April 16, 2010

The National Archives and a rare headline…

Onto my second day in the archives, and today was arguably much more profitable than yesterday! Headed after an early breakfast (Full English, orange juice and coffee!) first to 'Budgens', a shop I'd previously never heard of, but appears to be much like any other mini-supermarket. The great thing about it as I approached at 8am? It had the glorious aroma of a pâtisserie. And nothing beats freshly baked goods on a Friday morning! Nevertheless I withheld from buying croissants and pain au chocolat, and instead opted for a cucumber sandwich, bottle of orange juice, packet of crisps and a Guardian

From Budgens I headed to Angel, whereby I caught the tube to Kew Gardens, changing at Kings X St Pancras and Hammersmith. Upon reaching the Archives I was struck by the impressiveness of the building, a cross somewhere between MI6 headquarters, Warwick's University House and York's space-ship lecture theatre.

Once inside I headed to the upstairs, and for the second time in two days have my identity checked and a photocard issued. I now have four new cards in my wallet - a LMA History Card, National Archives Reader's Ticket, an LSE door card and an LSE meal card. Despite the possible security risks, I still think a singular, use-everywhere card would be the best means of going about our lives, a la the Oyster card writ national.

Just prior to a brief introductory session I ordered my first (and in the end only) document: TS (Treasury Solicitor) 11/388 (1212), on a list of known items provided by my supervisor Prof. Mark Knights.

I learnt during the talk that I was the only newbie during the talk doing academic research. It is striking just how many people are now searching family history records - apparently 90% of visitors are now here for this purpose. I wonder how influential Who do you think you are?was in contributing to this!

After the introduction I headed to the Reading Room, where I picked up my box of documents for seat 20E and got to work, carefully examining what had been uncovered. A lot focused on Lord George Gordon's later trial for libel against the Queen of France, but there were some great pieces on the Petition; including a copy of the Newcastle petition. Just seeing it and holding it was fascinating, truly a connection with history. I also read a document recording events at the House of Commons during the riots, including the votes cast on what to do about the petition - Gordon was one of the tellers, another Sir George Osbourne (a relation, I wonder?). Sadly I didn't gleam much on the nature of petitioning, particuarly how it was gathered, however I did do some newspaper searches yesterday which appeared to suggest public meetings at 'Coachmakers Hall' in Foster Lane (by St Pauls Cathedral) held in 1779 were promoted through the use of Classified Adverts.

Hopefully I'll learn more tomorrow!

Here's a link to a photo album I'll updated regularly with images from my research: 
URSS Blog photos

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