This week’s blog is with Anthony Hughes, expert archivist at North Yorkshire County Record Office. Anthony will reveal how to use local records and take an intriguing glance into Ripon’s past when he visits Ripon Museums on Saturday 26 August 2017.
What did you want to be as a child?
I loved drawing maps when I was a child, so if I’d known what a cartographer was at the time, I think I’d have wanted to be one of those.
If you could go back in time, which era would you choose?
And who would you choose to be?
Myself, so I can compare and contrast with the 21st century.
If the Records Office went up in flames, what would you save first?
Hopefully it’ll never happen but I’d have to save some of the wonderful estate maps we hold. They are very artistic and can be very colourful.
What is the biggest threat to keeping documents and archives?
Probably lack of use, which is why we always love to encourage new users of the Record Office. We like to make archives relevant to as many people as possible, now and into the future.
Have you researched your own family’s past? Any skeletons?
I haven’t actually done my own family tree as I get enough genealogy work helping the researchers who visit us. I’m sure there are skeletons hidden away though.
Is there one particular document that you would love to research?
I’d love to research the Hudson Bay Company records in Canada. It’s an amazing collection which includes wonderful records on exploration in the icy wilderness of Canada.
What is the most unusual request you have come across?
I can’t think of any, we get so many requests, but they are usually quite normal.
The Victorians were very interested in archiving and antiquarianism – how has the job changed since your Victorian self was in post.
Well, better access to our records and a more open way of working. Studying documents was a fairly elite activity in the past and we are far more concerned with outreach and encouraging everyone to look at archives. The internet is a huge resource for us, and we digitise documents and use an online catalogue to let people know what we hold in our collections.
Do you prefer paper books or e-books?
Paper books, of course! Although I do have an e-book reader.