ARA Remembers Cynthia Short (neé Hill)

Obituary: The ARA remembers Cynthia Short, a staunch supporter of women’seducation, effective advocate for the archives and records profession andlong-standing, committed volunteer for the Society of Archivists.

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ARA Remembers Cynthia Short (neé Hill)

18 December 2018

Cynthia Hill was born on 25 April 1926 at Harrow, Greater London, the daughter of Stuart and Dorothy Hill. After graduating in modern history from St Hugh's College, Oxford, she took a new post-graduate diploma in the study of records and the administration of archives at the University of Liverpool.

Between 1948 and 1974 Cynthia worked first as archivist at the University of Glasgow and then as assistant archivist at Sheffield Central Library. In 1974 she was appointed head archivist to the newly created South Yorkshire County Council; this involved setting up a new county record office with storage facilities and a conservation unit to the standards required by the then BS5454, arranging for the receipt of the records of superseded authorities and encouraging the deposit of archives from individuals, institutions and businesses in the county.

Cynthia joined the Society of Archivists (SoA) – an ARA predecessor body - in 1974 and always took an active role. She represented the northern region on the SoA Council from January 1978 and was soon recognised as a very useful person to have on board. She was nominated to become Honorary Secretary at the meeting of 13 September 1979 and continued in this position until her retirement in 1986. I was already Assistant Secretary at the Society around this time and worked with Cynthia until I stood down in 1984.

As Hon. Secretary, Cynthia was particularly involved in lobbying government on professional archival issues, especially in trying to preserve the archives and records of the English metropolitan counties in the run-up to their abolition in 1986. She also took a leading part in developing the Society’s involvement in the training of archivists, both in setting up its own diploma in archive administration and in the inspection and accreditation of the then five post-graduate university-based training courses.

When Cynthia retired in 1986, she was elected as an honorary member of the Society and subsequently as a vice president for life. In 1993, she was appointed to the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts for a five-year term.

Cynthia married Pat Short in 1951 and they had two children, Richard and Edwina. She was always close to her family, celebrating her Golden Wedding just two years before Pat died. As a staunch supporter of women's education, Cynthia was a committed member of the British Federation of Women Graduates. After retiring, she gained a Diploma in Archaeology and became a skilled quilter, making several cot quilts for babies born in prison.

Cynthia died peacefully at home on 28 August 2018, aged 92. She is survived by her two children, two grandsons, Elliot and Joseph, and her two sisters, Sheila and Brenda and will be greatly missed by all her family and friends.

Kate Thompson