Time for the technical stuff…
One of the key points of focus in our cataloguing is location (hence all this place-related blogging). The Shickle Collection covers about 180 villages, many of which were not listed on the Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names, so I spent quite a lot of time exploring Google Maps of Somerset, Wiltshire, Devon, Dorset and Gloucestershire. I’d love to see all of these places pinned on a map to see just how big an area the Shickle Collection covers, and to get a feel for whether it is very evenly spread out, or clustered in particular areas. Perhaps that’s something for a rainy Sunday afternoon… We hope that one of the outcomes of the cataloguing work we’re doing will be to have our collections pinpointed on a map so maybe one day I’ll get lucky!
As part of the cataloguing process I had to create thesaurus terms for all of these places. This was not an easy task.
Challenge 1: Getty.
Many of the places, being very small villages, were not listed in Getty. This wasn’t too bad, as it could be overcome by using other online sources such as Google Maps and A Vision of Britain through Time.
Challenge 2: Spelling.
Along with variant spellings and alternative names for places, there was also quite a lot of mis-spellings on the original accession records, so I had to search for lots of possible spellings and scour the maps to find what I was looking for. Thankfully, many of the villages were recorded as being near somewhere so at least I had a starting point to look at.
Challenge 3: One name, several villages.
Place names aren’t unique and we’ve come across many instances in our catalogue of several places sharing the same name, but these are usually in different counties and can be distinguished by this on the Adlib catalogue. The problem I had this time round was when there were two, or more, villages sharing the same name in the same county, such as Hele in Devon. In this case, it wasn’t possible to distinguish them by county so instead I had to resort to using ‘near’ e.g. ‘Hele [near Bradninch]’ and ‘Hele [near Ilfracombe]’.
Challenge 4: One polehead, several villages.
In some cases it was hard to establish the relationship between the polehead and the place recorded in the accession records. Did the (tangible) polehead belong to the identified place, or was it the (intangible) design which belonged there? When a polehead was identified as belonging to several clubs, does it mean that several villages shared the same tangible polehead, or shared the intangible design? There were many subtleties in the wording on the accession records to do with degrees of certainty and I tried to rationalise the cataloguing in the following ways:
- It belonged to the Club at A – A recorded as ‘place used’
- It belonged to Club at A and B – A and B recorded as ‘place used’
- It probably belonged to Club A – A recorded as ‘associated place’
- It probably belonged to Club A and B – A and B recorded as ‘associated place’
- It belonged to Club A or B – A and B recorded as ‘as associated place’
- It belonged to one of Club A, B or C – A, B and C recorded as ‘associated place’