Richard Addison


Richard Addison -

Richard Addison talks about digitising and cataloguing his family archive using Max Communications' Family Archive service.

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hello and welcome to the max communications podcast a series of podcasts where we explore various artisan collections my name is faith williams and i'm joined today by richard addison who has curated and catalogued his own family archive hi richard would you like to tell us about what motivated you to do this project yeah it's really so families from south africa and quite a military family and also from my great-grandfather he was a magistrate in zululand during some times that once again were quite complicated and they tended to document things pretty well they wrote lots of letters common for those times and retained documents and my mother had been effectively a family archivist held all these held all this paperwork and documents and when she passed away they came to me and our is fragmented throughout the world which is very common for us african families there's no ways to really share it without some digital access and also i wanted to make sure that the paper that everything was preserved and backed up because you never know quite what will happen and so for both those reasons that it made sense to create a family archive it was really hard to find something oh should i carry on or oh yeah no no go ahead it's really hard to find somebody who i trusted to deal with what is quite fragile on all papers but i have a friend at the times newspapers and i asked them what time newspapers are doing with their archives which are far more valuable than mine he recommended max communications oh so what type of material do you have that you sent to get digitized it's everything it's some photographs a lot of letters from the first world war where my grandfather went through all the big battles was wounded three or four times and captured by the germans and incredibly survived and some of those letters are from german prisoner of war written on very very fragile papers others written from the trenches so that's pretty fragile and then letters from the late 1800s from my great-grandfather so but and then some photographs and other things as well are you hoping to add more to the collection is there you maybe track some stuff down from other versions of the family yeah it's i've shared the links with family members they've said that they will download things onto the database i need to speak to my first cousin who said she will do that but i need to follow up and see if they actually do it what challenges have you encountered whilst doing this um nothing in particular it's quite you know took a little bit of time to scan in which is normal because i guess each document gets worked through and other than that it's all pretty simple organize the space of my offices where the database could be demonstrated to me and a couple of my cousins and then sent a link to people and i know people have logged in and it all seems to be pretty intuitive what is your favorite sort of collective memory from the family have you got a particular letter that is close to your heart or anything like that well i think it's not really close to heart it's really quite unsettling and i had a friend come round who read it who was in the military lady who was a captain and the intelligence corps in the british army and it brought tears to her eyes my grandfather writing to his father explaining how he got wounded in the battle of the sun and survived and he was very lucky as he went over the top he only went a few steps before he was hit by a bullet and they dragged him back into the trench but so he wrote from just up the hill from where i live in hospital near to richmond and he wrote writing to his father and he described exactly what happened but he also wrote separately to his mother and that was i'm i'm in good spirits everything's fine his father was a military guard he explained exactly what had happened to the military guard much more much more clearly shall we say that's typical isn't it what would you say to people who are trying to build their own family archives i guess get as much as you can in there because it's and also the little things are often quite interesting my grandfather's request for more food when being kept held captive by the germans going to the red cross things like that really are and they they're almost little scraps of paper his pay book he was transferred from a south african regiment to an english regiment and i guess because of the losses and his pay book where you can see the names with crosses next to and pay stop him being drawn you know so it's the small things that really bring the present back to the bring the past to the present now but actually that table is quite scary really he picked up a group of a group of he went from being a corporal to a major because obviously there were lots of shall we say openings and for promotion but the they have the job descriptions of these guys who he took over from the borders of cornwall and devon and all very working class you know job descriptions bank you know typical for the 1914 job descriptions and then you have the crosses at a certain stage where they stopped drawing pain and obviously have been killed is there any material that you wish you knew more about that you wish had kind of had a name written on the back of the photograph of who it was absolutely i mean some of the stuff has and i should have gone through it and my mother was alive because she had a photographic memory for these things but so some things are pretty much lost forever but you know the links or whatever but you can you can sort of work it out yeah that's definitely what i found looking through old family photographs you know my my aunt or whoever just can't remember who's in the photograph because as you say you kind of need to sit down and write it out don't you yeah and something can be quite funny my grandfather married a german jew after being a world a war hero and so in german wasn't great straight after the first world war and jewish from the anglo-saxon family was also a problem and the front part of the letters lost but the back two pages are still there and he finishes off writing to his mother saying and mother i'm old enough and ugly enough to make decisions for sense of myself don't you that's quite funny obviously having a huge argument by mail in 1920s those records get lost though i'm sure at some point everyone will want thank you so much for joining me today richard it's been a pleasure hearing about the work you put into making this accessible to the rest of your family and you've clearly got a lot of family stories to tell yeah really nice to talk to you well thank you i know doctor i've chatted something keep watching goodbye