Weeks 23-29, 28th Mar – 13th May

I have spent the last 7 weeks of the John Pendlebury Family Papers Archive Project cataloguing the photograph series, preparing material for digitisation and working with a digitisation company to begin digitising the archive.

So far I have catalogued 5 out of 7 large photograph albums. The majority of photographs in these albums document John and Hilda Pendlebury’s travels and work in Crete. I was lucky enough to travel to Crete twice in April and to see some of the places documented, and so cataloguing the albums at this time has been particularly interesting. I will write more about my time in Crete in forthcoming blog posts.

A photograph of the Lasithi Plain seen from the Trapeza Cave (Crete), in the John Pendlebury Family Archive. We visited the cave, and saw a similar view, in April 2016. Copyright: The British School at Athens
Photograph taken from near the Trapeza Cave, April 2016

Cataloguing the photograph albums has taken a long time because, like the travel logs, they are simply crammed full of photographs (the 5 albums catalogued so far contain around 1500 photographs). I am giving each photograph its own description, and some descriptions take more time to compile than others.

The descriptions take longer if:

  • I need to look up the place name in a thesaurus (as explained in my blog post of the 18th of December).
  • I don’t recognise a landscape or archaeological site (and they are not captioned) and then need to spend some time identifying the subject.
  • I have seen the photograph before, so need to find the duplicate for cross referencing. As explained in my previous blog post there is a lot of duplication of photographic prints in the John Pendlebury Family Papers Archive.

I have also been preparing the parts of the archive which have already been catalogued for digitisation. This preparation has included checking the numbering and packaging of items, and writing specific guidance for the digitisation of each section.

Pages from a photograph album of Crete (PEN 7/2/4), in the John Pendlebury Family Papers Archive. Copyright: The British School at Athens

So far digital images of sections 1 and 2 have been captured on flat-bed and book-eye scanners (the correspondence and travel logs). The first 5 photograph albums have already gone off for digitisation and once the photograph section is finished, we’ll be halfway through the digitisation aspect of the project.

During the next few weeks, as well as liaising with the digitiser and transporting material to the digitisation office, I will continue cataloguing photographs in the collection. I have just started an album which contains over 900 photographs, so I imagine this may take some time. After the photograph albums are completed, I will move on to some loose photographs of Greece and Egypt, and family photographs.



About John and Hilda Pendlebury…

John and Hilda Pendlebury (née White) first met at the British School at Athens in 1927.  Hilda was taking a sabbatical year from being a school teacher and John had been given a studentship to trace Egyptian finds in Greece. Together with other students from the school they travelled around Greece, hiking and visiting archaeological sites. In September 1928 John and Hilda were married in Britain.

John and Hilda Pendlebury on their wedding day, from the Pendlebury Family Papers. Copyright: British School at Athens
John and Hilda Pendlebury on their wedding day, from the Pendlebury Family Papers. Copyright: British School at Athens

In the following years of their marriage John worked as an archaeologist at Knossos, Tell el Amarna (in Egypt) and various sites around the Lasithi Plain in East Crete. Hilda often worked with John, but did not always accompany him once their children (David and Joan) were born in 1932 and 1934.

During the Second World War John was in Crete, utilising his knowledge of the language and topography of the island, and his extensive network of local friends, whilst working for the British Special Operations Executive (undercover as Vice-Consul).

John died during the German invasion of Crete in May 1941, but the exact circumstances of his death were not known for certain until years later. Hilda and John’s father (Herbert) undertook substantial investigations (which are documented in the archive) to find out what exactly had happened to John.

John’s final resting place is in Souda Bay War Cemetery in Crete, which Hilda visited whilst attending a memorial service in Heraklion in 1947.