The Bartholomew Archive Project comes to an end

Today, we mark the end of six-years of work on the Bartholomew Archive, funded by the John R. Murray Charitable Trust.

During this time the Trust have funded seven posts, all of which have targeted specific aspects of this internationally-significant collection of cartographic business papers, manuscript maps, copper plates, tools and oh so much more.


Between them, our preservation technicians Lynda Conlon and Robert Harold, hand-made over 250 boxes to house Bartholomew’s own archive of its printed output, dating from 1877-1960. They disbound the original volumes and refoliated each individual item onto an acid free backing, handling well over 26,000  items. They also contributed some insightful pieces to this very blog, including When Printing Goes Bad and Acid Transfer in Paper. Their work means this unique resource will survive for the enjoyment of future generations for a long time yet.

Susan Woodburn was the Archive’s Curator at the start of the Project. Susan had the dauting task of sorting through the over 110 metres of business archive papers, housing it and producing a detailed inventory to enable access. Susan also worked with other components of the Archive, including producing the helpful listing of the maps and plans section. Susan’s inventories can be found on the Bartholomew Archive website and act as the key to unlocking the treasures of this diverse collection. Susan also compiled the majority of the Bartholomew Archive website content, launched at the beginning of the Project, as a vital way of alerting everyone to our existence and promoting access to the collection.

Simona Cenci and Amy Baldwin worked wonders with the complex conservation an archive of this type demands. They contended with wall maps so large they barely fitted into our exhibition space; with copper and steel printing plates; with photographs and with 130-year-old pressed flowers and swatches of tartan, to name but a few. They crafted boxes and housing for some of the Archive’s most vulnerable items that are so ingenious they are works of art in their own right.

Lastly, Helen Symington and I worked to catalogue the Printing Record, creating over 26,000 individual records that are fully searchable via the Bartholomew Archive website. Helen also conducted an audit on the 3000 copperplates in the Archive, ensuring that everything is in its right place.

Over the last six years we have had the privilege to work with one of the most astonishing collections of its kind, anywhere in the world and I have met some of the most interesting and engaging people I know. From members of the Bartholomew family to the firm’s former staff, to Professor Sian Reynolds of the Scottish Working People’s History Trust, who helped us enormously with our oral history project, to our Artists in Residence, Diane Garrick and Tom Pow and of course, the Project funders themselves. We are indebted to the wonderful staff at Hamilton Design and Frame whose expertise encouraged almost 37,000 of you to visit our exhibition, ‘Putting Scotland on the Map’, and to Eskimo, whose sympathetic touch helped us to create our Duncan Street Explorer. Congratulations go out to our PhD students, Dr Amy Prior and Dr Julie McDougall-Waters, both of whom were successfully awarded their Doctorates. And to all the academic researchers, family historians, local historians and the just plain curious, it has been a delight to play a small part in facilitating your fascinating research.

There are of course too many people to mention and we are sorry if you’ve been missed out, however, all of you have played an important part in the story of this Archive and made an enduring contribution to preserving an important piece of our cultural heritage.

The official Project may now be over but work will continue for a short while yet, so do keep following us on the blog and via our Twitter feed (@CartoArchive) for all of our latest news. However, from all Bartholomew Archive Project staff, past and present, thank you all, you’ve been great!