Katherine Hamilton: Archiving the Past for the Future

My name is Katherine and I am the Archives Supervisor at Oxford Archaeology East based in Cambridge. My role in this part of the company is to make sure that, once a given project has been dug, recorded and written, all the paperwork and finds are filed correctly and then sent off to their final destination at the relevant archive or museum. My day to day work largely consists of putting archives onto our archive database and making sure they meet the relevant guidelines, managing our OASIS records, uploading finished reports to Oxford Archaeology’s online library and looking after the in-house library.

People often forget about archiving as part of the archaeological process, mainly I think because it isn’t deemed as exciting as actually excavating something. It certainly isn’t glamourous sitting amongst stacks of cardboard boxes trying to reorganise finds into context order or spending hours checking all the context records are there. However, if we do not archive projects then the information gathered during that project could be lost for future generations.   There are plenty of cautionary tales out there about projects from the past where the site director has stored the project archive under his or her bed for decades only for it to be lost once they have died. Thankfully these days there is much more of an awareness within archaeology of the need to make sure projects are archived and that the information gathered is available to a wider audience. Because that’s why we do this job, right? To preserve the past for the future.

A stack of finds archive boxes and a clipboard

Archive boxes as far as the eye can see

Katherine Hamilton is the Archives Supervisor at Oxford Archaeology’s East office in Cambridge. For more information about Oxford Archaeology and our digital archiving, visit our online library: http://library.thehumanjourney.net/