“History is an art; history is a political act; history is a job”. Dr. Lucy Robinson, lecturer in contemporary British history and University of Sussex academic lead on Scarlet+ project.
After a very productive workshop during which Laura Skilton (formerly Shaw), Matt Ramirez and Dr. Guyda Armstrong introduced us to the wonderful world of AR teaching, the Scarlet+ team at University of Sussex met to decide what we are going to do with AR at Sussex.
We were lucky to be joined by Sussex staff members Stuart Lamour, an E-Learning Developer with experience in AR, and John Davies, an Educational Developer, Dr. Lucy Robinson, history lecturer and our academic lead, and a variety of Special Collections staff.
As both the Mass Observation Project and the Observing the 1980s digital resource are vast, we decided to take a section that can be seen as a discrete unit. Lucy suggested the directive from Autumn 1990 – Retrospective on the 1980s. This covers a huge number of subjects and attitudes across the decade and some responses to the questions have already been digitised as part of Observing the 1980s.
The team was eager to make sure that AR added something unique to Lucy’s teaching and the idea of using the application to present additional voices and their attitudes towards MOP seemed to fit the bill perfectly.
The three voices that will be presented when the question sheet from this directive is scanned will be:
- A member of Special Collections.
- The Mass Observers themselves, through their writings mixed with biographical details.
- A student historian who has used the Mass Observation Project in their research.
We are also looking into the idea that students using the application will be able to add their own comments, thus creating a living, growing resource that is somewhat akin to Mass Observation itself.
A structure like this that concentrates on the interpretation of archival material could be applied to any discipline and any collection; for example an application could be created that uses part of our Bloomsbury collections to give voices to an archivist, Virginia Woolf herself, and a fan of her books.
All we need now is a name.