You may have noticed that I have not been posting as much as I have in the past, and that’s because I’ve been busy beginning the research for my MA dissertation. I have already visited the Marks and Spencer Company Archive in Leeds, and the Symington Collection which is held at Leicestershire County Council’s Collections Resource Centre. Now I need to wade through pages of notes and hundreds of photographs to consolidate all my discoveries and questions so far. Once I know where the gaps are, I can start making a plan for more visits, but all this comes with a price.
No matter how much fun I might find it to go on an archive visit, booking the inevitable train tickets and hotels for overnight stays is less fun. It’s also expensive. If I need to be in Leeds for 10am to make the most of a day there, realistically, I’ll need to stay over the night before so that I’m well rested and organised. Therefore, a two day trip needs two nights in a hotel in addition to the travel costs. Even if every archive had a mega-cheap chain hotel just around the corner, those costs would still mount up. So, when I heard about an award from the Costume Society which offers funding “aimed at helping an MA student engaged in high quality research into the history of dress and/or textiles with expediture relating to the completion of their dissertation”, I thought it was well worth checking out.
Seeing as my dissertation topic covers the history of both clothing and textiles – my working title is Supporting the Fashionable Silhouette: Technological Changes to the Bra, 1930-1990 – I decided to apply for the Yarwood Award and… I got it! As you can image, I was quite thrilled when I received the news. The money I receive will pay off my travel expenses so far and will mean that I can also visit Bath, Brighton or any other museum collections that hold items relevant to my research. It’s also given me a boost that you can’t really put a monetary value on. Up until now, I’ve been a university administrator who studies fashion and writes blog posts in her spare time. Then I decided I’d quite like to be a researcher in the future. Now I feel like I actually am one. It may not be my job title yet, but it feels like it’s what I do. To have my research summary and draft budget praised by people I respect, has been a massive confidence boost and has reassured me that I can do this. At the beginning of the year this project was a daunting prospect, but now I can’t wait to get stuck in!
Image by lipsticklori, taken at the LCF Archives.