Crowdsourcing and Corrections

This morning I have arrived to find two separate pieces of correspondence informing me that I have omitted a family member in two different biographies on the Archives Hub. As well as being amused by the coincidence of having two such corrections arriving on the same day, I was also struck by how helpful it is when people do let me know of factual errors or omissions in the administrative or biographical histories I create.

Perhaps I should be careful what I wish for – I am not asking to be inundated with nit-picking corrections or people expressing differences of opinion! But being an archivist requires me to become an ‘instant expert’ on a whole range of different topics. In the DMU Archive we have collections on medical history, Leicester’s local history, educational history, twentieth century art and design movements, the history of fashion and textiles manufacture, youth and social work, and architecture – to name but a few! So it can be useful to have someone who may know a lot more than me about these subjects assist me with identification and placing the records in their wider context.

For example, a few months ago I blogged some photographs relating to dance, including a photograph of a dance performance from the 1980s. One of our dance academics emailed me that I had named the dance incorrectly in the caption – and she should know, she choreographed it! In this case the original photograph had been captioned incorrectly, so by copying it faithfully I had actually repeated the error – which is why I do not mind occasionally ‘crowdsourcing’ help with my archival descriptions!


About Katharine Short

When I was 13 every careers questionnaire I did at school suggested I become an archivist. In rebellion I studied History of Art at Cambridge and the Courtauld Institute before giving in to the inevitable and undertaking a qualification in Archives Administration at Aberystwyth University. I worked at King’s College London Archives and the London Metropolitan Archives before becoming the Archivist here at DMU in January 2013. My role is hugely varied: answering enquiries and assisting researchers, sorting, cataloguing, cleaning and packaging archival material, managing our environmentally controlled storage areas, giving seminars, talks and tours, researching aspects of University history, liaising with potential donors and advocating for the importance of archives within the organisation. I am one of those incredibly fortunate people who can say ‘I love my job’ and really mean it.
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