February was a month of sustained activity in the archives and manuscripts department, with a lot of cataloguing projects but most of these still ongoing. Some 243 new records went into the database, but of these only a tenth became visible to the public before the month’s end. Only one major collection was released to the public this month, but it was an important one: the papers of the Population Investigation Committee. The PIC was founded in 1936 as a research body to gather data about issues relevant to the population of the United Kingdom and its then colonies, the major issue at the time being a falling birth-rate. In the years since that the PIC has investigated a wide variety of issues: vital statistics, foreign population policies, birth control, marriage, fertility, maternity services, social mobility, and the health and development of children. A more detailed description of the collection by its cataloguer can be found in a recent blog post. A wide variety of research topics are therefore opened up by this significant addition to our collections; the full catalogue can be browsed in the catalogue at SA/PIC.
Last month we trailed the forthcoming release of the final tranche of the papers of Francis Crick (PP/CRI). Physical processing of these papers – rearrangement, rehousing in acid-free packaging, and so forth – is now complete, and the vast majority of the work on fine-tuning 900 database records is done. Since the Crick papers will be at the heart of the Library’s project to digitise material significant to the history of genetics, it is intended to digitise the papers immediately and release them for use in the reading rooms once this is done; the expanded catalogue will probably be available some time before this.
As noted at the head of this post, a lot more has gone into the database this month than is visible immediately: next month will see some of this other ongoing work completed and the database records released to public view on the net.