Keele University Work Placement Module for Humanities Postgraduates

Ashleigh Coffey
© Courtesy of Ashleigh Coffey
Title Page of A Guide for the Childe and Youth
© Special Collections and Archives, Keele University

In 2021, faced with the challenges posed by covid lockdown restrictions, archives work placement student Ashleigh Coffey successfully navigated working collaboratively as well as independently via Teams.  This was followed by onsite working in the Archives once restrictions eased.  Ash was able to apply research and palaeography skills to explore archival material, uncover new evidence, and write a research blog about a unique edition from our collections.

Ash was researching the history of “A Guide for the Childe and Youth”, a fascinating little book which found its way into the Archives as part of a collection of ephemera, passed to Keele University Library in the 1950s by Miss Eliza Tittensor, a retired schoolteacher of North Staffordshire.

Public recognition of the workplace contribution is an important aspect of the placement, and visibility of Ash’s work increased when Explore Your Archive selected the piece for the In Focus blog of the month.

Promotion and publicity

Ash made connections and interacted with various local organisations during her placement, leading to some of her work featuring in the Arnold Bennett Society newsletter, and being invited to give a talk to members of the Staffordshire Archaeological and Historical Society.

Since graduation, Ash continues as an occasional volunteer in the Archives, building on her experience of the core archive service functions, developing her knowledge and understanding of archival principles and workplace practices, and utilising the skills developed during her degree studies.

Ash thoroughly enjoyed her 100 hours placement and recalled that

The opportunity to work at Keele archives has been a great and interesting experience, both from a career aspect and a personal aspect.  The role has taught me that no day is the same, as each day, we looked at a variety of archive material and discovered something new.  Working in the archives has also given the me the opportunity to communicate with like-minded individuals and has helped me to understand where I would like to go with my future career.

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