SEND US YOUR STORIES!
With local archives, it may be a case of ‘use it or lose it’
We welcome your research stories and family photographs: email@example.com write to the address on page3!
The summer seemed to go so quickly this year – but it was full of interest and controversy for family historians and other history researchers, with the news – rapidly backtracked on – from Northamptonshire Archives that they would be only offering what they termed ‘free access’ to its resources up to 1pm, several times a week, with researchers being charged over £30 to visit in the afternoons (see pages 7 and 10). Understandably, this caused great consternation amongst its users, and although the unpopularity of the decision meant that the plan was quickly revised, it has left many of us who regularly use archives concerned that where Northamptonshire has ventured, other archives might follow. Do councils truly see the value of archives, if they think restricting access is the way forward, or do they genuinely have no choice, when faced with limited budgets and strained resources?
Perhaps the message should be that we should make the most of our archives, and show how much they are needed. This can be easier said than done when some are not easy to get to; for example, last month, I visited Herefordshire Archives, walking there from the railway station and back – a nine-mile journey! There are certainly obstacles to visiting – from location to opening hours – but however useful and easy it may be to look at some records online, there will always be documents that are only available on site. Therefore, with local archives, it may be a case of ‘use it or lose it’.
But enough of the bad news. This month we have our usual varied features, with a focus on theatrical ancestors, as I’m sure many of you are like me and have actors and other theatrical professionals in your family tree! We also look at politicians, firefighters and private teachers among others – and, as always, we’d welcome your suggestions for features you’d like to see in future issues.
Perhaps the message should be that we should show how much our archives are needed
Cover image: Shutterstock/Everett Collection