On Monday 6th November 2017, the Library of Birmingham will be hosting the second annual Chris Upton Memorial Lecture.
Our speaker this year is George Demidowicz who will be speaking about Eureka Moments. Here is a preview of George’s own Eureka moments that you will be hearing about…
“For me researching and writing about the past is an extremely creative process. My interests are in landscape history, building history and archaeology and much of this involves reconstructing what has been lost, forgotten, misunderstood or distorted by myth and legend. To do what I do most effectively, I have combined work in the field with many visits to the archives. The motivation for the many hours spent in record offices is the reward of discovery – recovering something new or unknown about the past.
I am sure that Chris Upton was inspired by the same urge to discover and recreate the past.
The process of discovery can be a long and drawn out one, but sometimes there are those moments when everything comes together and the last piece of the jigsaw snaps into place. Using another well-worn cliché, it’s comparable to a light suddenly being switched on, illuminating the darkness in which you had been stumbling, often for some time.
These moments can happen in the archives, when a document that you hoped existed is removed from its packaging or box, or a map or drawing is unrolled and laid out flat on the desk – and suddenly the hunt is over. I am particularly interested in old maps and plans, as they can immediately provide the information you were seeking, information that would need to fill the equivalent of many, many manuscript pages.
The eureka moment can take place later at home or in the office; you pour over the material laboriously copied or photographed in the archives, sifting and sorting, and suddenly something clicks into place. Sharing research with colleagues or fellow researchers can have the same result.
Despite these moments of discovery, the obscuring mist is not always lifted from the past and as many questions can be raised as answered. All our history is not recorded in the archives.
I have chosen here a sample of my most exciting breakthroughs in forty years of research and, with a few others, I hope to convey the thrill of the chase…
Lifford Hall, King’s Norton. A gentleman’s residence of the 17th century? Why are there tunnels under the front lawn?
Why was locating this room the key to reconstructing the Mint at this time?
How was the lost history of the Saracen’s Head retrieved?
How were the Birmingham medieval rentals discovered? This fragment records ‘in novo vico’, (in New Street) 1296, its earliest reference.”
The memorial lecture will take place at 5:30pm on the 6th November 2017, Room 101, Level 1, at the Library of Birmingham. To book your place at the lecture, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition this year, The National Archives are coming to present Archives & Collections with our Accreditation certificate. Achieving Accredited status shows that Birmingham Archives and Collections has met clearly defined national standards relating to the care of its unique collections, and the service it offers to its entire range of users. We are really proud of achieving Accredited status and in recognition, the presentation will be from 5pm – with the public lecture starting at 5:30pm.