The events of the past 18 months have fundamentally changed how, as archivists and historians, we now work—individually and collaboratively. In this year’s Gerald Aylmer Seminar, we invite archivists and historians of all kinds to come together to take stock of the extent, implications and future of these changes. Under the theme of ‘New Ways to Work: future directions for archival and historical practice’, we want to consider how archivists and historians are working now, having been forced to make difficult decisions, to adapt and often to innovate in what we do and how we engage with one another. But in addition to looking at what’s changed, we are also looking to future ways of working: how do we best move forward in a relationship that won’t ‘return to normal’.

Pre-event content
We’re doing things a little differently this year. All of our speaker talks are available to watch in advance and our live event will be focused on speaker Q&A and discussion.

We would like to invite all attendees to watch these talks in advance and come along to the live event ready to participate in speaker Q&A and break-out room discussion

Pre-event videos

Panel 1: The history of now

Linda Chernis
(Archives Coordinator, GALA Queer Archive

Linda Chernis is a South African archivist and heritage practitioner who has worked in museums and archives for the past 15 years.  She has a passion for bringing history, heritage, and the arts to the public. Linda became the archivist at the GALA Queer Archives in Johannesburg, South Africa in January 2015.  

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Natalie Cadranel
(Founder & Executive Director of OpenArchive)

Natalie Cadranel is an archivist and ethnographer working at the nexus of human rights, design, and technology. She is the Founder and Executive Director of OpenArchive, a veteran research and development organization dedicated to the ethical collection and long-term preservation of mobile media. Using participatory research methods and co-design, she created a free, open source, mobile-to-archive preservation ecosystem, which ethically collects and preserves media captured by groups at risk of persecution and censorship. OpenArchive seeks to protect its communities  – and their media – from efforts to chill free speech through content takedowns, privacy breaches, and data loss, while preserving it for legacy access.

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Tammy S. Gordon
(Professor of History and Director of Public History, North Carolina State University)

Tammy S. Gordon is Professor of Public and Modern U.S. History and her research focuses on historical memory and the leisure economy in recent history, and she is the author of three books: Private History in Public: Exhibition and the Settings of Everyday Life (Alta Mira Press, 2010), The Spirit of 1976: Commerce, Community, and the Politics of Commemoration (University of Massachusetts Press, 2013), and The Mass Production of Memory: Leisure Travel and Personal Archiving in the Age of the Kodak (University of Massachusetts Press, 2020). She is the author of articles on public history, historical memory, and the leisure economy. She is lead coordinator for two digital projects, NCHB2: A Citizens’ History and Brick Layers: A Historical Atlas of NC State’s Campus.

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Panel 2: Being inclusive

Blaire Topash-Caldwell 
(Public Humanities Fellow, D’Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies, Newberry Library) 

Blaire Topash-Caldwell is a citizen of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians and Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Massachusetts - Boston. Prior to joining UMASS in September 2021 Dr. Topash-Caldwell was the Public Humanities Fellow in the D’Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies. She has worked for her tribe’s Department of Language and Culture as Archivist where she designed and implemented programming to increase access to her communities’ collections and access to non-tribal organizations’ collections of Potawatomi and other Great Lakes Indigenous material culture. Her research interests are in Indigenous science fiction and futurisms, traditional ecological knowledge, and digital heritage.

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Inge Dornan
(Senior Lecturer in the History of Race and Gender, Brunel University London and Steering Committee, History UK)

Inge Dornan is a historian and Senior Lecturer in the history of race and gender in Britain, North America, and the Caribbean, specialising in slavery and the slave trade in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. She has a strong commitment to public engagement and recently curated a public exhibition with Brunel University London Archives on the education of enslaved children in the British Caribbean. She co-wrote an award-winning production on the British slave trade, “Breaking the Silence”, with theatre director and academic, Dr Holly Maples, which is scheduled to tour the UK in 2021 with funding from Arts Council England and the William A Cadbury Trust. She is a member of the History UK Steering Committee, and a member of the QAA History Subject Benchmark Group. 

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Michael Ohajuru
(Independent Art and Cultural Historian)

Michael Ohajuru is a Senior Fellow of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Study. He blogs, writes and speaks regularly on the Black presence in Renaissance Europe. He has spoken at the National Gallery, Tate Britain, British Library, National Archives and the Victoria Albert Museum. He is the founder of Image of the Black in London Galleries a series of gallery tours , the Project Director and Chief Evangelist of The John Blanke Project: an Art and Archive project celebrating John Blanke the Black trumpeter to courts of Henry VII and Henry VIII,  co-convener of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies What’s Happening in Black British History series of workshops and founder member of the Black Presence in British Portraiture network.

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Panel 3: Working together

Gary Tuson
(County Archivist, Norfolk Record Office) 

Gary Tuson is the County Archivist of Norfolk, a position he has held since 2013.   Before this he was County Archivist of Gwent based in Cwmbran and then Ebbw Vale.  He has also worked in archives in Cardiff, Derbyshire and Devon.  Gary is currently the Chair of the Chief Archivist in Local Government.

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Rachel Smith
(History PhD student and Associate Lecturer, Bath Spa University and Seminar Convenor, History Lab) 

Rachel Smith is a 3rd year PhD student based at Bath Spa University and Cardiff University, funded by the South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership. Her doctoral research examines expressions of anxiety within remote relationships across the lifecycle, through a case study of the Canning Family letter network, 1760-1830. Her research interests include social, gender and emotional histories between 1700-1945. She is History Lab Seminar Co-Convenor and is History Strand Editor for the Question Journal.

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Ruth Ahnert
(Professor of Literary History and Digital Humanities, Queen Mary University of London, and Fellow at The Alan Turing Institute)

Ruth Ahnert is Professor of Literary History and Digital Humanities at Queen Mary University of London. She is Principal Investigator on the project ‘Living With Machines’, and Co-I on the AHRC-funded ‘Networking the Archives: Assembling and Analysing Early Modern Correspondence’. She has published in the fields of Tudor literary history and digital humanities and is author of The Rise of Prison Literature in the Sixteenth Century (Cambridge UP, 2013), co-author with Sebastian E. Ahnert, Catherine Nicole Coleman, and Scott Weingart of The Network Turn: Changing perspectives in the Humanities (Cambridge Elements, 2020), and Tudor Networks of Power (under contract, Oxford UP). She has held fellowships and grants funded by the AHRC, Stanford Humanities Center, the Folger Shakespeare Library, and the National Endowment of the Humanities (US). With Elaine Treharne she is editor of the Stanford University Press book series Stanford Text Technologies

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Background on the Seminar

The Gerald Aylmer Seminar is an annual one-day symposium jointly convened by and the Institute of Historical Research, The National Archives and the Royal Historical Society.

The purpose of the Gerald Aylmer Seminar is to bring together historians and archivists to discuss topics of mutual interest.