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Subject:

Re: Bill Pettitt

From:

Mary Hider <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Museums Computer Group <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 9 Apr 2009 12:17:39 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

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I mentioned my recollections of those early meetings to Malcolm and Ross. But who else is reading the list now that can remember how we'd go for a meal and the membership fitted round one table ... ? And how Bill would choose shellfish and take the shells away to put in the museum collection? It's all part of the MCG archive ...

Mary

>>> Tehmina Goskar <[log in to unmask]> 08/04/2009 21:29 >>>
Hear, hear.

A lovely retrospective view of museum computing.  Thank you.

2009/4/8 Malcolm Chapman <[log in to unmask]>:
> Hi Ross,
>
> Thanks for this, I'll pass it on to a colleague who's still in touch with
> Bill's family. Bill was retired by the time I arrived in Manchester,
> although he did come in for a number of years to volunteer in Zoology. Apart
> from the odd bit of advice (and information about the past!) he pretty much
> left web and database stuff alone. However, I still have much of his legacy
> - lots of punchcards in my office and some papers (I wouldn't be surprised
> if there's something of worth for the MCG archive).
>
> All the best,
>
> Malcolm
>
> Quoting "Parry, R.D." <[log in to unmask]>:
>
>> As chair of the MCG, I wanted to add just a few words regarding the  very
>> sad news that Charles 'Bill' Pettit recently passed away.
>>
>> As many of you will know, Bill was the first chair of the Museums
>>  Computer Group and was an instrumental force behind the group during  those
>> early years, as this community of practice found its shape and  voice. He
>> always spoke fondly (if, at times, a little mischievously)  of those early
>> meetings, not least when he gave this account for our  25th Anniversary
>> celebrations, in Cambridge, back in 2007:
>>
>>        "Ah! I remember it  well - the first meeting at the Sedgwick, that
>>  is. Actually, what happened was that towards the end of a good,
>>  constructive and useful meeting I stood up and suggested we should  make
>> such meetings a regular thing, as at the time museum computing  was in its
>> infancy and there was no forum for discussion.  Remember  at this time
>> everyone was doing their own thing, using whatever  tools they had to hand -
>> the Sedgwick with the forerunner of GOS,  Manchester with Famulus, Newcastle
>> with Spires etc. As is the way of  things the response was "Jolly good idea,
>> will you arrange it,  Bill?". So I did, with the next meeting at Manchester
>> some six  months later - technically it was at that meeting that the Group
>> was  formed, although it was agreed to count the Sedgwick meeting as the
>>  first. The next meeting was at the Hancock in Newcastle, where I  made the
>> mistake of going to the loo during the discussion, to find  on my return I
>> had been elected first Chairman in my absence!"
>>
>> Those first meetings brought together enthusiasts and specialists  from
>> around the sector - the small pockets and enclaves of 'first  adopters'
>> supporting each other as they worked to make sense of what  computing could
>> mean for museums. Bill's humour, his collegial  manner and the genuine sense
>> of wanting to support and share with  other professionals were all qualities
>> that not only characterised  those early meetings but became embedded in the
>> conduct of the MCG  in the years ahead. Today, with much bigger membership,
>> ever more  ambitious events, increasingly more professional governance, and
>>  diversifying areas of discussion, we may be different to that group  that
>> met for the first time in the early 1980s, and yet we have not  lost those
>> core values (of mutual and generous support) that Bill  personified.
>>
>> On a personal note, I spent a great deal of time with Bill when he
>>  formally handed over the MCG archive to me when I took over the  archivist
>> committee role from him, and then again when I interviewed  him for a book I
>> was writing on the history of museum computing. We  spent many hours at his
>> home recording his memories and  recollections of his time first as a young
>> graduate at the Natural  History Museum and then latterly at the Manchester
>> Museum. (In the  late 1960s Bill was using government computers to make
>> sense of  natural history data.) On those occasions, and on those many other
>>  times we met, Bill showed nothing but hospitality, patience and  warmth to
>> me and my (sometimes quite odd and specific) questions  about events some
>> forty years previous.
>>
>> Bill Pettitt was a museum natural history curator who had a foot in  both
>> an old and a new world of curatorship, and his career in many  respects
>> mirrored the journey the sector took with technology during  that time. The
>> MCG, and museum computing, owe him a great deal, and  he will be deeply
>> missed.
>>
>> Ross Parry
>> MCG Chair
>>
>>
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Museums Computer Group [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf  Of
>> Malcolm Chapman
>> Sent: 03 April 2009 16:24
>> To: [log in to unmask] 
>> Subject: Bill Pettitt
>>
>> I have been asked to pass on the sad news that Bill Pettitt has  died.
>> While Bill
>> was Keeper of Invertebrate Zoology at The Manchester Museum, he was also a
>> long-standing member of the MCG. Bill was instrumental in developing early
>> databases and websites at the Manchester Museum. He was involved in the
>> development of Spectrum and Fenscore.  Bill published a number of books
>> including "Information Management in Museums" (edited with Elizabeth
>> Orna).
>> His curatorial expertise was with molluscs. He retired in the mid-1990s on
>> health grounds (he suffered from angina for many years) but continued with
>> voluntary work in the Museum until only a few years ago.
>>
>> Malcolm Chapman
>>
>> **************************************************
>> For mcg information and to manage your subscription to the list,  visit
>> the website at http://www.museumscomputergroup.org.uk 
>> **************************************************
>>
>> **************************************************
>> For mcg information and to manage your subscription to the list,  visit
>> the website at http://www.museumscomputergroup.org.uk 
>> **************************************************
>>
>
>
>
> --
> Malcolm Chapman
> Head of Collections Development
> The Manchester Museum
> The University of Manchester
> Oxford Road
> Manchester
> M13 9PL
>
>
>
> Tel: +44(0)161 275 2652
> Fax: +44(0)161 275 2676
>
> Email: [log in to unmask] 
>
> Web: www.manchester.ac.uk/museum 
>
> Next exhibition:
> Lindow Man: A Bog Body Mystery
> 19 April 2008 to 19 April 2009
>
> Before you print think about the ENVIRONMENT
>
> **************************************************
> For mcg information and to manage your subscription to the list, visit the
> website at http://www.museumscomputergroup.org.uk 
> **************************************************
>



-- 
Tehmina Goskar, MA AMA
[log in to unmask] 

Historical and Museum Research
Web Communication and Learning Development

**************************************************
For mcg information and to manage your subscription to the list, visit the website at http://www.museumscomputergroup.org.uk 
**************************************************

**************************************************
For mcg information and to manage your subscription to the list, visit the website at http://www.museumscomputergroup.org.uk
**************************************************

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