RLUK and The National Archives (TNA) are pleased to announce the four new Fellows for the Professional Fellowship Scheme 2022-23. After a very competitive application round, the four successful candidates will commence the work on their proposed projects in February 2022.

Professional Fellowships last for a year and are structured around short-term visits to TNA, for RLUK Fellows, and RLUK member institutions, for TNA Fellows, underpinned by a longer period of peer-to-peer mentoring and knowledge sharing. Professional Fellowships focus on a professional-practice question, contribute to a wider piece of work, and facilitate shared learning between TNA and individual RLUK members with the purpose of overcoming some of the collective challenges facing research and cultural organisations.

Below are the Fellows for 2022-23 and details on their projects, which investigate pressing issues around diversity and inclusion in cultural collections as well as the role of libraries and archives in addressing current societal concerns, such as climate change.

TNA-RLUK Professional Fellows 2022-23

Holly Smith, Project Archivist, Special Collections, University of Leeds Special Collections  

Project title: Documenting Complex Histories: Balancing multifaceted representation of marginalised histories with accessible archive navigation

Host institution: The National Archives

Holly’s Professional Fellowship will address the challenges of balancing comprehensive representation of marginalised histories with facilitating easy navigation and inclusive user access within archive catalogues. This project will build on the archive sector’s increased interest in surfacing hidden histories and boosting community engagement. It will aim to bridge the gap between gathering this knowledge and effectively documenting it in our catalogues.

People aren’t defined by a single characteristic, which creates a tension with traditional archive approaches such as subject classification. Therefore, archives should not just attach simplistic labels to groups, such as Women, Victims, Black, and LGBTQ+, in order to define the records of multifaceted and complex communities. By working with the Women’s Aid Federation of England Archive, this project will explore how we can best create inclusive, representative and accessible catalogues.

Jenny Shaw, Collections Development Manager, Wellcome Collection 

Project title: Improving diversity in UK archive collections: progress and barriers

Host institution: The National Archives

Jenny’s Professional Fellowship will investigate diversity and inclusion in archival collections development. The project aims to raise the profile of collections development work and explore how it can support improved access, diversity and inclusion across the archives sector. It will highlight innovative practices that have helped to increase diversity in collections and identify barriers that inhibit, or prevent, progress from becoming more widespread across the archives sector.

The outcomes will be a greater understanding of the importance of increasing diversity in UK archival collections and of the barriers that hinder diversity in archive collecting, so that these barriers can be removed or reduced. The project will help to inform guidance, case studies and standards which will support change across the archives sector.

Rachael Minott, Inclusion and Change Manager, Archive Sector Development, The National Archives 

Project title: Capturing Diversity: Challenging normative assumptions of Records Subjects

Host Institution: Queen Mary, University of London

Rachael’s Professional Fellowship will look at how diverse identities are captured in catalogues, exploring the research ethics of recording protected characteristics while aiming to create mechanisms to challenge the dominant narratives that are assumed when information is not recorded. She will be focusing on user needs for diverse representation and subject rights to privacy and self-identification, as well as the need for useable data sets.

Georgie Salzedo, Sector Development Manager, London and Business, Archive Sector Development, The National Archives

Project title: Climate Change: Situating Archives and Exploring Impact

Host Institution: National Library of Scotland

Georgie‚Äôs Professional Fellowship will aim to situate archives and information keepers in the landscape of climate change and cultural heritage, providing examples and guidance to demonstrate the impact in this area. The¬†Climate Heritage Network¬†states that ‚Äėto solve an anthropogenic problem, we need human solutions‚Äô. Archives,¬†both¬†the collections they hold and the spaces they inform,¬†impact people‚Äôs lives. They are part of the solution.

The project will aim to explore climate work in archives and analogous sectors, provide examples of best practice, and create practical guidance for archives moving forward. Working with the National Library of Scotland, the fellowship will reflect on where best practice and the language around it can be shared, supporting information holders to articulate impact within the climate and heritage sector.