expressions of interest from potential commercial partners as well as the not-for-profit sector. A link-up with a commercial entity would almost certainly involve charging for online access to records, particularly genealogical records.

“We are open-minded as to who we partner with. It could be a philanthropic donor, an academic institution or a commercial business; it could be Irish or international. The core issue for us is that the partner must have the resources, funding and people and we bring the collection,” said Fiona Ross, director of the library.

Learn More at The Irish Times.

Paper flowers and box

“Thank you very, very much J. Edgar Hoover”

On May 10, 1966 J. Edgar Hoover, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, wrote Alex Rosen, head of the Bureau’s General Investigation Division, thanking him for a gift certificate to a Washington, D.C. nursery.  The gift was in honor of Hoover’s anniversary as director.  “I shall derive much enjoyment in selecting what I want for my yard and home,” Hoover wrote.

For almost fifty years Hoover received such gifts from Bureau personnel as well as friends and admirers.  Copies of various congratulatory communications to Hoover, many enclosing gifts, and his responses are contained in over thirty boxes found in Record Group 65, Records of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (Congratulatory Letters to J. Edgar Hoover, 1924-1971, Director’s Office Records and Memorabilia).

Learn more about J. Edgar Hoover and his gifts

Web Sites With a Historical Bent Join a Place to an Image

A number of photo-sharing sites are being transformed from places to look at pictures into tools to connect historical documents and give more people a sense of history.

Most sites do not yet take advantage of location-based data as a means to search, as does. But the other collections are going to take you back in time. is clearly one of the most ambitious of these sites. It is aggressively courting local historical societies to encourage them to upload their archives to the site. Already, several hundred institutions have used the site’s bulk uploading tools to add thousands of photographs.


Read the full story at the New York Times