Joining the Mary Gillham Archive Project: my first week



Last week Natalie Christie, a Zoology student from Cardiff University, joined the Project on her Professional Training Year (PTY) a year-long placement between the 2nd and final year of her degree. Over the next 12 months Natalie will spend her time working on the Project and taking advantage of Mary’s archive to answer a research question of her own.


Here’s the first of many blogs by Nat describing her Mary Gillham Archive Project journey:

Before starting my first day at the office I was both excited and a little nervous; working a real, full week job is very different to being lectured at for a couple of hours a week and doing work from home. At uni I’m used to 2 or 3 hours a day of intense, information-loaded lectures and the constant feeling that I should be doing more work. Even though I am now working a much longer 7-hour day, it’s nice to spend that time being productive rather than just listening and it feels good to be able to relax when at home (and not feel guilty about not studying every minute of the day!).

I am enjoying having more structure and routine to my week and everyone that I’ve met so far has been really kind and welcoming. I’m looking forward to meeting the rest of the team and am thankful to Al for putting up with my endless lists of questions…

During my first week on the project I’ve had access to some of Mary’s writings to get a better insight into her personal life and travels, learning a lot more than I was expecting to in my first week – a particularly intriguing fact being how Mary was brave enough to once hitchhike across all of Africa, impressive! I have been introduced to the important task of data entry and slide transcribing, and have also successfully completed my coffee training (how to use the cafetiere) – a task that I’m coming to realise is a crucial part of office life.

I was also not expecting to get my very own office desk (my first!), but it’s made me feel like I’m part of the project and the novelty of decorating the space with my own mug and other bits and bobs still hasn’t worn off.


Map of some of Mary’s travels

 Slide Celebrations

On Friday a milestone was reached in the project as the 5000th slide was transcribed. The slide was called ‘Adiantum capillus-veneris, Maidenhair’ featuring a male fern at Cwm Mawr, Wales. A proud moment as this means that over a third of the slides have now been transcribed!

5000th slide!

Overall it’s been a fun, successful week and I’m excited to get involved with more of the project, including some of the outreach days as well as meeting more of the volunteers!

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