The National Archives of Malta

The front of the National Archives.

I figured placement was quite a good topic for a blog post and considering no ones blog has been very active recently I thought I’d make a post.

My placement is taking place in The National Archives of Malta, which are located in Rabat. The archive is located in a beautiful historical building that used to be the Santo Spirito, one of the oldest world-wide hospitals, with its functioning as a hospital dating back to at least 1372. There is even a little window that was in place so that people who did not want to keep their baby could anonymously put it in the little window and the hospital would take care of it.

Stored Collections
Stored Collections

I have been asked to continue cataloguing a collection of state school records from each locality in Malta, each from varying time periods. So far I haven’t really found anything interesting, just lot’s on entries in a log book of the reasons why people were absent from class – this mainly being listed as ‘mild illness’. I am hoping that something more interesting pops up at some point. The majority of my documents have been in English which has been a relief, but every now and then a page appears in either Maltese or Italian and I have to get someone to translate it for me. I’ve picked up a few words in the process!

Collections bound together with string
Collections bound together with string

I’ve been quite lucky in the fact that my working hours are from 09:00 to 14:00 (as most places shut here for the afternoon), however it has left me with limited time especially considering I flew out and fly home on placement days, but hopefully this wont ruin my chances of getting lots of cataloguing done! I am also being taken on a visit to the University of Malta where I have been asked to present on why students should come to the UK and my experience of university and working in archives. I am terrible at presentations, but there are only 8 people on the course so I am hoping it will go okay.

I am cataloguing into ATOM as the archive is small and cannot afford to buy software such as CALM, and I am following ISAD(G) standards, although this is only something that the archive have begun to do recently. They used to use a different system, but I am unsure of what it was called as it was not something that we had been taught or had been mentioned in class.

Paper covers stuck to original document with sellotape

Paper covers stuck to original documents with sellotape

I find the archives here quite different to those in the UK for a variety of reasons. They store things differently to begin with, some items are in alphabetical order and they have some paper catalogues that no-one seems to know how to use except from the person who created it. The level of preservation is interesting, as many of the documents I have been dealing with have had ‘paper covers’ created for them, but these have been put together with sellotape which is obviously not a fantastic material to use in an archive. There is only one archivist here, despite being the National Archives, and only one other person who has any profession training in the field. Other staff members have ‘learnt on the job’ to some extent, but do not hold any information management/archive qualifications. However, I am really glad I came as the experience has been fantastic. I even got taken to a prestigious international book and publishing event (which included an awards ceremony) which was attended by the French Ambassador among lots of important Maltese people!

How is everyone else getting along? I hope it’s all going well!


Objects as Evidence – Handcrafted Polish Jewellery Box

I noticed that a few other pe12171747_10207986422682781_1021626714_oople (on other blogs) had taken the opportunity to post their items on a blog, so being a little copy cat I thought I’d follow suit, even if just to boost our post numbers!

I had to think a lot about what to show as most of my ‘special’ things are at home at my parents house. But I did manage to pick one thing that really meant something to me. My item was a jewellery box that my boyfriend brought back to Poland when he visited last summer. I was unable to go and as he knows how much I love travelling myself and collecting little mementos from trips he bought me this handcrafted jewellery box. For my birthday last year he also made me a few pieces of jewellery (one of his girl friends is a jewellery maker!)  and he had wrote a little note to say that I now had somewhere to keep them.

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I love the jewellery box and it means a lot to me as my boyfriend thought about getting me a gift he knew I would love rather than just bringing back something irrelevant to me or something with no meaning.12171320_10207986423842810_1093040364_o

California Telephone Museum: Completely Destroyed in 2015 Wildfire

I racked my brain to think of something I could post about in regards to a personal situation that had occurred, but other than my friend and my dad both receiving the wrong prescriptions on various occasions there was little else I could think about that would be able to fill a whole blog post. So when this story landed in my inbox at the beginning of last week I was pretty pleased! (Obviously not about the fact the whole museum was burnt to the ground – but because it meant I had something to write about!)

The JKL Museum before the fire.

The John K. La Rue (JKL) Museum of Telephony (also known as the American Museum of Telephony) was located near the town of San Andreas in California and along with surrounding residences was completely destroyed by fire on September 10th 2015. Due to this being such a recent even there is little known if anything at all has survived, although the JKL Museum’s blog states that it is unlikely as firefighters informed workers that the whole museum had ‘burned to the ground’.

The museum was dedicated the preserving the history of various telephones and their history and it is said to have contained thousands of telephones, telephone switching boards along with other telephone equipment, books and catalogues from the late 1800s to the present day.

Six days after it had burned down fire crews were still at the scene as it was still smoking. A representative from the museum also issued a blog post stating that they intended to rebuild the museum but of course it would take much time and planning and that they were hoping to replace much of the unique trove of telephones that they had unfortunately lost.

The museum also maintained an archives library containing catalogs, brochures, and telephone company publications,all of which have been destroyed in the fire, some of which will be very hard if at all possible to replace.

Volunteers are currently being gathered in order to help with the rebuilding of the collection and to help find anything that is not completely ruined (although unlikely). However, the mangers of the museum have stated that they most certainly will rebuild, so I guess we need to watch this space and see how they do this! Fingers crossed it doesn’t take too long.

All photographs courtesy of JKL Museum website -> JKL Museum

Information gathered from below sources:
Article from the Observer
Article from
JKL Museum Blog
Article from NetworkWorld