A rchivist ’s top tips


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Se­nior ar­chiv­ist Rhys Grif­fith: “Here­ford­shire FHS, which is very ac­tive and sup­port­ive, has pro­duced com­pre­hen­sive in­dexes to the lo­cal reg­is­trar’s records of births, mar­riages and deaths, as well as other datasets, such as all mar­riages in the county and list­ings of mon­u­men­tal in­scrip­tions. Th­ese are avail­able on our pub­lic ac­cess com­put­ers and for sale on the so­ci­ety’s web­site ( here­ford­shirefhs.org.uk).” not find it nec­es­sary, as they oc­ca­sion­ally did in the old build­ing, to pile on the lay­ers.”

Wide-rang­ing ar­chive

As a county and dioce­san ar­chive ser­vice, within the build­ing you will find ar­chives from a wide range of bod­ies, in­clud­ing the dio­cese of Here­ford, all Here­ford­shire Church of Eng­land parishes, lo­cal govern­ment in­sti­tu­tions from the 15th cen­tury to the present day, law courts, hospi­tals, schools, landed es­tates and manors, busi­nesses and “a mul­ti­plic­ity of lo­cal or­gan­i­sa­tions from the WI to the Scouts”.

Rhys says: “The parish records, of course, are the cen­tral re­source for fam­ily his­to­ri­ans and, af­ter a sus­tained and proac­tive cam­paign of sur­veys and col­lec­tion over the past seven One ex­cel­lent re­source is Here­ford­shire His­tory ( here­ford­shire­his­tory.org.uk), ini­tially funded by the Her­itage Lot­tery Fund as part of the Here­ford­shire in the Great War pro­ject. It is run by Here­ford­shire Li­braries and hosts digi­tised ma­te­rial from li­braries, ar­chives and mu­seum col­lec­tions. The web­site is par­tic­u­larly rich in digi­tised lo­cal news­pa­pers, in­clud­ing the Here­ford Times, Here­ford Jour­nal, Ross Gazette, Leominster News, Led­bury Guardian and King­ton Reporter. Other wartime items in­clude pho­tos, burial records, his­toric maps, post­cards and let­ters. The site also in­cludes copies of en­tries for buri­als at the Here­ford mu­nic­i­pal ceme­tery, and it con­tin­ues to ex­pand, with pho­to­graphic col­lec­tions of lo­cal peo­ple, events and places cur­rently be­ing digi­tised.

The cur­rent ar­chive web­site ( here­ford­shire. gov.uk/ar­chives) has use­ful in­for­ma­tion and re­search tools, such as in­dexes and a list of names on county war memo­ri­als ( bit.ly/1Pry­wyK). Rhys re­ports that in the fu­ture the sec­tion will be sep­a­rated from the main coun­cil web­site. “We hope it will be­come more in­for­ma­tive and easy to use. We have plans to digi­tise more col­lec­tions and make them avail­able on the web­site.”

Self-taught, Here­ford-born ar­chae­ol­o­gist Al­fred Watkins pub­lishes Early Bri­tish Track­ways, coin­ing the phrase ‘ley lines’. Though grounded in se­ri­ous ob­ser­va­tion, his ideas will later be given a su­per­nat­u­ral or mys­ti­cal sig­nif­i­cance.

The Box of De­lights, a chil­dren’s fan­tasy novel about a mag­i­cal box that al­lows the owner to shrink, fly or en­ter a mag­i­cal world, is au­thored by Led­bury-born Poet Lau­re­ate John Masefield.

Mean­while, some in­ter­est­ing sources that can be found via Genuki in­clude a guide to pro­bate records ( genuki.org.uk/big/eng/ HEF/ Pro­bateRecords/about), plus there’s Wills of Here­ford­shire, con­tain­ing ab­stracts of pro­bate records at willsdb.guku­tils.org.uk/ HEF/in­dex. html. The coun­cil’s old Here­ford­shire Through Time web­site ( htt.here­ford­shire.gov.uk/27. aspx) is dated but in­ter­est­ing, and there are lots of fas­ci­nat­ing old pho­to­graphs avail­able via old­here­ford­pics.blogspot.co.uk. You can also fol­low @ Old­Here­ford­Pics on Twit­ter.

The Here­ford­shire FHS web­site ( here­ford­shirefhs.org.uk) is full of sug­ges­tions, guides and con­tacts, and there are lo­cal his­tory so­ci­eties such as the Brom­yard and District Lo­cal His­tory So­ci­ety, whose web­site is in­for­ma­tive ( brom­yard­his­to­ryso­ci­ety.org.uk). Also try the Me­dia Ar­chive of Cen­tral Eng­land ( macearchive. org). Some of its high­lights are now avail­able to view on the BFI Player as part of the Bri­tain on Film pro­ject ( bfi.org.uk/bri­tain- on-film).

Fi­nally, to ex­plore a digi­tised ver­sion of the il­lus­trated 1811 work Pomona Here­for­di­en­sis, de­scrib­ing lo­cally grown va­ri­eties of cider ap­ples and perry pears, go to news.here­ford­shire. gov.uk/leisure/51406.asp.

One of the best­p­re­served ex­am­ples of El­iz­a­bethan wall paint­ing is un­cov­ered by work­ers strip­ping wall­pa­per from the walls of the town coun­cil of­fices in Church Lane, Led­bury.

The Here­ford­shire Fam­ily His­tory So­ci­ety web­site

The ex­cel­lent Here­ford­shire His­tory web­site

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