This week we had the latest of our Archive Ambassador training days. The day started well with an illuminating talk by Tim Edwards our Head Conservator entitled ‘Keeping paper clips at bay!’ which was a beginners guide to the preservation of archives. after a short break where the group seemed to do some useful networking and sharing of ideas and experiences we moved on to archivist Stuart Bridges who offered practical tips and advice on how to organise archive material and an introduction to accessioning and cataloguing collections. This took us to a well deserved lunch break which most enjoyed in the sunshine on the balcony or in the Record Office garden. Having recharged their batteries the group were keen to tackle digital archives with Heather Needham, Principal Archivist. The final session of the day a ‘Beginners guide to oral history’ was led by David Rymill, archivist who shared his extensive experience of oral history recording over the years including some hilarious stories about his experiences and the memories he had gathered. We also looked at the equipment needed to effectively record interviews. The response throughout the day from the group was very positive and all seemed to go away having learnt new knowledge and gained new ideas to feed into their projects and activities.
A repeat of the training day is scheduled for November, full details can be found at http://www3.hants.gov.uk/record-office/eventdetails-hro?id=241612. To book your place or for more information ring 01962 846154.
Last weeks visit to Bishops Waltham Museum to view their D-Day exhibition was a great success. The display was very attractively done and included many fascinating memories from local people on this crucial period of the Second World War. There were also reproductions of a range of photographs, postcards, maps and other archives to help illustrate them. Having enjoyed the display I came away with the hours of oral history recordings collected as part of the project to be deposited in Wessex Film and Sound Archive. All have been transcribed and in time will be catalogued and made available to researchers in our searchroom. There was also a further deposit of sale particulars and plans connected to Austin and Wyatt, solicitors, estate agents and valuers of Bishops Waltham to be added to the Hampshire Archive and Local Studies collections (87A06).
This week I am visiting the Friends of St Marks churchyard in Gosport to discuss the organisation and potential future deposit of material. The group has been operating since 2003 to bring the once derelict churchyard back to life. In the process they have apparently uncovered large amounts of documents and information about St Marks and those who are buried there. They are keen to gather all this information together in electronic form possibly on a CD-Rom which hopefully we will get a copy of for deposit in the Record Office. I look forward to finding out more.
Coming up next week we have the latest of our Archive Ambassador training days. For those unfamiliar with these events, they include sessions on cataloguing archive collections, the conservation and preservation of archives, digital archives and oral history recording. By signing up you also receive a handbook which includes further information on more specialist areas such as copyright issues, the preservation of film and sound archive material and exhibitions.
Our hope is that by training up individuals from across the county in the best practices of archival care not only will this help with specific projects that the individual might be working on such as caring for a village, society or personal archive collection but they can also act as an ambassador in their local community passing on this knowledge to others, encouraging people to deposit records with Hampshire Record Office if appropriate and making sure that any records kept locally are looked after appropriately to ensure their long term preservation.
The events have proved very popular and next weeks training day has been booked up for some time but there is a further date on Wednesday 19 November, 10am-3.30pm.
To book a place contact us on 01962 846154. The charge is £18 per person.
Hampshire Record Office
Having been unable to attend the grand opening back in June, this week I am finally going to get the opportunity to see the D-Day 70th Anniversary exhibition at Bishop’s Waltham Museum. The display focuses on the villages involvement in this crucial moment of the Second World War. Also during my visit I will be collecting for deposit in the Wessex Film and Sound Archive, copies of over forty oral history recordings of local people’s memories, produced by the Museum volunteers as part of the project.
Regular followers of the blog may recall we have worked on a number of activities with Bishop’s Waltham Museum over the years covering a variety of themes including an ongoing project to research all the buildings in the local area. We haven’t been directly involved in their D-Day project but we did help introduce them to the D-Day Museum in Portsmouth who provided funding as part of a Heritage Lottery Fund bid. Also I know volunteers from the Museum have been regular visitors to the Hampshire Archives and Local Studies searchroom and so it will be fascinating to see the sources they have discovered and used. The free exhibition is open to the public 2-4pm on Saturdays and Sundays until 21 September 2014. Once received the oral history recordings will soon be catalogued and made available to researchers in our searchroom (http://www3.hants.gov.uk/wfsa/wfsa-catalog.htm).
Mark Pitchforth, archivist
Hampshire Record Office
Hampshire Archives and Local Studies is taking part in the Soldiers’ Journey art project which invites you to remember all those affected by war by writing their name on a recreated First World War identity tag and posting it in one of the Soldiers’ Journey boxes found at various locations across the county including the Hampshire Archives and Local Studies searchroom. Tags from across Hampshire will become part of an artwork by artist Susie MacMurray in the Great Hall, Winchester, to be on show Feb-Mar 2015. It will be an aerial display suspended from the Great Hall’s roof, hovering above drifts of the discs representing the identity tags of fallen soldiers. For more information e-mail email@example.com or go to http://www3.hants.gov.uk/1914/1914-about.htm.
This week the Chairman of Hampshire County Council hosted a Hampshire Commemorates exhibition in the Great Hall in Winchester showcasing historic materials from Hampshire County Council and other partners to mark the centenary of the First World War and provide a taster of some of the exhibitions and information available across the county. The display included exhibition panels produced by Hampshire Archives and Local Studies showing photographs and documents taken from our collections.
To discover more about the First World War related archives we hold go to http://www3.hants.gov.uk/archives/hals-collections/ww1.htm, access our catalogue at http://www3.hants.gov.uk/archives/catalog.htm, visit our designated Facebook page Voices of the First World War or come in to our searchroom and speak to staff who will be happy to help.
Over the last few days the Hampshire Archives and Local Studies Facebook page, created as part of our work to commemorate the centenary of the First World War, has included some fascinating postings. By exploring our archive collections including diaries, letters, photographs and other historical material from the period the page Voices of the First World War, is attempting to tell the story of this momentous event through the eyes of local people. So far we have had extracts from the diary of Miss Sidney Margaret Courtney of Winchester who was in Switzerland in the run up to the outbreak of war and from ‘The War Chronicles’, a special war diary kept by Lady Laura Ridding. There’s also been copies of correspondence between Sir Edward Grey, Foreign Secretary (who had links to Hampshire, see this weeks lecture) and Sir Edward Goschen, British Ambassador to Berlin regarding the growing European crisis. Images have included a postcard received by Blanche Bellairs of Winchester from her brother Charlie, while he was serving in the First World War with the 21 Battalion Canadian Regiment, a photograph of the Volunteer Brigade of the Hampshire Regiment marching down Winchester High Street and press cuttings from the Hampshire Chronicle and Daily Graphic.
There’s lots more to come and if you have an interest in the history of the First World War on a local level it would be really worthwhile keeping an eye on our timeline. You also have the opportunity to post your own material and comments. For example one person recently posted a fabulous family photograph of his grandfather and grandmother with their four sons all in uniform from just after the end of the war. Go to https://www.facebook.com/VoicesWW1 to find out more.
The Portsmouth History Fair last week was an enjoyable and interesting event. It was well attended by members of the public, mostly from the city but there were also a decent number from across Hampshire. Many colleagues from local museums, libraries, societies and archives were also present making it a great chance to network and forge new links. Areas of interest varied from general family and local history to more specific enquiries about railway records, First World War research, historic film material and house history. Some were just starting out and needed reassurance on how to begin, others were much further down the line, had hit a brick wall and were looking for new suggestions to try. By being there I was able to give advice, direct people to our website, encourage them to visit our searchroom or pass on suggestions of other useful contacts for them to try. Many people were drawn in by a selection of Wessex Film and Sound Archive film clips which I had taken with me, along with our usual banner display and leaflets about our services, facilities and collections. The event as a whole seemed to be a great success and hopefully we will be able to take part again next year.
Coming up this week I will be hosting an evening visit to the Record Office by the Basingstoke HGS (Hampshire Genealogical Society). They will be able to see first hand how the archive works, get a feel for the layout of the building and get up close and personal with some original material including maps, plans, photographs and other useful sources. Evening visits of this kind are particularly good for banishing any apprehension first time visitors might have about using Hampshire Record Office and hopefully instilling them with the confidence to make maximum use of our collections, facilities and services in the future.
Coming up in two weeks time Swanmore Village Archive, a group which we have worked with a great deal over the last few years is launching a local First World War exhibition to commemorate the centenary of the start of the conflict and those from the village who were involved. The project was made possible in part by Hampshire County Council funding and the Record Office has loaned the group equipment which will hopefully help make the event a success. It is free admission on Saturday 2 August, 10am-5pm and Sunday 3 August, 11am-5pm in the Paterson Centre, Swanmore.
Mark Pitchforth, archivist
Hampshire Record Office