My Archive Journey Part One

Learning to deal with an accession at the Royal Voluntary Service

Following my initial introduction to the wide array of resources held by the Royal Voluntary Service Archive & Heritage Collection, and the subsequent publication of my first Heritage Bulletin blog at the beginning of February 2017, my primary experience of an accession to the archive came in the form of a collection accumulated by the leader of the ‘Ebley Silver Threads over 60's Club’, Mrs Mary Curtis. This submission to the archive followed directly on from an interview for the ‘Voices of Volunteering’ project conducted by the Deputy Archivist, Jennifer Hunt, with Mary late in 2015.

The collection, which had been maintained by Mary between 1962 and 2008, first in her capacity as a member of WVS and subsequently as the club leader after 1966, had arrived at the archive in January 2016 following an enquiry from the custodian of the documents. It came in a hefty and bulging briefcase, along with two large and very full cardboard boxes. My first task was consequently to unpack the collection, whilst maintaining the original order, so that a preliminary assessment of the contents could be made.

Initially it had been thought that the collection was comprised mainly of the photographs and the personal records and mementoes of Mary in her association with the WRVS (now Royal Voluntary Service) and the Ebley Silver Threads club, but during this review it soon became apparent that rather than a personal collection, it would be better categorised as the records of a local office. The Ebley Silver Threads over 60's Club’ had been formed in 1966 by Mary and a few other members of the WRVS upon their recognition that no social group existed for the older members of their local community in the urban region of Stroud, Gloucestershire. Whilst identified as a local club by its members, it was nevertheless part of the wide range of older persons’ welfare work conducted by the organisation, belonging to the service originally known nationwide as the ‘Darby and Joan Clubs’.

As a consequence included amongst the documents were several WVS Circular Notices such as, "Model Rules for the Constitution of a Local Darby and Joan Club run by WVS", “"WVS Darby and Joan Clubs, Notes for the Guidance of Leaders" and “WVS Insurance in Darby and Joan Clubs”. In addition there were blank ‘Older People's Club’ membership cards which recorded subscription payments, and a WRVS newssheet on “Meals on Wheels and Lunch Clubs”.

At the club level there was a minute book of Committee Meetings and the Annual General Meetings between 1971 and 2008, extracts from the financial records and statements, in addition to copies of the letters and correspondence sent and received by Mary in her role as club leader. Whilst the bulk of the collection related to the holidays and activities organised for the club members, and was made up in particular of the photographs taken of the group, there were also records of the recognition paid and awards given to Mary by the WRVS and her local community for her work and commitment to the older citizens in Ebley and the surrounding area.

Overall there was no doubt that this collection fitted with the collection policy of the archive and that it would be a valuable addition. As a consequence a gift agreement was therefore sought from the custodian to allow work to proceed to incorporate it into the archive.

Look out for my next blog in September when I will describe my next stage of the journey: learning to catalogue the collection.

Posted by Elaine Titcombe, Archive & Heritage Collection Volunteer at 09:00 Monday, 07 August 2017.

Labels: Accession, WVS, WRVS, Gloucestershire, Stroud, Darby & Joan

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