NHSN Archivist, June Holmes, set to retire

NHSN Archivist, June Holmes, has announced her retirement as a staff member.

First becoming involved with NHSN in the early 1990s, June has worked tirelessly for many years to catalogue, promote and inspire others can NHSN’s archive collections. Working first as a volunteer and then as a Trustee, June joined the staff team between 2002-2006 and again from 2014-2021. From academics and social historians to visiting school children, she has worked to share the social and cultural heritage of natural history in the North East for many years.

Working with and supporting a team of dedicated archive volunteers, June’s work has ensured that not only are the incredible stories of local naturalists not lost but brought to life in the present day.

Successes under June’s incredible tenure are numerous, but key achievements include:

  • The acquisition of the Sopwith strata, kindly donated by Life Member, Graham Carlise and supported by Arts Council.
  • The Many Faces of Bewick exhibition in 2003, celebrating the life and work of Thomas Bewick.
  • An exhibition of Albany Hancock’s exquisite nudibranches in 2006.
  • Working with Barbara Harbottle and many other volunteers to make the Margaret Rebecca Dickinson archive of botanical watercolours accessible online.
  • Delivery two successful archive projects funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
  • The Sound Strata of Coastal Northumberland exhibitions with musician and artist, Susan Stenger.

June has succeeded in keeping the history of natural history in our region safe for future generations. June’s in depth knowledge of the archives has connected people from all walks of life with the stories of the past.

On behalf of the many professionals, researchers, students and young people who have visited the NHSN archive, and of course, on behalf of the many NHSN volunteers, trustees and staff who have worked alongside June, a big thank you. While June is retiring from the staff team, members and volunteers will continue to see June in the future as she returns to the archive as a volunteer.

Clare Freeman, NHSN Director

In almost two centuries of NHSN’s history we have been lucky to be served by a succession of skilled people who have given their time and talents freely over periods of months, years, even decades. We know this because the story of their service can be read in our archives. But NHSN didn’t really have ‘an Archive’ until the material was brought together by Peter Davis in the 1980s. Since then, it has depended on its growth and development on the efforts of June Holmes, who herself has volunteered many thousands of hours of service over three decades

June has performed an enormous feat of cataloguing, looked after the archive’s storage, been the first point of contact for researchers, answered countless enquiries and coordinated the work of other volunteers. A static archive is a dead archive: so, June has acquired and processed a lot of material that relates to the society and the wider world of natural history in our region.

In short, the archive has seen more hours of care devoted to it than most of NHSN’s collections thanks to June’s commitment. Long may our archives continue to benefit from her work.

Les Jessop, NHSN Honorary Librarian