May edition of the Staffordshire Archives & Heritage Update

Staffordshire Archives and Heritage
Teddy bear from Staffordshire Museum Collection, about 1914


Welcome to the May edition of the  Staffordshire Archives and Heritage Service e-newsletter. 

The museum team are selecting objects for the new touring exhibition, 'Through the Eyes of Child' which opens in July. This bear dates from about 1914 and is on the shortlist!

There has been plenty happening across the service this month including some new acquisitions for the Wiliam Salt Library. Find out more below. 


Criminal Quilts Project - Ruth Singer

Criminals on Tour 

Criminal Quilts is an arts and heritage project by artist Ruth Singer working with volunteers at Staffordshire Record Office. Ruth and the team of volunteers have been researching over 500 women who appear in photograph albums from Stafford Prison 1877-1916. Ruth is also creating an exhibition of textile artworks inspired by the research. Some of her previous work on the subject is on show at Staffordshire Record Office.

The research will be shared through a touring display at Staffordshire libraries throughout 2018 and in major textile exhibitions at the Festival of Quilts in August, at the Brewhouse Burton (September to October) and Wolverhampton University (November to January).

Ruth is writing a book about the research and textile work. This will be published in August. There is an opportunity to pre-order a copy from 1st June to 20th July at a special reduced price, including a free gift and the opportunity to have your name included in the book. For more information visit the Criminal Quilts website 

Start with the Story session at St Chads, Stafford
Images courtesy of Ray Johnson

Start with a story  . . . and ending with sand and laughter!

Storytelling was at the heart of a recent intergenerational project for people living with dementia and very young children. We worked with Tom England, a professional actor and storyteller to develop a session around the theme of Childhood, the focus of our upcoming touring exhibition. This session explored the idea of precious objects linked to childhood, their meanings and what we can learn from them.

The first session took place in a nursery with 3-4 year olds. They loved Tom’s performance and really engaged with the idea of objects as precious and important. They enjoyed unwrapping and handling museum objects to explore themes of holidays, school and toys. This was followed by a session with people living with dementia and carers. Participants were very engaged with Tom’s monologue and enjoyed exploring, often unexpected, themes through the objects. Halfway through the session we were joined by five children from the nursery. Bringing the two groups together had a fantastic impact on everyone. It was a lively, exciting and enjoyable experience involving a lot of play, laughter and sand!

This pilot project will help us to develop sessions for a range of groups using the museum handling collection and storytelling techniques. A fantastic additional outcome is the nursery and ward planning regular work together.

"The session was a bright and vibrant demonstration of intergenerational working and engagement. The children and adults really enjoyed themselves and it was heart-warming seeing how much the clients clearly gained from the story-telling and interactions." 
Trainee Clinical Psychologist

Place name volunteers at Lichfield Record Office

New Volunteers Get Their Names on the Map!  

Since the start of May a new volunteer group has been meeting in Lichfield busily trawling through glebe terriers to extract every place-name they can find to contribute towards the English Place-Name Society Survey of English Place-Names in Staffordshire Project. This project is run by the Institute of Name Studies and the English Place-Name Society (based at Nottingham University). The group are trying out a new way of working for the Archive Service by entering their data straight onto a website. They have already added over 250 names. This has the great benefit of the volunteers being able to plot the place-names onto a map, allowing them to see if the place-names have survived into modern times and how much (or little they have changed). 

LD126 Map showing Minster Pool, Lichfield

Lichfield Collections

An important and interesting collection is that of the Lichfield Conduit Trust (LD126). Water had to be piped into the City from an early date. The oldest document in the collection is a survey of lands mainly around Lichfield, Norton Canes and Wigginton, c.1476. The Trust itself was established in the 16th century. The spring near Aldershaw just outside the City was granted in 1550. An attractive map of 1721 shows Trust lands around Norton Canes. A detailed plan of 1766 by John Snape shows four Conduits for supplying soft water from the Conduit Heads at Aldershaw. The two pools, Minster Pool and Stowe Pool, are connected to the piped water system.

New additions to the William Salt Library

New Additions at William Salt Library

The majority of the annual book order has now arrived at the Library.  This year’s purchases include books relating to speedway, football, folklore, hand-bell ringing, the Minnie Pit disaster of 1918, West Midlands Dialect, pottery, brewing, the Newcastle workhouse and railways including one on the Hixon rail crash of 1968,.

In addition a number of books relate to the First World War including books on the Zeppelin raids over the Midlands in 1916 and Handsworth born Charles Landers’ war diary.  There is also an intriguing book detailing a new theory on the failure of the Battle of the Somme, entitled ‘Somme Into the Breach’, which asks whether a North Staffordshire soldier gave up crucial secrets to the Germans in the lead up to the battle led to the failure of the offensive. For more information on the Wiliam Salt Library Collection contact Dominic Farr, Assistant Librarian.

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