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The Women’s Voluntary Service is mistaken for the Women’s Vegetarian Society

October 1st was world vegetarian day and heralded the start of international vegetarian week. Most people probably see dietary requirements and other lifestyle choices when it comes to what we eat as a relatively new and modern concept. However vegetarianism has deep roots from ancient world including the Greeks to the National Vegetarian society (Britain) formed in the nineteenth century. So as you can see it is not new and this means we can share with you some fascinating insights into the thoughts of WVS members on vegetarian’s in the 1940s and 1950s.

Extracts from Spinach and Beet – the diary of a centre organiser

TUESDAY. How careful one has to be when wearing uniform: one's slightest word is taken literally. Among ourselves in the office we have dubbed as "vegetarians" the members who come to peel vegetables for Meals on Wheels. ("How many vegetarians are wanted on Thursday?" "We shall want an extra vegetarian on Tuesday when there's Lancashire hot-pot "-and so on.) Apparently similar remarks were overheard on a 'bus or somewhere equally public, as we were telephoned this morning by someone who wanted to join "The W.V.S. Yes: The Women's Vegetarian Society-such a splendid idea!" - WVS Bulletin No.118 October 1949 p.7

Friday.-Now that Mrs. Young's small boy attends kindergarten in the mornings, she is free to help us and to-day she signed an Enrolment Form. On his first day home from school he said to her excitedly:  "Oh Mummy, there are ever so many foreign children in my class: there's a French boy and a Norwegian, and a Hungarian and- and a Vegetarian. What country does a Vegetarian come from, Mummy?” - WVS Bulletin No.1 48 April 1952 p.6

Extract from Nature and other Notes reports for WVS members serving overseas

A great neurosis about our fauna seems to have swept over England, and even Tothill Street has succumbed! I must admit that the crabs are unprepossessing and the rats not house-trained, but with a little ingenuity and a tin of poison one can avoid having to hob-nob with them.



The rats are not really rats at all. They are large sand-mice called "taboa" (not "jerboa" as appeared in one paper). They are vegetarian and non-disease- carrying. They are incredibly bold, greedy and noisy, and not at all fussy about where they leave their droppings. We have waged chemical warfare against them, and at one stage felt we would have to move. - WVS Buletin No.221 May 1958 p.5


Recipes to try out

Now perhaps you are trying to think of something to eat to celebrate world vegetarian day, so why not try one of these. I am sorry about the tripe as I'm pretty sure this is not a veggie option.




Remember it is #AskAnArchivist day on 4th October Tweet @RVSarchives with your questions.

Posted by Jennifer Hunt, Deputy Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 02 October 2017.

Labels: vegetarian, WVS, World War II, Bulletin

Salvage reports from Melton Mowbray

One of WVS’s main wartime activities was salvage; many of the WVS Centre Organisers kept fairly extensive notes on their salvage activities. Their activties were usually described within the monthly Narrative Reports. Occasionally however, some of the original reports written by WVS Salvage Officers which influenced those reports were retained and sent to Headquarters. The Salvage Officer for Melton Mowbray (in Leicestershire) is just one example as many of her monthly accounts have been kept in the Archive & Heritage Collection alongside the monthly Narrative Reports they accompany. These reports provide a detailed account of the salvage activities Melton Mowbray during the Second World War. Lets take a closer look at some of those reports.

Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, January 1942 (Page 4)

It is clear from this report that Melton Mowbray had improved its salvage activity compared to the previous year. This was largely due to the fact that the town engaged in creating salvage awareness. Equally impressive, was the collation of information regarding local businesses and their methods of paper disposal. This would have allowed the WVS to have access to a greater amount of paper that could be salvaged and consequently re-pulped. The efficiency of Salvage Organiser is not to be underestimated.

Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, April 1942 (page 10)

This report illustrates how the WVS in Melton Mowbray contributed to persuading the nation of the importance of salvage. For example, members of the WVS visited Nottingham University to listen to a well-attended lecture on salvage activities. After listening to the speech, they set up their own series of lectures within local schools. This was to help facilitate the Cog Scheme, which encouraged children to participate in salvage collection. These talks proved to be highly successful, as salvage collections in every borough began to increase significantly. After these early accomplishments, the WVS introduced rewards to continue to encourage children to help with the collections. For example, badges representing a cog-wheel was an excellent way of rewarding the most enthusiastic children. Melton Mowbray’s Salvage Organiser was also highly keen on winning the regional waste paper competition.

Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire October 1942 (page 24)

Despite having a population of only 12,000 citizens, Melton Mowbray had managed to collect 14cwts of bones in the month of September In today’s terms, this works out as 711kg. This figure was considered to be a considerable achievement by the WVS in Melton, because bone collection had always been the most difficult of all the salvageable materials to obtain. This was partly due to the fact that people did not enjoy the smell and general unpleasantness surrounded by food waste. To counteract this problem, the WVS responded accordingly by introducing bins for bones that would contain the odour issue.

Overall these reports illustrate the importance of salvage to Melton Mowbray and the effort WVS went to during the Second World War to boost moral and reach targets for collecting salvage. The stories told from the point of view of the salvage office have been retained and survived for over 70 years. They have been digitised and published online, you can go to Archive Online and search for them or use our handy Guide to Archive Online page. Hopefully you will discover many more stories about salvage.

Posted by Jacob Bullus, Archives Assistant (Digitisation) at 09:00 Monday, 25 September 2017.

Labels: Melton Mowbray, Salvage, WVS, World War II, Narrative Reports

A rose by any other name

(or an archivist by any other name would still be an archivist)

Very recently there has been a lot of discussion about what an archivist is and how they identify themselves within the world of heritage and history. The most recent term to be used is the Hybrid Archivist. They are defined as an archivist who manages hybrid collections (mix of analogue and digital) but also bring traditional and new skills together, but isn’t this what every archivist has been doing, even since Jenkinson and Schellenberg’s time?

The rapid changes in technology, culture and society through the twentieth and twenty-first Centuries have meant archivists have had to adapt new ways to conserve archives such as film, cassette tapes, CDs and photographs. Looking after a collection does not just mean preserving it archivists should have IT, communication, volunteer management and social media experience to name a few examples. Thus again I will point out that archivists should be whatever their collections need them to be to balance preservation and access. They should not be trying to identify themselves to fit with new terms or theoretical thinking.

Here at the Royal Voluntary Service we use a range of skills every day for example this was all the different tasks we completed last Monday.

08:00 – arrived at the archive on foot, I could not be bothered to get the bicycle out of the shed. Checked emails for enquiries had none and proceed to start my “favourite” job labelling. Our Archives Assistant also arrives and sets up the digitisation equipment to begin photographing more Narrative Reports written between 1943 and 1945.

09:00 – first volunteers arrive one is working on sorting a photograph collection, the other is writing a blog we have a quick discussion about this and other jobs which can be done today.

10:30 – the blog is finished and ready to be posted, my labelling is abandoned for a while I lay this up, post it online, send out update to mailing lists and prepare social media posts. In this time two more volunteers have arrived they are repackaging and have a question about the reference for Radnorshire it is RAD.

11:00 – discussion with volunteer who is working on a local office collection about how to create labels for the boxes. Also talk about Continue with my own labelling. Man arrives to check the fire alarms.

12:00 - an enquiry has arrived as I have chosen to answer any enquiries today I work on this. The enquirer wants to know if we have any images for Carshalton WVS making Chess Pieces out of Cotton reels in World War II we do, which is a nice surprise and I ask them to fill in a copyright form. Also help volunteer who is working on the photograph collection to identify what is happening in each image and where they belong in the collection.

1:00 – Lunch time conversation turns to The Silk Worm and Strictly Come Dancing

2:00 – back to work on the labelling for the afternoon as well as the odd administrative task.

Posted by Jennifer Hunt, Deputy Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 18 September 2017.

Labels: Archivist, Royal Voluntary Service, Hybrid, Access, Preservation, skills

My Archive Journey - Part Two

Learning to structure a catalogue for an accession at the Royal Voluntary Service

In my last blog I wrote about my first experience of the accession process, for the Royal Voluntary Service Archives & Heritage Collection, as I unpacked the extensive records of the Ebley Silver Threads over 60s Club, that had been collated by Mary Curtis the leader of the Gloucestershire Club from 1966 to 2008. In this month’s blog however I turn my attention to my first encounter of structuring and cataloguing, which began after the receipt of a signed gift agreement from the collection custodian to transfer the documents to the archive.

The first step was to design a suitable structure, so that the collection could be incorporated into the searchable archive, based on the initial review of the contents. It would have been a daunting task were it not for the helpful beginners guide to hierarchical archive structures, included in volume 6 of the WRVS Heritage Bulletin, and the comprehensively mapped out catalogue structure helpfully pinned to the archive storeroom wall. In the course of reviewing the documents it had become apparent that despite the inclusion of the personal records of Mary Curtis, detailing her association with the WRVS over 46 years, it should be classified as the records of a local office as it covered the activities of the Stroud and Gloucestershire group over an extensive period.

This meant that the collection Fonds (WRVS) and Sub Fonds (LO) levels of the catalogue structure were quickly in place, and the Series based on the location of the activity could be determined. As Ebley is situated in the Stroud region of Gloucestershire the question was therefore only whether the village was in the rural or urban area. Surprisingly however, this was not a straightforward answer as it appeared to be referenced both ways, but ultimately it was decided that it was most often classified as being in the Stroud Urban District and so the Series abbreviation was settled upon (STD UD). An abbreviation of Ebley Silver Threads over 60s Club could then be slotted easily into the Sub Series (E-ST) level.

Thereafter, the catalogue structure only needed to be developed into Files, Sub Files and if appropriate Items. To aid this construction process a large sheet of paper was found and an outline of what the collection should look like was mapped out from the notes taken during the preliminary review.

As the bulk of the collection was made up of the photographic records of the week long Club holidays around the United Kingdom, which many members of the Club participated in between 1970 and 2007, this became the first File (HOL) with the individual locations as Sub-Files. This meant that the Sub File abbreviations could adopt an existing structure used elsewhere in the archive. Other Files were also incorporated for the Club Activities (ACTV) which were not associated with the holidays, such as Easter Bonnet making or the more frequent activities such as Christmas parties and day trips. For Member linked activity (MEMB) such as gatherings for birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and departures another File was added.

As a WRVS Local Office there were also circular notices (CN) and regional publications (PUB) to include (which would have a wider relevance within the archive) as well as the Club records such as meeting minutes (MIN), general administration (ADMIN), finance (FIN), publicity (PBY). All of these were references which had been created previously in other catalogued projects and consequently the utilisation of them for this collection helped maintain consistency across the catalogue.

Finally there also needed to be space to incorporate the personal records of Mary Curtis (CURM). This File included Sub-Files for all the letters and correspondence (CORR), newspaper cuttings (NEWS), ideas and reminders (NOTES) she accumulated in her role as Club Leader, as well as the recognition (AWARD) she received over the course of her work with the older citizens of Ebley from 1962 to 2008, as a dedicated member of the WRVS.

Once the structure was complete the processing could begin with items carefully gathered together and referenced in accordance with the entry into the archive catalogue (CALM). Throughout this process the original order of the collection was maintained in the physical files. Whilst the majority of the documents received were incorporated into the catalogue, with only those not connected to the WRVS Club or which were available in other archives excluded, only a selection of the photographs from each of the holidays were included. No restrictions were placed on how many photographs could be included in the final catalogued collection but images were selected based on content or if annotations had been added. Overall the selected photographs for cataloguing were those which it was felt could visually record, describe and place the activities of the Club.

I have now finished processing this accession (phew!) and the catalogue records will be online next time we update the Archive Online pages. Until then I will be applying my new skills to the Aylesbury Local Office Collection!

Posted by Elaine Titcombe, Volunteer at 11:00 Monday, 11 September 2017.

Labels: Catalogue, WRVS, Darby and Joan, Stroud, Gloucestershire, Archive

Who are we?

"The archivist is dead long live the archivist"

Last week I attended my first Archives and Records Association (ARA) Conference in Manchester, where the main theme appeared to be how we identify ourselves as Archivists and how the heritage sector is changing. Ideas ranged from the definition of appraisal, search room experience, community engagement and skills. However the main topic of discussion was the role of the Archivist.

There appeared to be a move away from the traditional archivist protector of records and preserver of history with a set of core skills which stood them apart from the museum curator. In their place stands the postmodern archivist who is all things to all men, a heritage professional, throwing open the doors of the archive, engaging with the community and letting go of their control. By this they mean  allowing others use the archive how they want and not be told how it should be used or how they can access it.  

Looking into the theory is all well and good but what about the practicalities of being an archivist, how are these ideas applied.

Let’s put this into the context of the Royal Voluntary Service Archive & Heritage Collection and a more practical definition of an archivist. In my career I have worn a few different guises as a cataloguing coordinator, project archivist and deputy archivist and have moved from traditional to sort of post-modern to somewhere in-between. Most of what was said at conference applied to local record offices who are becoming destinations for tourists like museums and facing different situations to a charity/specialist collection.

Here the role of an archivist is to preserve the history of the WVS, WRVS and Royal Voluntary Service and to make sure it is accessible now and in the future through cataloguing, digitisation, and a remote enquiry service and through working with colleagues managing our services. The Archivists are also there to support the work of the charity. It is not yet time for us to let go but we can still be innovative e.g. Voices of Volunteering and Hidden history of a million wartime women. These were projects which came from and where directed by the archives but upheld the values of the postmodern archivist and did them well; including community engagement (local, national, global) and providing access to records and information about the charity. We also hold what might be deemed a museum collection of objects and uniform but we care for them as archivists. We don’t yet have exhibition space to display these items but make them accessible through remote outreach such as our timeline. In this archive we are a mix of the two perhaps we should be called revisionist archivists not quite in the time of Jenkinson but pragmatic enough to change and develop when necessary. Essentially we don’t prioritise preservation or access but try to balance them out.

As with many things there is no definite definition of an archivist because it depends on many factors including where you work and the collections you work with. The Archivist is whoever we or our collections need us to be.

Posted by Jennifer Hunt, Deputy Archivist at 12:00 Monday, 04 September 2017.

Labels: Archivist, Archives, Royal Voluntary Service, Heritage, Preservation, Access

A Wartime Paper Journey

Throughout the Second World War, rationing became an integral part of British society. Unknown to most, paper rationing had a significant impact on the manufacturing of the WVS Narrative Reports. As I hope to illustrate this week the differences, in the layout and quality of the paper they were written on between 1939 and 1941, are particularly stark.

Above is one of the WVS's earliest reports from Middlesbrough written in November 1938. Interestingly, the original orientation of a WVS Narrative Report was landscape unlike the familiar portrait reports of later years. Under  imperial paper sizes, an original report was classified as foolscap as it measured 13 x 8 inches. The weight and quality of this pre-war paper is also particularly noteworthy as it retains an almost card-like feel compared to later reports.

Looking at this 1939 report above, it is clearly apparent that the layout and quality of the Narrative Report has changed. After its inception in May 1938, the WVS became increasingly prominent in society. The design of the Narrative Reports’ reflect this change as they start to look more official from this year onwards. Due to the outbreak of war, the paper quality of the diaries also begins to decline from around September. As a result, the majority of reports from 1939 have significant differences in paper quality.

1940 brought the introduction of the portrait report. It is clear to see that the WVS has established itself as a formidable organisation, as the top of the report  contained a list of set criteria to help the Centre Organiser write her account. As the WVS were the masters of make do and mend, the new portrait reports returned to the high quality paper of 1938. Whilst we are unsure exactly why this is, it is suspected that the WVS started producing the reports themselves as opposed to outsourcing the printing. With Lady Reading at the helm, it is almost unsurprising that they returned to paper of substantial quality.

1941 marks the most important transition for the design and feel of an original WVS Narrative Report. The organisation continues with the foolscap portrait design until September of that year. After this, the WVS moved to a smaller quarto sized document (10 x 8 inches) that was produced out of thin, poorer quality repulped wartime paper. Naturally, the main reason behind this decision was to ensure that more paper could be produced nationally by trading off the quality of the material. Somewhat ironically, these later reports are substantially more fragile than their earlier counterparts.

Despite this, their stories are of equal significance. To make sure of this, a lot of WVS Centre Organisers were much more inclined to write on the back of the document to ensure everything had been recorded.

After 1941, the quality of the paper remained unchanged until the end of the war. Occasionally however, you do see an original design pop up in later years. The ideas of salvage and recycling were of course still at the back of members minds. I hope you have enjoyed this short Journey through wartime paper and for more stories from the Narrative Reports you can visit and search Archive Online.

Posted by Jacob Bullus, Archives Assistant (Digitisation) at 09:00 Monday, 28 August 2017.

Labels: WVS, Narrative Report, World War II, Paper

"The Effect of a Cup of Tea is magical"

This week we bring you another Heritage Bulletin Vlog, the script can be seen below.

Hello and welcome back to another Heritage Bulletin Vlog  we’ve been very busy over the last few months with lots of exciting projects like the launch of our Narrative reports on our online archive.

In 1950 a report called WVS Work in Hospitals, said that “the effect of a cup of tea is magical” and looking at the many objects which represent tea and its importance to the organisation is like looking down a rabbit hole, you never know what you might find. Here in front of me are just a couple of examples of the mugs and tea pots we have produced over the years.

Providing tea and food during World War II was a main feature of WVS work so I thought I’d share a tea related story with you this week called Caravan Canteen.

“A hospital train pulled into the siding. Stretcher-bearers clambered out. They set their stretchers down and the casualties came to life and converged upon us. We were surrounded. “Coffee? Tea? Soup?”

The soup came out of the tap in a reddish gush into the white mug. An aged man conspicuously labelled fractured femur sniffed at it with the sagacity of an ancient foxhound. “Tomato soup”, I improvised. “Or would you rather have tea?” fractured Femur nodded. I drew off a mugful from the other urn. It swirled into the mug with a deep and greenish look, as if from the dark backward and abysm of time.

“WVS colours, huh?” said a voice in the crowd”. But they drank up, and after the first urn was emptied the tea came out a better colour."

That’s all we have time for but you can read the full story by clicking on the link below.

WVS Bulletin March 1940 page 7

Posted by Jennifer Hunt, Deputy Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 21 August 2017.

Labels: WVS, WRVS, Royal Voluntary Service, Tea, Canteen, World War II

National Potato Day (USA)



The potato is probably one of the most used and versatile vegetables in the world. On Saturday 19th it is National Potato Day in the USA on 7th October it will be National Potato Day in the Ireland and in 2018 UK National Potato day will be 26th January. So instead of having to wait till next year I thought this week we would celebrate with the USA sharing a recent and interesting find by the Archivist in the Miscellaneous Memoranda files on Queen’s Messenger Convoys; WVS Food Department potato recipes.



Potato Pastry

Cook and mash potatoes thoroughly.
The best method is to bake the potatoes in their jackets, then remove the insides for use in pastry. By this means they are completely dry, and make a more satisfactory pastry than when the potatoes are moistened by steaming or boiling.

6 lbs. flour.
3 lbs. potatoes.
3 lbs. fat (as much margarine as possible).
Salt

Cheese Potatoes

Large Potatoes.
Grated Cheese.
A little milk.
Seasoning.

Bake the .potatoes in their skins. When cooked, split open, scoop out- the insides and mix with grated cheese and a little milk and seasoning. Stir over a low fire and then replace mixture inside the potatoes. Put under the grill or in the oven for a few moments-before serving.

Casserole of Potato

1 oz. dripping. 1/2 pint stock or milk. 1 egg. 1 lb. potatoes, 1 lb. carrots. 1 oz. oatmeal.

Scrub the potatoes and boil them gently in a very little water. When they are nearly cooked, drain off the liquid reserving it for stock. Let the potatoes finish cooking in their own steam covering closely with a folded cloth under the lid and standing at the side of the stove until floury. Remove the skins and mash well. Add the beaten egg and mash well. Grease a cake tin and coat it with brown breadcrumbs. Press in the mashed potatoes to form a thick lining to the tin. Bake in a hot oven for 20 minutes. Meanwhile dice the carrots, having 15 minutes and mix them with-a sauce made from the fat, oatmeal and liquid. Season and heat the mixture. When the potato casserole is cooked, turn it out and fill it with the carrot mixture. Place it in the oven for a few minutes and serve piping hot.


WVS Bulletin March 1941

Pink Potatoes


1 lb. potatoes
2 medium sized raw beetroots. 1 oz. margarine,
1 tablespoonful milk.

Boil the beetroots whole until tender (about 2 hours) taking care not to break the skins. When cooked skin them quickly and mash to a pulp and pass them through a sieve. In the meantime the potatoes should have been scraped and boiled in their skins- and when cooked peel and mash with margarine and milk. Mix potato and beetroot, together until thoroughly blended. Season with pepper and salt, put into a vegetable dish, cover and reheat in oven for a few moments.

Sausage rolls

Prepare potato pastry and roll it out in a long strip - about 4-5 inches wide. Place skinned sausage Or sausage meat down centre of pastry. Season. Moisten edges and fold pastry over the sausages. Cut into individual sausage rolls and mark with a fork or knife. Bake in a hot oven for about 20/30 minutes.

Skinned sausages or sausage meat.
Potato Pastry.
Seasoning.

Potato Scones

4. oz. Mashed potatoes.6 oz. Plain flour. teaspoonful salt.
2 level teaspoonful-baking powder, 2 oz. fat.
1/2 - 2/3 cupful of milk.

Sieve the flour and salt and baking-powder into a basin and rub in fat. Stir in potatoes until well mixed. Add sufficient milk to make a stiff dough. Turn on to lightly floured board. Knead lightly and roll to half inch thickness. Cut into small rounds, glaze top with a little milk and bake on a greased baking sheet in a hot oven for a quarter of an hour.

More recipes and stories like the one below from October 1943 can be found in the Bulletin; some of the Miscellaneous Memoranda files were recently catalogued and the catalogue entries can be found by searching Archive Online. For more help searching our records please see the guide to archive online or contact our enquiry service.

Let us know if you have a go at any of our recipes.


Posted by Jennifer Hunt, Deputy Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 14 August 2017.

Labels: WVS, Miscellaneous Memoranda, Queen's Messenger Convoys, WVS Food Department, recipies, Potato

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

Navigating through the Narrative Reports

As already discussed in a previous blog, Updating the online catalogue, we have just released the digitised copies of the diaries (1938-1942) from the Hidden Histories of a Million Wartime Women project collectively known as the Narrative Reports. To ensure that everybody has the opportunity to read them, this trusty guide should hopefully help you navigate your way through the thousands of diaries that are available to read online. Before discovering this endless historical source, I advise topping up the midnight oil!

The first stage is to go to the Archive Online page. I would then suggest clicking on Advanced Search as this will help you find your area of interest a lot easier. Due to the geographical nature of the collection, the easiest way to find a diary that will interest you is to search for a town, city or county. Enter your chosen area into the keyword(s) section, (Bath, for example) and then select Narrative Report from the drop down menu in the category section. After clicking search at the bottom of the page your choice of centre should hopefully appear.



If your centre of choice does appear in the search result, it will be listed chronologically. It is important to remember that not all centres were established in 1938, so some places may not have records from the earliest years. Nevertheless, click on your chosen year of preference (I am sure you will end up reading every year anyway) and scroll down to the section named Media Download.

This is where you will find the wonderful stories of the WVS. Simply click on the PDF link and a document containing all the reports for that year will be available to read as many times as you like. Each report has been individually photographed and cropped using our editing software to ensure that you get the best reading experience. I hope that this guide will help you navigate through the abundant memories of the WVS. If you are experiencing any problems or you are have difficulty accessing the Narrative Reports, please contact our enquiry service. We are only too happy to help you read though this unique collection of stories and volunteer experiences.

To help encourage you to start perusing the wealth of the Narrative Reports, here is an interesting little snippet describing the instructions for air raid precautions from a local Housewives’ Section meeting that took place in the city of Bath on 13th July 1942.



Posted by Jacob Bullus. Archives Assistant at 09:00 Monday, 31 July 2017.

Labels: Narrative Report, Bath, WVS, Archive Online