Have you ever wondered how the history of Brighton College is maintained? Our Archivist, James Harrison, explains how the vital job of cataloguing our amazing collection happens.
Cataloguing is a vital aspect of my role. It helps with the following:
- Allows for greater intellectual control over collections
- Creates accurate descriptions of archive collections and items
- Allows us to identify preservation and conservation needs
- Widens access to descriptions and the archive collections themselves
- Allows us to reorganise the archive collections into an organised and consistent system
Cataloguing at Brighton College Archive is first done using Microsoft Excel, allowing us to create a basic, but easily accessible and editable catalogue. We can then use this initial catalogue to reorganise the collection if necessary. For example, when cataloguing records of College drama productions, we ensure that records from the same performance were stored together, the performances are divided into music, drama, and dance groups, and these groups are ordered chronologically based on the dates of the performances.
Once I am happy with this initial catalogue, we then recreate the catalogue on our CALM Catalogue. CALM is a purpose-built archive management software, built on a foundation of international standards for archival collections management. Using CALM we can not only catalogue parts of the collection but organise the entire archive into a clear hierarchy. CALM also provide a range of additional features to help us better manage and monitor the archive.
Prior to COVID, we had been making great progress on cataloguing the Archive’s extensive collection of performance records, including the drama, music, and dance materials, some of which date back to the late nineteenth century. While COVID sadly delayed progress for much of 2020, since then we have had great success in cataloguing some of the Archive’s most popular records: the House and Sports photographs. Earlier in the summer, we completed the cataloguing of our house photographs on CALM. This means that many of the records most requested by Old Brightonians, researchers and other enquirers are now fully catalogued to item level on both Excel and CALM.
Much of this work was carried out by one of our amazing volunteers, a current parent who has been coming into the Archive one day a week for much of the past few years. Meanwhile, the L6th pupils involved in the Archive’s community service option over the last two years have been creating Excel catalogues of the Archive’s collections of building photographs and Burstow Gallery records.