Accessing our resources from home

As we cannot provide access on site at the moment due to the coronavirus, here are some links and tips for research you can do from your computer at home.

Do your family history

  • Baptism, marriage and burial registers for Church of England parishes, some as early as 1538, are on Ancestry (charge applies).  See the guide below for advice on the best way to search and browse these records
  • Baptism, marriage and burial registers for some non-conformist churches in Derbyshire have also been made available by The National Archives on The Genealogist website (charge applies).
  • Over 550 Derbyshire school admission registers and log books (i.e. head teacher’s diaries) up to 1914 are available to search and browse on Findmypast (charge applies), plus thousands more from across England and Wales.
  • Find My Past also includes Derbyshire wills before 1858 and marriage licences held by Staffordshire Record Office and selected Derbyshire electoral registers up to 1932
  • Information about Derbyshire wills between 1858 and 1928 can be searched via our catalogue using the person’s name and reference D96/*, but we are unable to provide copies at this time.  Wills after 1928 can usually be ordered online from the Probate Service
  • Any skeletons in your family closet?  Search our database of prisoner records from 1729-1913

Discover local history

  • Family History websites like Ancestry and Findmypast can also be useful for local history. Take a look at sources like the census and trade directories on these websites.
  • Browse and search nearly 60,000 historic photographs of Derby and Derbyshire on Picture the Past
  • View old maps and explore how the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site has changed over the last 200 years on the Derbyshire Heritage Mapping Portal.
  • Many historic Ordnance Survey maps for Derbyshire are also available from the National Library of Scotland
  • Several Derbyshire newspapers are searchable on the British Newspaper Archive (charge applies)

Learn something new

Don’t forget you can still search our catalogue online to discover what is held in the archives and local studies collections and start planning a future visit?

During the closure, staff will be working on several projects to make more information about our collections available online.   We will be sharing our progress here on the blog and via Twitter and hope we can provide some relief from the stresses and boredom of being inside.

If you are doing any research, why not let us know below, we are sure our other followers will be interested or even have some tips for you.

From all the staff at the record office, stay safe and well, take care.

Historical handwriting exhibition

If you do any type of historical research you will no doubt have encountered the challenge of trying to read old handwriting. If you’ve ever wondered why handwriting looked so different a few hundred years ago, we have a new online exhibition on Google Arts and Culture that tells that story: 800 Years of English Handwriting.

The exhibition gives an overview of how handwriting has developed over the years from 1100 to 1900 using examples from our archive collections.  See how handwriting transitioned from documents that look like this:

Medieval manuscript

To something more modern – but not necessarily much easier to read:

1890s letter

Take a look at our 800 Years of English Handwriting exhibition to find out more.

 

Advent Calendar – Day 7

And behind number 7 is…

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Hilary Marshall’s Palaeography for Family and Local Historians

Hilary Marshall's 'Palaeography for Family and Local Historians' - available in Local Studies

Click image to enlarge

Available on the shelves in the Computer Room, this is a great guide for beginners and intermediates trying to read old handwriting in different documents, all used for family and local history. From parish registers to title deeds, this guide includes handy alphabets showing the different shapes each letter might take, example documents with transcripts and explanations to help you practice.

Learn how to read old handwriting with our new palaeography course

Palaeography pic

Learn the art of palaeography, the reading of old handwriting, at Derbyshire Record Office.

Using archives from the record office’s collections, these five practical sessions, designed for beginners, will introduce the skills needed to read old hand writing from 16th to 18th centuries.

You will learn how to read different types of handwriting, including the most commonly used hand – Secretary Hand, and also Italic and Cursive styles and discover how to date documents and recognise the standard form particular to certain documents.

The first session, the introduction, will cover the practical skills of palaeography including spelling, transcribing, letter forms, dating documents, and abbreviations and more. Over the following four sessions we will take you through a different style of hand, working through copies of records held at the record office, the original documents will be on show for you to see. As Secretary Hand is the most common style used for formal documents we’ll have two sessions on this but each session will feature different types of sources.

We will work through a selection of the most popular types of documents such as parish registers, probate records, manorial and estate records.

Each participant will receive a course pack to take away containing examples of alphabets, common abbreviations, hints and tips on successful transcribing. This will set participants on the right track for successful transcribing throughout the course and beyond.

Refreshments are not included but participants are welcome to use the drinks machine in our break room (all hot drinks cost £1).

We are offering all five sessions at the reduced price of £45 or £10 for each individual session. In order to benefit fully we recommend participants attend all five sessions.

Tuesday 27th October: Introduction – practical skills and where to start

Tuesday 3rd November: Secretary Hand (part 1)

Tuesday 10th November: Secretary Hand (part 2)

Tuesday 17th November: Cursive Hand

Tuesday 24th November: Italic Hand

All sessions run 2.00pm-4.00pm

You can sign up online on the palaeography course’s Eventbrite page.

This course coincides with Explore Your Archive week, co-ordinated by The National Archives.

Treasure 6: A how-to guide to handwriting from 1571

This book, dating from 1571, was chosen by archivist Karen Millhouse, who writes:

Palaeography, the study of ancient handwriting, is a skill which those who work in archives have to develop quite quickly!  This handwriting exercise book contains not only beautiful examples of script but also provides the opportunity for us to chart how styles of handwriting have developed over the centuries – which in turn helps us to date documents more accurately. I particularly like seeing how the owner of this book has practised the letters – with varying degrees of success!

Our Artist in Residence, Paula Moss, shares my love of this volume and has used illustrations from it as her inspiration for window coverings in our microfilm room – why don’t you take a look?

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Concerned about the physical condition of this book? So are we – that’s why our Assistant Conservator has chosen it as the basis of a forthcoming project. We will use the blog to let you know when the work has been done.