Stories from the Attic

During lockdown, two of our Collections Volunteers, Sue Dell and Steph Emo, took on the challenge of organising the many boxes of papers that were stored in the attic at Jane Austen's House, with the aim of creating an archive of the Museum. Over the coming weeks, we will be sharing stories from Sue and Steph about the discoveries they made and the treasures they unearthed.
This glorious door handle takes us into the attic

Here, Sue introduces the project:

During lockdown a fellow volunteer, Steph Emo, and I have been working our way through the boxes of papers that have been stored in the attic, with the aim of creating an archive of the Museum.

It felt rather daunting at first with 24 boxes to tackle and not a lot of order in the storage.  However, I worked through them a box at a time, noting what had been found and how it might be useful for the Museum – material for archiving, letters to be stored in object folders giving details of provenance, old postcards and programmes (often in duplicate, triplicate or more).  Of course, I was constantly distracted by what I found – and a simple sort of a few sheets of paper or a couple of booklets turned into a morning on the floor looking in reference books and reading around.

Having done the initial (and easy) work I passed material to Steph who then started to compile spreadsheets.  She staggered home from each of our doorstep meetings with a mountain of papers and magically whisked them into order like a Mary Poppins of paper – except that it was not a wave of a magic wand that produced the order, but extremely hard work and outstanding organisational skills.

We are now nearing the end of the boxes – certainly not nearing the end of the task, but maybe the end of the beginning.  Many hours of cataloguing and organising lie ahead of us!

Over the coming weeks and months we would like to share with you some of the treasures we have found.  None of these were in danger of being lost, they were all stored safely – just not systematically.  It has been a joyous journey for both of us and we look forward to sharing some of it with you.

Click below to read more about our discoveries….

Watch this space for more stories from the attic, coming soon!