Thursday, June 25, 2015

A behind-the-scenes work placement

A guest-blog from our work placement student, Sean.

It is the final hour of my six-week work placement and the culmination of a really enjoyable experience. I am a student studying History at the University of Huddersfield. For my course, it was compulsory to complete a six-week long work placement towards the conclusion of my second year. I have had a keen interest in museums since a very young age and decided to pursue a placement in museums. 

I believe local history is a very important part of the study of past events, leading to multiple interpretations and being in many ways more personal to those who study it. Local history can also affect the way national and global history is studied and viewed. Due to this keen interest, I decided to complete a placement at Wakefield Museums and spent most of my time in their Museum Store.

My role was to go through objects in the Museum Store, check their condition and audit their location onto the museum database; which is a brand new skill that I know would come in handy for a future job in years to come. 

The most interesting objects I came across at the store were in the Miners' Strike section, where I came across badges and memorabilia in support of the miners - and also in opposition to the so-called ‘scabs’ who didn’t participate in the strikes. Next year, I am completing a dissertation on Margaret Thatcher and the study of these objects has really helped.  

I was taken aback by the sheer variety of objects which I recorded onto the databases. In the end, I managed to audit just over 1450 very diverse objects, including: 

  • Fans
  • Paintbrushes
  • Punch and Judy Memorabilia
  • Moulder’s Tools
  • Miners Strike Badges/Miners Lamps etc
  • Shaving Accessories
  • Brewery Bottles
  • Pipe Bowls
  • Collection of Glass Negatives
  • Cigarette/Tobacco Accessories

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and will take away many skills for future employment. I feel like I have learnt a significant amount about local history in the West Yorkshire region and this will bode well for my academic studies back in Huddersfield.

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