A new year, and more new material made available for research. During January, nearly four hundred new database records were created for archive material, one hundred and fifteen becoming visible online during that month. As the disparity in numbers indicates, much work went on behind the scenes on collections that are not yet ready for release but which will appear in their entirety in due course. (And, as has been noted before, outside the database retroconversion work continues on the catalogue of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists (SA/CSP).)
Two complete collections were made available this month (and described in a recent blog post): they comprise data gathered by ESDS [Economic and Social Data Service] Qualidata at the University of Essex, which acquires digital data created during the course of qualitative research across a wide range of social science disciplines.
‘AIDS-relevant cognitions in Dundee and Kirkaldy’ (GC/252), consisting of transcripts and tapes of interviews with children and students in those towns, 1988-1990, to elicit their understanding of AIDS and their attitudes towards it.
‘Project SIGMA (Socio-sexual Investigations of Gay Men and Aids)’ (GC/260), meanwhile, is mostly made up of microfiche copies of anonymised diaries in which gay and bisexual men recorded their sexual behaviour during 1987-1994. The diarists recorded any sexual activities every day for a month – details including partner/s involved, day, time and setting, and the precise details of what happened to whom in what order.
Both these collections of course document material that is potentially highly controversial. Controversy stalks another figure in this month’s statistics: MS.8758 comprises a letter by Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland (1721-1765), ordering the release of funds to an army surgeon under Cumberland’s command in the Low Countries. “Butcher” Cumberland, second son of George II, is of course still a highly controversial figure for his role in the 1745-6 Jacobite rising, in which the Jacobites were killed in huge numbers at the Battle of Culloden and captured stragglers were subjected by Cumberland to “military execution” or extra-judicial shooting.
Maybe our most significant cataloguing highlight, however, is one that is still invisible: the final tranche of our catalogue of the papers of Francis Crick (PP/CRI) will be released in the next month and considerable work is going on behind the scenes to prepare this, both physically (boxing up the material in appropriate, acid-free containers) and intellectually (over 900 database records requiring fine-tuning). There will be more to report on this in the next cataloguing summary, a month from now.
Image: a detail from MS.8758, showing the flowing hand of an Army clerk and the slightly less fluent signature of the Duke of Cumberland.