Joining up our Heritage Project
In 2009 West Sussex Record Office launched a new, two-year project called Joining up our Heritage. This was made possible with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and West Sussex Archives Society.
The aim of the project was to enable small local archives and museums, particularly those that are volunteer and community-led, to make their records, objects and information more accessible to the public. This information will be added to the Tithe Maps database and eventually become available to look at in the Record Office and County Libraries, or on a Tithe Map CD.
At the beginning of the project, we could not have predicted the variety of outcomes it would achieve. It was certainly hard to get going and difficult to decide a methodology that would achieve our objectives. We are now focussed on bringing the project to a successful conclusion at the end of the year (extended from the end of July 2011) and feel that in addition to the fulfilment of the objectives it will also have achieved so much more.
There has been a continual flow of new archive material coming into the Record Office, but also a continual flow of people, both individuals and groups, many of whom are experiencing archives for the first time. It is not possible at this stage to predict how many volunteers will have been involved with the project by the end. There are currently almost 30 who come to the Record Office to work on a regular basis, and an unquantifiable number working on the project at a distance.
This has been an ideal opportunity for people wanting to gain work experience and for history students from the local university to work on the project as part of their course placement. They work on a huge range of tasks, including cataloguing, scanning, recording oral histories, evaluating archive material, creating bibliographies, research projects, proofreading, etc., etc. It has been an opportunity to develop many new skills and interests and the impact of the project on some of the volunteers has been huge. One wrote very recently ‘I’m amazed how the project has influenced my life!’
Giving Inspiration, support and Advice
Our work with community archive and history groups has been very rewarding. We have been able to give inspiration, support and advice to newly formed or struggling groups, who are benefitting from linking in to the project. Our four archive workshops that give information on cataloguing and the conservation of documents have been popular and we plan more during the coming summer.
Our biggest regret is that the project is so short. There are so many possibilities and we have so many ideas. Perhaps in the future we will be able to carry out some of these ideas via a new project.
For more information about the project and for benefactors who might wish to see the project extended (!) please contact:
West Sussex Record Office,
West Sussex, PO19 1RN
Tel: 01243 753622