Fourteen archives across the West Midlands working together on one regional project.
A visit from the King of Uganda, school records of the Titanic's Pursar, engineering drawings for Donald Campbell's Bluebird land- and water-speed record attempts, and school benches made from a warship in Walsall. All in the West Midlands, all discovered in collections catalogued by the pay&power project.
Left. Armstrong Siddeley personnel pass, image copyright of Coventry Archives; Armstrong Siddeley Motors Ltd / Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust collection catalogued as part of the pay&power project.
Funded by the West Midlands Regional Archive Forum and the Heritage Lottery Fund and supported by MLA West Midlands, the pay&power project has enabled comprehensive physical and online access to extensive historical information held in West Midlands' archive collections. The focus has been a group of 18 collections held in 14 archive offices around the region. The collections - for which prior access was poor because of cataloguing backlogs - have related to work and politics spanning the 12th-20th centuries and ranged from the records of medieval estates in Warwickshire to the political career of Oswald Mosley (1896-1980). Each of the collections offers a unique and often unexpected insight into the social and economic development of the West Midlands. The 18 collections were chosen because of their relevance to the history of industry and politics in the region. This led to the name of the project pay (industry) & power (politics).
Six project staff have been employed on the project - one Project Manager, four Project Archivists and one Project Outreach Officer. Project Archivists spent 6 months cataloguing each of the collections at the 14 regional repositories, often working closely with volunteers to clean and re-package documents. Using the collections as inspiration, the Project Outreach Officer worked with staff from each of the centres to hold training sessions and workshops. These sessions have highlighted the huge potential for archives to engage new audiences creatively. pay&power's outreach sessions have been attended by everyone from young schoolchildren to adult learners and volunteers. The project has looked at how archives can work more closely with libraries and museums, the local media, schools, community groups, the tourism sector, adult social services and families.
pay&power is entering its final stage but will leave behind it increased access to 18 fantastic collections; will have offered outreach opportunities and new ideas to the region's repositories to carry forward in their service provision; and will provide a toolkit of all that we have learned to help others meet the future challenge of outreach in archives.
The following pages include an introduction to five of the pay&power collection descriptions on the Archives Hub. Each page includes illustrations, details of how the collection has inspired outreach activities, and a link to the description on the Archives Hub.
- Amalgamated Engineering Union: established in 1851 as the first 'general' union of skilled and semi-skilled labour in the engineering industry, the union still exists today as Amicus.
- Armstrong Siddeley Motors Ltd: renowned for aircraft manufacture, aero engine, car and aircraft design
- Galton family: Birmingham Quakers; arms manufacturers involved in the African slave trade.
- N. Hingley and Sons: chain and anchor manufacturers who supplied the anchor for the Titanic
- Sedgley Park School, and Cotton College: Sedgley Park School, Wolverhampton, and Cotton College, Oakamoor, Staffordshire; records dating back to the 18th century.
All images in the pay&power pages here are copyright of the individual repositories where collections are held; collections catalogued as part of the pay&power project.
Finding out more
To find out more about pay&power contact:
- Judith Karena, Project Manager <Judith.Karena@mlawestmidlands.org.uk> 0121 631 5827
- Karen McCourt, Outreach Officer <Karen.McCourt@mlawestmidlands.org.uk> 0121 631 5824