Have you ever wondered what happens to the old maps or documents and photographs of the past? The National Archives of Singapore (NAS) and National Library Board (NLB) organized a kids’ fun activity this school holidays. It was called “Little Archivist for a Day”, and was held in conjunction with Children’s Season.
A short introduction on archives
What a great exposure it was my two little spawns. They had a wonderful experience learning new things. “I didn’t know old maps were so important”, said the youngest. The oldest spawn being in Primary school had a rough idea of archives, but he could only associate with “The Mummy” the movie that showcased how Brendan Frasier was obsessed with old maps and artefacts and his never-ending adventurous journeys……sigh…..
Anyway, where were we? Oh yes… Little Archivists!!
So my little archivists for the day set off on their adventure by repairing an old map. I thought it was a cool activity. The steps taken by just replacing a tiny piece of a torn map can be quite tedious. From making a copy of the exact shape to the pasting of that piece onto the map was an eye-opener. We learned to appreciate old maps a lot better now.
Younger spawn proud of his map
The next challenge was walking down the memory lane. Little archivists were given really old pictures and they had to give the location of where the pictures were taken from. Clues had to be picked up from these pictures. It was nice to see some spots of old Singapore. How did my little spawns fair? Well, the elder one did pretty okay for a child born in the 2000s. Maps, pictures… what next?
What came next was a real wow! We got a chance to read old documents written by the East India Company to the Port of Weld. Reading those letters was a hard nut to crack. It was all hand written in cursive style! It was a difficult task even for an adult like me. “It’s so difficult to read, mummy!”, said the elder spawn. I replied to him cheekily, “Well, that is what your teacher must be thinking of your handwriting, so you better work on writing neatly”. What an apt moment to throw in that line and remind him of the school… hahaha… mummy scored-1, spawn- scored 0.
Trying to write in cursive handwriting
It is impressive how people could write so beautifully back then. And the language? Every ending to a letter had an authoritative figure signing off which reflected the loyalty and humbleness of the writer. The challenge didn’t just end there. Little archivists had to try their hands at cursive writing. I was immediately reminded of my school days when we learned calligraphy. I think I still have the pen and those nibs kept somewhere. Now where could they be…..
Next challenge… reading old document
Overall, it was a great learning Sunday for all of us. I would rate this activity with 5 stars. A very authentic and fun way to spend time as a family, working as a team and appreciating history. The little archivists went home with a goody bag that had a board game called “The Syonan Race”
Oh yes, just to share The Old Fort Factory will be given a new look. Do watch the space on their website. So what is the Old Fort Factory? Haha, that is for you to find out. Be an archivist for a day with your family. I can give you a little hint: click here