#WhoIsAdolpho

As part of the DAP Project, ITMA is creating authority records for the performers and contributors who feature in the non-commercial sound and video collections. Fionnuala Parfrey shares some interesting behind-the-scenes observations.

This undertaking involves exporting the personal names from the ‘People’ field in the original Soutron catalogue records, eliminating duplicates and variations, and establishing a corresponding ‘Authorized form of name’. These will eventually be parsed back into the ‘Name Access Points’ field in AtoM, the new online access platform.  
In the DAP Project data set, I am working with over 3,000 name access points. Today I started looking at the exported list of names and one of the first irregularities to jump out at me was the mononym, Adolpho. A quick search in the ITMA Soutron catalogue returned one video record, an ‘Old style Step, Sean-nós and Traditional Set Dancing Recital’ from the Willie Clancy Summer School in 2008. Adopho’s performance is credited as “Adolpho, Spain, dance”. After sharing this conundrum with my ITMA colleague, Róisín Conlon across the room, I put it down as a mystery and continued with the other names on the list. 


So who was the mysterious Adolpho? A man whose surname was too difficult to spell so the cataloguer decided to leave it out? A Spanish blow-in who wowed Miltown Malbay with his prowess on the dance floor? Like a dog with a bone Róisin Conlon went in search of the mysterious Miltown Adolpho.

Her first port of call was the ITMA Ephemera Collection to look at the printed programmes from previous Willie Clancy Summer Schools. She found the 2008 edition but alas no mention of a Spaniard named Adolpho. Undaunted she continued her hunt and bingo, eventually unearthed a video of the 'Old style Step, Sean-nós  and Traditional Set Dancing Recital' in the ITMA Field Recording Collection. The truth was about to be revealed.

Accordion player/dancer, the late Timmy ‘The Brit’ McCarthy, who introduced the 2008 performance in the video, explained, with a wink and a nudge, that due to a dearth of 'real men' in Clare that afternoon, they had to rely on a ‘Spanish fellow called Adolpho’ to complete the set. We'd advise looking a bit more closely at the photograph. We really admire the dancer’s commitment to the character, particularly 'her' moustache.  


So while Adolpho may not merit a legitimate authority record, a bit of tongue-in-cheek cataloguing is a nice way of reminding us that archivists are human, not machines. And it did give us a good laugh. 

But the question remains - who is the person behind the moustache? Answers on a postcard please.