Talking Narrative Reports

As of March 2018, our Archives Assistant Jacob has finished digitising our Narrative Reports from 1938-1945. After digitising almost 74,000 pages, Jacob has agreed to answer some questions about his experiences working on the Kickstarter project.
Tell me what have you have been working on since October 2016? Since October 2016, I have been working on the ‘Hidden Histories of a Million Wartime Women’ project. This project was crowdfunded through Kickstarter and managed to raise £27,724 to fund the digitisation of our Memory of the World inscribed monthly Narrative Reports. I was fortunate enough to have been chosen to carry out this enormous task.

What is the most memorable story or report you have seen while digitising the Narrative Reports? The most memorable story I have come across is a 1943 report from a bombing in Goole. It gives a detailed chronological account of a plane collision that scattered into the town and caused several serious fires. 
Why is this the most memorable story/report? Considering how quickly the WVS responded to the incident regardless of the fact that it was 1 o clock in the morning illustrated how integral they were to British life on the Home Front. I found it quite remarkable how they were able to set up Cooking Centres and provide hot drinks to all 100 of the members of the Home Guard that were on duty. Members of the WVS Housewives’ Service also assisted with the evacuation from dangerous areas. Overall, this report perfectly summarised the many acts of unwavering kindness from the Women in Green.
What has been the most enjoyable part of your role as Archives Assistant? I think the most enjoyable part of my role has been engaging with this wonderful collection.
Why was it enjoyable? It has been enjoyable to know that despite the enormity of the project, people can now read these beautiful documents in the comforts of their own home. The digitisation project has shed new light on some of the most important documents in British history. Being involved with something as significant as this has been very worthwhile indeed.
Give me your top three tips for digitising? I thought you may ask something like this.
Firstly, never fall into the trap that the digital copy is now the more significant document because it can be readily accessed. If the original document is lost or damaged it may never be recovered. However, if the digitised version is corrupted, it can be recopied from the original in the archive.
Secondly, remember to check every single document before it is digitised to ensure it is in the right place. If one item is incorrect, everything else will be put out sync.
Lastly, appreciate the value of the material that you are digitising. If it feels like you are contributing to something much bigger than yourself, it will become a lot easier to sit in a room and take 74,000 photographs…
How can people access these records? They can be accessed through Archive Online on our website. Type in the town/city that you are interested in finding out about and find the link to that year’s Narrative Reports. 1938-1942 have already been uploaded and 1943-1945 are due to be posted in the near future.

Posted by Jacob Bullus at 09:00 Monday, 26 March 2018.

Labels: Digitisation, Access, A Million Women, Review, Blog

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