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Hull History Centre

November 21, 2011

Last week I had the opportunity to visit the Hull History Centre. The Centre is the new home of the Hull City Archives, Hull Local Studies Library and Hull University’s Archives.

It is here where the UK’s largest collection of original whaling logbooks is kept under the watchful eye of Christine Brown, the Conservation and Preservation manager. Christine gave me an excellent guided tour of the Centre, through the public areas and then into the archives themselves. The archives are ‘state of the art’ to say the least, all the documents are kept in climate-controlled rooms with highly sensitive smoke detectors. It’s good to know so much work has gone into preserving the documents held here and their survival for future generations.

After the tour, Christine showed me the original whaling logs, that only a few decades ago could be taken out as library books! It was great to see the original logs having previously worked only with digital images.

Whaling Logs waiting to be imaged

Next it was time to see how the logs are being imaged. Imaging is important in the preservation of such documents as it provides a more accessible version of the document as well as a back up if something were to happen to the original. It’s not quite as simple as pulling out a camera, the Centre has a 100 megapixel document specific camera and rig, as well as various equipment for safely positioning the document before imaging begins.

Logbook all set up for imaging

This standard of imaging provides the best possible digital representation of the document. After each image is taken, Christine carefully crops the image and has the option to adjust the image settings if needed. It is a long and time consuming process, but Christine’s hard work is ensuring the continued survival of these historically important documents as well providing a medium that makes them readily available to anyone, anywhere in the world!

Thanks to Christine and Hull History Centre for a fascinating day

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