This blog is the first in a three part series about the experiences of an archivist, a historian and a social researcher in running the War Officer Selection Boards (WOSBs) in the Wellcome Library’s Reading Room last year. “And so if you think you are trainable as an officer, it is clearly your duty to […]

Distraction surrounds us every day in work: from the ambient clatter and noise of the open plan office, to the ringing and beeping of phones, the flurry of emails, and chatter of colleagues. Today I’ve been thinking today about the nature of distraction at work, but particularly in archival work.

Cataloguing requires focus and attention, the careful sifting through of streams of data to try and make order out of chaos. I sit at my desk, my trolley of boxes beside me making a wall, a little archive cave of brown cardboard …

The first 130 boxes from the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations (TIHR) archive have now been catalogued and are available for researchers to discover, explore, and interpret at Wellcome Library. These papers – the registered document series (SA/TIH/B/1) – provide a framework for the research and outputs of the Institute from 1945 to 2005, containing key […]

So here’s the way we do things in the archive world: You have your boxes of papers, all messy and disorganised. Then you try and impose some order on them, trying to make sense of how the records were originally created and maintained. After a well-earned tea break (of course, a safe distance away from the original, unique documents!), you start to organise them into neat and pretty categories and form a lovely tidy hierarchy, which supposedly reflects the structure and organisation of the creating body. Or that’s the theory anyway …

From the Archive



“Distribution of cake eating (& biscuits for women) on weekdays in winter for regions”

Since starting this project in October, I’ve been thinking about my role as archivist for the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations (TIHR). I’ve been considering what it means to open up a previously inaccessible archive collection, and the dynamics of bringing the collection out of the storage centre and into the light. I’ve also been thinking about what we mean when we talk about archives and institutional memory, and the role that an archive plays in organisational development and as a form of socio-cultural intervention …

From the Archive



‘The anxiety about Hair.’

From the Archive


‘Oh, why doesn’t someone make more plain chocolate biscuits?’

“Three hundred boxes?! That’s a lot isn’t it?”

Me: “Erm..yeah I guess so”

“How do you even start to make sense of all that stuff?”

I’ve been having a few conversations along these lines at the moment. The non-archivist I’m talking to will look puzzled as I say the key words: New job. Tavistock Institute. 300+ boxes. 2 years. Archive. Cataloguing […]

From the Archive

‘What do you want from work?’

'What do you want from work?'

‘…make something beautiful’