From the front line…

There are many ways in which volunteers can get involved in activity in the ARK , whether it be through our HLF supported community projects or in a more behind-the-scenes role. Today, our longest-serving volunteer, Mark, gives us an insight into the invaluable work that he does in indexing volumes from the news cuttings collection. So, in his words…

Greetings and salutations! It’s your friendly neighbourhood Mark again with another post from the front lines. Today I’m going to tell you about what I do in greater detail.

It starts with a considerable book filled with newspaper clippings from years beMarkARKfore many of your parents were even born. I’m currently working on articles from 1951. I give each article a thorough examination, reading it
and re-reading it. Once that is done, I set about summarising it. It’s harder than it sounds. Trust me.

You wouldn’t believe the articles I’ve come across in my journey through 70 years of Knowsley history. There’s one I found from all the way back in 1949, detailing local rebuilding going on after the war. I’ve seen the early days of Knowsley Council, the rise and fall of the planned pavilion; I’ve even seen the early career of a future Prime Minister. Which PM? How’s about Harold Wilson?

There’s one ‘article’ (well, as series of articles would be more astute) in particular that really sticks out in my mind; a series of articles called ‘Municipal matters’ written by a man called Chris Perry. They’re not 100% focused on a single item, rather covering local council activities. I’ve never seen such a sarcastic, witty reporter.

And that’s what I do, roughly. Oh, sure, there’s a lot more I could talk about, but I could go on for ages about the things I’ve found. that would be, as the saying goes, ‘another article’!

Name That Tune…

In our last post, I mentioned Thomas Watkin’s music book. This 19th century manuscript contains hundreds of folk tunes, providing most with a title and writing out, in beautiful, clear script the music for each. Thanks to our Heritage Lottery funding, the whole manuscript has now been digitised and we’re very HMB crop_tunesexcited about the prospect of working with local musicians to bring the music to life at some point in 2016. Of course, if we’re going to perform a selection of the tunes, it would be useful to know which tunes are available to choose from. At some point in the manuscript’s life, one scribe has at least started to make the effort to index the contents. It could be that they only got so far before giving up on the task or that there are several pages missing from the book, but, either way, we now only have a two page index listing 69 of the tunes. Exactly how many tunes are in the manuscript is not yet known, but given that those 69 tunes only cover 16 of the document’s 152 pages, there is still a long way to go to complete the index!

HMB crop_indexOne of the tasks some of our fantastic volunteers will be getting on with is completing the index of tunes. However, this isn’t always such a straightforward undertaking, as the titles are written in a few different hands and how decipherable they are varies
massively. Add to this the fact that the ink has faded in some places and this is no simple transcription!

The legibility of the handwriting might not be the only thing that will slow our progress completing the index. Some of the language used in the titles can be surprisingly, erm, ‘choice’ to our modern sensibilities! Folk tune titles featuring swear-words is actually fairly common, but it can still be a little startling to be calmly transcribing a 19th century music book that contains titles such as “Pretty Betty” or “Love in a Village” and come HMB crop_tuneacross a four letter word that can still cause considerable offence if it is used in the media today. Perhaps the language used in the titles acts a clue to the kinds of environments and audiences many of the tunes were intended for. Then again, maybe we underestimate how common swearing was in the past or how the level of offence caused by certain words may have altered at different points in our history. Whatever the case, there’s definitely a lot more in these pages than some nice tunes…

And no, it doesn’t matter how hard you look, the pictures on this blog do not include the folk tunes with risque titles!

Meet Our Volunteers: Mark

Mark 1

We have fantastic volunteers and would like to introduce a few of them to you, in their own words. So, without further ado, here’s Mark. I could say how brilliant he is, but I’ll let him do that himself…

“Writer, Comedian Extraordinaire. My name’s Mark and it’s a little tough to do justice to the absolute majesty of my being. Indexing newspaper articles, I travel years into the past. Decades even. I’m the guy who writes the guides to the tomes you use for research. I read them through, come up with a summary that does them justice and explains to you in clear terms, and then type them into a document which you then use to locate specific articles. So basically… without me, you’re lost!”

Mark 2