Not quite Sports Personality perhaps, but there’s been so much happening and so many achievements this year, that it’s worth a quick look back now before we move too far into 2019.
Due to problems with our contractors, our building work isn’t quite complete, but our shiny new public area is, by universal agreement, a huge improvement on what went before. It was good to leave behind our temporary research rooms at the end of March and to introduce improved opening hours including the first Saturday of each month. We’re particularly pleased to co-locate with our friends from Gloucestershire Family History Society, so the Heritage Hub really does feel like a partnership space now.
We have around 75 active archive volunteers at the moment, whose support we greatly appreciate. There are too many projects to list all individually but, solely as a result of their efforts, over 90,000 document descriptions have been added to our online database. The Collections Care volunteers have just finished a 3 year project to re-box the Port of Gloucester crew lists (D3080, 1860-1913), providing greater protection for the documents, and uncovering tales of shipwrecks, mutinies and desertions along the way! This supplements the creation of a database of the Port registers of ships volumes (D4292, 1824-1855).
Among other volunteer projects ongoing or completed during 2018 are these:
- Diocesan Court records (GDR/127, GDR/148, and GDR/79) and Gloucester Borough Coroner records (GBR/G2/1).
- WWI Military Tribunals (D1578/8/3/1 and D1340/C3/Z1), Dursley Rural District Council WW1 Registers of Arrivals and Departures (DA26/226/1 and 2) and Cheltenham Borough Council Surveyor records (CBR/C5/6 and 7).
- listing plans and maps of green spaces and parks across Cheltenham (DC137).
Thanks to external funding from the City Council and elsewhere, several city charters have been re-homed for better protection into tailor-made boxes which are display-ready. They were exhibited at an event during Gloucester History Festival, one of 21 occasions over the fortnight of the Festival that the Hub either hosted or contributed staff time to the preparation and delivery of events. Chief among these was our first Hub Open Day, which attracted 426 visitors during a truly buzzing and uplifting day.
Our partnership project to list and make accessible the Dowty collection goes from strength to strength, with a rapidly developing website (https://www.dowtyheritage.org.uk/) and the equivalent of over 500 boxes packaged and listed. The EVOKE reminiscence project launched in February and we have delivered 49 sessions for older people in libraries, memory cafes and care homes in Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire. The Gloucestershire material on the Know Your Place prize-winning website continues to expand, and we’ve worked in partnership with Cheltenham Local History Society to add new layers on the site for World War 1 and Women’s Suffrage.
The Archives service has received some external recognition this year. We were successful in our bid for Archives re-Accreditation. This means that, in the view of our peers, we achieve the UK standard for Archive repositories, both in caring for our collections, and in making them accessible. Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) has also awarded us a Highly Commended rating in the Collaboration category of GCC’s Transformation and Change Good Practice Awards 2018. We were delighted with this as collaboration is at the heart of Gloucestershire Heritage Hub.
Ally McConnell, our Dowty Heritage project Archivist, was one of only 8 archivists in the UK to be nominated as the Archives & Records Association (ARA) New Professional of the Year. The award recognizes early career achievements and celebrates the valuable contribution that new professionals make to the record keeping professions, both at a local and national level. Two other Archivists, Helen Bartlett and Karen Davidson, were recognized in the National Archives’ A Year in Archives
publication for their work over 18 months in sorting and listing the County Council’s education files, valuable work which will make it easier for GCC to react promptly if any safeguarding issues are raised in the future. With colleagues from 11 local authorities across the south of England we have been successful in obtaining National Archives’ funding to enhance our digital preservation capabilities.
We’re delighted to have developed our social media presence to have over 600 followers to our Facebook account. Why don’t you join them at @GlosHeritageHub or on Twitter at the same address?
In September 2018, Kate Maisey and Clive Andrews (Chairman of our Friends organisation) attended an event in London to celebrate the inscription of an African slave song held amongst the papers of anti-slavery campaigner Granville Sharp on the Unesco Memory of the World register. You can hear a choir singing the song by following this link.
Overall, a truly vibrant year. Here’s hoping for more in 2019! Have a great year to you all.