Monday, July 28, 2014

The PSC : Focusing The Scanning Beam On The Detritus Of Life

I recently joined an organisation called the People's Scanning Collective (PSC) which is dedicated to scanning and publishing worthless ephemera. The idea behind it is that records and documents which are seen as "important" will be preserved by a whole range of regional and national archival organisations, whereas the supposed detritus of life will be lost. PSC members therefore scan the kind of documents that would normally fall through the cracks in the historical canvas, make them available on-line, and leave the rest to Google. 



My contribution this week is a letter I recently found in a cardboard box of old family papers. It is addressed to my father, Albert Burnett, and was sent in June 1958. It is a Jury Summons requiring my father to attend for jury service at the Quarter Sessions in Halifax, West Yorkshire. The language is almost Dickensian with all the "to wits" and "be holdens".


The letter is signed by Richard de Zouch Hall, a name that will be familiar to anyone who lived in Halifax in the 1950s and 60s. He was Town Clerk of Halifax from 1968 until the Borough was subsumed into the new Metropolitan Borough of Calderdale in 1973. He was the author of a number of books, including short histories of Halifax Town Hall and the Halifax Orchestra. 

This may not be of interest to anyone, it certainly is not fascinating. But that is the whole point of the work of the PSC - focusing the scanning beam on the detritus of life.

8 comments:

  1. Such old fashioned language. Hope you have checked that the stamp is not one of those rare 4D ones.

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  2. I think that is a great idea and project. Ephemera is the collection of items originally thought of only short term importance. We had a talk today at camera club from a guy who has been a medical photographer for years. It is amazing the stuff that was used in photography years ago. It should be kept too. Have fun scanning. We rally enjoyed the shoe called "Last Tango in Halifax"

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  3. We wouldn't get far with that kind of language on Facebook.

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  4. I save everything in the way of letters & photos. After reading this I think I will start my own "detritus" file. Oh. It's already in three drawers of my desk.

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  5. "Clerk of the Peace"--do you know its etymology?

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  6. Great that you are preserving bits of family history and other things. You seem to be having a wonderful summer...As for the language in that old summons, few could read it today, let alone interpret it correctly, I'm afraid. Do you have a more recent summons for comparison?

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  7. Well, than heaven bits and pieces like this ARE preserved. Love the language - though I do find some folk pepper their speech with unnecessary and inappropriate words these days too! The PSC sounds like a very worthwhile project.

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  8. What a great project. And what a great word detritus is: one of my very favourites.

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