Meet the Volunteers - Graeme Barber | The Mary Rose
Meet the Volunteers - Graeme Barber
In the Museum | 04 Jun, 2018 | Guest Blog
Graeme Barber - Collections Volunteer

To celebrate Volunteers Week 2018, we've asked our volunteers to share their experiences of volunteering with our visitors.

Today we meet Graeme Barber, a volunteer who is helping us scan our extensive image archive..

Why do you volunteer?

"Having retired from being a University library manager, I was looking to take on voluntary work in an area of interest. I studied history at the University of Bristol in the 1970s and have retained a keen interest and passion for the subject throughout my life. I had visited the Mary Rose in its original museum, when it was still being sprayed, and more recently was bowled over by the magnificent new museum and the brilliant juxtaposition of the ship wreck with the objects excavated that reveal so much about Tudor life.

I first heard about collections volunteer work on a Heritage Open Day visit and thought it sounded ideal for me and my interests. I had also just started an MA in Naval History at University of Portsmouth, so it neatly dovetailed with my developing interests in maritime history. This even led me to choose to do an assignment on the Mary Rose looking at the contemporary accounts of her sinking and of the so-called ‘Battle of the Solent’ which was in reality more of a skirmish but had tragic consequences for the ship’s crew of course."

What do you enjoy most about volunteering at the Mary Rose?

"It has been fascinating to see the remarkable collection of thousands of images of both the underwater excavation and of the objects discovered. It is a privilege to be part of scanning and preserving the images that must surely provide one of the most extensive records of any archaeological investigation undertaken and even more remarkably of course, achieved in very difficult conditions on the sea bed. 

We have also had some fascinating behind the scenes visits including the chance to get up close and personal with the ship itself which was a real privilege. But one of the best parts is working with fellow enthusiasts in the collections team and meeting some lovely people both volunteers and staff (and no I haven’t been paid to say that!)."

What does a standard day volunteering at the Mary Rose involve?

"There is often a short briefing to start the day on the tasks ahead before the work commences,

Currently the task is scanning 35mm film strips which must be cleaned before being inserted into film carriers and then scanned. Once the scanning is completed the images are checked over and some may even need to be rescanned to remove any hairs or dust that has crept in. Once we are satisfied with the images, they are then stored securely on the Mary Rose server.

The other main task is to check over previous scanning to ensure images are as good as possible and to ensure record keeping is accurate and the correct slide numbering has been applied."

Do you volunteer anywhere else?

"I don’t currently do so but mainly because my MA course takes up a lot of my time, so it isn’t practical to take on anything else now but I may well do so later."

What would you say to anyone thinking about volunteering?

"Do it! You will meet some lovely people and the work has been very rewarding. It is great to be helping to digistise and preserve such an important collection of images for posterity. "

Do you have any fun/funny stories about volunteering you could tell us about?

"I can’t really think of a specific funny story, but we do have a good laugh and there is a good atmosphere and camaraderie in the team"