Tea and Trench Cake this Saturday at Chesterfield Library!

Join us for the launch of our new travelling exhibition about Derbyshire’s First World War, which begins its county tour at Chesterfield Library this Saturday, 10 December, 12-2pm.


Interactive history actors will be bringing to life real characters from the period and for children there will be a family trail they can follow around the library.  As a bonus, there will be refreshments including home-made trench cake!

After the launch, the exhibition and family trail will be on display in the library until the beginning of January.  It will then tour around the county throughout 2017 and 2018, so if you can’t visit Chesterfield, you should be able to see the exhibition somewhere near you.

If you can make it to the launch we’d love to see you there.  It’s free to get in and it’s a great way to see the part Derbyshire played in the First World War.

That special Christmas present

If you’re planning to surprise someone this Christmas by letting them adopt a piece of history from our collections, don’t wait too long to place your order through our Adopt a Piece of History page.  We guarantee delivery by 23 December for any order placed by Friday 16 December and for all orders from our list of Favourites placed by Thursday 22 December.


Our Favourites include our oldest document dating from 1115, a notebook with a recipe for Bakewell Pudding from 1837, the plan of the railway line to Mapperley Colliery, a letter written by Florence Nightingale, a Victorian shirt printed by Edmund Potter and many others – see the full list here.  Or choose any item from our catalogue with our Unique option to give them something more personal, such as the parish register that includes their ancestors or a logbook of the school they went to.

And of course there’s our Become a Part of Derbyshire’s History scheme, whereby you don’t only choose any item from our collections for your loved one to adopt, you also tell us the reason why.  Their name and yours, as well as the reason for the adoption, will be added to our Register of Adopters, an official Derbyshire Record Office document which will be kept as part of our archive for future generations to see.



Find out all the details and how to order on the Support Us pages of our blog.




FindersKeepers: the end in sight!


When posting one of these updates, I normally say that it’s not too late to join the FindersKeepers effort. But this time, I think it probably is! However, we are always going to need to improve the quality of our catalogue, so when devising a follow-up project I will do my level best to think of something that can powered by the energies of home-based volunteers. As ever, we owe our volunteers a huge debt of gratitude.

Don’t try this at home



This delightful suggestion is part of a brochure (probably produced in wartime) demonstrating the versatile uses of the Bratt Colbran Winch. Why does the Local Studies Library at Derbyshire Record Office have this item? Because Bratt Colbran became part of the Radiation Group Ltd, who produced stoves and grates, and who also acquired Park Foundry in Belper. I don’t know if the winch was ever produced in Belper, but the stove and hearth appliances certainly were.

Sue Peach, Local Studies Librarian

A busy week for getting out and about

The record office has had a busy week, getting out and about and sharing our collections with the people of Derbyshire.

Last Saturday we attended the Bolsover Family History Day, held at the library, and organised by Bolsover Civic Society.  Around 450 people came along to browse numerous stalls.  Stall holders included the record office, of course, Chesterfield Local Studies Library and Picture the Past.

We had a great day; it was so enjoyable to chat to people from a community so interested in their local history.  I took along some original records from our collection relating to Bolsover, including a school admission register from 1909 and an electoral register from 1937 – I was delighted that so many people found relatives when looking through them.

“It was worth coming just for this!” – a lady who found reference to her father in the school register.


Last night I attended a special event at Derbyshire County Council headquarters, County Hall, in Matlock.  The event was to celebrate and promote the BSL [British Sign Language] Charter.

The BSL Charter’s aim is to ensure that Deaf people who use Sign Language have better access to Public Services. Under the Equality Act 2010 they have a duty to ensure that public services meet all equality needs.

The Charter aims to support these organisations to reduce discrimination either direct or indirect. Empower Deaf people to have the confidence to access public services.   For public services to become aware of BSL – British Sign Language, what it is and understand how to support Deaf people.  Also for Deaf children to have a good standard of Education.

Derbyshire County Council signed up to the Charter in 2014.

Keen as ever to take our material out into the community, I took along, amongst other items, documents relating to the Midland Deaf and Dumb Institution (now The Royal School for the Deaf), which was originally located in Friar Gate, Derby (collection ref: D4873), as well as information on the record office and our services.

It was another great event and our records went down a storm.  It will certainly mean a visit to the record office by representatives of some of the organisations present and will hopefully inspire organisations, community groups and clubs to deposit their records with us, ensuring that all the wonderful work happening throughout the Deaf community in Derbyshire is saved for future generations.

Adopt a Piece of History

Would you like to help look after Derbyshire’s rich history? Through our Adopt a Piece of History scheme you can adopt any item from our collections, in the knowledge that your contribution will directly support our work to keep Derbyshire’s history safe for the future.

If you’reaph-certificate looking for a truly unique gift, why not let someone else adopt a piece of history? Whether they love sport, art, gardening or trains, there is something in our collections they would be proud to help look after too. And with different options and prices, this could be just the surprise you’ve been looking for.

Adopt a piece of history for £20
Choose an item from the list of favourites on our blog and get a personalised e-certificate. Our favourites include suggestions for keen ramblers, bakers, dancers, engineers and many more.

Adopt a unique piece of history for £35
Choose your own favourite from our collections to make a truly personal gift. You might want to adopt the parish register that shows the marriage of two of your ancestors, a map of the area they grew up in or that document that made all the hours of searching worthwhile.

Become a part of Derbyshire’s history for £100
To celebrate a special occasion or commemorate a loved one, choose your own favourite from our collections and tell us why it’s important to you. The recipient’s name and adoption details will be entered into our official Register of Adopters and be kept as part of the archive for ever. Your adoption will also be visible on our online catalogue and the recipient will receive a special invitation to our annual Open Day to visit their adoptee.

You can see all the details about the scheme and fill in an order form on our Adopt a Piece of History page. And do take a look at the other pages on our Support Us tab, which give details about our volunteering opportunities.


GRO latest





Great news for family historians, courtesy of the Lost Cousins website:

The General Register Office has just launched new online indexes of births and deaths for England & Wales which not only make ordering of certificates easier, they provide additional information that will make it easier than ever before for family historians to find the right entries.





Sue Peach

A Beginner’s Guide to Copyright


We’ll be running another of our Beginner’s Guide to Copyright sessions at Derbyshire Record Office at 2 pm TOMORROW.

 What can you do? What can’t you do? What is right and what is copyright?

The session will help you understand the basic principles of Copyright law as well as recent changes to the regulations, and where that leaves heritage and community groups who wish to publish or display images and articles, or anything else which may be under copyright.

Tickets are £3, which is payable upon entry.

To book a place, please use our Eventbrite Page

‘Is there any post?’ -FitzHerbert project catch up

The FitzHerbert project has been quiet for some time so I wanted to write a catch up blog to update you on progress and share with you one of the highlights of the collection.

Firstly, I want to mention the title of the post: this is surely a familiar phrase in every British household. Especially with the increase in email usage there is always a keen sense of anticipation when you are expecting something to arrive in the post, especially a letter. When something arrives unexpectedly it is always exciting (except if it’s from the bank!).

Right now we are approaching a point in the year when the postal system is about to get very busy, Christmas being the obvious example. Immediately before and after Christmas there are parcels and letters to send, followed by even more parcels and thank you letters, not to mention bills to pay!

One can imagine that this was no doubt a familar refrain in the Tissington household. With no means of electronic communication, corresponding by letter with various business partners and associates as well as tenants of the estate, estate staff and of course friends and relatives was the norm.

During the course of cataloguing and rearranging D239 I have been not at all surprised to find that a substantial amount of this material is correspondence. This consists of a mixture of both private and official business correspondence, as well as everything else in between. When I began doing this project last year, my initial research into the collection that has already been catalogued shows that a large proportion of this too, is correspondence. This is a challenge in itself because this form of material can present a few problems when sorting and cataloguing.

Some key questions to ask are: firstly, what is it regarding? As in what is the subject of the letter/s? More often than not when you are trying to establish context this can difficult because you only have one side of the correspondance so it is not always clear what is being discussed. Conversations are difficult to piece together. Secondly, when was it written? Dates are also trickly – letters are usually clearly dated but there are often large gaps in between responses.

Thirdly, how are the letters already arranged? I’ve found that the majority of the letters in the collection are already tied in small bundles. Its really important not to deviate from the original order of records like this but upon closer inspection this can be questioned when letters have been seemingly randomly tied together!

Overall, I’ve enjoyed working on this aspect of the collection. It has helped me to gain an insight into the Tissington estate from lots of different angles, and also give a sense of the FitzHerbert family. There are some particularly fascinating exchanges, one example being between that of FitzHerbert and a client in Jamaica regarding the costs of the land which the family held out there. Also one concerning a minor accident on the estate involving a young boy and a horse. Not forgetting that there are wonderful examples of nineteenth century handwriting, envelopes and stamps. Soon you’ll be able to see them for yourselves.

So in terms of progress: I have produced a full box list, subsequently this has been entered into an Excel spreadsheet with ISAD(G) headings and heavily edited as the contents of this part of the collection have become clearer. Now that this is nearing completion, this is due to be migrated onto the CALM database in the near future.

I’ll post more when this has been completed!

Treasure 36: The Edmund Potter ‘shirt’ and fabric pattern books

I have chosen this collection because I was lucky enough to be involved in cataloguing and arranging the records (D1589). It is titled the Calico Printing Library of Alderman J G Hurst of Glossop, and includes records of Edmund Potter & Company Ltd, calico printers, Dinting Vale, Glossop.

The Edmund Potter & Company Ltd swatch pattern books are beautiful, and the colours are so vivid you would think that they belonged in the 1980s and not the 1880s!! It was my pleasure to be able to work on the collection every week, and to handle such delicate documents.

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This remarkable printed shirt was found in an envelope within the collection.  It was such a surprise to find it as no one knew it was there until I came across it. I found it difficult to describe in the catalogue as I’m used to describing documents!

The catalogue I produced is now accessible to the public. I hope everyone enjoys looking through the documents as much as I enjoyed cataloguing them.

Elissa, Derbyshire Record Office volunteer