I have a confession to make. I am a little bit obsessed with the tea/coffee cup rings I find on archival records. They are a portal into the life of the person who plonked down that cup. Simple, elegant and yet created from disruption. Perfect.
It’s mostly why I have started this blog. There will be all manner of things posted that I have yet to dream up. And there will be more tea rings (and one I’m pretty sure that was from a sherry glass).
Here is one I found on the back of a file created in 1928.
Handling original hard copy archival records provokes a heady, careful, almost mystical response in me. I love the fact that those records have, through a combination of diligent record keeping, conscious preservation, and sometimes accidental serendipity, survived to provide us with documentary evidence of the past. I picture myself as just one in a line of people who are responsible for that record surviving, and am very aware of my responsibility to ensure I don’t break the line.
I spend a lot of time as a new professional being an advocate for all things digital. My Masters thesis is on digital capacity. I leapt at the chance to be part of the Digital Fabulists and I expect that one day I might have a job with digital in the title. I also wonder what the tea stain will be on the digital archives of the future? For now my heart stirs when I turn the pages of a book or open a box and I’m dreaming of ways we can preserve and document these tactile, emotional responses.