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Archiver > CORNISH > 2010-08 > 1283073677

From: Julia Mosman <>
Subject: [CORNISH] Visiting the National Archives, part 3
Date: Sun, 29 Aug 2010 04:21:17 -0500

The last bit!


Restrictions on what you can take in: the only
thing that is extraordinary is the extent to which different archives have different
rules as to what you can or cannot do. It doesn't need much imagination to see
what alterations might be made to the historical record by someone thus inclined,
and the ban on erasers (and there is a great deal of value in the pencilled
notes I find in Admiralty records around the time of the Napoleonic Wars) has
now been extended to the small erasers to be found on the back end of both
wooden pencils and push-pencils - they are removed at the turnstiles and left
on the security officer's desk for you to pick up and re-insert on departure.
There are pencil-sharpeners at enquiry desks in each of the document reading rooms,
as nothing with a blade is allowed in. As the security people have to suffer
abuse from time to time they appear to have had exemplary training on how to
deal with difficult situations. This applies especially to their obligation to
see that readers treat the documents according to the rules, and it becomes evident
on rare occasions that highly educated academics who no doubt have handled
precious documents around the world object (but not noisily of course) to being
reprimanded by an underling. (On occasions I find it hard to keep my mind on
the job in hand when heated but whispered human interactions become
fascinatingly visible. All human life is there in the Archives, not all of it
in the documents.)

=== The end ===
I would worry that the erasers on the back end of pencils easily tear paper, and at the least disturb it's surface to a bothersome extent. Libraries I visit also restrict such pencil erasers; they provide sharpened, eraserless pencils and at no time allow pens or markers. One 'work-around' is to purchase 3M 'stickies' that are transparent, and are shaped as an arrow. Easy to apply, and leave no residue on pages. But I've never, ever had to show a utility bill, although a student i.d. came in handy once or twice! (I audit classes sometimes.) Maybe I just look 'respectable'(ie, old).

Hope this has been of some help to someone!!


Julia Mosman, OPC for St.Austell,Charlestown, and Treverbyn

Website at

W. Briton newspaper transcripts at

Please visit the OPC website at

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