Volunteers’ week

  • 7th June 2018

We’re very grateful to all our volunteers. Every year, they put in thousands of hours of work to help us research and care for Worcestershire’s history.

As Volunteers’ Week draws to a close, here’s an account of one of our young volunteer’s work on our upcoming Ice Age exhibitions. You’ll be able to see the fruits of Thomas’ research in Origins of Us at The Hive, opening 16th June.

What I Did

My name is Thomas Holland, and I am 14 years old. I am a King’s School Worcester student in year 10, where I am doing the Bronze Duke of Edinburgh, and for my volunteering I took part in the Lost Landscapes of Worcestershire, which aims to investigate the history of the collections, acquisitions and also the way Ice Age geology and archaeology has changed over time, which was run by Rob Hedge, from the Hive.

The person that I was focusing on was Hugh Edwin Strickland, who was probably the most famous and distinguished natural historian who worked in Worcester in the mid 19th century.

The Letters

Hugh Strickland was an avid letter writer and my first task was to go through the thousands of letters and catalogue the correspondence that is related to his work on the geology and discoveries in Worcestershire, as well as any letters relating to the Ice Age that he sent to his colleagues as well as universities.

Many of the letters were to other key figures at the time, and he expressed many of his views and discoveries to them, for example, he sent many letters to Richard Owen, founder of The Natural History Museum in London, and Charles Darwin, author of “The Origin of Species”. As well as the most famous, Strickland also sent many letters to other Natural Scientists in Worcestershire, discussing his ideas and inviting them to visit the sites of his discoveries, and also for their views on his specimens.

While I was reading through Strickland’s letters, I made a catalogue of them, containing the topic areas, any fossil specimens that were mentioned as well as any sites that were mentioned. I came across an interesting letter, which contained references to a Hippopotamus that Strickland had found at Cropthorne, and that he was asking a colleague why he might think that a hippopotamus would be so far north.

Muddy Hippo cartoon

Hippos? In Worcestershire?! Find out more in our Ice Age exhibitions

The Newspapers

When I was going through all of the letters, there were several references to articles in the Worcester Herald, a local Worcester Newspaper. This sparked an idea to go through these articles and to see whether they contained any usable information.

I went into the Hive which contained the archive of all the Worcester Herald newspapers on microfilms. I had to find the microfilms with the correct date and after a quick guide with the archivist, I went through and saved the articles that I needed.

Out of that I found that Strickland was at the forefront of discussions and that he found it vital to share his knowledge and findings.

Final Write Up

After I had done all of this, I then went through it and summarised it. I also then did some biographical research that aided me with the creation of the poster that will be put up on display at the Hive.

I really enjoyed the process of finding out the information and researching my own topics as well as using this new found knowledge to make something to be put on display. I would like to thank Rob Hedge for giving me this amazing chance to do this and for all the help he has given me.

If you would like to volunteer at the hive please follow this link:

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