The Amazing Pop Up Archives Project did what it says on the tin and ‘popped up’ at this year’s Wirksworth Festival.
Our bunting clad tents graced the glorious setting of the rectory lawn (many thanks to the wonderful Reverend David Truby !) and played host to a multitude of activities on the Saturday and Sunday of the Trails weekend.
Derbyshire stories, poems and songs were brought by poet Matt and musician Julian; we ‘met’ Mrs Winchester, mother of a ladies maid at Chatsworth, through story teller Maria and a weaver’s treasure was hunted thanks to Debi. And that was just in one tent!
The other tent housed some original archives relating to Wirksworth and further afield – including an apprenticeship register from 1806 and the first parish register for Wirksworth dating from 1608.
Our project, which has received £42,000 funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, is about engaging young people and their families in the wonderful world of archives and with a conservative estimate of 900 visitors over the two days, I think we did pretty well!
As wonderful as it is to take material out and about, showing people the collections we hold (which we do like to do at the record office), our project is about getting people involved.
By filling in an card to add to our index or by sharing a connection to a place on our Derbyshire maps, anyone who contributed on the day became a living archive. Their contribution, whether a memory, anecdote, an observation or connection – will be archived and held forever in the record office collection.
One 11 year old girl – having read about another 11 year old girl who in 1806 was apprenticed to work for a widow until she was 21 years old, felt compelled to write to future generations. On our map of Derbyshire she wrote to the future about visiting Wirksworth, signing her name and that she was “from the past”.
Anyone who took part in this first Pop Up event (one for four over the coming year) received a special invitation to visit the record office in October half term to see more treasures from our collections.
With three more pop up events to come over the next year, The Amazing Pop Up Archives project may ‘pop up’ in a place near you, so keep checking the blog so you don’t miss out.