Last night, while others spending an evening at school may have been watching the typical (or less typical) Christmas nativity, I was privileged to attend Stonelow Junior School to see the year 6 give a dramatic presentation for Dronfield 2017: Stories from the First World War.
For the last 12 months, the pupils have been researching the history of their town and it’s people, including some of soldiers who fought in the war. With funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and led by the brilliant Gertie and Paul Whitfield from Whitworks Adventures in Theatre, pupils visited different museums, businesses and organisations. In Feb 2017, I visited the school taking a selection of old Dronfield records, photographs and history books to help the pupils with their research.
Posters created by the pupils to show information found from Record Office sources
Informed and inspired by diaries, letters, newspapers, service records, church registers and many other sources, the pupils brought their local “ancestors” to life with poems, songs, a silent movie re-enactment, imagined postcards and letters and recollections from the past. Remembering facts and figures, stories and feelings, it was a fantastic way to present what they had learned – including a verse of Silent Night in the original German.
I couldn’t help but read the pupils project diaries and see what they thought of the Record Office visit…
Me and Lucy looked at a church catalogue. It had people’s personal information. It was really interesting to learn about what names and jobs they used to have… The writing was really weird, it had a lot of swirls and flicks on it… It was quite hard to read but we managed. It was really fragile because it was over 100 years old. We found our school [on the new map] but couldn’t see it on the [older] maps because it was just a big field! As a result it was a very interesting day – Chloe
We read old smelling dirt like books to find out more about the courageous people and all about the fascinating WW1… We needed to open the book son the cushion because the book was so old… It was a really fun afternoon – Charlotte
Rebecca from Derbyshire Archives was kind enough to come and visit us. She brought in records and interesting materials linked to WW1… we made a poster about… “what like was like in WW1”. We put down lots of information…
… I thought it was very good… it was very fascinating… We looked at some very interesting ration books. They also looked very ANCIENT. Overall I had a great time and recommend learning about WW1! And I was very proud of our poster – Aimee
I found it different to look at all the old documents and see what life was like back in World War One times without actually going back in time to 1916 – Abigail
Did you know that ladies used to wear hats. It was very rare not to. I found it interesting that in WW1 diarrhoea was a problem… little children could easily die from it – Ruby
Last Thursday we were looking through real, old archives from WW1… We started looking at a map, they were really cool because in the older map our school was just a field. Afterwards we were told to look through books on what life was like in WW1. I was very interested by all the information – Fay
“… it was a fascinating day I learnt a lot and hope she comes again” – Chloe
“When I was reading I noticed that the writing was squiggly in the log books” – Alexander
“My personal favourite is the church record book. It had in it all the names, birth and their jobs. I felt so privled [?privileged] and excited to find out what jobs were in 1917. The writing kept going column after column and the writing was big and scary but some of it was so fancy”
You can soon see a copy of the book produced as part of the project in our Local Studies collection and in Dronfield Library.
We had a researcher round a few weeks ago who was mightily impressed with the strength and extent of our County Architect collection (D2200). It is a very useful collection if your research touches on public buildings in this county – it contains plans of libraries, police stations, fire stations, hospitals, care homes and so on. It also includes a thousand or so plans of schools, many drawn by County Architect George H. Widdows (1871-1946). Widdows was a hugely influential architect, especially when it came to the construction of schools. Or, as in the example shown below, the conversion of an existing building for use as a school:
The site shown was originally two separate hydrotherapy institutions, called Church View and Bank House (later renamed Wyvern House – for more on this, have a look at Matlock Town Council’s guide to Hydro Heritage Trails). It then became the Ernest Bailey Grammar School in 1924, and is now Derbyshire Record Office, whence I write.
As part of the FindersKeepers project, this collection has recently been added to the online catalogue. That means you can now try this little experiment: go to our catalogue’s Advanced Search page. Put D2200* in the RefNo box (don’t forget the asterisk) and put the name of a Derbyshire town or village in a couple of boxes below that, where it says Any Text. I’m not saying there will definitely be a plan of a building that is familiar to you – I’m just saying it’s highly likely!
Or, you can follow this link to the entire list, if you prefer to browse the whole caboodle.
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.
Have you ever wondered where your ancestors went to school? If so, now might be a good time to emit a chirrup of joy, because Derbyshire’s contribution has been added to the ever-growing mass of information in the National School Admission Registers and Log-books dataset on http://www.findmypast.co.uk. I had a tinker with it a few days ago and managed to find the admission record of Derby County legend Steve Bloomer. Before he earned any of his 23 England caps, or scored any of his 297 league goals for the club, he was a pupil at Peartree Boys School in Derby. His entry in the admission register is at the very bottom of this image: you can see he was born in Cradley Heath, and was the son of Caleb Bloomer, a smith.
School log books are also included in the project. Now, anyone who has tried combing through a log book looking for references to their forebears as pupils will know that the odds are not so good. But that is what makes the ease of searching by name so attractive – a quick check is all it takes, because the names that are mentioned in the log books have been indexed. If one of your ancestors ever worked as a teacher, or a monitor, or as a pupil-teacher, the references can be quite illuminating – one headteacher writes: “Winifred Roberts and Edith Yates have been appointed monitors at £6 per annum from 1 Dec 1899. If they can pass the Government Examination they will be paid as a 1st year Pupil Teacher from 1 Jan 1900”. (Don’t worry, they passed the exam – I checked.) And have a look at this list of Object Lessons from 1899.
You see, quite apart from their genealogical value, log books are a window on another world. (If you can think of a less clichéd way of putting that, do let me know.) In particular, this is the world of the headteacher of that era: browse for a minute or two and you will vicariously experience the joy of winning praise from the school inspectors, the despair of having 150 pupils absent because of a measles outbreak, and the irritation of having junior teachers who don’t do anything quite as well as you did when you were a junior teacher.
If you would like to have a look at what is available, come over to your local library or right here to the record office, and log on to one of the computers. This resource, which FindMyPast subscribers normally pay for, will be yours to play around with for free. Here are a couple of sample pages.
Photographs of Derbyshire Record Office in the days when it was still the Ernest Bailey Grammar School were nominated as one of our 50 Treasures by our erstwhile colleague, Ruth Allen, who retired as a Library Assistant not so very long ago. Shortly after the refurbished Derbyshire Record Office re-opened its doors in 2012, Ruth wrote:
Many members of the public have come in to our new facility and told us that they were at school here. I was a teacher before I worked for the library service and I have enjoyed finding these photographs.
And now, a shocking admission: the image shown above – which we believe shows the official opening of the school in 1924 – was not actually chosen by Ruth! This is because the images that Ruth originally selected are still in copyright. We would be within our rights to display them in a public exhibition, but publishing them online would not be permissible. Still, we hope you enjoy this image, which we dedicate to all former pupils.
Children from two primary schools (Derby City and Derbyshire) and volunteers have curated an exhibition about the First World War, which is being launched at Sudbury Hall on Friday 6 March 2015 at 1pm.
Derbyshire Remembers is a project run by award-winning theatre company Fifth Word in partnership with the National Trust, Derbyshire Record Office and Derby City Local & Family History Library. The exhibition uncovers the story of how the First World War changed the lives of people across Derby city and Derbyshire. This project has been made possible thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
Over a period of 6 months local volunteers received training and prepared a list of archive materials at Derbyshire Record Office, Derby Local & Family History Library, National Trust properties and local museums.
From this research, child friendly archive cards were created as a starting point for working with schools. Fifth Word Theatre led two, week-long intensive school sessions where pupils worked ‘in role’ as expert museum curators tasked with the responsibility of designing a brand new exhibition for Sudbury Hall. Using specialised drama techniques, the children delved deeper into what really happened in Derby during the First World War and selected the themes and sources they found most interesting. At the end of the sessions each school created mock exhibition panels and presented back their ideas to be realised by a professional designer.
Year 6 pupils from Dale Primary school in Normanton transformed their classroom into an office where they were known as ‘Dazzling Designs’. As ‘experts’ they researched the effect the war had on the home front in Derby City and the families who were left behind. They explored the Zeppelin raid (which happened only minutes from their school) and the plight of the munitions workers from across Derbyshire. With help from the archives and volunteers, the children were able to analyse and interpret images, objects, newspaper cuttings and Art to tell the story of life on the home front a hundred years ago.
The second design Team came from Sudbury Primary School. Their class were known as ‘Super Sudbury Designs’ and their detective work enabled them to delve into personal letters, soldiers’ diaries, memoirs and official documents such as call-up notices and killed-in-action telegrams. They imagined what it might have been like to be in their shoes and used the expertise of drama practitioners to build up a picture of life on the frontline during the ‘War to End All Wars’.
The exhibition is open to everyone and will be housed at Sudbury Hall from the 6 March- 17 May. It will transfer to Kedleston Hall from 23 May – 3 September 2015 and will then travel to local schools across Derby and Derbyshire. A digital resource pack for teachers will be available online to provide a rich resource for local studies and First Word War teaching and learning across primary schools.
If you’re planning to visit the National Trust properties at Sudbury or Kedleston do keep an eye out for the exhibition!
We are very pleased to be able to soon be having our school admission registers and log books digitised as part in a national project which will ultimately make the digital versions available via the Find My Past website.
Cresswell Log Book, D5545/3/1
The project, organised by the Archives and Records Association on behalf of archive and record offices across the country, is specifically looking at school records from 1914 and earlier, and will continue over a ten-year period. We are quite fortunate that the school records here at Derbyshire will be amongst the first to be digitised. Continue reading
Compare and Contrast – a selection of Derbyshire Record Office documents regarding Regency children and education.
Derby Mercury, 18 November 1829 (pt1)
Derby Mercury, 18 November 1829 (pt2)
From ‘Sorrows, sacred to the memory of Penelope’, 1796 (published by Sir Brooke Boothby whose daughter Penelope died aged 5)
From ‘Sorrows, sacred to the memory of Penelope’, 1796 (published by Sir Brooke Boothby whose daughter Penelope died aged 5)
D2375 M/84/24 Printed orders to parents on the admission of their children into charity schools, 18th cent
D6948/15/2 Pages from Belper Mill Girls School admission register, 1820s
Dronfield Academy advert, Derby Mercury, 11 July 1811
D5410/17/6 Letter from Alleyne Fitzherbert (b.1815) at Tissington Hall (pt1)
D5410/17/6 Letter from Alleyne Fitzherbert (b.1815) at Tissington Hall (pt2)
D5410/17/5 Letter from William Fitzherbert (b.1808) at Charterhouse School, 1819 (pt1)
D5410/17/5 Letter from William Fitzherbert (b.1808) at Charterhouse School, 1819 (pt2)
D394 Z/Z 49 Apprenticeship indenture of William Smith alias Waterfall of Bakewell, 1812 (pt1)
D394 Z/Z 49 Apprenticeship indenture of William Smith alias Waterfall of Bakewell, 1812 (pt2)
D5459/1/35 Part of ‘Sunday Morning’, George M. Woodward. On the back is written:
‘GM Woodward sketches when a child. These are evident proofs of his natural Genius he used to draw before he could speak plain (W.W.)’ – the handwriting is that of his father, William Woodward.