I began my work experience at West Lothian Archives and Records Centre on Wednesday 4th of July and for two months I have loved every minute of it! Having no previous experience in archives, the staff was quick to enlighten me and give me a wide range of tasks that gave me a better understanding of what it is like working in an archive.
I initially transcribed 19th century log books from schools in the local area to see if there were any major developments or changes to the area that the school’s Headmaster would note down. It was fun to read about the nuances of the school’s daily life that were so different to my own school experience. There were outbreaks of measles and whooping cough and children “absent without leave” from the school as they went to help in the harvest, which all paled my “struggles” of homework and maths. I later transcribed World War Two log books from my local village and was fascinated to hear about the various changes that everyone – pupils, teachers and school officers – faced together. When reading about the air raids or a teacher being called up for military service after it was noted he was married three weeks beforehand, you get a real sense of what it was like for the everyday person during that difficult time as well as the community spirit of the people mentioned.
I also catalogued Community Council minutes and agendas of West Lothian from the late 1970’s to the mid 2000’s. This was more of a challenge for me as I had to fill in the details of the archives onto a database, but I had plenty of help and once I got the hang of it I was able to progress through them. The de-stapling of the minutes and keeping track of all the catalogue numbers was a challenge I embraced. Like the school log books, the feeling of a community is felt in their collaboration of making their town or village theirs by taking an interest in the issues and problems of their area.
Overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in West Lothian Archives and I’m still amazed by what treasures they have in the building. Though some are grander than others, like the school log books and the Community Council Minutes, they are all a part of a community and I would like to thank the staff at the Centre for making me a part of theirs!