My favourite things in Archives & Collections, Jim Ranahan

Blue Connected

The theme that has (very) loosely guided our Explore Your Archive campaign this year has been to celebrate our favourite things in our wonderful collections. You would think it would have been a difficult task given how many documents we hold, but for Jim it was really easy to choose..!

Photographs of St. Patrick's Parade 2014. (C) James Ranahan. [MS 4672 ]

Photographs of St. Patrick’s Parade 2014. (C) James Ranahan.
[MS 4672 ]

“This photograph sat on the corner of my desk and has lifted my spirits for 18 months, every time I have glanced up. Its’ appeal for me is three-fold:

  • Uplifting – It reminds me of a very happy day, when otherwise responsible people don funny costumes and celebrate their Irish heritage in their own way, in their home city.
  • Reminiscence – The tractor is similar to my uncle’s tractor, which as a ten year old in rural Ireland I was able to steer across the fields, under his close but relaxed supervision.
  • Professional – this print reminds me of the importance of reaching out to all communities and ensuring that their individual and collective voices are represented in the archive.

Tramways Committee Minute Book. 1951 - 1952 [BCC/1/BE/1/1/25]

Tramways Committee Minute Book. 1951 – 1952

This is my other choice for three reasons – all related to my personal sense of identity:

  • As a person born in Ireland, brought to Birmingham at an early age – I remember the sense of understanding that I felt when I first found this report – whilst checking the volume for an enquiry about operational practices at Birmingham City Transport. I could see the official evidence in front of me to explain the human reality of my youth and adolescence – such high proportions of Irish bus crews in the City.
  • As an archivist seeking to enthuse ‘hard to reach’ audiences – the connection that an otherwise reluctant member of the public felt when encountering this report– she knew the address of the Dublin recruitment used by BCT at the time of the report.
  • As a prospective candidate seeking employment in Birmingham City Archives – whilst on the obligatory pre-interview tour, catching sight of rows upon rows of bound Council Minute Books. Having been employed in the City Council whose whole remit was encapsulated in these volumes, I felt an immediate affinity with the archives – which has lasted throughout my career.”

Jim Ranahan

Jim is now the Archivist at Ben Uri: Art, Identity and Migration and you can check out his blog on the museum website. It’s well worth a look!

Ben Uri: Art, Identity and Migration


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