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Welcome to this month’s heritage bulletin blog, it’s a little bit later than usual but it is holiday season and we have been working on some exciting projects; more on that in future blogs. This month we thought we would discuss the best ways that you our readers can use the Heritage Collection. We will explore what resources we have, what help we can offer and give examples of how our heritage has been used in the past.
ArchiveOnline is a fully searchable catalogue contains listings, many with preview images of a selection of historical material housed in our Archive & Heritage Collection. It is also the gateway to our digital, downloadable version of all 419 issues of the WVS/WRVS Bulletin from 1939-1974, over 60 Oral Histories and the 84,000 pages of the WVS Narrative Reports 1938-1945.
There is also a guide available to help you use our extensive catalogue; Guide to searching the Archive Online.
Why not have a go at running a search and see what you can find!
Read our fact sheets and tell us if you think there is topics we should include
From an in-depth analysis to a short overview of the history and origins of some of the charities most enquired about services.
More detailed fact sheets can be found on the Royal Voluntary Service websit
e and include among others:
• Hidden Histories of a Million Wartime Women - kickstarter updates
• Welfare work in hospitals 1938 - 2013
• Origins of WVS
• WVS Housewives' Service
• One in Five
On our school resources pages Voices of Volunteering
you’ll also find brief overviews of many services including among others: ·
• Books on Wheels
• Clothing Depots
• Good Neighbours
• Lunch Clubs
• Services Welfare
While we have an extensive rage of factsheets if you’re looking for information on a particular topic please let us know.
Read past blogs and follow us on social media
As you are already doing you can keep up to date with the Archive and find out about the history of the Charity in this blog. An archive of these blogs
is also available on the right of the page.
Also we are very active each week on Twitter
and Facebook, why not follow us to keep up to date.
Ask us a question
We are here to help and answer all your questions about our history and our Heritage Collection. If you have a burning question for us then get in touch and email us firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have many many questions needing an answer or researching a particular topic in depth then why not come and visit us, the collection is open by appointment only the first Tuesday and Wednesday of each month, 10:00-16:00 (closed for lunch between 13:00-14:00). To ensure we can provide a high standard of service, access is by appointment only and we ask that these are made at least a month in advance. You can find more information here about this service.
Of course we all assume the traditional archive audience is academics, historians (of different disciplines depending on your archive) and genealogists. Archival audiences are also those who have traditionally been represented by them. I could in site the usual pale, male and stale but I know from personal experience this simply isn’t true. In 2015/16 we used our oral histories, publications, photographs and documents to create the Voices of Volunteering School Resources. These resources are for teachers to use with students age 14+ studying Citizenship, PHSE, English language and History or who are involved in extracurricular activities such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award. Titled Citizenship and Service, the activities and oral histories illustrate to students the significance of volunteering through the volunteers’ own eyes and how volunteering has adapted to the changing needs in society. The resources are available free for all. Visit Voices of Volunteering: 75 Years of Citizenship and Service.
There you have it six of the simplest ways to make the best of Royal Voluntary Service’s Heritage Collection. Hopefully you’ll try some of them if not all of them out in the near future. Of course there are other ways you can use the Heritage collection and perhaps you will let us know how you have been using it.
First I think I should apologise for not posting anything in January. It has though been rather a busy month for us, with the inevitable last minute preparations for the launch of the Archive online and the opening of the enquiry service on the 14 January. We have had a minor flood of enquiries come in on subjects ranging from the classic “My grandmother was in the WVS, what can you tell me about her?” to a rather more difficult request from a postgraduate student on very specific aspects of WVS post war Civil Defence work. This has given the volunteers and myself a whole new purpose and we are really enjoying the varied nature of the research and the opportunity to learn more about the many aspects of WRVS’ history.
So over the next couple of months we will be concentrating on continuing to answer enquiries (do please keep them coming) and helping people prepare for the 75th anniversary celebrations which kick off in May.
I thought I would finish off with a little bit about one of five WVS members who received the George medal for Bravery during WWII, something I came across while doing an enquiry the other day. Some of you may already know Grace Rattenbury’s story, but others may not.
Grace was a member of Bermondsey WVS and with little regard for her own safety assisted in the evacuation of women and children from the Surrey commercial docks in Rotherhithe at the beginning of the London Blitz in September 1940. The docks were alight and the fire threatened to cut people off from the mainland. There was only one singles span bridge left, and the road was extremely dangerous because of the growing fire, bomb damage and delayed action bombs. In spite of all this Grace using a WVS van maintained a shuttle service between the docks and the first line Rest and feeding centres, until every woman and child had been evacuated. She not only managed to rescue fleeing families, but also firemen who had been injured fighting the flames. The van on her return was full of steel helmets, blood-soaked bandages and a fireman’s axe, and other marks of a very heavy nights work.