In this blog post, we find out how Oldham Local Studies and Archives has contributed to the Made in Greater Manchester project.
My first assignment after joining the team at Oldham Local Studies and Archives was to work with two of their experienced volunteers, Dorothy and Pat, who had bravely volunteered to take part in the MIGM Project and were about to embark on the unwrapping, listing and cataloguing of the Clegg and Mellor collection.
Dorothy and Pat had already taken part in a training session which had shown them what cataloguing is and why do we do it, as well as an introduction to box listing and terminology. The Excel template had been set up, the boxes had been brought from the off -site store, we were ready to start!
Originally deposited in an assortment of packaging and in a variety of conditions ranging from slightly dusty to moderately mouldy, we began to uncover the documents stored within these numerous boxes and plastic parcels.
Fortunately the boxes and parcels had lots of information on the outside which gave us a clue as to what might be contained within. With Dorothy volunteering to check the dates and re-wrap the documents and Pat volunteering to input the information onto the Excel spread sheet, I was left to oversee the operation, clean up the mouldy documents, offer any guidance where needed and re-box the newly packaged documents. We were like a well -oiled machine!
The whole project took us about three months and we catalogued over 400 items ranging from financial records and employment records to trade catalogues and technical drawings. We also discovered documents relating to three other firms with connections to Clegg and Mellor as well as various samples of leather which further illustrated the business of the manufacture of textile roller covers and draft aprons which Clegg and Mellor specialised in.
The entire process was always interesting, sometimes confusing, and often dusty but above all it was a wonderful opportunity for volunteers to bring their knowledge, enthusiasm and newly learned skills to produce a catalogue that will enable researchers to discover more about the workings of a specialised section within the wider cotton industry which helped to transform Oldham, a small village, into one of the most prominent and important cotton spinning centres of the world.
This blog post was written by Caroline Knight, Collections Assistant at Oldham Local Studies and Archives. To find out more about how Oldham Local Studies and Archives has been involved in the Made in Greater Manchester project, check out this great blog post on Unboxing Oldham.