On 30 September I headed to Bloomsbury Publishing’s offices in London to record the voice-over for a Take a Tour video which will soon be added to the churchillarchive.com website. The video will help new users of the online edition of the Churchill Papers get started finding their way around the site and using the archive. One of the strengths of the Churchill Papers is its comprehensiveness and the massive amount of material it contains. But the archive’s heft (over 800,000 images online) can also be daunting. As well as using our catalogue, Bloomsbury have created a taxonomy (classification scheme) and commissioned some brilliant supporting material to act as ‘ways in’ to the archive – pieces written by leading academics which are linked to key documents.
Thanks to the churchillarchive.com website, the Churchill Papers are now being accessed far and wide. Thirty-seven academic institutions across the globe have purchased subscriptions. Onsite use at Churchill Archives Centre remains high: last year 6711 records were viewed and 6389 searches made. Usage made by the subscribers last year totals a similar amount. The video aims to help those who need a little guidance but who are a long way from our search room in Cambridge.
It was exciting to be asked to be the ‘voice’ of the churchill archive. I was impressed by the endless patience and perseverance of Sapna Khimani and Vivien Quick who diplomatically kept reminding me not to let my voice dip at the end of sentences. Fortunately retakes were not only necessary thanks to my inexperience: as the morning wore on helicopters flew overhead, sirens blared and stomachs began to rumble audibly. But we made it. By lunchtime there were two complete takes saved carefully on the laptop ready for the editing process.
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