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Untangling the Holdens

A pilot project which aimed to explore the potential of semi-remote crowdsourced volunteering in enriching minimal legacy finding aids.

About the archive

The papers of Isaac Holden and his family form one of the most rich, exciting archives in Special Collections.  Sir Isaac was a Bradford wool manufacturer who pioneered new woolcombing techniques, established factories in France, and later became an M.P.  The papers consist mainly of letters between Sir Isaac and family members.  They are full of detail about social and cultural life, religion, travel, industry and politics.  Bradford and Keighley (the Holdens lived at Oakworth House) are covered, as is France and even New Zealand.

About the project

The Untangling the Holdens project was a pilot project which aimed to make their incredible insights into 19th century social, political, religious and economic life far more readily available by creating enriched metadata for the letters.  We wanted to see how much could be done with core resources given our limited capacity for external fundraising.

The project was created to support University of Bradford students seeking work experience.  It was aimed at those wishing to work in archives and other academic or heritage areas, though the skills gained would be useful in many other professions.  This opportunity was offered in accordance with the Special Collections policy on the use of volunteers (pdf, 87 KB) (2007).  We were also delighted to accept volunteers on this project from outside the University, whether to gain work experience or for personal enjoyment and interest.

Project progress

We will write up our discoveries as soon as we can.  We intend to revive this project in some form in future, but we do not currently have capacity to do this, so are not taking on new participants.  Do however let us know if you are interested and we will see what can be done.