Conservation UPDATE – Absent Voters Lists


We are pleased to announce the 1918 Absent Voters Lists have now been cleaned and digitised! Here’s how we did it…

Absent voters list before dismantling

Absent Voters list binding

The Chesterfield Division Absent Voters List was in particularly bad condition. First we had to take the whole thing apart, so that we could clean and digitise it safely, and prepare it for repairs.



The pages were crudely tied together with string in several places, which was causing damage to edges of the document. Paper clips had been used to attach additional sheets to the document, and had become rusty, causing staining and further damage.

Absent Voters list before cleaningtaking apart the register



We carefully removed the string and paper clips, and gently detached each individual page from the residue of old glue that was left from the degraded binding.


Each page was given a number so that the original order can be retained throughout the conservation process.



Once the list had been taken apart each individual page was cleaned on both sides using a drafting powder made from tiny pieces of eraser, cotton wool and a soft brush.

taking apart the registercleaning the pages


absent voters list after cleaning and dismantling

After cleaning and dismantling, each page was digitised using our scanner. The digital copies are available to consult here at the Record Office, and the originals are now ready to go the next stage of the conservation process – repairs.

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Conservation of WWI electoral rolls

With the anniversary of the start of World War I upon us, like many heritage institutions around the country, the Conservation Team at Derbyshire Record Office have been working to preserve and conserve documents from the first world war era. Particular priority has been given to those documents which will be used the most by the public, and at the moment we have decided to work on electoral registers from the period 1914-1919.

Electoral registers are useful for research as they provide a list of persons entitled to vote, usually including their full name, their residence, and the property on which they qualify to vote. Derbyshire Record Office holds electoral registers for Derbyshire between 1832-1999. Unfortunately some of these registers are in poor condition, particularly those for the war years. This is due to some previous damage by mould, and degradation of the very acidic paper used to create these large volumes. Some sections of the registers are deteriorating rapidly, as the paper has lost all its strength and is flaking away, and they are in need of urgent repair so that people can look at them safely.

Our collection includes registers from 1914-15 and 1918-19, as no registers for 1916 and 1917 were ever produced, perhaps for such reasons as saving money, time and effort during the war. By 1918 they needed to hold a general election in Britain, and as the Representation of the People Act 1918 was passed on 6 February (which extended the franchise to include women over 30 years of age) there was a specific requirement to update the electoral register.

Electoral Registers

damaged pages of register


We will also be carrying out conservation work on the registers of ‘Absent Voters’ from 1918. For the 1918 general election in Britain, anyone who was still overseas in the armed forces, or whose work was officially recognised as being connected with the war (St. John’s Ambulance brigade or British Red Cross) could vote by post or by proxy in their home constituency. Their names were added to a register of ‘Absent Voters’ or ‘Absent Voters List’. This included the full name of the person, their qualifying premises, and a description of their service, ship, regiment number, rank or rating.

absent voters list

absent voters list

As the election was held in the final year of conflict, most people who registered for an absent vote did survive the war, however, sadly some names do also appear on war memorials, and the registers do contain notes regarding those killed in action or missing.

As the Conservation Team continue with work on these registers we will update the Blog and keep you posted on our progress. The first task is to give them a clean and then make digital copies, which will be available to view by the public while conservation work is carried out.

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WW1 Centenary

One hundred years ago today, Britain declared war on Germany and entered a conflict which would claim millions of lives and affect millions more.

To mark the centenary, we have an exhibition – The Last Summer – which you can come and view in the Record Office reception area until Saturday 27th September.  Looking at Derbyshire people and places, pastimes and events during the summer of 1914, it documents our county during the last few months of peace.

Buxton 1914

The Broad Walk, Buxton, 1914

(Joseph) Arthur Hodgkiss  of Baslow

(Joseph) Arthur Hodgkiss of Baslow


This Thursday 7th August, we are also holding an event ‘Archives Aloud: Voices from the Front’ - using letters and diaries to bring to life the voices of those who served during the First World War.

Starting at 2pm, it is free to attend but you will need to book either by e-mail ( or phone (01629 538347).  You are welcome to bring your own family letters and stories to share with us too.



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Women leadminers

We like to bring you news of research discoveries as and when they happen; this discovery was made in our search room about two hours ago, by Matthew Pawelski. OK, actually, it’s not a discovery per se, having been published in various forms before (e.g. Lynn Willies’ article in the Bulletin of the Peak District Mines Historical Society). But let us not get bogged down in semantics. Instead, have a look at this extract from a 1737 reckoning book for the Miners Engine lead mine at Eyam Edge. The section shown is principally dedicated to recording payments made to individual “coppers”. Nothing to do with the police, and it’s usually spelled “copers”; it refers to the men who were extracting lead ore below ground. Above their names, you will spot a reference to “17 women’s wages”, coming to £6 16s. Assuming this was shared equally, that comes to 8s each, or 40p in new money).
D7676 BagC 382 account

Nearer the back of the same book, we can actually see the names of some of these women Continue reading

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Manorial Records talk update

A number of people have indicated that they were be able to attend the talk on Wednesday 9th July but have expressed an interest in obtaining notes about it. I am hoping that I will be able to put an edited version of the talk on our website, possibly with images of some of the manorial records I have chosen. This is likely to be a much less rambling and more coherent account than the actual talk given, so people who weren’t able to make it will probably have the better of the bargain.

I will be writing it up properly over the next few weeks, and once it gets past the censors, it will hopefully appear some time next month. Watch this space, as they say.

Neil Bettridge

Manorial Documents Register Project Officer for Derbyshire

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What do you think of our catalogue?

Hello everyone,

It’s been 18 weeks since we installed the new version of our catalogue.  That isn’t traditionally regarded as a significant anniversary, I know, but it’s probably long enough to allow for reflection on progress to date.  We would love to hear your opinions.  Is the new catalogue better than its predecessor?  What do you like about it, and what would you like to see changed?

  • Have you tried looking at some of the images that have been added to the catalogue?

(If not, now’s your chance – follow this link:*)

  • Do you like being able to read the lists that aren’t yet in the database?

(If you haven’t had the need to do so, please give it a try:*fk)

  • What would you change if it was up to you?

Please let us know by any of the following channels:

  • Replying to this blog post
  • Filling in a comments form on your next visit
  • Sending an email to (subject line: FindersKeepers)
  • Collaring me (Mark) or one of my colleagues to offer your opinion in person

I can’t promise to be able to make all the changes that are asked for, but I will reply to any comment that needs a response.  There is every chance you will suggest something that is already in the pipeline – with a bit of time (that most precious commodity!) there are a lot of improvements to be made.




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Work experience at the Record office

This week I went to the record office for my year 10 work experience. I had an excellent time as it was extremely interesting and informative, and I learnt a lot. During my placement I took part in a range of activities such as , working in the search room , finding documents in the stores , using the microfilms , spending time in picture the past , cataloguing documents , working in the computer room and local studies library and my favourite activity of the week , working in conservation for a morning. Also I got to experience reception as well, although it wasn’t exactly planned….

Amongst all of these activities I also studied some maps of Matlock, some were recent and some were from over one hundred years ago. From these maps I wrote down about what things are still here now and what things have gone and changed and also what new things have been built and on a whole how Matlock has changed. I studied ordnance survey maps from 1880 , 1899 , 1922 , 1967 , 1981 , 1986 and 2006 and found that my house was built somewhere between 1880 and 1899 as it was not on the 1880 map but it was on the 1899 map so must have been built during those 19 years. I also found out that Matlock has changed a lot over the years and especially between the maps 1899 and 1922, although that is 21 years but in that time there was a lot of progress as a lido was built and there was a town hall and post office and more houses so we can see that after the first world war Matlock started to develop more and began to become more populated. One of the main things I noticed when I was looking at the maps was that although some of the buildings were there and they were used they had their name changed overtime for example, Castle view primary school was once known as Matlock County Junior mixed and infant school in in 1967 but of course now is now as Castle view primary.

I really had a great time and feel as if I have gained some useful skills or enhanced the skills I already had. I also feel like I got a real insight into the type of work as I was dealing with real documents and was sorting them out, not only physically but also electronically on the computer.

It was a fantastic week, I thoroughly enjoyed it!!!

Written by Charlotte Davies, work experience student

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Queen Elizabeth II visits Matlock

On 10th July 2014, Matlock was greeted with an old face which was a surprise to many as she hasn’t visited for around 2o years. So who could this old face be? Well only the Queen herself. Her Majesty arrived in Matlock on Thursday 10th July by train and is visiting Lea Mills and Chatsworth which reminds us very much of her visit back in 1968. On 10th May 1968 the Queen arrived by train into Matlock and was greeted by a huge crowd. She did a number of things on her visit such as, visiting World War one veterans, travelling over to Lea green centre and Lea Mills. Here at the record office we have a souvenir brochure from that day including a selection of photographs taken by the Matlock Mercury and many captions under the photographs which although not very exciting were certainly ironic as the last caption in the brochure which was under a picture of the Queen waving good bye was “Time to say farewell …. And will ye not come back again?” Well in answer to that question, yes she has and I’m sure Matlock will greet her with as much joy as they did back in 1968.

Posted by Charlotte Davies , work experience student

Extract from Souvenir brochure from 1968

Extract from Souvenir brochure from 1968


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Our week at the Record Office, by Emily and Harriet


Our names are Harriet and Emily and we completed our Year 10 work experience at the Derbyshire Record Office this summer. We have done so many different things that we never thought we’d have a chance to do and have enjoyed every minute of them!

We’ve had a go at everything that the Record Office has to offer, from cleaning documents this morning in Conservation to wheeling them to the massive storerooms. Continue reading

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New Digitisation Project – School Records

We are very pleased to be able to soon be having our school admission registers and log books digitised as part in a national project which will ultimately make the digital versions available via the Find My Past website.

D5545 3 1 p1

Cresswell Log Book, D5545/3/1

The project, organised by the Archives and Records Association on behalf of archive and record offices across the country, is specifically looking at school records from 1914 and earlier, and will continue over a ten-year period. We are quite fortunate that the school records here at Derbyshire will be amongst the first to be digitised. Continue reading

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