Register 2019

CULTURE Archives

The Christ’s College Archives is at the “pointy” end of history. The books, papers, uniforms and artefacts which, when gathered together, add up to a more comprehensive picture of the College story. These details are the reason behind the In Black & White articles and the longer pieces in College magazine. They take items, or events, or people and allow them to be seen by the wider College community and the public. They often elicit comments, and from time to time corrections, all of which expand knowledge of College’s past and its place in Canterbury, New Zealand and world history. None of this would be possible without adhering to a basic archival principle – that is, A&D, arrangement and description. That, too, presupposes another very important question: does the item being offered fit within the collection policy of the College Archives? Once that is established then the process which leads to further knowledge can begin. Arrangement means each item takes its place within the existing collection. For example, the three 1st XV caps donated by the Louisson family (MG Louisson, 1895–97; JK Louisson 1935–36; and JSM Louisson, 1970) in 2019 were added to the caps series within the overall uniform collection. Description is often about the minutiae. Notes in this instance were made about the material, the tassel or lack thereof, whether the peak was large or small, and the details of the Ballantynes label. This latter information is used in a wider context to aid the dating of undated items. In other instances, information would be recorded about the binding on a book prize, or questioning whether the handwriting on an unsigned

Above: Christ’s College Grammar School Form List July 1852

itself grows. Aided and abetted by the online digitisation of primary sources a previously isolated item in the collection can find a connection with other items. Yet it can also create further questions. Who is W Moorhead, whose name appears beside James Reeve Wilkinson and Samuel Dutton Powdrell in the 1877–78 accounts of the Upper Department? Why are Benjamin W Mountfort’s specifications for Christ’s College dated 1851 when College was still in Lyttelton and in

letter matches that of other letters in the collection. Or does the fact that the donor knows the name of a single person in a photograph enable accurate dating and recognition of others?

Research, or the untangling of mysteries which can add to a

description, is an important part of the work of the Archives. Sometimes this is better investigated a second time around, when knowledge of the collection and the collection


Christ’s College Canterbury

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