The Small Bills and Petty Finance project about the Old Poor Law, run in collaboration with the Staffordshire Archives and Heritage Service, has produced a report about the integration of local collections, archival volunteers, and academic research.
When the project began at Stafford back in 2016, it was hoped that the conjunction of archives staff, regular volunteers, and academic historians would enable a new sort of project, with shared participation in the direction and conduct of research. The work still has a year to run – funding has been extended to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus outbreak this year – but we can already outline some of the benefits for archives.
The report argues ‘core tasks of accredited archives, comprising cataloguing, storage, conservation, public access, and information resources, can be significantly augmented by research collaborations. Volunteer groups of any kind constitute best practice and a social good, as well as yielding calculable benefits such as increased regular footfall to repositories, counts of volunteer hours, improved rates of conservation and/or cataloguing. Research offers the additional benefits of honed interpretation of holdings via analysis of specific materials. Volunteer input as a consequence of this research can be used to promote the archive service in exhibitions, workshops, study days, blog posts, and other aspects of the mission to inform’.
To find out more, please download the attached report.