Kevin Brown Historian

History of health, medicine and naval history

Musty, Dusty and Fusty?


Camden Local Studies and Archives: no tweed in sight

Archivists, unfortunately, have a bit of an image problem. Most people see them as cloistered recluses pouring over dusty parchments with minimal social interaction. A recent article in the New York Times, ‘Leaving Cloister of Dusty Offices, Young Archivists Meet Like Minds’, 29 April 2013, purported to dispel that image but somehow left a vague impression that many younger members of the archives profession are merely young fogies, maybe not grey headed but just as dusty as their elders, getting excited about rather arcane things.


Suits in the Archives at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington

Such views have long been outdated. Very few archivists are musty and dusty – most of them are out there giving talks, guiding researchers, negotiating in the business world, using social media, and even making exhibitions of themselves when putting on displays. Much of the day is spent in social interaction, dealing with enquiries, talking to researchers, depositors, senior management, encouraging junior staff and volunteers, and sitting in meetings. Not a job for the shy and retiring by any means

Sharp suits are more likely to be worn than the fusty tweed jackets, woolly cardigans and corduroy pants people expect to see them in. Archivists don’t need a makeover, but their public perception clearly does!

 Perhaps not the best work wear in the Archives, but black tie is not confined to spies or playboys.
Perhaps not the best work wear in the Archives, but black tie is not confined to spies and playboys other than the playboys of the heritage world

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This entry was posted on May 1, 2013 by in Archives, Museum, Social History, Uncategorized and tagged , , .
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