2017 – A year at Dundee City Archives

2017 has been quite busy year for the archives. For researchers and visitors to the Archives the main change has been the move of the searchroom. Our visitor facilities used to be split over two rooms. The office and searchroom in one room and the volunteers in another room. This meant that a lot of space was wasted and staff had to supervise two rooms. We’ve now moved the searchroom and volunteer space into one room and have a dedicated searchroom space and more seats for visitors – going up from 4 research seats to 12! Our new searchroom also has more room for books to be on the open shelves. In the New Year we plan to work through our reference collection to provide better access to some of our more frequently used books.

Our new searchroom also has some new picture on the walls. We wanted to celebrate the history of Dundee and some of our popular collections. Our featured images include a Keillers Poster from 1897, a class of Glebelands school boys (above) and a 1918 photograph of women painters from the Caledon Shipyards. We also ran a vote amongst our volunteers to select another image. This striking image of Deerhorn Close from the 1920s Slum Housing albums won a very close run race. We hope to get it up on the walls soon.

No.61 - Deerhorn Close 30 Hilltown small
Deerhorn Close (just off the Hilltown) in the 1920s

Although the year isn’t over yet, we’ve had almost 1800 visits to the Searchroom. Our generous volunteers have donated well over 3,300 hours of their time to indexing and transcribing our records. You can find the results of their hard work on the Friends of Dundee City Archives website. This year they have been working on an index to the Piper of Dundee, the Town Council Minutes, a guide to Dundee Schools, and much more! Look out for these appearing on the FDCA website soon.

Our collections have also continued to grow. We’ve accepted 83 deposits this year. This has included church records, records of the Tay Yacht Club (Ref: GD/X1379) and the East of Scotland Beekeepers Association (Ref: GD/X1393). We’ve also had lots of little accessions of personal papers. All collections that relate to Dundee are welcome – big or small! If you have some records that you would like to donate to the archives, please get in touch with us.

An image of the Wellgate from a collection of slides recently deposited to the Archives (Ref: GD/X1405/3)

Following on from a very successful Flickr site, we decided to move into the world of social media. We now have this blog and a twitter feed. Both are proving quite popular and we hope to continue to be able to bring you stories about the history of Dundee and what’s going on in the Archives.

We have also been continuing our outreach in the physical world. Staff participated in 19 outreach events this year, attended by 888 people. One highlight of the year was the Doors Open Day. 193 people visited the Archives to view a selection of documents from our collections and attend four talks given by staff and volunteers. This was a chance for those who have never been to the Archives to find out more about what we do. Last month we also welcomed 180 University of Dundee 1st Year History students to view a selection of 18th century documents relating to Duncan family investments in the Smyrnea settlement in Florida. This is the second year students have visited the Archives and it’s a great opportunity for students to see original documents from the period they are researching.

Overall it’s been a good year and we’re looking forward to another busy year in 2018. We hope that you can come visit us!

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