Special Edition 14 May 2020 Staffordshire Archives & Heritage Update

Staffordshire Archives and Heritage
A Young Mans Companion

The Young Man’s Best Companion (D570)

Welcome to this special edition of the Staffordshire Archives and Heritage newsletter.

This week we feature the second part our series on looking after collections at home looking at objects and take a look at some of the individual documents in the Archive collections which our volunteers have been researching. 



Looking After Your Collections at Home

This week Museum Development Officer Helen Johnson gives some tips on how to care for delicate items that we may have in cabinets, drawers and on walls at home. 

At Staffordshire Archives and Heritage Service one of our most important jobs is to take care of our collections. The main problem the Museum Team face is that our objects were not designed to last forever. We have an ongoing battle to ensure that we can pass them on to future generations of museum visitors and continue to tell their stories.

Do you have treasured items in your home? The Team uses all of these practices to preserve and look after our museum objects. Follow our top tips which will help you to look after delicate or treasured items

1) Good Housekeeping

Dust is a big cause of damage to objects. It is food for some insect pests and it can be abrasive. Give your items a gentle dust using a soft duster or soft brush. A paint brush is good to get into corners and flick the dust away. We spend a lot of time making sure our exhibition spaces and collection storerooms are clean and dust free.

2) Light Levels

Photographs and textiles are affected by light, especially sunlight which can fade them. If you have a photograph in a frame or a precious textile such as a piece of needlework move it away from direct sunlight.  Find a spot in the room where the sun won’t hit it. You could make a copy of the photograph and keep the original in a drawer – then you can still enjoy it. Our photographs and textiles are kept in dark storerooms when they are not on display.

3) Insect Pests

Clothes moths can be a problem in museum collections. They particularly enjoy items made from wool. If you have a favourite jumper in a drawer check it occasionally. If you find any sign of moth on the jumper or nearby, seal the jumper in a plastic bag and pop it in the freezer for a couple of weeks. This should kill off any moth and larvae. Defrost it in the bag and then leave to air for an hour or so before putting it away.

4) Pack it safely away

If your object is something that you don’t have on display wrap it carefully in acid free tissue paper which you can buy in most good stationery shops and a bit of bubble wrap. Pop it in a box with a label on the front and store it in a cupboard or a drawer. Don’t use newspaper as this contains a lot of acids which can damage objects.

5) Don’t Drop it!

The main cause of damage to museum objects is handling. Even if our hands are clean they will leave a tiny amount of grease on surfaces which can damage objects. The main risk is that objects can be knocked or damaged when we handle them so limit how much you touch them. If you have to pick your object up, hold it safely in both hands, close to your body. If it has a lid take this off first and carry it separately. Never lift anything by the handle. This is often the weakest part of the object and may come off in your hand!

6) Pass on the Story

If you know the history of your object and you want to pass it down to future generations, make a record of everything you know about it, where it came from, who owned it, how old it is. This means you have a more accurate history as many anecdotes passed down verbally can be changed and misinterpreted. For example, the story of Queen Mary’s tea set. Queen Mary gave a tea set to women who worked in the Royal Household when they left to get married. Family legend often states that the tea sets belonged to the Queen herself. She would certainly have had a lot of them if this was true!

Zooming In - A Look at the Collections

Volunteers and Friends have been researching the collections. Here we look at some of the stories they are uncovering.

The Young Man’s Best Companion (Staffordshire Record Office, D570)

This intriguing little book was published in 1825 and was intended to give a young society gentleman a grounding in everything he might need to know – and more! Covering subjects as diverse as figure drawing, geography, gardening and fumigating foul rooms, this little work is full of fascinating – if questionable – facts, figures and practical information.

Here’s a selection of some of the more intriguing tips, but please – don’t try any of these at home!

Young Mans CompanionSalad raised in 2 daysFumigating a room

The Diaries of Charles Bill - Richard Totty

FoSSA has bought at an internet auction three diaries of Charles Bill of Farley Hall near Alton, born 1843. They are for the years 1876,1878 and 1880.  He was active in Staffordshire County politics and later in life he became Member of Parliament for the Leek Division in the Conservative Party's interest. The diaries contain little of political interest but they record much social activity amongst his family and local friends. His writing is not too difficult to decipher and here are two examples from the 1880 volume. Firstly a week's entries from tour of Italy; nearly 8 weeks long in the Spring. Here he leaves Messina for Naples, settles in at Naples and leaves for Casserta.  


Secondly a more mundane week in the autumn when he was at home. This was a typical week, the Archdeacon's Committee, a wedding, a bazaar, tennis and two days, after church at Alton on Sunday morning. The diaries will be available at Stafford when the Record Office reopens. FoSSA can react quickly to notifications by the National Archives of items of local historical interest being auctioned. In this case we just had a few hours notice but managed to make successful bids for all three items on offer. The diaries complement a family collection already at Stafford.




Staffordshire Steeple and Tower Challenge - Week 5

Challenge Week 5

Brainteaser Solutions


Fashion Crossword Solutions
Across 2. Conservator 3. Storage 8. Acid Free 10 Direct Sunlight  11. Gloves 12. Ultra Violet 
Down 1. Relative Humidity 4. Wood 5. Handling 6. Newspaper 7. Pencil 9.Brush 

Steeple and Tower Challenge
The answers to Week 4 of the challenge are: Gnosall and Colton 

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