I applied for the placement at St James’ Church in Moss Side, who were looking for an Assistant Archivist. I have lived around Hulme and Moss Side since I was a child, and my Girl Guide group use to meet at the church for special services. My connection with the area meant I was very excited to be part of the project, and to discover the history of my local community.

I met with the Rector, Anthony Hardy, and Volunteer Curator, Jean Wheale, in November to discuss the instructions for the placement. The church holds a large collection of photographs, memorabilia and documents, and my role was to organise and catalogue these items. The next step was to digitise the items so they could be made more accessible to outside researchers, and members of the public.

One of the many photographs in the archives, This one features St James’ Church (Courtesy of St James’ Church)

I began the process of organising the collection at the start of December, and quickly realised this was going to be a huge task. As the cataloguing has not yet been completed, I can only estimate that the total number of items will be around ten thousand. Working together, Jean and I have organised around half of the materials, however we have not progressed as far as we would have liked. This meant that we have not yet moved on to digitising the collection.

During the placement, I have learned how to address institutional needs when planning a project. For example, the church has a limited budget for the archives and, while I was able to request resources, I have had to be frugal. There are long-term plans to redevelop the church and turn it into a Life Centre for the local community. The heritage space will only be one component of this centre and the budget therefore must be spread evenly across the project.

I have gained useful experience, made contacts with other local organisations and have been able to witness the start of an important local heritage project. I plan to continue working with the church and to see this project through as far as possible.