A couple of weeks ago I blogged about how the work we would be doing from home now that we were unable to have physical access to the archives and local studies collections – well here’s how we’ve been getting on.
Not on the original list of lockdown labours, though still we hope very useful, are a new series of Research Guides to help discover the incredible collections we hold and the best resources to use depending on what it is you are trying to find out. From tomorrow (Thursday 16 April), we will publish a new Research Guide via the blog every 3 days or so – with the aim that even seasoned researchers will find out something new.
As you might expect, we have received far fewer enquiries from customers than we normally would – between the 1st and 15th April 2019, we received 132 email and postal enquiries, this year we have received just 21. Mostly, the subjects of the enquiries were familiar to us (house history, getting a copy of your own baptism certificate, researching a family coat of arms, locating the graves of ancestors), but a request for information from someone researching a documentary about Robbie Williams was a little out of the ordinary! Although our ability to answer emails is somewhat reduced while we cannot access the collections, we are certainly doing our best – including in relation to Robbie Williams.
Most of us are engaged in converting old catalogue lists and other information that can be published online (via our catalogue) so that we can share as much as possible about the collections with everybody around the world:
- over 500 entries from the Local Studies authors index typed in anticipation of being added to the online catalogue
- almost 70 detailed biographical files researched and formatted, to make it easier to find other records in the collections relating to the same individuals or families
- hundreds of individual descriptions for apprenticeship indentures, bastardy bonds and other records that had previously only been summarised.
Several old handwritten and typed (i.e. typewriter) lists have been re-typed so that we can import them into the online catalogue. We had thought we might have to wait some time before the information would be publicly available, but we hope the first lists will be available from next week. These collections will include:
- D8252 Frederick C Boden (1902-1971), miner, author and lecturer
- D5440 Chesterfield, Bolsover and Clowne Water Board
- D1661 Diocesan Ecclesiastical Dilapidations records for Derbyshire parishes
- D9 Dakeyne family of Darley Dale – this was one of the first collections to be deposited with the county council, way back in 1922. Back then the record office didn’t exist and although a rough list of the contents was created back in the 1960s (following the appointment of a County Archivist in 1962), we will finally get the list published in time for the 100th anniversary of its deposit!
- Plus the detailed descriptions of apprenticeship indentures.
Lots of us are beavering away on converting various other lists that have never been converted to a digital format, so there will be plenty more of these to come in next few weeks.
Several resources for schools have been published online (particularly for teachers doing amazing work with the children of key workers, and for all the parents who have unexpectedly found themselves home-schooling). In particular there is a mini timeline of Derbyshire history from prehistory to the 21st century – we will need to wait a little while longer yet to see what the historians make of the current world situation!