The idea of archives as stores of dusty old papers guarded by equally dusty old archivists is being swept away this month as local and national archives across the UK and Republic of Ireland hold events for Archive Awareness month, co-ordinated by the National Council on Archives.
The aim is to make more people aware of how archives are relevant for telling history, challenging preconceptions and contributing to a sense of belonging, and many events are particularly aimed at the young and at black and ethnic minorities.
Online resources and databases developed by participating archives include www.movinghere.org.uk, a new interactive site exploring the past 200 years of Caribbean, Irish, Jewish and south Asian migration to the UK, which should be ideal for students doing projects for Black History Month (October). More than 150,00 digitised sources from 30 museums are downloadable free and include Windrush passenger lists, interviews with Caribbean pilots from the Second World War and records tracing Jewish refugees granted asylum in the UK in 1939-42.
Local history studies ought to benefit from Archive Awareness Month's efforts to expose what's been called the archive world's best-kept secret - community groups that are actively recording their their local histories on computer can be accessed at www.commanet.org Sample the ways in which Doncaster Library and Archive Service is using the area's community archive to support teaching the national curriculum.
Tate has made part of its vast archive collection available online for the first time this month beginning with three focuses - Tate's history, the Bloomsbury Group, and the art world of the 1960s and 1970s, including letters, photographs and artefacts.
www.tate.org.ukarchivejourneys As well as 200 archives, schools and educational institutions are contributing to around 460 attractions including CD-Roms, exhibitions, on-site activities and online resources.
Archive Awareness Month www.aamsept2003.com