Gladstone Archives

Today I will tell you about the archives at Gladstone’s Library. As an intern, part of my role is to help organise any new archives that we get in but first I will talk you through our most popular archive: the Glynne-Gladstone Archive.


William Gladstone’s papers are kept in three different places. Lambeth Palace holds his diaries, The British Library hold his public/political documents and we hold his personal documents and correspondence. These are kept in the Gladstone Library strong room and must be requested with at least 24 hours in order to view. Any Reader or Friend can view the archives with no additional cost. When someone comes in to view these materials, they are placed on a specially assigned desk within the view of the enquiry desk. The members of staff on the enquiry desk have a log sheet to account for everything that happens to the archive material whilst it is out of the strong room. Every piece of paper is counted out and back in each time; which can be very frustrating when someone distracts you mid-count and you have to begin again!


So, back to the original point of this blog which was to tell you about the tasks set for the interns by the Archive Assistant, Sian Morgan. Currently we are working through the archive of a reverend in the Church of England who died last year and left his personal papers to Gladstone’s Library in his will. We are at the first stage of the archiving process which means each of the interns takes responsibility for one box of the archive and makes a ‘box-list’ using Microsoft Excel. A note must be made of the dates covered, what the documents are mainly concerning and what type of documents they are and the condition that the papers are in. For example, in my first box the papers covered the period between 1983-2015. There was a mixture of correspondence, sermons, lectures and articles written by the reverend. Some of these were typed and some handwritten and some had been annotated. The condition of the papers also varied depending on their age and how they had been stored. For example, on some of the older papers there was discolouration and some rusting of the staples that were used to hold them together.

Once everything has been noted and the box-list is complete it is saved to the library shared drive, where Sian can access them to check what we have done. The purpose of these lists is to give a quick overview of everything that is covered in the archive as a whole. This gives Sian an idea of what direction she would like to take the archive before beginning the next stage: cataloguing.

Sadly I will not be around at the library to help with this next stage as my placement here is coming to an end but I wish the other interns lots of luck and can’t wait to hear how the projects is continuing when I am back home.