I’m Helen Lindsay and I have been a volunteer at Bury Archives since April 2009 and in January 2010 I started studying at the University of Dundee for an MLitt in Archives & Records Management by distance learning.
I’ve done a variety of projects here at Bury and the Bealey papers have given me an opportunity to see the cataloguing of a collection from the very beginning, something I will hopefully do myself one day. Many items are being revealed for the first time after years of being in storage so it’s quite interesting to see them come out of their wrappers.
As part of my course I recently studied preservation and one of my assignments was to complete a preservation survey. This involves finding out about the documents’ physical condition and making an assessment of any conservation needs.
The Bealey papers was an ideal subject for this task and it was exciting to help the project archivist open the contents of the different envelopes and packages, which date mainly from the mid-19th to early 20th centuries. So exciting that I spent rather a lot of time reading them and admiring the beautiful letterheads (a particular interest of mine) rather than noting their condition!
The opportunity to combine work on a ‘live’ cataloguing project whilst studying the subject via distance learning has proved invaluable; I have had access to original archive material in order to conduct my survey, and some hidden gems have been discovered. One example is Richard Bealey’s detailed plan of the trees for his orchard. He was a busy man, yet finding the time to do this in between running a Bleachworks, founding a school and encouraging Methodism in the area shows the energy that they all seem to have had in those days.
Finally, my own personal link to the project is that the hospital which was later founded by Richard Bealey’s son, Adam Crompton Bealey. This became a maternity home which is where I was born…but I won’t tell you when, you will have to look it up!