The M&S Company Archive: Collection Development Policy

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1 The M&S Company Archive: Collection Development Policy March 2012 INTRODUCTION 1

2 The M&S Company Archive is a unique collection recording the history of Marks & Spencer from 1884 to present day. The archive collection is a unique resource for the retail history of the UK within the wider social and economic context. By defining the collection development of the archive, the collection can continue to support access to internal and external users and contribute to the preservation of retail history for the future. PURPOSE Mission Statement The M&S Company Archive is a vital business asset which exists to preserve, document and make available the history of Marks & Spencer to support the business needs of the Company and its shareholders; to inspire learning and inform research both internally and externally of the Company; and to support the needs of the wider community through the opening of its collections to the public. As the corporate memory of leading international retailer Marks & Spencer, our mission is to collect and preserve items relating to the history of M&S to an excellent standard, and to ensure that history is open to all. This means that our collection of over 70,000 items is directly accessible via our leading reading room platform and available for everyone to enjoy for a variety of purposes from inspiring academic study, education and outreach work, community engagement and for the general public. We go to great lengths to ensure that our collection is a dynamic, living archive which informs and supports the business needs of the Company. Our research and enquiry service supports our business brand and the collection is actively used to inspire new product, develop current thinking and inform our business strategy. As a Community Interest Company, we have a direct responsibility to engage the wider community with the archive. Through an active events program, a community volunteer scheme and comprehensive online and social media communications we seek to engage and inform as many people as possible about our rich collection. We work closely with schools and community groups to deliver engaging and relevant workshops which supports the needs of the community and inspires the next generation. About this policy The purpose of this collection development policy is to: 2

3 Ensure that the records in the M&S Company Archive accurately reflect the history and development of M&S as a national and international business from 1884 to today. Establish consistency in dealing with internal and external depositors to the collection. Manage the archive collection effectively to ensure that deposits are not duplications of material already held in the archive This policy was formally adopted by the M&S Company Archive in March 2012, and is subject to review after 5 years. COLLECTIONS CONTEXT The M&S Company Archive was established in 1983, when M&S appointed a Company Archivist to bring together historic records which were scattered across numerous head office departments with the purpose of supporting centenary celebrations as the business marked its 100 th anniversary in Since then, material has continued to be accumulated both from within the company and from members of the public. Originally located in the former M&S head office in Baker Street, the business archive soon outgrew its surroundings and was transferred to storage in a distribution centre. In the mid 1990s the collection was again relocated, to fallow footage above the company s Wood Green store in north London. Those premises were far from ideal, having no environmental controls, fire protection or public access. Since the collection moved to a new, purpose-built repository on the campus of the University of Leeds in 2012, the archive team has been actively developing the collection through seeking new acquisitions from internal departments within M&S and encouraging donations from members of the public. This work is informed by the extensive collection and documentation audit that was undertaken from 2009 to 2011, in preparation for the relocation of the collection. This audit highlighted areas of strength and weakness within the collection. The collection is widely used within the business for research, branding, packaging and design developments, Plan A (corporate social responsibility) initiatives, and for legal and operational enquiries. Externally the collection is used by students, academic researchers 3

4 and designers to learn about the history of fashion and British society from the late 1800s to today. The archive includes a permanent exhibition space and Reading Room for the general public and academic researchers, and is supported by an extensive Online Archive Catalogue, to facilitate external use of the collection. COLLECTION PRIORITIES The M&S Company Archive seeks to collect: Papers of prominent figures involved in the development and management of the Company. Papers of the M&S founding families; Marks, Spencer and Sieff families. Records relating to the development of company policies and principles. Records relating to M&S store development, from 1884 to the present. Records relating to staff welfare and working life, from 1884 to the present. Head Office department papers reflecting key processes and innovations within the Company. M&S clothing, accessories, homeware and food packaging products including examples of key merchandise from our product ranges such as top sellers and products that represent innovative technology or design. The archive also seeks iconic M&S pieces which reflect the culture of the business and the retail environment has been worn by someone in the public eye or anything that has been archive inspired or uses an archive print. Advertising and marketing material, from 1884 to the present. The M&S company archive also seeks to address comparatively weak areas of the collection by collecting: Examples of vintage M&S menswear. Examples of vintage M&S childrenswear. Records relating to M&S international operations from the mid 1960s to the present. 4

5 Records relating to M&S innovation and technology from the mid 1960s to the present. The M&S Company Archive seeks to develop these areas through working with M&S internal departments, overseas partners and encouraging donations in these categories from the public. Exemptions We will not acquire material that is not created by M&S or does not have its provenance in M&S. Where material is offered to the M&S Company Archive that is more appropriate to another known archive or organisation, the donor will normally be referred to that archive. Materials that duplicate or are very similar to current holdings will not be accepted, unless there is a strong reason why duplicate material may be of benefit (for example, for learning and outreach purposes). Copies of archives held elsewhere will not normally be accepted unless there are exceptional reasons for keeping them (for example, to use alongside existing collections). Permanent/temporary loans are only considered in exceptional circumstances. Items may not be accepted for the collection without a completed and signed donor form. COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT METHODS Methods of Acquisition 5

6 We work closely with departments across M&S to arrange the direct transfer of material to the Company Archive. This is achieved by working with each M&S Business Unit and department to identify material that meets the criteria of this Collection Development Policy. The material identified for transfer from each department is summarised in a bespoke Checklist, which is regularly reviewed with the department. The Checklists include specified timescales for the transfer of material. The archive team ensure that the provisions of each department s checklist are met. We seek to acquire material from external donors as a gift. We do not offer payment in return for donations to the collection or actively seek to purchase items for the collection. We actively encourage external donations through key messages on the website of the M&S Company Archive and to visitors to the Marks in Time Exhibition. Calls for donations may also be made through regional and national media, where this is appropriate in the context of coverage highlighting particular items or subject areas within the collection. In the longer-term, it is hoped that our partnership working with other collecting organisations within the heritage sector, and the building of relationships with communities as part of our outreach and learning work, will also promote the donation of material to the collection. Conditions associated with acquisitions We actively seek to acquire third party copyrights and intellectual property rights that may exist in the material being donated to the collection. The M&S Company archive seeks to acquire material in either paper based or digital format. Original M&S merchandise will be accepted in the format that it was created in. Digital records may include databases, spreadsheets, Computer Aided Design material, images, s, sound and film, in a wide range of formats. The transfer of digital material 6

7 is subject to discussion on a case-by-case basis to identify and agree the most appropriate format for transfer. The M&S Company Archive is committed to facilitating the fullest possible access to the collection. Individual items or the majority of items within a donation must be available for use by all researchers. Copyright or data protection restrictions may apply to specific items and should be declared at the time of donation and specified in the donation agreement. SELECTION AND DE-ACCESSIONING The M&S Company Archivist and the archive team, if necessary, in consultation with the Company Secretary and M&S Legal team, reserves the right to judge which documents are of sufficient quality and content for permanent preservation. Material which does not meet these requirements will not be accepted. De-accessioning is the de-selection of material that is already part of the archive collection because it does not meet the stated collection development requirements, and is part of the professional management and development of archive and museum collections. The M&S Company Archivist and the archive team reserve the right to de-accession material previously accepted as a donation to the collection. Donors will be informed and unwanted material will be offered back to the donor wherever possible. De-accessioned material may otherwise be offered to another collecting organisation. De-accessioned material will not be sold. 7

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