Staffordshire Archives & Heritage Update 26 November 2020

Staffordshire Archives and Heritage
Monopoly game cards

Playing cards from our wartime edition of Monopoly

Welcome to the Staffordshire Archives and Heritage Service Newsletter.

This time we explore the delights of playing Monopoly and take a look at the history of this popular game. Project work continues apace behind the currently closed front doors of the Record Office - read more about the Small Bills work below. And we meet another member of the Archives and Heritage team. 


Ongoing Project Work during Lockdown

Small Bills in Second Lockdown: Project Update

The Small Bills project continues to examine the receipts and vouchers generated under the parish poor law.  Up to 5 November, volunteers across all three counties including Staffordshire were making use of archives’ reopening, to collect data and fill out information on people who have cropped up in our research.  Following up on the vouchers of Hamstall Ridware, for example, we discovered that it was one of the few parishes which appointed a female overseer.  Mrs Sarah Ryley filled the post for at least half a year in 1787 on behalf of Cotterill’s Farm.  Women did not often take on the task of overseer of the poor, but sometimes did so when the parish office was taken in turns by different rate-paying properties.

With the resumption of lockdown we continue to meet virtually, and make additions to our project blog.  See for some surprising news that could be subtitled ‘saunas for paupers’!

Stop Press: the project has received extension funding, to enable us to continue our work until the end of October 2021. 

From the Collections

Monopoly Board Game from the collection, wartime edition 1940s

A wartime edition of Monopoly (2002.004.0001)

Game On!

As the winter nights are drawing in and we all have nowhere to go at the moment, maybe a games night is in order? Have you been playing board games with the family or taking part in a virtual quiz? We have been looking through the museum collections to see how we can join in and for the next few weeks we thought we could share some of our games with you. Perhaps some will be familiar, others less so.

We’ll start with a classic, Monopoly! Originally derived from an American game called The Landlord’s Game created by Lizzie Magie in 1903 it made its way over to the UK in the 1930’s where it was produced by Waddingtons. Ours is a wartime version bought by Eric Slater for his son Ian in the 1940’s. The property cards, counters and chance and community chest cards were kept in a 'La Diadema' Jamaica cigar box.

There were a few small differences between the standard Monopoly and the wartime edition. The metal pieces were replaced by cardboard illustrations set in wooden blocks and the dice were replaced by a cardboard spinner.  John Waddington Ltd included an explanation of the changes on a leaflet included with the game which stated "We have, however, turned out the best possible game under restrictive conditions, and we hope you will obtain from the game the amusement and pleasure you did from your peace time Monopoly". 

Amazingly during this period, Waddingtons were encouraged by the Secret Service to include maps, money, compasses and files hidden in games to send out from fake POW relief charities to soldiers in POW camps.

Monopoly continues to be a popular game, licensed in over 100 countries and available in many different editions. Is it a game that your family enjoys? Does it bring you together or does it cause arguments? Does it go on forever? 

Meet the Team

Ben dressed as Henry VIII

This week we meet Archive Assistant Ben Cunliffe who enjoys channeling his inner Henry VIII. 

What does your role involve?
Dealing with all aspects of delivering the public service side of the archives, including reprographics and producing documents from the strong rooms; also contributing to social media and work on publications and exhibitions.

When did you start working with the Archives and Heritage Service? 

April 2005, having previously worked at Soho House, Matthew Boulton’s old home in Birmingham.

What made you choose this career?   

I had previously worked in museums and education, as well as a lifelong interest in history.

What is your favourite object or document or photograph from the collection?

There’s a lot to choose from, but I would probably say William Littleton’s photograph album (D1121/P/6/9) which is a unique record of his time in South Africa and his involvement in the Zulu War of 1879. However, I’m continuing to come across other outstanding material, such as a handwritten poem by 18th century African-American poet Phillis Wheatley and possibly the only sketch of a rhino drawn by artist Sir Edwin Landseer.

What is your most memorable moment about working for the Service?

It’s hard to choose one, as there’ve been so many – probably giving an audio-visual presentation on the Littleton album or helping to set up our successful ‘Out of Darkness’ exhibition about Anglo-Saxon charters. And that’s not to mention the time an excited visitor came into the Reading Room and exclaimed that ‘Ken Barlow is at the William Salt Library!’

Away from work, do you have a hidden talent or special skill?

I have a pretty wide range of interests outside of work, maybe I’ll say video-making?

And the winner is . . .

Dolls House

Dolls house dating from the late 19th century (68.088.0001)

In the last edition we asked if you could help us to decide on a theme for a new online exhibition. Thank you to all of those who responded. It was extremely close but the theme of 'the home' just edged over the line. As it was such a close result the Exhibitions Team will now be starting to think about this in more detail and how we can introduce some intergenerational elements to the project. We will keep you posted! 

The Learning Room Header image - desks in a library setting

The Learning Room

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