Thursday, 7 April 2016

Introducing the Borthwick Catalogue

In April 2015 we launched Project Genesis, an ambitious two year project to create the Institute’s first online catalogue using AtoM, or Access to Memory, a web-based, open-source application for archival description and access.  One year on, we are proud to announce that the Borthwick Catalogue (or Borthcat as we’ve begun to call it!) is now live.

You can find the catalogue here (need some tips on searching? Try our help page or check out our Frequently Asked Questions)

The catalogue will continue to grow over the next year, and in years to come, but already it contains descriptions of 376 of our archival collections, spanning 28 countries and 825 years of world history.  The subject matter is impressively broad; church and parish, family and estate, manorial, health, television and theatrical, business and political records demonstrating changing attitudes to religion, morality, education, industrial welfare, health and human and civil rights from the medieval to the modern age.  

Each archive has a detailed ‘top level’ description in the catalogue, recording its unique reference code, the dates it covers and an overview of its contents, together with key information regarding access and links to related archives at the Borthwick and elsewhere.  Why not browse our archives alphabetically, or try our subject or place lists to find out what’s available.

Information about the creator of each archive is also available in a separate authority record, linked in the archival description.  You can browse these here.

In certain cases, full archival catalogues are included with these top level descriptions.  These include the catalogue for The Retreat psychiatric hospital, the British Music Society of York, and the papers of Sir Charles Wood, Secretary of State for India.  

For others, such as our popular parish record collections, we have made the paper finding aids available on the catalogue as a clickable PDF, enabling online users to browse these lists or search their contents via the catalogue search function for the first time.  Please note that these lists do not include parish register indexes which will continue to be available in our search room and on Findmypast. More complete catalogues will be added as we continue to develop Borthcat, opening up our holdings to international audiences and improving our online accessibility.

As Project Archivist, it has been very exciting to see the catalogue taking shape and there have been more than a few surprises along the way.  Personal highlights have included the log books of a 17th century admiral, Robert Fairfax, the discovery of a female Sexton at Holy Trinity Goodramgate in the 19th century and a school book with a link to Railway Children author Edith Nesbit, not to mention a 1956 letter from Harry Corbett and Sooty!  

Look out for new content over the coming months but in the meantime, we hope you enjoy using the Borthwick Catalogue to explore some of our holdings and if you have any thoughts or feedback, we’d love to hear them.

Happy searching!