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.
This is not a directly Derbyshire post, but our followers may be interested in an exhibition in Burton-on-Trent curated by the Leonard Cheshire Archive (based in South Derbyshire).
Royalty Carers and Residents, Leonard Cheshire life through the eyes of a Fleet Street photographer features the work of Norman Potter (a Fleet Street photographer who worked for the Daily Express and others from the 1960s to the 1980s) and provides a snapshot of life as a disabled person around the world, showing some of the work of the disability charity Leonard Cheshire.
The free exhibition runs until 29 February 2020. Archive volunteer Susan Nield will be giving a free talk on the life of Norman Potter on 31 January at 10am.
The exhibition and talk can be found at: The Brewhouse Arts Centre, Union Street, Burton on Trent, DE14 1AA
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.
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:
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.
We’re often asked for images, illustrations and photographs for a variety of reasons: house or building history, planning and model making are just a few. So we thought it might be useful to list a few sources of useful information about how to access images, both online and in our collections.
Firstly, with a title including ‘Picturing the Past’ we couldn’t forget to mention the fantastic website Picture the Past which has thousands of searchable images from throughout the East Midlands. If you are particularly taken with an image you come across, you can even have it made into a cushion cover, coaster, or mug, among other items!
The images range from the scenic
to the posed
to the celebratory
We also have an A-Z Illustrations card index in our collection Local Studies collection which can be accessed in our Card Catalogue Room in the Local Studies Library. This contains references to photos, illustrations, postcards and other imagery. These often provide clues as to what a building may have looked like internally as well as externally, railways, mines and industry, and family and public events.
You can also find photographs and images in our Archives. A search for ‘photograph’ under ‘description’ in our online catalogue revealed 633 results.
In addition, if you are looking for aerial photos, the incredibly useful website Britain from Above has some useful images from around Britain. This is one of Derby. Let us know if you have any useful sources for illustrations, photos or other types of images!
Many of us have our own little (or even quite large) archive at home: letters, photographs, diaries and other treasures that remind us where we’ve come from and bring us close to loved ones who aren’t around anymore. If you’d like to find out how best to care for these unique family heirlooms, do come along to the Derby Family History Festival on Wednesday 8 June at Derby Central Library, where I will be delivering a talk at 12.30 entitled ‘Preserving Your Past’. I’ll explain how paper and other records get damaged and what you can do to protect your archive, so you can pass it on safely to future generations.
The Record Office will be there all day with a stall as well and there are lots of other talks and activities going on, as you can see on the poster:
We hope to see you there!
Yesterday morning I visited Ilkeston Library to deliver a new workshop introducing people to the various sources available for researching the history a Derbyshire building. It was a quiet session, with only two in attendance – though one had travelled all the way from Aston on Trent which took me quite by surprise!
With the opportunity to handle examples of all the original sources we talked about, learning how to use the record office catalogue and discussing more specific aspects of the research each was undertaking (one doing a history of their own house, the other looking more generally at their street and surrounding area, including a former laundry and former chapel), it was a very interesting and enjoyable session all round.
Suzanne and John discovering what information the different sources provide
Some of the key information we learnt about buildings in Ilkeston from the sources
So what did we look at? There are a number of key sources we would always recommend consulting whichever part of Derbyshire you are researching – not all of these sources exist for all parts, though these are the ones you are most likely to come across either at the record office, your local library or elsewhere. There is one very useful source not mentioned below, and this is the tithe map and award as there was never one created for Ilkeston title deeds … enclosure map and award … land values map and domesday book c1910 … photographs … electoral registers … sale catalogues … building plans … local publications … official town guides … rate books … local authority records … (click an image for more information)
Selection of Ilkeston resources from the archives and local studies collections ready to go
Bundle of title deeds for 5, 7 and 8 Thorpe Road, Ilkeston 1900-1983 (D5473/17/3/1-22)
Bundle of title deeds for two cottages on a close of land called Dennis Crofts in Ilkeston 1853-1883, including sale catalogue for initial sale of the property in 1853 (D5473/17/1/1-5)
Extracts of Ilkeston Enclosure Map and Award 1798 (Q/RI/58; Q/RI/3 pp 1-147)
Land Values Map and Schedule, 1910 (LV46/10; D595/R/1/59)
Title for Ilkeston Enclosure Map, 1798 (Q/RI/58)
Small sample of photographs of Ilkeston (LS Photographs)
Electoral registers for Ilkeston division 1926 and 1955 (ER/Ilk/1926/Spring; ER/Ilk/1955)
Selected sale catalogues from archives and local studies: Freehold estate, 1890 (D161/ES/306); Various Manners Colliery properties, 1933 (D331/25/73); 95-97 Bath Street, 2009 (S5424)
Local Studies publications about Ilkeston
Ilkeston Parish Poor Rate Book, 1849 (D3357/1)
Ilkeston Parish Poor Rate Book, 1849 (D3357/1)
Plan of properties in Ilkeston damaged during air raids 30 Aug – 5 Sep 1942 and scheduled for permanent repair (D5613/1/8)
Building plan register (D5624/1) and selected building plans (D5624/2/100-111)
We also looked at the census – available to access for free at your local Derbyshire library – and talked about newspapers available across the county.
Many of the sources we used during the session were picked somewhat at random purely as an example of what was available, but the stories we found we really quite fascinating – I can’t go into details now, though I do hope to be able to do so very soon.
If you want to find out more about doing a building history, we will soon be publishing a series of new research guides on our website, including three guides relating to building history. We will also be re-running this introduction to sources for building history in the coming months so keep an eye out for more information in the next Events brochure. In the meantime, do contact us for more advice if you want to get started now.
A week to go until Christmas Eve. We will be closing at 1pm on Christmas Eve and reopening at 9.30 on Tuesday 29th December. It will be a three day week though, as we will also be closed on the Friday for New Year’s Day, reopening as normal on Saturday 2nd January at 9.30.
Until then, we have a few more advent doors for you…
Photograph of the football team at Chapel-en-le-Frith High School, c1960s (Ref: D3512/10/3)
Chapel-en-le-Frith High School was originally established as a boys school in 1830, with a girls school established in 1887. In 1934, the boys, girls and infants schools merged to become the Church of England Mixed School. From 1947, the school accommodated children of secondary school age only (primary school children being taught at what had been the Methodist Church). A new school was erected and opened in Long Lane in 1952 as Chapel-en-le-Frith County Secondary School, and is still there today as the High School.
Other records held in the school’s archive collection at the Record Office include log books 1935-1960, admission registers 1875-1947, governors’ minutes 1991-1993, and papers relating to courses taught between 1986 and 1988.
In addition to researching my house, I also looked at documents relating to Smedley’s Hydro. What is now the County Hall in Matlock was once the hydro of John Smedley were people can come and relax with the water treatments, known as Smedley’s Hydropathic Establishment. Here are a few photographs from an old brochure for the hydro, showing it was surprisingly lavish and elaborately decorated.
Increased interest and media coverage in finding out about your past have encouraged people to think about what they do with their personal photographs. This has resulted in some wonderful collections being made available to ‘Picture the Past’. Some are loaned, some are donated but they are all the result of people wanting to share what they enjoy with others. This is great news for visitors to the website (www.picturethepast.org.uk) as it means getting to see, and enjoy, photos that previously might never have survived and probably would have ended up in the bin at some point.
One of the collections recently donated includes photos by a prominent Matlock photographer by the name of Harry Gill. Harry was a freelance photographer whose work appeared regularly in the Matlock Mercury and Derbyshire Times newspapers. He developed (sorry for the pun!) an interest in cameras and photography at a young age, which was encouraged by his marriage to Clara Sheehan, of Bristol. She was herself a skilled photographer and his daughter Phyllis Higton, believes it was probably her influence which led him to take up photography as a career. Harry was a well known character in the local area and Phyllis remembers well her father’s studio in Matlock Bath, which was opposite to the Pavilion fishpond, particularly as she was often roped in to make the children smile when they had their portraits taken! He was obviously quite the entrepreneur, dashing across the road as soon as the charabancs arrived loaded with tourists, taking their photographs and having them developed and ready to take home at the end of the day.
The collection includes images taken between the 1930’s and 1960’s, depicting life in and around Matlock and the Peak District. They include all manner of shots from carnival queens, royal visits and the Matlock Bath road widening. The collection has been very kindly deposited in the Local Studies Library, at the Derbyshire Record Office by Phyllis (pictured below). Digitised versions of the images will eventually appear on the ‘Picture the Past’ website which can be viewed by going to www.picturethepast.org.uk and we will share some with you over the coming months here.
Harry Gill with footballer Jimmy Greaves, taken when the England team trained at Lea Green in 1964.
Phyllis Higton points to a photo of her late father, the photographer Harry Gill, before handing over his photographic collection to Lisa Langley-Fogg from the Local Studies Library and Nick Tomlinson from ‘Picture the Past’.
Another of the events we have been running in support of this year’s Summer Reading Challenge asks children to use old photographs, birth and marriage certificates, and other family history clues to help put the families’ stories back together following a small crash in which everything gets jumbled. These are some of the photographs from Long Eaton and Eckington where the children have designed suitcases for the families to showcase the ancestral history.
The session uses reproductions of original documents held at Derbyshire Record Office, and we hope that the families who come along will be going home to make their own family history suitcase. Instructions for making a suitcase can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/mister-maker/makes/mister-maker-boxsuitcase/
If you do make your own family history suitcase, please send us pictures to Record.Office@derbyshire.gov.uk