As part of our work on the County Council’s archive, my colleague Helen and I have spent the last couple of years cataloguing social care and education records relating to the safeguarding of children. We are delighted to report that our work has been featured in the National Archives’ latest annual review – here is what it says:
“Gloucestershire Archives have completed an 18-month project to appraise and catalogue the records of Gloucestershire County Council, focusing on records created by the Social Services and Education departments. The project developed against the national background of historic abuse enquiries, and the council seeking reassurance that they were responding appropriately to these investigations. Following a voluntary examination of the council’s record-keeping practices relating to the safeguarding of children and the handling of historic abuse allegations, Gloucestershire Archives was able to secure additional corporate funding towards cataloguing these records. Two of the service’s most experienced archivists worked in tandem on the project for 18 months, utilising their extensive experience of Gloucestershire’s corporate structure, and surveying over 5,000 files. Records relating to the care of children were prioritised and catalogued, while existing catalogue descriptions were enhanced, and new descriptions were created for previously uncatalogued material. This cataloguing framework can now be utilised across the council’s corporate record collections, allowing for future efficiency and accuracy when describing these records. Consistent closure periods were also established and applied across the collections. The project helped to establish exactly what Social Service and Education records have survived, and has highlighted gaps in collections. In the future, knowledge of these gaps will help to inform the ongoing development of collections. Because of the project, full catalogue descriptions are now available and comprehensive administrative histories compiled for institutions, organisations and services. This has enabled the council to demonstrate the extent of their historic administrative responsibilities, identifying those institutions that they were, and were not, responsible for in the past. Gloucestershire County Council now have a comprehensive and accurate resource that they can use effectively when responding to historic abuse enquiries.”
You can download the annual review from TNA’s website here.
This work has also enabled us to increase the material available for local and family historians, in particular anyone interested in Gloucestershire’s schools. While many of the records we have catalogued are closed because of Data Protection restrictions, lots of the files are open for research straight away.
You can see the catalogue descriptions we have been creating for the County Council’s safeguarding records here: reference GCC/SOC/2/3 (social care of children) and here: GCC/EDU (education). In each case, to view a browsable ‘tree’ structure, click on the FindingRef – you can then open and explore all the different branches of the catalogue, and click on individual items to see their full descriptions. You can order items which are open for research via the online catalogue and then make an appointment to look at them at Gloucestershire Archives.
Currently we are working on children’s social care and education records created by Gloucester Corporation during the period that Gloucester was a county borough and responsible for these services in its own right – these files go up to 1974, when local government reorganisation meant that the County Council took on responsibility for social care and education in Gloucester. This will be going live soon on our online catalogue, so keep an eye on the Gloucester Borough Records collection – sections GBR/L5 (social care) and GBR/L7 (education) will soon be looking a lot more populated than they are at the moment!
Once we have finished the city records, we will be returning to the County Council archive to tackle the non-safeguarding related social care and education records, and records of all the other functions that GCC performs, under headings including environment, community safety and legal.
Karen Davidson, Collections Management Archivist