2015 BAC Cataloguing Grant Winner

The winning applicant of the BAC cataloguing grant for business archives for 2015 was the Guardian Archive. Launched in April 2010, the grant is in support of the National Strategy for Business Archives. 

A very impressive set of applications were received by the June deadline, representing a variety of business collections and localities in the United Kingdom. The judging panel on behalf of the Council has awarded the grant to the University of Manchester Library for Behind the Headlines: documenting the people in the Guardian Archive.

University of Manchester Library - Behind the Headlines: documenting the people in the Guardian Archive

The archive of the Guardian (formerly Manchester Guardian) newspaper is one of the largest held by the Library. It dates from the newspaper’s establishment in 1821 to the early 1970s, later material being held by the Guardian News and Media Archive in London. It also contains material relating to the Guardian’s sister paper, the Manchester Evening News. It fills 1,000 boxes (c.131 linear metres), and contains a huge body of editorial correspondence and dispatches. Alongside this, there is a comprehensive set of records relating to the Guardianas a business concern. These business records form the primary focus of this project.

The collections are internationally significant, providing a key source for studying political, military, economic, social, cultural, and technological developments of the 19th-20thcenturies, as well as the history of journalism and newspaper production. It also has profound local and regional significance: the Guardian was founded in Manchester two years after the Peterloo Massacre; it has a seminal place in the city’s rich history of radicalism, protest, and campaigns for social reform. 

 It is one of the Library’s most heavily used collections, attracting on-site and remote researchers who range from local and family historians to journalists and academics. Second only to interest in the newspaper’s coverage of specific events and issues, is interest in the people associated with the newspaper – whether contributors, journalists or other employees. The Guardian Archive, housed in the John Rylands Library, can be accessed in the reading room by anyone, free of charge.

 The judging panel recognised the importance of the collection, locally, nationally and internationally. The project plan was also clearly outlined: its aim to catalogue approximately 3,556 individual items. The primary focus will be on ledgers, paper documents and photographs relating to staff and contributors associated with the newspapers. The overall date range is 1821-1966, although the bulk of the material dates from c.1880-1940s.

The potential benefits of the project were impressive, including the enhancement of finding aids and production of an online guide for tracing individuals represented within the archive. The project’s work will be promoted by means of three posts on the library’s blog, and via social media. One particularly iconic item from the archive will also be digitised: an anniversary photograph album presented to the paper’s famous editor C.P. Scott in 1921 which contains portraits of every member of Guardian staff, from the editorial board to the cleaners totalling almost 500 individuals. The digitised album will be made available (and searchable) via LUNA, the library’s image resource, and it will feature in the on-site Turning the Pages installation. As with previous winners, the resulting efforts will be made available on The National Archives Discovery resource. Overall, the judging panel concluded that the cataloguing project is realistic, provides value for money and is worthy of support.

Read the report of the project completion.