Meet the Team — Assistant Archivist

Published on 1st April 2020

Enjoy this Meet the Team profile of our newest staff member, Luke Thorne.

Luke Thorne

What are the key parts to your role?

My role is to assist with the day to day running of the archive’s services. This includes sorting through collections of manuscripts and records, cataloguing records into CALM (a collections management system), placing library books back on their correct shelves, answering enquiries, assisting users in the reading room and any other tasks that may be asked of me.

What do you like about your job?

One of the things I enjoy the most about working in an archive is that you never know what you might end up finding in the collections. You could come across someone’s journal recording their travels, a beautiful drawing, or an entertaining anecdote. It’s also a great feeling when you get an enquiry asking for records from a collection you’ve recently catalogued and to see what research people are doing. I always aim to answer enquiries as soon as possible, so hearing back from our users about the swiftness of my response and the quality of the level of service I have provided is also a great motivator for me.

How did you end up in this job?

After finishing my postgraduate course in Archives and Records Management, I immediately began to look for available positions in archives. Whilst applying for paid roles I thought it pertinent to stay involved in archival work as a volunteer. I decided to contact the Linnean Society after walking past Burlington House one day and I heard back from the archivist immediately, as they were looking for a volunteer to catalogue some of their collections. After becoming a volunteer and gaining familiarity with the collections a position was offered to me, which I gratefully accepted.

What is your favourite species?

Merian’s Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium

As a child I’ve always had a bit of a fascination with insects and the Linnean Society certainly does not disappoint with its collections of drawings and specimens of spiders, beetles and stick insects in the collections store. There are some great drawings in Merian’s Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium, which we always like to get out for displays.

What is the most interesting item to you in the Linnean Society collections?

Peter Collinson
Peter Collinson, illustrated in a book on Collinson by John Fothergill, 1770

Recently I’ve been working on cataloguing Peter Collinson’s Commonplace book [Ref: MS/323a & b]. Not only was Collinson an influential and well-connected botanist, but his book contains some fascinating letters and papers on various subjects in the natural world. Some highlights include descriptions of a red or ‘blood’ aurora in the sky and a scientific paper about rattlesnakes seemingly able to hypnotise/charm their prey.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Anything related to ancient Greece or Rome is of interest to me and I often visit the British Museum to see their exhibits. I also use my spare time to get better at cooking, go out for walks and runs, reading books on history and mythology and playing video games.