Archives & Special Collections Open Day, October 2014
On 8th October 2014, SOAS Archives opened its’ doors to all SOAS staff and students for the second Open Day of this year.
Aimed particularly at reaching out to those who are new to SOAS, the Open Day followed fast on the heels of Welcome Week and saw 60 visitors who came on behind-the-scenes tours of the archive store rooms and took the opportunity to see the extensive display of archives, manuscripts and rare books that staff had prepared for the occasion.
Student visitors were drawn from the undergraduate and postgraduate communities, and also from across disciplines and research interests. Staff attended from across the School, with visitors from the Directorate, LIS and the Library, Careers, the History of Art & Archaeology and the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy.
Displays featured material from across the collections, with a special focus on a selection of archives for Black History Month, which has also been the focus of a special series of blogs throughout October. Papers included those of africa95, the Movement for Colonial Freedom, the Heinemann African Writers’ Series, and the personal papers of Solomon Plaatje and Robert Wellesley Cole.
Feedback was positive, with people asking for more Open Days throughout the year, and for additional support in the form of teaching sessions on key areas such as research skills, understanding archives and using archive catalogues, specialist formats such as audio-visual material and digital media, and copyright issues. For information on sessions currently offered by SOAS Archives & Special Collections, see our Teaching & Learning web pages.
The purpose of our Open Days is to raise awareness of these fantastic collections, which are available as a resource for the SOAS community to use. The material in our custody is unique, rare and often fragile and we have a responsibility to preserve it for future generations, but this is balanced with providing access to SOAS members and to the general public, and we positively encourage people to come and make use of the collections. Details of how to access and use the material is available on our website. Enquiries can also be directed to our staff who are happy to advise on sources and research pathways.