Thursday 11 February 2016

Under the bed

Under my bed
I've been reading about the history of Woodcraft folk from Mary Davis's 'Fashioning a New World'.  It's been a great read and also fascinating from an archivists perspective, as apparently there is next to no 'secondary' material about the movement, and much of the primary sources are dotted all over the country - Mary complains her work would be easier 'if individual members who seem to have stacks of important documents under their beds would [make the material publicly available].

Interesting to consider what there is to 'uncover' under a bed particularly, perhaps, for children.  For children's lives exhibition  it identified the importance of 'under the bed' as one of the few 'private' spaces a child might have.  The 'present day' part of the exhibition worked with young people to re-create a teenagers bedroom, including boxes under the bed.  Birmingham children's hospital provides boxes for 'toys and special things'.

'Toys and special things' are what you might expect to find under a bed, and much can be learned from toys and special things of children, both to find out about them, and as a starting point for stories and other work developing from children presenting a little about themselves. For Paganel Archive project launch event we encouraged children to bring in something for our archive, among other activities.  We carefully managed around 300 items, all with deposit slips completed by the children - to include a description of the item presented in very different ways in each class.  The exhibition was a fascinating insight into the lives of the children, with many toys and special things, and now preserved digitally in our archives.  Each item documented by the owner - a perfect snapshot of the school.

And what's there under my bed I hear you ask?  An old DVD player, a book I'll never finish (Tom Paine, Rights of Man - my red under the bed), a tape of my old band from Uni, and a Ventolin inhaler!

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