Community Archives & Heritage Group
Conference - 27 June 2012
Report by Francis Howcutt
This meeting attracted some 140 participants, bringing together a wide range of people involved in the archives and heritage world. FFHS was represented by Marian French and me. As well as the formal presentations, the event allowed time for networking. This report focuses on the aspects that are likely to be of greatest interest to FFHS.
Dr Nick Barratt gave a thoughtful and inspiring presentation about the interplay of personal archives and personal heritage in the digital age. He stressed that family history research is not just a matter of recovering names and dates and constructing a lengthy ancestry chart. That is just the skeleton. More important is the flesh of understanding and expounding the stories of those who went before. Archives have a key role to play in discovering the background and context of past and present-day lives.
“Celebrity-led “Who Do You Think You Are” for under 18s”
Colin McFarlane was not able to attend, so this address was given by his colleague George Young.
The “Making History” project has clearly succeeded in introducing school students to the vision and reality of exploring their own family history and the stories that go with it. This involves full use of the sort of technology with which students are already familiar, challenging preconceptions and encouraging co-operation with parents and other family members. For some students, their discoveries about their identity and personal journey have stimulated interest in the longer-term potential of further education.
Further information can be seen at: http://www.making-history.org/
A total of 63 submissions were received for these awards. The winners for each category were as follows and all gave a presentation of their work:
Community Archive of the Year – The Heritage Centre of the village of Marden, Kent, which is run entirely by volunteers and has operated within the local library since 2008 and through its own website. The Centre has assembled and made available a wide range of artefacts and historical records relating to the village.
“Most Innovative” Community Archive - The Oughterard Heritage website that merges images from the past and the present to illustrate the changes in the local urban landscape of this small town in County Galway.
“Most Inspirational” Community Archive - The ‘Pride in our Past’ project uncovered and celebrated the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history of the City of Plymouth. The judges praised the way the project had ‘given a voice to often-ignored communities’.
“Most Impactful” Community Archive - The Planned Environment Therapy Trust undertook an oral history of residential therapeutic child care from 1930 to 1980, recognising that for many children and young people the loss, invisibility and inaccessibility of records about them translates into a corresponding lack of personal foundation and certainty. The judges praised this ‘very real project’ for the significant outcomes it had achieved.
“Best Online” Community Archive – The Oxhey website is run by volunteers and provides a forum for people to share and enjoy memories and photographs of Oxhey. The judges considered the website ‘shouted enthusiasm’ and urged all with an interest in presenting local history to ‘take a look’.
“Best New” Archive - The Chorley Heritage Centre Support Group runs a ’virtual heritage centre’ helping the community to ‘cheat the skip’ of local artefacts and ephemera, whilst publicising collections on the website. The judges said: ‘Volunteers had gone far and wide to talk to those who had stories to tell and those who could advise and give good advice. Progress had been excellent'.
“History is never antiquated”
Daphne Knott of Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies and Helen Tyler of the University of Hertfordshire gave a presentation to show what can be achieved when two organisations work together. They told of the importance of publishing the university student’s work to a suitable website. Use of newspaper archives and Court records from the Old Bailey were highlighted as areas useful to the research student.
They also promoted the De Havilland Project. Research into the aerospace company, which was a key employer in the county and whose former building now houses the University, is on-going.
The project was financed by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) – see these links:
“Digging Where We Stand”
Dr Andrew Flinn and Sarah Dhanjal, along with Emma Densham, a Hendon School alumna, enthused about a long-term project in which students carried out archaeology and related research about the history of the land occupied by their own school.
More details at: http://www.publicengagement.ac.uk/dig-where-we-stand
At the time of writing, the official draft minutes did not appear to be available online.
FFHS Archives Liaison
9 July 2012