Rebecca Volk
Rebecca Somerset

Rebecca Somerset

I am the Province Archivist and thus I am responsible for caring for the archival documents as well as a collection of antiquarian books and some historical artefacts belonging to the Jesuits in Britain. As archivist, I ensure that archival records are collected, catalogued, preserved and where necessary I arrange for conservation work to be done to repair and restore items identified as needing this. In addition, I provide a professional service by responding to enquiries and by making available archival records to researchers wishing to consult the material held. I am required to work in line with legislations, such as the Data Protection Act 1998, and when needed I supply professional advice on archival and record management issues to the Jesuits in Britain.

The reason I love being an archivist is that it is such varied work. It is very satisfying bringing order to a collection and in being able to assist people in their research. The task I am most passionate about is in making archives as accessible to as wide an audience as possible. This can be achieved by using a variety of formats, from publications to exhibitions to talks. Digitisation can be a great tool in this as it allows material to be shared widely without damage to the original document.  I feel that it is important to share what is held in the archives as this gives meaning to why records are being kept and preserved and also promotes an understanding of the history as contained therein. There are such wonderful treasurers in archives and they should not be consigned to dark cupboards to be forgotten about. Naturally, careful consideration has to be made regarding what is suitable and can be made available. In addition, as a Catholic it is rewarding to know that I am contributing to ensuring the survival of not only the Jesuits’ legacy but also the wider Church history as contained in the archives.