There are many ways to explore Archives. Sometimes you set out with a destination in mind and a carefully planned research route. Sometimes that works well and the desired information is found; sometimes you meet with difficulties – missing records, indecipherable scripts, records too fragile or damaged to consult – so the route and destination have to change.
Then there are the ‘lucky dip’ explorations where you’re not quite sure what to expect! Here follow a few examples –
Using the Archives and Collections, Library of Birmingham online catalogue, I tried some random words in the search box, just to see what appeared. In alphabetical order:
Campanile: 1 reference, to a will of Anna Brown of Campanile Cottage, Canonbury Road, London, 1872. [MS 857/11]
Duckling: 2 references to ‘Ugly Duckling’ in the John English Archive, a playscript and a theatre programme, 1958 [MS 2790/1/17/1 and MS 2790/2/2/14/1]
1 reference to ‘Duckling brand bedding brochure, 1948’ in Hoskins and Sewell records. [MS 1088/4/4/2]
Emerald: 2 references, both to jewellery of Mary Anne Boulton (Matthew Robinson Boulton’s wife), 1819 and 1826. The 1826 one was to ‘a gold serpent ring with emerald eyes’ [MS 3782/15/25/56]
Parrot: all references but one were to this as a surname. The one as a pet, owned by Fred Jordan of Shropshire, was in the Charles Parker Archive. [MS 4000/5/3/5/5/11]
Shell: 46 references, from spectacle frames to shell boilers in Boulton & Watt, chocolate shell eggs to ammunition shells, tortoise- shell and pearl shell – for buttons, boxes etc., and an advert for Babcock Power Ltd., Shell boiler division.
Whisky: 11 references appeared – all from the Charles Parker Archive [MS 4000]. Interesting to note the connection between whisky and folk song!