Estate archives form an important part of the archival landscape, providing a significant focus for cataloguing, collection care and research initiatives, particularly since the gradual establishment of local record offices during the 20th Century. Archives Unlocked: Releasing the Potential (2017), the new action plan from The National Archives, highlights the increasing need for archives to demonstrate their impact by improving the discoverability of their collections and developing and expanding their audiences, while supporting innovative service models.
Meanwhile, simultaneous developments in the research environment, including the emergence of the impact agenda in Higher Education and a greater emphasis on collaborative and public history approaches, have opened up new routes for mutually-beneficial partnerships and engagement between professionals working in archive repositories, academia and other cultural heritage bodies, including the historic house sector to unlock the potential of archives in ways that benefit society, culture and the economy. Events such as the annual DCDC Conference (Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities) highlight how the convergence of these agenda can open up opportunities for public engagement with a broader range of user- and audience groups.
Estate archives have been defined as ‘accumulations of records relating to the acquisition and management of a landed estate’ (White et al. 1992). They can provide unique insights into aspects of local, national and global interconnectivity – ranging from politics, religion and industry, through to architecture, music and farming – sometimes over the course of centuries. Such archives form a rich resource for achieving government priorities and building imaginative cross-sector partnerships which develop new audiences, innovative research and improved heritage interpretation. Two obvious roles are animating cultural heritage sites and landscapes as part of the ongoing movement from ‘treasure houses’ to ‘story houses’ in the historic house sector, and the potential of muniment rooms to emerge as visitor attractions through new interpretative and digital technologies.
However, estate archives also provide a range of challenges for their care, discoverability, accessibility and usability. Ownership and consequently the copyright and funding for the care of estate archives are often complex with many held on deposit; collections can be split across multiple repositories and archives of several estates can be combined hiding their existence. With many estate archives held privately by solicitors or estate offices, public access cannot be assumed, nor can accruals to collections held in publically accessible repositories. The complexity of estate archives can make them difficult to catalogue and use; they feature a range of record types and are often multilingual and multi-period in composition, occasionally extending to multiple geographical locations. Many records such as maps and title-deeds can be unwieldy, difficult to present and difficult to understand.
We invite papers that explore the theme of access, discovery and use of estate archives
- Successful partnership working between public and/or private archives, cultural heritage organisations and academia, including public history approaches;
- The role of estate archives in animating historic house or other heritage sites and their collections including digital interpretation of local areas, historic sites or landscape through apps, mash-ups, augmented reality, etc.
- The ownership of estate archives and maintaining collection continuity, including problems and opportunities associated with deposited estate archives such as funding, copyright, etc.;
- The transition of estate records to archives, including collecting and making accessible 20th and 21st Century estate records (including those born-digital);
- The arrangement and cataloguing of estate archives including: strategies and standards for successful online and paper finding aids; retrieval and context in the age of Google; use of Web 2.0 and social media to aid discoverability; geo-location of estate archives and map based searching;
- Access and discoverability issues relating to composite collections, featuring multiple estate archives or collections relating to individual estates spilt across multiple repositories or non-traditional custodial environments;
- Digitisation and Web delivery of estate collections and crowdsourcing efforts in this area.
Submissions are invited from across the archive, academic and cultural heritage sectors, including co-authored pieces reflecting collaboration across the same.
Prospective authors are invited to contact any of the Guest Editors, in order to discuss proposed articles for a special issue of Archives and Records which will appear in Spring 2019:
We also encourage visiting the Author Services page for advice, tips, and support for publishing with Routledge.
The deadline for expressions of interest is 31 December 2017. All submissions will be double blind peer-reviewed and should be presented in line with the Archives and Records style guidelines. The final deadline for article submissions is 30 June 2018.
White, P. et al., 1992. The arrangement of estate records. Journal of the Society of Archivists, 13(1), pp.1–8.
- Guest Editor: Shaun Evans, Institute for Welsh Estates, Bangor University: (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Guest Editor: Sarah Higgins, Lecturer in Information Studies, Aberystwyth University: (email@example.com)
- Guest Editor: Julie Mathias, Lecturer in Information Studies, Aberystwyth University (firstname.lastname@example.org)