Exercise 1.1 The Archive

Exercise 1.1

Identify an archive and select three textile pieces to observe.

As we are still in COVID-19 lockdown, I decided to use items from an old trunk that came from my husband’s paternal grandmother.

The trunk was full of textiles, and many of the items were wrapped in newspaper dating from 1929, 1936 an 1943 (the only larger pieces that had not decayed to small shreds). Given my father-in-law’s reticence to dwell in the past, it’s quite possible that I opened the trunk for the first time since it was stored away.

It was very much Dorothy’s trunk, filled with her personal items and gifts from her family, often hand-made, carefully wrapped with the note or letter sent with the gift. I opened each little package with a kind of reverence, fully cognisant that I held items once precious to Dorothy and irreplaceable items of our family history.

Dorothy and George on their wedding day, 1923.

Other items were mainly household linen. Scattered throughout the trunk were flakes of insecticide and broken down newspaper.

I chose three of the oldest items, including a bed jacket that was made by Dorothy herself.


Silk handkerchief

Bed jacket

I was very concerned about the storage and care of the precious textiles. This paper from the University of Kentucky proved to be a fantastic resource, and I found archival storage materials meeting National Archive of Australia standards at Archival Survival (Australia).

Baker, M. M. (2008). Caring for Your Textile Heirlooms.
Cooperative Extension Service, University of Kentuky, Department of Agriculture: Kentucky, USA
Viewed: https://fleming.ca.uky.edu/files/caring_for_your_textile_heirlooms.pdf, 12 May 2020.