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Jane Speller, Project Archivist for the Guardian business records cataloguing project, writes:

We were delighted to win the 2015 Business Archives Council (BAC) Cataloguing Grant for Business Archives, for a project entitled ‘Behind the Headlines: documenting the people in the Guardian Archive’. Earlier this week we were visited by Mike Anson, Chair of the BAC, who presented us with the cheque. 

Mike Anson (BAC), presents the 'cheque' to Fran Baker (Archivist),and Jane Speller (Guardian Project Archivist).

Mike Anson (BAC) presents a “big cheque” to Fran Baker (Archivist) and Jane Speller (Guardian Project Archivist).

The archive of the Guardian (formerly Manchester Guardian) newspaper is one of the largest collections held by the university and dates from the newspaper’s establishment in 1821 up until 1971, later material being held by the Guardian News and Media Archive in London. The archive also contains material relating to the Guardian’s sister paper, the Manchester Evening News. Alongside the huge body of editorial correspondence and dispatches is a detailed set of records relating to the Guardian as a business concern and it is these business records that are the focus of this BAC-funded project.

The numerous enquiries we receive about the business records generally fall into two categories: firstly, tracing the writer of a particular contribution (the Guardian’s policy of anonymity led to attributions such as ‘From our Special Correspondent’ or ‘A Country Diary’); and secondly, tracing individuals who may have contributed to, or been employed by the Manchester Guardian or the Manchester Evening News.

With this in mind, the initial weeks of the project will focus on enhancing the listings for unidentified photographs of staff and premises. The contributors’ and reviewers’ ledgers (often the only way of identifying the authors of specific contributions) are rich sources of information, containing the names, addresses, dates and titles of the various articles and reviews. Similarly the wages books which are organised weekly and by department are a wonderful resource, with information being organised by name, wage, and role.

Initial findings are proving very interesting. The photographs below are a taste of the fascinating window into the working lives of the past created by this project. If you can help us identify any of the people in the photographs or tell us about the work they used to do, please let us know.

New Tele Ads Room, Manchester Evening News, 1946.

New Tele Ads Room, Manchester Evening News, 1946.

‘The last of the Manchester Evening News ponies to leave’, 25 March 1952 (for more about the role of the ‘ponies’, see the recent Guardian News Media Archive blog post).

‘The last of the Manchester Evening News ponies to leave’, 25 March 1952 (for more about the role of the ‘ponies’, see the recent Guardian News Media Archive blog post).

Manchester Guardian Auto-plate operator, date unknown.

Manchester Guardian Auto-plate operator, date unknown.

Manchester Guardian Machine Room, July 1947.

Manchester Guardian Machine Room, July 1947.

Manchester Evening News drivers, outside the Broughton Street garage in Salford, 1955-56.

Manchester Evening News drivers, outside the Broughton Street garage in Salford, 1955-56.

Broughton garage in Salford, 1955-56.

Broughton garage in Salford, 1955-56.

Images reproduced courtesy of Guardian News and Media Ltd.

We’ll keep you posted as the project progresses.