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.
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.
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.