The Record Agent turns Agent of Wonder!

Kate Henderson is the researcher on our “Pop Up” project. As one of the interns, I interviewed Kate to gain an understanding of how she got involved in the project.

After completing a history degree, Kate told me that she pursued a career in education and began teaching in several schools around Derbyshire. She took time out to have children and then completed a course in genealogy at the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies in Canterbury. Once Kate completed this course she set up as a genealogist in Derbyshire, completing the majority of her research at the Record Office, where she has used their collections for thirty years.

Kate’s work led her to become part of a focus group at the Record Office, set up during the refurbishment of the office between 2011-2012, where she became involved with then Artist in Residence Paula and Archivist Karen, who both run the Pop Up Project. They worked with students of local Matlock school, Highfields, to establish how the interior of the building would look and how people might use it but also on how to encourage children to get involved with original material held at the Record Office. They realised that many people, particularly younger people, did not know a great deal about the Record Office, and so came up with an idea to take the archives out to the people. This is how the idea for “The Amazing Pop Up Archives Project” came about. Kate was asked to be involved in the project because of her wealth of knowledge and years of experience as a member of the public working with the collections.

Kate explains all in our Pop Up tent at the Wirksworth Festival

Kate’s focus on the project was to find original documents within the archive that had personal appeal. For the first event at Wirksworth, part of the Wirksworth Festival, Kate came up with the idea of using parish registers and apprenticeship records. A parish register, which dated from the 17th century, was chosen because she believed that people might recognise family names and therefore create a connection between the community and the original source material. By using apprenticeship records dating from 1806  Kate wanted children to be able to contrast their lives with those living in the nineteenth century and to help create a picture of Wirksworth during this period. The apprenticeship records provided information on the apprentices’ age, the name of parent, who their new master (or boss) was and what work they were involved in. This information helped the children who came to the event to link their lives with those of the apprentices who were of a similar age. Kate says “I loved the fact that these records were helping to involve people in relevant history of the area and was so pleased with the response from the community.”

Kate’s work on the project has been useful in helping to engage the community in gaining an interest in original historical sources. Hopefully these results can be mirrored in the upcoming events.

Jamie Rix, University of Derby Intern for the Amazing Pop Up Archives Project

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