OPINION22 April 2020

Are you a hoarder or a chucker?

Opinion UK

With people spending a lot more time at home, the Archive of Market and Social Research (AMSR) is asking researchers to clear out and donate their historical papers. By Phyllis Vangelder.

Paper clutter archive_crop

This article is a plea to hoarders to raid their attics, cupboards, lofts and garages for any research material that can be donated to the Archive of Market and Social Research (AMSR).  If you are ‘confined to barracks’, this is an ideal time to sort out your stuff. 

Sadly, we can do nothing about the ‘chuckers’. So much has been thrown away as people downsized, companies changed hands or moved – valuable collections from the COI and other major organisations and companies have been lost forever. We know there is a lot of Research International material in a rat-infested barn in the West Country. We also know that a great deal of articles and papers are still around collecting dust and, if we are honest, no longer need to be kept in hard copy.

We fully understand the mind-set of the ‘hoarder’(why do I still have my school reports?). However, there are ways round the dilemma which can suit everyone. If you still want to retain hard copies of unique work you have done, let us catalogue and digitise it for you, so it is in the Archive. Hard copies of any papers can be returned to you if you so wish. Once the data is in the Archive, your contribution to the profession is remembered in perpetuity.

Intellectual property
We understand that many people have material but are uncertain about its copyright and provenance. AMSR is prepared to take responsibility for checking on ownership of publication rights. We are offering to embargo information for 10 or more years, if we think the material will be of interest to historians and it is no longer clear who can give permission for publication.

We have a clause in our content contribution form, which states: “I, the depositor, am unsure of the legal ownership of these items, but wish them to be saved for posterity. I understand that AMSR will not put these items in the public domain or make them publicly available, until either ownership has been established and the legal owner agrees, or 30 years have passed from the date of authorship. I personally have no objection to these items being made publicly available”. 

If concerns about ownership and publication of interesting material that you hold have stopped you from offering your research, please get in touch with us and we shall try to find a way to preserve it. We can always arrange a longer or shorter embargo on public access.

What to do now
Please do a clear-out and make your partner/wife/husband happy to get all that extra space. As Liz Nelson says: “I was thrilled, and frankly relieved, to get rid of all the stuff I had accumulated for over 60 years. Especially since I knew it was being kept in perpetuity”.

Once Covid-19 is over, AMSR will arrange collection or pay delivery costs to Ipsos Mori’s offices in Harrow, where we have an ‘engine room’ for scanning and cataloguing.

If you want to discuss your material, contact Phyllis Macfarlane or Phyllis Vangelder.