School and College archives

A guide to archives of education in Derbyshire.

Before the Victorian period, there was limited access to formal education for most children because schooling was available mainly through fee-paying private, public and grammar schools.  In 1811 the Church of England founded the National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church and encouraged the creation of schools throughout the country.  The following year, the British and Foreign Bible Society supported non-denominational education through “British” Schools, sometimes also known as Lancastrian Schools.  Legislative developments (including the Factory Acts promoting the establishment of education for children at work and the 1834 Poor Law (Amendment) Act requiring three hours of education per day for children in the workhouse) were limited until the Education Act of 1870.

This Act established School Boards to build and administer schools where existing education provision was inadequate.  Acts of 1876 and 1800 made education compulsory for children up to aged 10 and in 1901 elementary education became free of charge.

The Boards were abolished by the 1902 Education Act and established County and County Borough Councils as Local Education Authorities (LEAs).  The LEA system remains in place today though it does not cover schools that have become academies.  After 1902, the next significant change came in 1944 when the Butler Act widened the availability of secondary education, laying the groundwork for comprehensive, non-selective secondary schools.

School Board records tend to include the minutes of the Board meetings and financial records.  A full list of archive collections for School Boards can be found here.

School records

Although many schools have transferred or deposited records (including non-denominational and some Roman Catholic schools) unlike for parishes and public-recording bodies, there is no statutory or other obligation on schools to transfer their archives to the record office. Dates of the records vary from school to school but most begin from the late 19th century.  We hold virtually no archive collections for fee-paying schools, and it is best to contact the schools directly as many of them have their own arrangements.  The main series of school records available:

  • Log books are the Headteacher’s record of daily activities and can include information relating to staff appointments and sickness, pupil attendance figures, curriculum information and comments on school buildings.  Occasionally they may refer to some pupils by name and almost always include useful information about the local area.  In the 19th and early 20th century, the report of the HM Inspector was usually copied into the log book.
  • Admission registers usually give dates of pupil’s entry and departure, often including reason for leaving, age and date of birth, name and address of parent/guardian.  Most Derbyshire pre-1914 admission registers and log books can be found on Find My Past (subscription required).
  • Minutes of the meetings of managers/governors/trustees, mainly relating to administration

Other records that might be found in a school archive collection include photographs, newscuttings, school magazines/newsletters, event programmes, a small number of schools rules and teaching schemes, some school scrapbooks and occasionally Inspection Reports.

Pupil cards are only held for a very small number of schools: Netherthorpe School at Staveley, Tapton House School, Chesterfield, William Rhodes Secondary School for Boys, Chesterfield, Violet Markham School, Chesterfield, Chesterfield Grammar School, St Mary’s Roman Catholic Secondary School, Chesterfield and Herbert Strutt School, Belper.

Finding the records

Lists of the archive collections for schools and colleges and universities can be found on our online catalogue.  To find records for specific school, college, school board (or all those in a particular town), search the catalogue entering the word ‘school’ (or ‘school board’ or ‘college’, etc.) and the school/place name in the Archive Collection Creator field:

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Other records relating to schools
  • Parish archives for references to private and charitable educational foundations
  • D335 for school plans submitted to central government for building grants in the 19th century and D2200 for plans created by the County Architect’s Department
  • County Council’s School Organisation files (mostly for closed schools) are held under references D2080 and D5288, with other records from the county council’s Education department under reference DCC/ED, including a small number of Registers of Teaching and Caretaking Staff arranged by school are available between 1904 and 1946, along with some Pupil Teacher records 1904-1908
  • OFSTED Inspection reports are held in Local Studies
  • House of Commons report of 1841/2 on educational provision is also available in Local Studies (class: 370.94251, file).
A note about access

Under the Data Protection Act, records containing personal information less than 100 years old are not generally available for public consultation. Access to these records may be permitted if evidence is provided that the individual to whom the information relates is no longer living. In many cases, we may not be able to provide access to the full record in the search room, as other people mentioned in the records may still be alive. In these cases, our staff can undertake a search of the records on your behalf and provide relevant extracts from the record.

Records not held by the record office 
  • pupil records or personal files for individual pupils (excluding the pupil cards for schools mentioned above)
  • examinations results and certificates
  • current school records.
Further Reading
  • Marion Johnson (1970) Derbyshire Village Schools in the 19th century
  • A. Clarke (1983) Finding out about Victorian Schools
  • P. Horn (1978) Education in Rural England, 1800-1914
Appendix: Features of Victorian school education
  • Class monitors: older school children who acted as teaching assistants
  • Pupil-teacher system: introduced in 1846, 13-year old children were appointed as pupil teachers within schools.  At the end of this time, they could progress to college to formally qualify
  • ‘Payment by results’: from 1862 grant aid was linked to regular pupil attendance and performance in exams
  • Standards: from 1862, pupils in elementary schools were divided into six standards according to age, ability and successful completion of annual exams.

 

 

Building History – Next Steps

A guide to other detailed records and tips for specific types of building.

If you are new to researching the history of a building try our getting started guide first.  There are also more complex records available for discovering the history of property and land, including:

  • Estate records: including rentals and terriers which can be used to identify tenants
  • Manorial records: primarily court rolls/books containing information about land tenure and changes in ownership and occupation.
Sources for standards of living, i.e. wealth of owners/occupiers
  • Wills and probate inventories listing goods and chattels in the house
  • Medieval and early modern Inquisitions Post Mortem are held at The National Archives and provide evidence of land ownership, inheritance and transfer
  • Tax returns, including land tax assessments for 1780-1832 (available on microfilm in Local Studies) and The Derbyshire Hearth tax returns (published 1982).
Farms 
  • For some farms business records may have been deposited, check the online catalogue to see what is available.
  • Surveys of farms were undertaken during both World Wars. The records of the WW2 National Farm Survey are held at The National Archives.  During WW1 surveys were undertaken by local War Agricultural Committees, and only a small number of records survive, including for the Ilkeston (reference D331/1/21).
Churches

For all churches the first place to check is the archive of the parish or church in question.

For Anglican parishes, glebe terriers provide a written survey or inventory of the church’s property in the parish, e.g. the rectory or vicarage, fields and the church itself. They may contain the names of tenants and the holders of adjoining lands, information on cultivated land, or how the income from tithes was calculated and collected.  Most terriers are held under reference D2360/1, but some are in parish or estate collections – search the online catalogue for the place name and the word glebe.

Some Diocese of Derby archive collections will also include information about church property, for example the Diocesan Registers (reference D4633/2) give details of consecrations, mortgages, sequestrations and licences.  Records of Queen Anne’s bounty at The National Archives may also include useful information about Anglican churches and parish property.

Under the Toleration Act of 1688 dissenting congregations were obliged to register their places of worship with the bishop, archdeacon or justices of the peace.  From 1812, registrations were retained by both authorities.  The returns to the justices are held under reference Q/RR/12 and Q/RR/13.

Schools

Search the online catalogue for records relating to a particular school – we recommend searching the Title field using the name of the school – if you’re not sure about the school name or if it might have changed, try searching just for the word school and the town/village name:

For most school buildings it is also worth checking the records of the relevant School Board.  There are also architects plans for many schools that were built in the 19th and 20th century, click here for a full list from the county and borough architects.  

Public Houses

Licensing registers between 1753 and 1827 can be found under Q/RA/1.  There are no registers available between 1827 and about 1870.  Thereafter, the registers were maintained by the local magistrates at the Petty Sessions courts to 1974. Click here for a full list of the Petty Sessions archive collections.

Shops/Trades buildings

Goad maps are detailed rolled street maps showing individual buildings with their uses, for example shop names.  Available in the Local Studies Library for Alfreton, Ashbourne, Bakewell, Belper, Buxton, Chesterfield, Derby, Glossop, Heanor, Ilkeston, Long Eaton, Matlock, Ripley, and Swadlincote.

Trade (and later telephone) directories survive from the mid-19th century, usually listing prominent landowners, officials and residents, with a commercial section arranged by surname and by trade, although not everyone is included.  Original and microfiche copies of Derbyshire directories are available in the Local Studies Library, as are published town guides for the 19th and 20th centuries.

See the Looking for Organisations guidance for tips on searching for archives relating to specific businesses and industries.

Public works/buildings

For County Council buildings contact County Property.  Check the online catalogue for records relating to the authority that owns/owned the building in question – see also Looking for Organisations guidance.

For buildings associated with late 18th to early 20th century public works such as canals, railways, roads, gas and waterworks see deposited maps and plans under reference Q/RP.

Listed Buildings

The Department of Environment Lists of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest can be consulted in the Local Studies Library or online via the National Heritage List for England.  Each listing gives a precise location, historical information and full architectural details of the site.

Also available in Local Studies are Derbyshire County Council Planning Department’s Listed Buildings record cards which often include a photograph.

Further Reading

Always search the online catalogue and the onsite indexes for other sources.  The following publications (and many more) are available in the Local Studies Library

  • Nick Barratt (2006) Tracing the History of your House
  • Anthony Adolph (2006) Collins Tracing your Home’s History
  • Pamela Cunnington (1980) How old is your house?
  • Colin and O-Ian Style (2006) House Histories for Beginners

Florence Nightingale: Breaking Barriers

Back in March, we received a very interesting enquiry from an 11 year old fan of Florence Nightingale.  Meenakshi is a 6th grade student from Missouri City, Texas, USA and as part of the National History Day 2020 project themed ‘Breaking Barriers in History’, she has written a research paper entitled The Lady with the Lamp: Florence Nightingale Breaking Barriers in Modern Nursing.

According to their website, National History Day sees more than half a million middle and high school students participate annually by undertaking an historical study and writing an essay, preparing an exhibition or performance, creating a documentary or making a website.  Students enter a national competition (due to conclude in June) and Meenakshi’s paper advanced to the district level.  You can read her paper in full on her blog.

About Meenakshi – in her own words:
I am a sixth grader in Missouri City, Texas. In my free time, I enjoy writing short stories, posting on my blog, and spending time with my family. I have many future aspirations that I desire to accomplish. I want to help advocate for creating a cleaner air environment for our Earth, and make the world a better place for future generations. I believe that one change for the better sparks another, and together we can start a rippling chain of dominoes to encourage people in the future to take care of our Earth. When I am older, I want to become a lawyer, following Nightingale’s principles of equality for all people to establish justice. Lastly, I greatly cherish this opportunity to reveal how Florence Nightingale captured the imaginations and sparked the inspiration of thousands of people across the globe. I want to truly recognize Florence Nightingale for all of her life’s tireless efforts, dedicated to creating a healthier world, and shaping nursing into the honorable and respectable position that it is today.

 

Family History – Next Steps

A guide to help you dig deeper into your family history and add flesh to the bones.

Where your ancestor lived: See the guides to building history for the types of sources available for finding out where your ancestors lived.

Where your ancestor went to school: Admission registers for a large number (though not all schools) are available via the archive search room.

To see if admission registers are available for the school you or your ancestors went to search the online catalogue entering the place name and the word school in the Title field – the results will also include records held in other collections, such as plans of the school in the County Architect’s archive.

Admission registers are the main record referring to individual pupils, log books occasionally mention individuals by name (although usually teachers rather than pupils), but are wonderfully revealing about school life.

A full list of archive collections for Derbyshire schools can be found here.

See Find My Past for pre-1914 admission registers and log books   (subscription required)

Where your ancestor worked: it is not possible to find employment information for most of our ancestors, but there are a range of sources available depending on the business, the industry and the circumstances of the individual.   Look out for the forthcoming employment research guide to find out about records of apprenticeship, war service, coal miners (including accidents and trade unions), child employment and individual employees of several local firms.  A very small number of records survive relating to employees and servants on landed estates, particularly for the Harpur-Crewe family of Calke Abbey (ref: D2375).

Ancestors in the workhouse or receiving poor relief: Until 1835 parish Overseers of the Poor collected and distributed monetary and other relief to the in need.  The parish archives include records of people settling in new parishes, being removed to old ones, and examinations in bastardy cases.  Under the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834, Poor Law Unions built workhouses to house, feed and set to work (if able) the poor in their district, rather than given money.  Admission and discharge registers only survive for the workhouses at Belper and Chesterfield, but records for the other unions  do include some names of individuals in receipt of poor relief.

Criminal Ancestors: Quarterly Calendars of Prisoners provide details of inmates in the county gaol and in houses of correction within the county.

Search the prisoner records database 

Other resources that might help

  • Trade directories: list prominent landowners, officials and some (not all) residents by place, plus a commercial section arranged by trade.
  • Newspapersfrom birth, marriage and death notices to reports of coroner and other court proceedings, newspapers provide more detail than can often be found in formal records.
  • Maps and Plans: can provide information to help find out about the house your ancestor lived in, or property they owned.
  • Family and estate archives: the estates of landed families were major business enterprises, employing large numbers of people and renting property to families.  Few family archive collections hold personal details of employees (though tradesmen might be mentioned in expenditure accounts), but many do include at least some records relating to tenants in rent accounts.
  • Taxation records: over the centuries many different taxes have been collected, some of which have local records.  Most of these are arranged by hundred and then alphabetically by parish, and are found in the Quarter Sessions archive collection (ref: Q).  For information about non-local records relating to taxation see The National Archive research guide.

Dronfield 1917 (in 2017)

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…

“… 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.

County Architect collection now in the catalogue

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:

Wyvern House 1920s D2200 65 1 3a.jpg

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.

Advent Calendar – Day 17

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…

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Photograph of the football team at Chapel-en-le-Frith High School, c1960s (Ref: D3512/10/3)

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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.

School admission records now online – including the mighty Steve Bloomer!

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.

SBloomer

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.

Lessons

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.

Log2

Log

Treasure 24: Ernest Bailey Grammar School photograph

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.

D2650 Grammar School opening 1924

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.

Derbyshire Remembers Exhibition at Sudbury Hall

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.

volunteers researching

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.children from Dale School

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!