Corresponding with the Dead: Unlocking Meaning in the John Murray Archive

By Nat Edwards.

Published by The Humanities Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The paper will focus on the methodology and outcomes of interpreting the John Murray Archive, a major 19th century publisher's archive. Including works by authors as diverse as Austen, Byron, Darwin, Ugo Foscolo and Herman Melville, the multi-million euro project threw up radical challenges to demonstrate contemporary relevance and access for modern audiences. Radical solutions were required, involving an experimental approach to developing a new set of ways of looking at archival material. These solutions ranged from new technologies, cross-disciplinary collaboration and creative activity to completely rethinking the basic systems and procedures of a National Library, demonstrating the enduring transformative power within forgotten texts.

Keywords: Literature, Museums and Heritage, Technology, Archives, Publishing, Libraries, Interpretation, Collecting, Multimedia, Exhibition

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp.49-68. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.936MB).

Nat Edwards

Programme Manager, The John Murray Archive, National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

I have a particular interest in how innovative museum practice and cross-disciplinary collaboration can bring new life and meaning to neglected heritage collections. Principally through practice, advocacy and research in a wide range of projects, from community-led partnerships to major capital projects, national research intiatives and international collaborations, my work aims to unlock the transformative potential of heritage and to challenge accepted notions of ownership and curation. My current work includes managing the John Murray Archive Project, a multi-million euro project to preserve, interpret and open up a major 19th century publisher's archive. I am also a director of the Scottish Museums Council, I chair a number of collaborative projects and also am working on a longer term project involving the historical legacy of the Scots in Panama and its contemporary meaning for local and indigenous people there.

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