Five Hundred Year Archive Project conducts workshops in KwaZulu-Natal
Members of the Five Hundred Year Archive Project (FHYA) team, Grant McNulty, Katie Garrun, and Jo-Anne Duggan, travelled to Kwazulu-Natal (KZN) with University of London PhD candidate Laura Gibson at the end of June 2017.
The team conducted a workshop at the Vukani Museum in Eshowe on 28 June, where the FHYA archival exemplar was introduced and demonstrated to a small group of people who had a particular interest in the material culture of the KZN region. A second meeting was held at the Luthuli Museum in Groutville on 29 June, which was attended by a larger group of people with a broader interest in arts, culture and heritage.
The presentation of the conceptual underpinnings of the FHYA project, the demonstration of the exemplar's functionality and a brief look at the nature and scope of the content /materials it holds, provoked lively discussion.
Some participants were particularly interested in finding out whether the FHYA content and materials would shed any light on their personal family histories, and were thrilled to find their surnames in the records. Others were fascinated by the range of objects from KZN held in museums outside of the country/overseas and were keen to know how these could be returned to the area.
Both groups were intrigued to see a wooden hair pin, made in the early 20th C, and to hear the story of its journey from its place of origin (what is now southern KZN), via a visiting English collector into the collection of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge, UK, and to read the labels and accession cards used by the FHYA team to reconstruct this journey. The FHYA team was delighted when participants added a new chapter to the story, bringing in an example of a contemporary plastic hair pin, bought at a local ‘Chinese shop’ to demonstrate both continuity and change. Participants in both groups agreed that the development of the FHYA archival exemplar would enable researchers to access resources and so contribute to a deeper understanding of the past before European colonialism.
The FHYA archival exemplar is in the final stages of development and will be demonstrated to a range of potential users in October 2017.