Discover the Unique Characters of Archives

Archives can often make the past feel distant to us. With the development of technology we lose the personal touch of handwritten documents, unique to their creator. Rather, we now have boxes and boxes of typed words and uniform letters. So, when faced with endless regiments of tidy characters, it’s such a delight to see a glimmer of their personality…

I have gathered up some archives that are truly unique in offering a sense of their authors:




These documents were taken from the Papers of Marjory Allen, Lady Allen of Hurtwood (1897-1976) and are letters and correspondence from the painter Colin Gill (1892-1940).



These come from a series of vivid letters of a close friendship of some young women. Many were written from France, where Helen Haslam went in Oct 1917 to work as a Young Men’s Christian Association administrator at YMCA headquarters, Abbeville Area, British Expeditionary Force.

MSS.242-MI-8ii MSS.242-MI-8iii

These are just a few of the portraits that can be found in the Papers of Arthur Primrose Young (1885-1977), works manager, British Thomson-Houston. 


This documents can be found in the Papers of Jimmy Deane (1921-2002), Trotskyist

I hope that these items have given you an insight into archives and how they can communicate some of the personality of their authors to their viewer, transporting their characters through time.

To finish, here is a poem about doodling, taken from the Fire Watchers Record Book, 1940s:


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