One of our volunteers sent this lovely feedback….

I’m everyone’s volunteer. In normal times I would be dashing between Gloucester Cathedral, Berkeley Castle, Cheltenham College, Cobalt and of course Gloucestershire Archives. I like to use my brain to do something potentially useful, I like learning new things, meeting people with the same interests and chatting to fellow volunteers, friends I have made over the years. All that stopped with lockdown.

John Humphris’ probate inventory, 1690, mentioning the hogs (see below)
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Cataloguing the Stanley Gardiner photographic collection: the volunteers’ story (by Camilla Boon and Roger Carnt).

Sitting in fourteen boxes in a refrigerated strong room at Gloucestershire Archives, Stanley Gardiner’s collection of over 5,500 old images of views, events and people in and around Stroud’s Five Valleys  was an obvious goldmine for anyone interested in local history. The problem was that the collection was uncatalogued. The wrong choice of box number might bring you traction engines, not images of Rodborough, and heaven help you if you were just hoping for something on Edwardian farming!

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How to preserve your family or community archive: the Covid-19 lockdown blogs. Blog CM #4

  • Want to learn more about data protection?
  • Need to understand how it relates to your community collection?

In blog CM #2, we noted that the process of ‘accessioning” new material into your collection presents an ideal opportunity to consider whether the records you are offered present any issues in terms of copyright and access. We’ve looked in more detail at copyright (blog CM #3).  Now we’ll take a closer look at access- in particular the requirements of the Data Protection Act and “GDPR”.

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How to preserve your family or community archive: the Covid-19 lockdown blogs. Blog DP #1

  • Are all your treasured family photos digital?
  • Does your community archive include CDs and scans?

Digital documents can be easily shared and copied, and take up no physical space.  But the very characteristics which make them so convenient also present us with risks and challenges.  There is no single, magic bullet solution which can protect your digital material or ensure it will last for decades.  But the good news is that there some simple, low tech, no/low cost steps you can take to manage and minimise the risks.

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How to preserve your family or community archive: the Covid-19 lockdown blogs. Blog CM #3

  • Need to learn more about copyright?
  • Want to understand how it relates to your collection?

In blog CM #2, we looked at how best to deal with new additions to your collection.  We noted that the process of ‘accessioning” presents an ideal opportunity to discuss, agree and record permissions on matters such as copyright and access. Let’s now take a closer look at the first of these issues- copyright-to understand why it is important. Continue reading

How to preserve your family or community archive: the Collection Care Covid-19 lockdown blogs. Blog CC #11

  • Want to know how to protect books and volumes in storage?
  • Unsure of the best option for protective enclosures?

Today we will focus on books in storage (rather than books for display or standing on a shelf-more in a later blog).  As you’ll know from previous blogs,  there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ answer!  But here are some of the solutions we have used.

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How to preserve your family or community archive: the Collection Care Covid-19 lockdown blogs:   Blog OH #1

Do you remember when….?

  • Short of conversation when phoning elderly relatives in lockdown?
  • Want to capture family stories for future generations?
  • Know someone who witnessed significant local events?

One activity that households self-isolating together could do together is to chat to each other about their memories.  Our memories are unique.  Even if a group of us have witnessed the same event, all of us will remember it in a different way.  Sharing memories across generations is a particularly powerful way of both inspiring younger people, and confirming to the elderly that their lives have value and are important.

Dr Ollie Taylor recording the memories of Brian Mince, photographer for Fielding & Platt, 1952-74

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Tracking the owners of land in 1873

On a shelf in the Frith Room at the Heritage Hub are two large, fat, blue-bound tomes labelled ‘Return of owners of land 1873’.  They tell us that the Returns were ‘Presented to Both Houses of Parliament by Command of Her Majesty’ and were printed in 1875. The first volume contained English counties from Bedford to Norfolk (so included Gloucestershire) and the second Northampton to Yorkshire West Riding, also the Welsh counties. London was not included. The information was arranged in two sets of seven columns on each page. They record the surname of the owner in alphabetical order in each county, followed by christian name(s) and title, the address of the owner, the amount of land owned in acres, roods and perches, and the value in pounds and shillings. Nearly a million names were listed, 37,705 in Gloucestershire.

You have to admire the compositors of the time who set up the type, back to front in the ‘forms’ which could then be inked and printed. You have also to admire the clerks in the Civil Service who coped with the varieties of hand-writing on the returns from each Poor Law Union in the country, as were the returns transcribed by a willing and persevering band of volunteers for Lloyd George’s attempt to tax the increasing value of land. The Unions were the effective local governments of the time. Jean Gibbons has searched for some of the mysterious addresses in 1873. ‘Rhirdeville’ –  nothing else said –  was Rhodeville in Leckhampton. Other house names, too, were given without stating the place.

Owners of land did not necessarily live where they owned land. Ninety-five people lived in Cheltenham, and owned land  in Gloucestershire varying from 1 acre to nearly 2,000 acres; Richard R C Rogers owned nearly 3,000 acres. Thirty-six people lived in Bath. The really big land-owners, like Lord Fitzharding at Berkeley Castle (18,264 acres ) or Lord Sherborne at Sherborne Lodge (15,773) owned land in many other places. 

At present we are transcribing those owning 10 acres or more: 3,281 names.

by Anthea Jones, Gloucestershire Archives researcher

How to preserve your family or community archive: the Collection Care Covid-19 lockdown blogs. Blog CC #10

  • Wondering how to protect larger items?
  • Want to know the best option for something that won’t fit in a box or drawer?

Today we will look at ‘outsize’ items – in other words, items too big to fit into ‘off the peg’ enclosures. You could choose to keep them flat, or roll them, but it’s important to avoid folding them or altering them in any way (don’t be tempted to chop edges off!).

Just to re-cap, you’ll know from our earlier blogs on protective enclosures that:

  • there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution
  • you need to use archival quality materials (blogs CC #5 & CC #8)
  • there are key rules and other factors to consider (blog CC #8)

Now let’s look at some case studies which show a range of solutions which we have used.  Continue reading

How to preserve your family or community archive: the Covid-19 lockdown blogs. Blog CM #2

  • Want to know how to deal with new additions to your collection?
  • Can’t remember where those old family letters came from?

In our blog CM #1 we talked about the importance of finding out and recording the “provenance”, or back story, of the documents in your collection. The best time to do this is when items are transferred into your care, or “accessioned”- the term we use for the formal process of transferring physical, legal and intellectual control of material.  Accessioning is an important step in building a collection and helps protect against the threat of dissociation (see blogs CM #1 & CC #4). So let’s look more closely at what it involves. Continue reading