Special Edition 9 April 2020 Staffordshire Archives & Heritage Update

Staffordshire Archives and Heritage

Welcome to this special edition of the Staffordshire Archives and Heritage newsletter.

At this difficult time we wanted to keep you in touch with what the Archives and Heritage Service is doing. Staff and volunteers are working hard from their new desks at home to keep projects going and to support vulnerable individuals and communities across Staffordshire wherever we can. Find out more below.  



Staying in Touch with our Volunteers

We have been working hard to stay in touch with our volunteers. Archives and heritage volunteers have been given free access to Findmypast and we hope to set up a learning blog in the near future, so watch this space. We managed to get copies of some things to some of our volunteers to work on before we closed the offices but were not able to do this for everyone.

The museum team have four volunteers undertaking remote work for us at the moment. One is researching local history to add content to the Pasttrack website. Our regular Pasttrack volunteer has access to Recall at home and is researching and uploading new resources. Our other two volunteers will be working on transcribing some oral history interviews from the collections.

The Bawdy Courts volunteers are continuing to work on scanned cases from home with Rebecca providing remote assistance to them. They transcribe the cases and then write a blog entry about the case. The Keele group was supporting cataloguing work, so sadly that has had to come to a halt. However, 3 Keele students have offered to do small research projects at home as and when they can. This is a call out to the Tuesday Faculty Group. The brilliant work they are doing for the Bawdy Courts project is on hold but we have a faculty project we need help with, which you can do from home if you have internet access. If any of you are interested, please contact Anita for further details.

The Asylum Project volunteers have had to put populating of spreadsheets with hospital admission data on hold. However, many of them are continuing with the project by investigating the life stories and backgrounds of some of the patients admitted to Staffordshire’s asylums in the late 1800s and early 1900s, using online tools such as Findmypast. The cases we have looked at so far illustrate various aspects of Victorian and Edwardian society. Amongst the patients we hope to investigate are those with interesting occupations, a family history of mental illness, and also any who appear to have a criminal background, or those with notes alongside their records which suggest an interesting story.

The Staffordshire volunteers for the Small Bills project have the opportunity to continue to work from home. Digital photographs taken of overseers' vouchers for Lichfield St Mary have been uploaded to the project data-capture website, and the images can be rotated, magnified, or otherwise manipulated to achieve a clear reading of the contents. And of course Alannah and Pete are still able to respond to queries by email, so any tricky images can still be shared and discussed! Blogging can continue as usual, as a much-needed distraction.

Work on the Wills Indexing Project continues as our volunteer has offered to type up anything that we need doing whilst also contributing to the online Rainfall Rescue Project (Met Office Archives).

The Bradford volunteers had a few scanned images to work from but that is now running out. However, they are catching up with typing up their findings from previous work at SRO including work on 19th century household accounts and the early 20th century family diaries. The volunteers will be writing articles for 'Monty’s News', the Weston Park newsletter, so that their findings can be used by staff and volunteers. In the meantime, staff are using their work to improve the online catalogue and make the Bradford Collection more accessible.

In a feat of perfect timing, Jim Sutton completed the last Latin indictment in the Quarter Sessions rolls 2 weeks before the lockdown! As readers will know Jim has been working on this immense task since 2016. It is a tremendous achievement and will make access to these documents possible for those without knowledge of Latin. Jim is now compiling an index of the indictments for the Staffordshire Name Indexes website – so plenty still to do. We wish Jim success with the new project.

Type writer and tea cup

Staff are Working from Home and Supporting our Communities 

Here is a quick update to let you all know what we have been up to over the last couple of rather challenging weeks.

All staff vacated our buildings on 24 March after we had closed the Service on 23 March (Stoke had closed the previous week). In terms of the wider coronavirus response 18 out of 23 staff within the SCC part of our team have volunteered to help with the County Councils support for people across the County and the City. Colleagues are helping with a number of essential tasks:

Food Distribution Hubs: These have been established to receive food to be distributed to the extremely vulnerable groups who cannot get out. Staff are supporting Hubs at Stafford, Newcastle, South Staffs and Tamworth.

Call Centre & Phone Calls: A voluntary call centre has been established to deal with requests for support from the contact centre.

Volunteer Shopping: Staff with purchase cards are helping with shopping and delivering essentials for the extremely vulnerable.

When not engaged on these activities staff are working on a variety of projects. We are still trying to respond to enquiries and work on funded projects. Social media as well as Staffordshire Pasttrack continues. We are working on improving our online catalogues and indexing work. Work continues on our NLHF bid and as you may well imaging we have a lot of end of year tasks to complete. We are also carrying out building, security and environmental checks to ensure our collections stay safe.

Staffordshire Libraries News

Libraries Update

Libraries may be closed due to coronavirus, but they still have a lot to offer.

We all know how valuable reading can be for our health and wellbeing and to help us all Staffordshire Libraries are offering access to a range of FREE online resources and newspapers & also an eLibrary with a wealth of eBooks, eAudio & eMagazines to choose from. If you are not already a member you can easily join online here.

Libraries are also staying active on social media, keeping us all up to date with news and information from the world of books and culture as well as sharing what authors, publishers and others are doing to keep us informed and entertained.

You can follow them on Facebook (search for @StaffordshireLibraries) and Twitter at @StaffsLibraries

Staffordshire Libraries Logo

Staffordshire Day 2020 - Online!

Staffordshire’s community spirit will take centre stage for this year’s Staffordshire Day, which is still set to go ahead on Friday 1st May despite the global Coronavirus pandemic.
The event will be online-only, with a series of activities live-streamed and broadcast on social media, reflecting the restrictions placed on travel and mass gatherings to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Organisers Enjoy Staffordshire, with the support of Staffordshire County Council and other local authority partners, have decided to use Staffordshire Day to help bring communities together, and provide a morale boost while the country remains on lockdown.

Instead of the celebrations of previous years, which featured special events, offers and competitions, the 2020 Staffordshire Day will see a combination of live performances, talks and demonstrations, and classes to get involved with from your living room. Enjoy Staffordshire is encouraging anyone who would like to showcase their skills and entertain the county to come forward by emailing their details to info@enjoystaffordshire.com.

Mark Winnington, Cabinet Member responsible for tourism at Staffordshire County Council and Vice Chair of Destination Staffordshire said: “We all know what a wonderful county Staffordshire is and what truly amazing people we have here, and this is our chance to tell the world. This will be our fifth Staffordshire Day but because of Coronavirus, it will be very different and why we’re taking our activities online and on social media. They’ll include live music performances and poetry readings, history talks, quizzes, and as in previous years, our mug shot campaign." 
“As well as showing off the pride we all have in our county as we’ve done on previous days, this year we’ll also be recognising our amazing community spirit. This includes promoting the resilience and kindness of local people, organisations and businesses, all making a real difference to people’s lives during the crisis. I want everyone to join in, share the posts and show everyone how proud we all are of our great county and wonderful people.”

Last year, over 30,000 people attended Staffordshire Day events, and there were more than 5,700 tweets using #StaffordshireDay, with the hashtag trending nationally for the whole day. The date, decided by a public vote in 2015, is the anniversary of Josiah Wedgwood setting up his world-famous Staffordshire pottery company in 1759. Further details of this year’s Staffordshire Day programme can be found here.  

Our aim is to keep you updated with the latest developments and events. If you do not wish to receive this newsletter please use the 'unsubscribe' button at the bottom of this page. 

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