A couple of years ago in this blog, we introduced Onfim. This thirteenth century child whose drawing on a piece of bark had been discovered by chance, among other archeological findings. Thanks to a growing number of medievalists researchers over the past few years, the images left by medieval children are no longer left to chance.
The advances in child psychology have long helped parents and educators. They now benefit medievalists, and it is great news for children’s drawing conservation. Deborah Ellen Thorpe holds a PhD in Medieval Studies from the University of York (GB). In 2016, her article Young hands, old books: Drawings by children in a fourteen century manuscript, LJS, MS. 361, was published in Cogent Arts and Humanities (Taylor & Francis). In it, she meticulously and convincingly argues that the hands that drew three drawings in the margins of a centuries-old manuscript were those of children. Her observations are strongly supported by the works of several researchers in child psychology and arts education.
Other reputed medievalists, such as Seth Lere (Devotion and Defacement: Reading Children’s Marginalia, University of California Press), and Nicholas Orme (Medieval children, Yale University Press) have been instrumental in nurturing a growing interest in what medieval children have left us.
We collect items that are very much part of the day to day lives of young families around the world. For this reason, it is natural for us to admire those collectors and curators who do the same. Near the city of Jodhpur in Western Rajasthan (India), Arna Jharna: The Thar Museum is doing just that by collecting and curating Jhadus or brooms.
The museum was founded in 2000, by late folklorist Komal Kothari. It displays 180 types of brooms, according to Supriya Newar‘s thorough article on Live History India. Simple objects provide amazing insights and the brooms helps visitors to explore the stories of the people of Rajasthan, their working and spiritual lives, as well as their natural surroundings. Another article by Chelsea Santos, Assistant Curator at The City Palace Museum of Udaipur, brings us closer to the Arna Jharna museum. It is published on mainlymuseums.com.
In 2016, the picturesque Musée Calbet in Grisolle (France) had also celebrated the broom in a special exhibition, from a different source and perspective.
The school year is well underway and drawings and paintings are already piling up, at school and at home. Teachers and parents, make time for helping kids with their portfolio. It is a good opportunity for revisiting recent images, talk about what they mean and compare their qualities and stories. It is also a concrete way to bring up the fact that there is limited space to keep and store them. The decision to keep, toss or send drawings to us for inclusion in the Collection, is best made in collaboration with the child. One way to approach this is to empty last year’s portfolio and reuse, it year after year.
See the simple step by step article by Julee from Warm Hot Chocolate, published on Modern Parents Messy Kids. It illustrates how to make a portfolio at home and the required materials. Make it sturdy for lasting or multiple uses. Happy crafting and sorting.
The International Council of Archives is holding its annual international awareness campaign this week, and celebrating International Archives Day on June 9th. The timing and this year’s theme “Empowering Archives” suit us perfectly, as we are participating in the Great Canadian Giving Challenge this month, as well as launching our own annual campaign starting on International Archives Day.
We urge you to make a donation, so that we can continue to grow and get fully prepared for the post-pandemic. Make sure to visit the multilingual online activities presented by the ICA between June 7-11th, International Archives Week – #IAW2021. We cannot stress enough that each and everyone of us can play a part in the preservation family and professional archives, for the benefit of future generations.
As a parent, you may be an art enthusiast and your child’s biggest fan. You have set up a creative corner, you have a framing and display system in place in the kitchen or elsewhere in the home. Most of all, you involve your child in decision making, when comes the time to keep, re-use or dispose of drawings. Your disappointment comes when each time you ask, your child does not share your interest and suggests that everything can just go in the trash.
Drawing and what comes out of it might just not be your child’s number one interest and it is perfectly fine. Your artistic inclination does not have to converge with your parental guidance and judgement. It is probably time for you to decide whether collecting your child’s images is your own project, for the time being. As a parent, cherishing and keeping traces of your child’s cognitive progress, imaginative storytelling, and his or her interpretations of play and family moments, can be your own personal project. Your child might not be that interested at the moment, but what about when she or he will have grown up? You might want to know what the reaction will be years from now, when you open your precious archives. Joy and gratefulness will most likely be the response. And even then, if it is not and you are instead met a “but why”, you will know exactly why and will not regret a moment of it.
Tomorrow June 9th is International Archives Day and archives around the world are being celebrated all through the week. For second year, we make this an opportunity to launch our annual fundraising drive, which will last until November, when we will celebrate International Children’s Rights Day.
Please, take the time to make a donation to our organization, however small it may be. This is a great way to show us you care about our mission and that you encourage us to persevere. We will provide you with an official donation receipt for your tax report.
Our three program areas work hand in hand. After intense policy development work, we need help with implementing our action plan.
Collection Program – We need help in making pre-stamped envelops available to prospective contributors of items.
Conservation Program – We need help with oversize scanning costs and searchable database development.
Access and Education Program – We need help with event stand equipment and publishing costs.
To mark this year’s IAW and to launch our fundraiser, we picked a special image from our collection to share with everyone. My Teacher Sings was made around 1969 by a 2nd grader. It depicts a teacher with musical notes above her head, standing between a window and a green desk. Yes, our very own logo came directly from this drawing. Our heartfelt virtual accolade goes to all students whose school year has been disrupted, and who wonder how their next school year will feel like. Hence, we chose this picture in support to all learners.
During the current social distancing Spring, we hear often that there will be a before and an after the pandemic. Interesting, but there has always been a before and after, and most likely there will be for a long time to come. We just so happen to be in a situation to acquire an acute sense of it being so, because we all experience a common trigger of change. We mind the before and after more than ever before, because the present is changing so fast and in a threatening way.
Caring for the long term future is a way to nurture one’s own resilience and encourage others to do the same. That is why today we invite you to make it a personal or a family project to build your personal archives for the next generations. Each and everyone of us is a bridge. A bridge between the past and the future. It is a matter of assuming this responsibility to tell and show our story, each from our unique perspective. The good thing is, this can be a lot of fun too. Revisiting our past through our belongings, makes us see that the past too can change real fast when we wrap and share it.
We begin the new year with an appeal to all young and young at heart people. What are the oldest images you can contribute to our collection? Who will contribute the first and newest images of this new decade? Below and side by side, are images spanning more than seventy years. To the left is one of the oldest in our collection. It is a collage from the early 1940s, made by a young Canadian girl, in her first grade class. Next to it, is a drawing by a girl of the same age, in the early 2010s. We believe it is important to demonstrate the historical significance of these objects. We believe this can be done only by collecting and preserving as many as we can save. Too many have disappeared already.
We are working towards making our collection searchable online. Tell us what interest you the most in children’s drawings and which criteria you would use in our search tool. Tell us whether you would select primarily country of origin, date, age, subject portrayed, theme or other criteria. If you use often a search tool that you prefer to others, please share your preference with us. We are currently considering Access to Memory (AtoM) open source software by Artefactual Systems.
We share this fun-to-read article by Mary Townsend, published in The Atlantic: Throw Your Children’s Art Away. We certainly feel for families facing the dilemma. However, we are an archives and we are all about conservation. No longer feel torn apart between keep or toss… we are the alternative, contribute to the collection.