Thursday, October 22, 2020

Cataloguing Irish Lights Archives


The word 'cataloguing' looks wrong when spelled the proper way, but also looks wrong spelled the US way - 'cataloging.' Oh well, first world problem.
I was recently on to Irish Lights with a query about the lighthouse in Newcastle county Down. In former years, they would put me onto Frank Pelly who was snowed under by the archives in the Baily Lighthouse but always did his best to help as best he could. He used to describe his job as either preserving what archives or trying to catalogue - there was not the time to do both! And so, wisely, he concentrated on the preservation, so as to have records for future generations to catalogue.
Frank has now retired and, ironically, there is now a big project underway to preserve and catalogue the archives. This is the reply I received from the Project Manager - 
The project to catalogue the archive only began last year, 2019. The archive contains over one thousand volumes and two thousand boxes. The archive project is prioritising records of greatest historical significance. When the records were created in the 19th and 20th centuries they were not divided according to each lighthouse but rather, in common with other 19th century registry systems, the records were filed chronologically regardless of subject. Therefore it is only when the project is finished that comprehensive searches of the archive will be possible. Until the records have been catalogued we do not know what information they contain.
An Archive webpage is currently being developed which will provide general information. We hope to publish the catalogues when they are complete, after 2022.
I understand that, in the meantime, as archives are catalogued they will become available to researchers.
And very valuable they will be too!

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