Having spent two weeks with the Derbyshire Record Office for work experience, I realised that archiving requires a surprisingly large amount of filing work! Watching programmes like “Who Do You Think You Are?” portrays a more simplistic view of local study offices where everything is prepared for the celebrity as soon as they arrive, with very little work clearly visible. So the level of research, attention to detail and thoroughness I met with at Derbyshire Record Office was surprising. I received a lot of valuable information about the correct way to store and protect documents…
(Below: How best to store delicate documents using the 4 flap folder method)
…the importance of digitization to the Record Office and the heritage of both Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire through Picture the Past (http://www.picturethepast.org.uk/)
In particular, I really enjoyed copying out the old recipes of several 19th Century cooks ready for digitization. Although this may not sound incredibly interesting to some, I found the quirky and sometime unintelligible recipes both amusing and a challenge. The recipes of Emily Mary Kilpin, a 15 year old domestic servant for the Thornhill family, were particularly entertaining with their unpredictability, supplying recipes for “egg jelly”, “furniture polish” and a a “cream substitute” in quick succession, and also for the insight into the trends in her cookery with recipes for two different types of lemon curd, a lemon pudding and lemonade all entered on the same page in her book.
On the other hand, the cookery book of her employers, the Thornhills, highlights a stark contrast between social classes in the early 1900’s society. For example, not only is the handwriting and language more advanced, there are far fewer recipes included by the family, possibly because they did less of their own cooking and relied more upon servants like Emily Kilpin herself.
Overall, my work experience was hugely enjoyable, the new building and facilites are great, and the staff were all very friendly and helpful. I’d recommend anyone interested in local history or the humanities to make use of the opportunites that the Derbyshire Record Office provide, either for academic, professional or personal reasons.
By Will, the work experience student