Work placement module

Making History: archive collaborations

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Making Histories

If you are looking for work experience in the heritage, archive, or history-related sectors, HIST5020M Making History provides you with an option to do this within your MA programme. The module is an exceptional opportunity for you to develop a professional edge for your career.

This module offers an exciting way of collaborating with partner organisations on original archival material. Alongside gaining 50 hours work experience, you'll engage critically with debates in and about the profession. It encourages you to develop your awareness of the complex relationships between archivists and archives and how they create and shape history and heritage.

You'll work on projects that have a public-facing out — content for an exhibition, new catalogue information, or public event for example — which will provide you unique material to support applications in your future career. 

The course is available in the following programmes:

  • MA Modern History
  • MA Race and Resistance
  • MA Social and Cultural History
  • MA Medieval History
  • MA Medieval Studies
  • MA War and Strategy
  • MA History of Health, Medicine and Society

It is open to both full-time and part-time students. 

Projects for 2018/19

Students from all our programmes can apply for a project in October. Each research project is assigned to a MA programme, and students on the designated MA will have first refusal on that project.  

NB: the exact nature of projects may change before teaching starts

Herbert Norris and the Bretton Hall Archive: costume, history, education, and acting

Project partner: Special Collections, Brotherton library

Priority MA programme: MA Social and Cultural History

This project will focus on the vast archive of material from Bretton Hall College of Education, which opened in 1949 and offered innovative courses in design, music and the visual and performance arts. The college merged with the University in 2001, and its archive and teaching collections were transferred in various stages until the Bretton campus closed in 2007. The project will focus on the material left by Herbert Norris - an actor, designer, and fashion and costume historian who taught at Bretton Hall in the 1930s and 40s, including stunning visual material relating to medieval costume and theatre costumes. As the archive is mostly unlisted and split into several sections, there is scope for the student(s) to shape this exciting project to make this unique archive available for research.

Yorkshire Charters: Mount Grace Priory (1398) and Esholt Priory (1485)

Project partner: West Yorkshire Archive Service, Leeds

Priority MA programme(s): MA Medieval Studies and Medieval History

Choosing one of these charters, you'll have the chance to conduct an in-depth document biography looking at the historical context in which the document was created, researching the individuals named on the charter and any Latin or palaeography transcription would be welcome but not essential. This project will include a session with conservation looking at the documents composition. Your research will be utilised for a series of blog posts and an interpretation panel to go alongside the document on display at Leeds archive

Temple Newsam collections

Project partner: West Yorkshire Archive Service, Leeds

Priority MA programme: MA Medicine, Health, and Society

Through these family / estate papers you'll create a short encyclopaedia of the ingredients used in household remedies and medicines by analysing recipe books and receipts of the seventeenth and eighteenth century family collections. This project would take a close look at uses and properties of various ingredients and how they were processed and utilised in varying contexts. Your research will generate an online encyclopaedia resource to be used alongside the collections by future researchers and social media promotion of the project.

John Smeaton and the 'Leeds Lighthouse' project

Project partner: West Yorkshire Archive Service, Leeds

Priority MA programme: MA Modern History

Working on the records held by the WYAS which relate to John Smeaton, you'll explore how his work fits into the wider social history of 18th century Leeds. This research will support the ‘Leeds Lighthouse’ project which is planned as part of Leeds 2023. The idea of building a lighthouse in Leeds takes inspiration from the city’s industrial heritage and work of pioneering civil engineer John Smeaton who was born in Leeds and in 1759 and built the most famous lighthouse in the world: the Eddystone Light. This research will allow us to support the aims of Leeds Council and the cultural activities planned for 2023 and allow researchers easy access to archives which relate to Smeaton. Working alongside staff at the Leeds office you’ll also visit our Wakefield team and meet the arts organisation who are leading the Leeds Lighthouse project. In this project, you'll create a research guide on records which relate to John Smeaton or his work held within the archives of the West Yorkshire Archive Service.  The guide will be used by heritage staff across Leeds and be available to download via the West Yorkshire Archive Service website.  The guide can be in a traditional downloadable format or a more interactive resource (or both!).

Geraldine Connor Foundation Archive

Project partner: Geraldine Connor Foundation

Priority MA programme:  MA Social and Cultural History

The Geraldine Connor Foundation (GCF) is an arts organisation established in 2012 to continue the legacy of the renowned theatre director, musician and educationalist Dr Geraldine Connor.  GCF aims to continue her legacy by bringing people together though arts and culture.  By providing opportunities for artists and young people to create, participate and experience quality art.

We deliver creative projects that fuse culture and art to create unique performance experiences engaging both professionals and the public in producing great art together.  We believe that creativity enriches people’s lives, it has a positive influence on peoples wellbeing and confidence and contributes to removing barriers between communities.

Focusing on documenting Geraldine’s life, artistic productions and creative processes, the archive has a wide range of potential projects within it.   All GCF projects are collaborative and we would work with students to find a mutually beneficial area of research.  Using archive materials from a range of sources, including resources held at the George Padmore Institute, Harewood House and friends and colleagues of Geraldine.   Your research could inform new theatrical productions, be part of educational resources and cultural programmes delivered by GCF.

West Yorkshire Queer Stories

Project partner: West Yorkshire Queer Stories

Priority MA programmeMA Modern History

West Yorkshire Queer Stories is a new project that aims to build an archive of audio recordings and artefacts representing the LGBTIQ+ voices often overlooked within mainstream history. Funded by the Heritage Lottery and based at Yorkshire MESMAC, the project works with volunteers to conduct oral history interviews with people from a diverse range of LGBTIQ+ communities across West Yorkshire. As someone involved in the early stages of creating an archive, this placement would give you experience of testing out methodologies, assisting with outreach, and creating content for social media, including writing blog posts.

Beam Arts Programme Archive

Project partner: Beam

Priority MA programme: MA Modern History

Beam promote, commission and deliver transformative arts programmes to inspire communities and support the development of great places. Established in 1987, they now have an archive of material covering their activities over the past 30 years. As well as documenting the numerous individual projects undertaken over the years, the archive also illuminates the changing histories and status of public art as a practice, the developing discourses surrounding it, and the evolution of the roles of stakeholders in the endeavour that has increasingly become known as ‘placemaking’. In this project, you'll work with Beam to explore the archive and it potential for the future. We want to start to draw out the narratives further that initial exploration has touched on and understand how we can share this nationally, raise awareness about it's contents and generate interest; we want to organise the archive and adopt a methodology going forward, and would like to seek further funding to help us to achieve our longer term aim. An output of the project could also be an awareness raising community event/ exhibition to showcase items from the archive.

Literary Manuscripts at Leeds Central Library

Project partner: Leeds Central Library

Priority MA programmes: MA Modern History

This project will look at some of the literary manuscripts that are held in the library’s special collections, these include the archive of fantasy writer E. R. Eddison, the manuscript of Willie Riley’s bestselling novel Windyridge and material produced by Leeds University alumni Margaret Storm Jameson. You will look at how to promote these collections and the stories behind these fascinating Yorkshire authors more widely, either through research guides, blog posts or events.

Transcribing personal diaries

Project partner: Leeds Central Library

Priority MA programmes: MA Modern History

The handwritten diaries in our collection contain a wealth of information but remain largely inaccessible and under used by researchers and historians. One fascinating series of journals belongs to the local historian and socialist Alf Mattison, who describes in one volume what Leeds was like during WWII. You can focus on one of the diary collections and create box lists or simple indexes if relevant and highlight any important or interesting features that you find through a series of blog posts. You will also look at producing a transcription guide for volunteers which will then be used as part of our heritage volunteer programme.

The History of Central Library

Project partner: Leeds Central Library

Priority MA programmes: MA Modern History

The Central Library is an impressive Grade II* listed building that was built in 1884. Over the years the building has been home to a museum and the police amongst other things, but it has always been a library – in fact the stunning Tiled Hall Café was the original reading room. To celebrate the wonderful history of the building we are looking to produce a book detailing stories from the library’s past. You will use archive material, as well as newspapers and scrapbooks, to help piece together this history and the people who worked and studied here over the last 134 years.

Pages in this document

  1. Making History: archive collaborations
  2. Teaching and assessment
  3. Previous projects