Thursday, 26 January 2012

Progress Report

Hello all. We thought it might be time we updated you with some of the things we are currently up to in our bid to get ready for the removal trucks (which arrive in less than two weeks time!). So, here are some photographs to show what we're currently up to:


Mould checking: perhaps one of the most pressing tasks of late. We are checking all of the boxes in our lower strongroom for mould as owing to a problem with our environmental controls we have suffered an outbreak. Staff are identifying any items that are affected and then they are being cleaned or sent away for treatment, depending upon the severity. This must be completed before the items are moved to The Hive so a lot of staff time has been dedicated to it.  It may not be glamorous but it is vital nonetheless!

 

Packing fragile items: Angie has been working hard to carefully package and wrap any of the more fragile items within our collections. Our strongrooms are now awash with bubblewrap in order to protect items such as seals, glass plates, small objects that could be lost and other vulnerable items.


 

Shelf-checking and box-weighing: We're almost coming to the end of our important task of checking all of the shelf locations for accuracy. We need to make sure everything is exactly where our Locations Database says it should be so that we can keep track of every box during our move. Also, thanks to the work of casual staff we have been able to continue of project to mark the weight of our boxes with a traffic light system of labels.



Local Studies Library merge: Work is continuing to check all of the book stock at both the History Centre and County Hall branch, ready for one combined collection at The Hive.

We still have a huge amount of work to do before we are ready to move, but staff are making great progress. Next week we will be going to label shelves at The Hive ready to ensure the removal men know where to put things. Staff will also begin their Induction sessions at The Hive so they are prepared to work in the new building. Check back next week for some sneaky peek photos from inside The Hive!

Monday, 16 January 2012

Volunteers at the History Centre

Over the ten years since opening the History Centre has had many volunteers working on various and numerous tasks. The volunteers have been a cross section of people, including retired, unemployed and students - some people just dropped in to see if they could help!
The role of volunteers is hugely beneficial to us as it allows us to increase of work in areas which may otherwise be neglected. Volunteering also proves to be a benefit to the individual too though, as several  of our younger volunteers have secured employment by using their work with us to enhance their cvs.



In these last few years our volunteers have concentrated on the 'big move' to The Hive by developing electronic indexes from our paper slip indexes. Examples are inputting into huge databases such as the Marriage Licence Indexes and Absent Voters for the Great War. Many of these indexes are now on our website to the benefit of users all across the world. We also have some new indexes that are being developed, for example Warwickshire parishes in Worcestershire's Bishop's Transcripts.

Several of our volunteers are working with our photographic collections and so far over 3000 slides have been indexed by place and name; microfiche of specific collections are in the process of being indexed and one volunteer has listed, mounted and labelled over seven hundred photographs deposited by the Education Department. The original photographs held in the Centre are also being made ready to amalgamate with the main Worcestershire Photographic Survey held at the County Hall Branch when we combine  as one service at The Hive.


One of our volunteers who likes to work from home undertook a major project to enter the index of Worcester City Monumental Inscriptions, which was on loan from Worcester City Council, into electronic format. Volunteers have also helped out at some of our events for example, the showing of 'Worcestershire on film' at the Swan Theatre and other venues.

We would like to give a big thank you and say how very grateful we are  to volunteers past and present for their unstinting support over the years. They have allowed the Office to proceed quickly with work that otherwise would have taken years to complete. We sincerely hope we will have their continued support for many years to come.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Top 10 Archives... No 1!!

The time has finally come to announce the collection which has made it to the number one spot in the countdown of our most frequently accessed collections. This means that more of our users request to see items from within our wills collections than from within any of our collections.

So, the number one spot goes to...

Wills and Probate Records

Our probate records date from 1451 to 1928. Under the Supreme Court of Judicature (Consolidation) Act of 1925, the Worcester Probate Registry was closed, and all subsequent probate records held at the Birmingham District Probate Registry.

We hold more than 190,000 original wills, inventories or administrations and a further 76 volumes of copies of wills proved in the Consistory Court of the Bishop of Worcester, or later, the District Registry at Worcester. There are also 19 volumes of Probate Act Books, from 1661 until 1858, which list wills proved chronologically, with indexes.

A majority of these original documents are available on microfilmed copies at our History Centre branch, and both branches have extensive name indexes to this collection.

Wills are very popular with researchers for a variety of reasons:

They hold a wealth of information regarding families – listing family members and usually giving the nature of the relationship between the testator and the legatees.  This can be very valuable to family historians, for initial searches and for checking and cross-checking connections.

They can be used for more general research for a variety of different topics, including occupation studies, as most wills state the testator's occupation. They give detailed information about property and land, giving currant occupants, tenants, land use, types of property etc., making them useful to house history hunters, as well as more general historians.

The inventories, listing household items owned at the time of death, give fascinating insights into the living conditions of a large part of the social spectrum, thus being a valuable social history resource.

Our indexes list the name of the testator, together with location – parish or town. This enables local historians researching an area, rather than family, to use the wills for specific, general or background information.

Wills are also frequently used as training tools in, for example, palaeography courses; as they are formulaic and repetitive they can aid the deciphering of common words, whilst giving clues to less common ones.

Wills can also be an indicator of larger events and they have also been an inspiration to at least one musician, as their customary final paragraph was begun, "Signed, Sealed and Delivered"!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

New Year, New Name

Happy New Year to all of our readers, we hope you enjoyed the festive season.

We are starting 2012 with the announcement of our new service name. We will now be known as Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service as, effective as of now, we have become a joint service which brings together the Worcestershire Record Office (comprising the County Hall branch and the History Centre branch), and the Worcestershire Archaeology Service. When we move into The Hive in July our new joint service will occupy the History floor on level 1. We hope that this new partnership brings about great developments for both the service and its users.

Very best wishes for a prosperous 2012 to you all. Join us tomorrow to find out the which of our collections has made it to number one in our Top 10 countdown!