The Archive of G King and Sons Ltd (Lead Glaziers, 1927-2003), Norfolk Record Office

Summary of the project

The Norfolk Record Office (NRO) was awarded a National Cataloguing grant in 2008 to catalogue the archive of G King and Sons Ltd, lead glaziers of Norwich, 1927-2003. The archive includes the firm's job files and account books over 75 years, many thousands of related black and white as well as some coloured photographic prints, slides and negatives, and over 9,000 full-sized cartoons and cutline rubbings of glass.

The project was managed by a full time archivist with expert historical advice given by University of East Anglia, School of History. The project resulted in a collection catalogued to (ISAD G) standard available through the Norfolk online catalogue.

Raising the profile of Norfolk Record Office as a place of deposit for business records

Press releases about the project and the award of a national grant resulted in extensive local and regional media coverage which improved reputation and credibility of NRO as a place of deposit for business archives. As a result of this recognition of expertise several other businesses have wanted to deposit records there. Due to the specialist nature of the large photographic collection and knowledge of NRO, discussions are ongoing with another nationally significant local business with a significantly larger collection of slides.

Securing grant funding for further cataloguing projects

Since the start of the King project the NRO has attracted two further grants from different sources to fund cataloguing projects for business records: Jarrold and Sons Ltd, publisher stationer and retailer of Norwich and Nestle (UK) plc and its predecessors at the Chapelfield Factory in Norwich.

Staff at NRO believe that part of the success of attracting further funding has been due to the publicity and interest generated by the success of the King project: in 2011 the Business Archives Council awarded NRO a grant to catalogue the business archive of Gaymer and Son Ltd, cider manufacturers of Attleborough, Norfolk the record office secured a grant of $32,000 from the USA to catalogue the Second World War Archive held at there.

New approaches to project delivery

As a result of the King cataloguing project, the NRO has revisited the way it approaches projects and project management. The project was initially defined as a 'small sized' project (using Norfolk County Council project template). However it was felt that there would be a more robust approach if dealt with as a 'medium sized' project, with project boards and other controls. NRO staff believe this was responsible for the success of the project and as a result all projects are now treated this way.

Staff also realised that the concentrated work associated with a project can realise greater productivity efficiency and value for money. Many core areas of work are now scoped as projects with more regular use of project archivists.

Developing the role of volunteers and conservation of the collection

The project resulted in the development of new roles for volunteers leading to closer collaborative working between archivists, conservators and volunteers. As the cataloguing was taking place the collection was repackaged by a group of volunteers recruited specially to work on the project. In total, over 300 volunteer hours were invested in the project and in excess of 12,000 items were repackaged. Volunteers who worked on the King project now regularly work on other material and a permanent group of volunteers has effectively come about.

The conservation of collection meant that documents previously classed as 'unfit for production' are now available for access and it is now possible to issue special care items such as glass negatives.

Outreach

Improving access to the collection through cataloguing meant the material could be drawn on as part of long-term outreach and education programmes. A major exhibition Leading the Way: The Archive of G King and Son (Lead Glaziers) Ltd, Norwich, 1927-2003, was held in the Long Gallery at the Archive Centre, between January and April 2011. This was accompanied by a published catalogue, a lecture series and events for children. NRO staff and project staff gave presentations about the firm and its archive at local and national museums, and to groups of archive professional.

Furthering academic research

The academic value of the collection has been reinforced by the cataloguing process and the publication of articles in specialist scholarly journals such as Vidimus. There has been an increase in academic study into the collection - researchers from the Leverhulme-funded 'Stained Glass in Medieval Norfolk' project, based in the School of History at the University of East Anglia.

Future plans

Longer term NRO have identified scope for more detailed cataloguing of cutline drawings and making links to job files. They have recognised a potential project to digitise some of the damaged negatives. A programme to start cleaning the cartoons which were excluded from the cataloguing project is being considered and may run as a volunteer project.

For further information contact John Alban at Norfolk Record Office.