Capability for Collections Urgent Replacement and Upgrade of Equipment for The National Archives - Heritage Science and Digitisation

Lead Research Organisation: The National Archives
Department Name: Collection Care

Abstract

The National Archives (TNA) are the official archive and publisher for the UK Government, and for England and Wales. Our mission is to collect and preserve the record of Government, to use our expertise and knowledge to connect people with history through our unrivalled collections, and to lead, partner and support archives at home and worldwide. Our on-site and off-site repositories house collections spanning over 1000 years of historical documentation on media ranging from parchment to film, paper to wax, and a continuously expanding corpus of digital collections (digitised and born digital).
Alongside underpinning research for millions of people through access to our records, TNA has a strong commitment to innovative and sector-leading research in the conservation, documentation, technical, historical, and scientific understanding of physical and digital archival collections and practice. Our organisation's strategic vision is focused on breaking down barriers to access, participation, and understanding; creating new and inclusive spaces - virtual and physical - where diverse audiences can encounter, discover and explore our collections; generate interdisciplinary and disruptive research; and secure the future of the Government record by maintaining its physical and virtual integrity.
Our heritage science research and our expanding digitisation programmes sit at the centre of these ambitions. With this application to the AHRC Capability for Collections fund, TNA is requesting funds for an urgent upgrade of core equipment for our digitisation programme and Heritage Science and Conservation Research (HSCR) laboratory.

Since the start of the COVID-19 epidemic the 300% increase in online users and 1300% increase in digital document downloads of our collections has challenged our digitisation response to the limits of our current capacity. We are seeking to acquire two new scanning systems: an up-to-date scanner for our vast collection of records available only on microfilm and microfiche, and an automated sheet-fed scanner to speed up digitisation of some of our most popular collections. Records existing only in microform at TNA create significant challenges to access and long-term preservation and necessitate an upgrade of our obsolete microform scanning equipment. We can no longer provide researchers in our Reading Rooms with microform readers that allow for viewing only, and do not meet modern expectations of digital imaging. Digitisation of these collections is the only viable option. We are also in urgent need to acquire a sheet-fed scanner, which will quadruple imaging speed of stable items in our most popular collections, allow faster scanning of delicate collection items, and free up human resource for other digitisation initiatives.

Our growing HSCR laboratory and team has seen a sixfold increase in analysis and advanced imaging requests from TNA staff, researchers in our Reading Rooms, and from external collaborators. Through recent investments in laboratory equipment and a strategic reframing of traditional conservation practice, our team has fostered a thriving programme of collaborative research projects that bring together conservators, preservation specialists, historians and curators, with heritage scientists and technologists to generate relevant and engaging outcomes for both the research and general publics. Our HSCR laboratory is a vital hub for this activity, and requires an urgent upgrade to our Multispectral Imaging system as well as one instrument to complete our portable, complementary suite of analytical instruments - an open-geometry Raman spectrometer. These purchases will ensure TNA remains at the forefront of archival and library heritage science research and innovation, and is able to continue providing analyses and imaging to archives and organisations that lack this capacity and access to expert staff.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Capturing the Materiality of the Prize Papers: a set of 19th century textile samples from Canton and Batavia as a case study
Amount £34,973 (GBP)
Funding ID AH/W011573/1 
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2022 
End 09/2022
 
Description Strategic Research Overheads Scheme
Amount £1,372 (GBP)
Organisation The National Archives 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2021 
End 03/2022
 
Description Strategic Research Overheads Scheme
Amount £4,000 (GBP)
Organisation The National Archives 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2021 
End 03/2022
 
Description National Library of Ireland 
Organisation National Library of Ireland
Country Ireland 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution The collaboration project, 'Expanding the non-invasive analysis of Richard Bartlett's maps beyond The National Archive's collection', exists for the purpose of analysing the materials and techniques used by mapmaker Richard Bartlett in the maps held by the National Library of Ireland (18 maps) and Trinity College Dublin (1 map). Senior Conservation Scientist at The National Archives, Lucia Pereira Pardo, will travel to Dublin with our non-invasive, portable analytical instruments to carry out material characterisation of the paper substrate, inks and pigments used by Bartlett in his manuscript and colourful maps.
Collaborator Contribution The conservators and collections experts at the National Library of Ireland will facilitate the visit and host Lucia for the duration of 2 weeks. They will also inform on the historical and collections context of the maps.
Impact The visit to Ireland is ongoing. Expected outputs include a joint publication in a specialised journal, a demonstration of the instruments in Dublin for library staff and a public talk at The National Archives. The work is a collaboration between heritage scientists, conservators, map historians and collections experts.
Start Year 2022
 
Description Nottingham Trent University - CapCo impact 
Organisation Nottingham Trent University
Department School of Science and Technology
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The collaboration is part of our Capability for Collections Follow-on Impact Funding. The aim of this research is to explore ways of researching, disseminating and engaging with communities about the materiality of the objects found within the Prize Papers collection at The National Archives. The project is focused on a specific object: the wallet of Jan Bekker Teerlink, the Dutch supercargo on the Prussian ship Henriette, returning to Europe from China, via Indonesia and South Africa, with a cargo of tea in 1803. Among the contents of Teerlink's wallet are a set of textile samples of vibrant colours (Chinese silk from Canton and Indian chintz from Batavia, the 'capital' of the Dutch East India Company), which will be the focus of the material analysis and contextualisation studies. Lucia Pereira Pardo, Senior Conservation Scientist at the Collection Care department of The National Archives, is the principal investigator of the project. She will coordinate the project team and carry out the non-invasive analysis of the dyed textiles, using a range of in-house techniques, including the recently acquired CapCo-funded equipment (MSI, Raman, digital microscopy, VIS-SWIR FORS, ER-FTIR and XRF).
Collaborator Contribution Sotiria Kogou, academic fellow in heritage science from the School of Science and Technology at Nottingham Trent University (NTU),is co-investigator in the project, responsible for the optimisation and application of a micro-extraction method for in-depth dye analysis by UPLC-MS/MS. This technique will be used to analyse the textile samples that are the central focus of the project. In addition, Haida Liang Professor of Physics and Head of the Imaging & Sensing for Archaeology, Art History & Conservation (ISAAC) research group of Nottingham Trent University and David Kilgour Senior Lecturer at the School of Science & Technology of Nottingham Trent University will sit on the advisory panel of the collaborative project.
Impact The project is just now commencing, so there are no outputs yet. The collaboration is multi-disciplinary with heritage scientists, chemists, imaging and sensing specialists, historians, collections experts, Education & Outreach, and engagement specialists participating in the project.
Start Year 2022
 
Description Rocasolano Institute of Physical Chemistry 
Organisation Rocasolano Institute of Physical Chemistry
Country Spain 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution This collaboration was initiated through our interest in developing new methods of assessing the degradation state of historic parchment. The work involves monitoring changes in parchment before and after specific treatments using the Raman microscope and Multispectral Imaging system acquired through the Capability for Collections grant. As a part of this work, we would like to explore the potential of non-linear microscopy for such analyses. Senior Conservation Scientist at The National Archives, Pedro Maximo Rocha, will be bringing our parchment samples to Madrid where the Laser Laboratory for Heritage Science (LLHS) is located in the Rocasolano Institute of Physical Chemistry (CSIC, Madrid, Spain). There, he will work with the team of Dr. Marta Castillejo to understand the applications novel techniques developed in her laboratory to the study of parchment.
Collaborator Contribution Dr. Marta Castillejo, Head of Group "Lasers Nanostructures and Material Processing" at the Rocasolano Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) will host Senior Conservation Scientist at The National Archives, Pedro Maximo Rocha in her laboratory for several days. Dr. Castillejo's team will demonstrate novel methods for parchment analysis to Pedro, that have been developed in their laboratory.
Impact The project is currently ongoing; expected outputs include dissemination of training to staff at The National Archives. The findings will inform decision-making on the acquisition of a new instrumentation for parchment analysis at The National Archives, as well as influence other collaborative research projects involving the sampling or display of parchment collection items in our organisation. The research is collaborative and involves engineers, heritage scientists, physicists and conservators.
Start Year 2022
 
Description Shanghai University - CapCo Impact 
Organisation Shanghai University
Country China 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The collaboration is part of our Capability for Collections Follow-on Impact Funding. The aim of this research is to explore ways of researching, disseminating and engaging with communities about the materiality of the objects found within the Prize Papers collection at The National Archives. The project is focused on a specific object: the wallet of Jan Bekker Teerlink, the Dutch supercargo on the Prussian ship Henriette, returning to Europe from China, via Indonesia and South Africa, with a cargo of tea in 1803. Among the contents of Teerlink's wallet are a set of textile samples of vibrant colours (Chinese silk from Canton and Indian chintz from Batavia, the 'capital' of the Dutch East India Company), which will be the focus of the material analysis and contextualisation studies. Lucia Pereira Pardo, Senior Conservation Scientist at the Collection Care department of The National Archives, is the principal investigator of the project. She will coordinate the project team and carry out the non-invasive analysis of the dyed textiles, using a range of in-house techniques, including the recently acquired CapCo-funded equipment (MSI, Raman, digital microscopy, VIS-SWIR FORS, ER-FTIR and XRF).
Collaborator Contribution Jing Han Associate Professor at the Institute for the Conservation of Culture Heritage of Shanghai University sits on the advisory committee for this collaborative project. Prof Jing Han specializes in the analyses and conservation of organic materials especially textile dyes and Asian lacquer.
Impact The project is just now commencing, so there are no outputs yet. The collaboration is multi-disciplinary with heritage scientists, chemists, imaging and sensing specialists, historians, collections experts, Education & Outreach, and engagement specialists participating in the project.
Start Year 2022
 
Description University of Glasgow CapCo Impact 
Organisation University of Glasgow
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The collaboration is part of our Capability for Collections Follow-on Impact Funding. The aim of this research is to explore ways of researching, disseminating and engaging with communities about the materiality of the objects found within the Prize Papers collection at The National Archives. The project is focused on a specific object: the wallet of Jan Bekker Teerlink, the Dutch supercargo on the Prussian ship Henriette, returning to Europe from China, via Indonesia and South Africa, with a cargo of tea in 1803. Among the contents of Teerlink's wallet are a set of textile samples of vibrant colours (Chinese silk from Canton and Indian chintz from Batavia, the 'capital' of the Dutch East India Company), which will be the focus of the material analysis and contextualisation studies. Lucia Pereira Pardo, Senior Conservation Scientist at the Collection Care department of The National Archives, is the principal investigator of the project. She will coordinate the project team and carry out the non-invasive analysis of the dyed textiles, using a range of in-house techniques, including the recently acquired CapCo-funded equipment (MSI, Raman, digital microscopy, VIS-SWIR FORS, ER-FTIR and XRF).
Collaborator Contribution Anita Quye Senior Lecturer at the Kelvin Centre for Conservation and Cultural Heritage Research of the University of Glasgow sits on the advisory panel for this project. Professor Quye is an expert in historic textile dye analysis and has supervised the doctoral research of a student working specifically on East Asian textile dyes.
Impact The project is just now commencing, so there are no outputs yet. The collaboration is multi-disciplinary with heritage scientists, chemists, imaging and sensing specialists, historians, collections experts, Education & Outreach, and engagement specialists participating in the project.
Start Year 2022
 
Description University of Milan - CapCo Impact 
Organisation University of Milan
Country Italy 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The collaboration is part of our Capability for Collections Follow-on Impact Funding. The aim of this research is to explore ways of researching, disseminating and engaging with communities about the materiality of the objects found within the Prize Papers collection at The National Archives. The project is focused on a specific object: the wallet of Jan Bekker Teerlink, the Dutch supercargo on the Prussian ship Henriette, returning to Europe from China, via Indonesia and South Africa, with a cargo of tea in 1803. Among the contents of Teerlink's wallet are a set of textile samples of vibrant colours (Chinese silk from Canton and Indian chintz from Batavia, the 'capital' of the Dutch East India Company), which will be the focus of the material analysis and contextualisation studies. Lucia Pereira Pardo, Senior Conservation Scientist at the Collection Care department of The National Archives, is the principal investigator of the project. She will coordinate the project team and carry out the non-invasive analysis of the dyed textiles, using a range of in-house techniques, including the recently acquired CapCo-funded equipment (MSI, Raman, digital microscopy, VIS-SWIR FORS, ER-FTIR and XRF).
Collaborator Contribution Margherita Longoni, researcher in heritage science from the Chemistry department of the University of Milan, is co-investigator in the project, responsible for the optimisation and application of an innovative method to undertake solid state SERS, enhancing the signal of organic dyes in the textiles under analysis and expanding the practical applications of our CapCo-funded Raman microscope. In addition, Silvia Bruni Tenured Associate Professor at the Department of Chemistry of the University of Milan will sit on the advisory committee of this project.
Impact The project is just now commencing, so there are no outputs yet. The collaboration is multi-disciplinary with heritage scientists, chemists, imaging and sensing specialists, historians, collections experts, Education & Outreach, and engagement specialists participating in the project.
Start Year 2022
 
Description V&A - CapCo 
Organisation Victoria and Albert Museum
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution The collaboration is part of our Capability for Collections Follow-on Impact Funding. The aim of this research is to explore ways of researching, disseminating and engaging with communities about the materiality of the objects found within the Prize Papers collection at The National Archives. The project is focused on a specific object: the wallet of Jan Bekker Teerlink, the Dutch supercargo on the Prussian ship Henriette, returning to Europe from China, via Indonesia and South Africa, with a cargo of tea in 1803. Among the contents of Teerlink's wallet are a set of textile samples of vibrant colours (Chinese silk from Canton and Indian chintz from Batavia, the 'capital' of the Dutch East India Company), which will be the focus of the material analysis and contextualisation studies. Lucia Pereira Pardo, Senior Conservation Scientist at the Collection Care department of The National Archives, is the principal investigator of the project. She will coordinate the project team and carry out the non-invasive analysis of the dyed textiles, using a range of in-house techniques, including the recently acquired CapCo-funded equipment (MSI, Raman, digital microscopy, VIS-SWIR FORS, ER-FTIR and XRF).
Collaborator Contribution San Fong Chang, curator of Asian textiles at the Victoria and Albert Museum, is a researcher in the project. She will select a set of textile items in the Museum's collection for pattern and material comparison with the samples from Teerlink's wallet, and support the contextualisation of the objects.
Impact The project is just now commencing, so there are no outputs yet. The collaboration is multi-disciplinary with heritage scientists, chemists, imaging and sensing specialists, historians, collections experts, Education & Outreach, and engagement specialists participating in the project.
Start Year 2022