The art of letter writing

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On Tuesday I spent a lovely afternoon with the patients, staff and volunteers at Chesterfield’s Ashgate Hospice.  I was there to take part in a project called The Art of Letter Writing, run by Junction Arts, a Chesterfield arts charity.

The project celebrates the art of the letter and over four sessions will look at historical letters (which is where the record office came in), participant’s own letters from home, and the art of illuminated letters.

I took along a selection of letters from our collection, which included letters from a Chesterfield soldier writing home from the First World War; letters from a ladies maid working at Chatsworth in 1805; letters from badly behaved school boys in Derby writing to their headmaster seeking forgiveness for ‘bad deeds’, and a letter from students at a Derbyshire sixth form college writing to George Bernhard Shaw complimenting the famous writer on his neat handwriting.

The letters sparked conversations, memories and anecdotes and inspired the group to go home and hunt out their own letters from family and loved ones and share them with the group at the next session.

Sadly we were only taking part in this initial session but hope the group enjoy the rest project over the next few weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank You Matlock Ladies Luncheon Club!

A big thank you to Matlock Ladies Luncheon Club who have given us a £70.00 donation for our Junction Arts photographs project.  The charity Junction Arts celebrated its fortieth anniversary last year and deposited its archive here at the Record Office so future generations would be able to marvel at the wonderful work they do.  Although all the paperwork is undoubtedly fascinating, the nearly three thousand photographs and two thousand negatives are what makes this collection so special: seeing the smiles, the joy, the happiness of children, adults and the elderly, as communities come together to create art.

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To make sure these wonderful people will continue to make everyone smile for centuries to come, we need to package the photographs in archival quality polyester sleeves so they’re save to handle and can’t get damaged by rubbing against each other or sticking together, as some are already doing.  The total cost for packaging all the photographs and negatives is £853.82 – rather too big an amount for us to conjure up, which is why we’re fundraising:

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So next time you’re in Matlock, do have a look at our donations box and display in reception – every pound saves five images.  And if you’re feeling especially generous, of course we accept donations over the phone as well: just call us on 01629 538 347 and be sure to leave your name if you’d like your own personal thank you on our display.

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It’s our anniversary!

Time flies when you’re having fun!  It’s hard to believe that it’s five years ago today that the Record Office and the Local Studies Library joined together in a newly extended and refurbished building.  We were hurriedly tidying away the workmen’s tools as the doors opened and the first customers came in!

It feels like barely five minutes ago, but a lot has happened since February 2013.  Over 88,000 people have come to use the Record Office and we’ve produced 46,575 original documents for our customers.  We’ve also reached over 8700 people outside the Record Office doing events and activities for all ages – and let’s not forget all the emails, letters and calls we’ve received – nearly 17,500.

But numbers don’t tell the real story, so what have we been doing in the last five years?  Here are a few highlights:

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If you really want to get a sense of what we’ve been up to over the last five years, then browsing through this blog tells the story… from cataloguing, digitising and preserving our collections to going out and about engaging people with Derbyshire’s amazing past.

So what do the next five years hold?

Well, in part the future is digital, so we’re working on plans to continue improving digital access to our collections – this is a long process, but in five years’ time (and hopefully sooner!) we should have a radically different website and much more digital content.

In the meantime, we’re finishing off the Amazing Pop Up Archives project, which has seen us ‘popping up’ with our collections around the county.  We are also winding up our NUM cataloguing project and will be blogging more about that in the future.

There are plenty more projects in the pipeline, too – we usually have at least one funding bid on the go for cataloguing, conservation and/or outreach activities, although we can’t say anything on our blog about them until we know whether we’ve been successful.

One new project that started last summer involves a group of volunteers improving our descriptions of maps of the Derwent Valley.  They should be finishing that job soon, after which we will be digitising the maps so they can go online as part of the Derwent Valley Mills ‘Vital Valley’ project.  We’ll be looking to involve more volunteers over the next few years in other projects, building on the group of wonderful people who already support us, so if you’d like to be involved, get in touch.

We’ve had a busy and exciting five years in our lovely building.  Thanks to all our staff, volunteers and customers for being part of the last five years –  here’s to the years to come and all the opportunities they bring!