For the past three weeks, I have been fortunate to have had the enthusiastic and careful assistance of Ophelia King and Lauren Muir—working as Department of Geography Placement Research Assistants—in transcribing a large quantity of Macintosh’s correspondence. All told, Team Macintosh transcribed more than 250 images of correspondence (more than half of the material I photographed in Avignon in 2012), undertook helpful primary research at the National Archives, and completed very useful name indexes for the two volumes of Macintosh’s Travels. Here, I ask Ophelia and Lauren to reflect on their experience.
What have you most enjoyed about the placement?
Lauren: I have genuinely enjoyed every aspect of this placement but the most enjoyable aspect has been continuously unravelling the journey that Macintosh embarked upon and finding out connections between many of his correspondences. To be a part of bringing Macintosh’s work ‘back to life’, so to speak, has been greatly interesting in every way and I have really enjoyed discovering how his works are so important to both modern and historical geographies.
Ophelia: Working within Team Macintosh over the past few weeks has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Both working within the office and at the National Archives has been fun and enlightening, as it has allowed me to develop an understanding about a period of history and parts of geography that I love, all while working within a wonderfully talented team. I really would love to do the past three weeks all over again!
What was the most challenging aspect?
Lauren: Aside from the horrendous handwriting of some of Macintosh’s acquaintances, which slowed the transcription process at particular times, the most challenging aspect of this placement was finding further information that confirmed the identity of an individual mentioned in one of the letters.
Ophelia: The most challenging aspect of this placement, for me, has been trying to work out and research parts of the material we could not transcribe. Due to different people having various different styles of writing it meant that even with the three of us researching one specific area we could not accurately transcribe the material. This was particularly frustrating but made the experience all the more worthwhile when the three of us could help each other to piece together the puzzle of William Macintosh’s life!
What do you think you will take away from the experience?
Lauren: The whole process has truly been one of the most interesting things I have done throughout my time at university thus far and I have definitely enjoyed furthering my academic research skills both in the office and through our trip to the National Archives. This transferable skill is one I would not have had acquired had I not been given this opportunity and it is something that will undoubtedly be useful in both further education and within my future career.
Ophelia: This placement within the department of Geography has provided me with a plethora of opportunities to develop skills which will undoubtedly prove useful throughout further education and for my future career. I am so very grateful to have been given this opportunity to work within such a fantastic team and to advance a number of transferable skills, due to work within both the office and the National Archives.