Who Do You Think You Are?


The first UK lockdown began in March 2020, enforcing the mass closure of libraries, museums and archives. The restrictions have provided archives with a unique opportunity to focus on the kinds of behind-the-scenes work often forced aside by us pesky customers. But it would be wrong to suggest that there was suddenly lots of spare time. In the face of lockdown, an enormous amount of planning had to be done, encompassing immediate plans about what work could continue remotely; midterm plans for when and how a skeleton staff could return to work; and longer-term plans for eventual coronavirus-safe reopening.

Archives have also had to deal with last-minute cancellations, projects put on hold, anniversaries missed. In Staffordshire, a major exhibition closed just days after opening. Shropshire’s heritage open days, local-history days and programme of summer walks were all put on ice. The Box in Plymouth, a brand new, multimillion-pound heritage hub, had to postpone its grand opening, and rejig a host of city-wide commemorations to mark the 400th anniversary of the voyage of the Mayflower.


As staff at The National Archives in Kew were adapting its reading rooms

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