Volunteers Week 2020

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our volunteers, who before lockdown, were supporting the Record Office on a number of projects.

“Our Record Office volunteers give over 4,000 hours of their time every year to help to open up access to the county’s amazing documentary heritage. In this, Volunteers Week, we are celebrating their achievements and would like to thank them for the invaluable contribution that they make to the service.”

County Councillor Greg White, Executive Member for Customer Engagement

New project to allow volunteers to work remotely

While the Record Office is closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, a group of our existing volunteers have begun a new project, working remotely to give local historians access to an amazing resource.

This project will not only provide fascinating insights into North Yorkshire’s past for all kinds of local, building and family history studies, it has also given some of the volunteers a purpose while in lockdown.

Section of the tithe map for Danby Wiske showing the numbered plots of land listed in the apportionment
Danby Wiske Tithe Map, 1841

The work is the first step towards making more than 300 tithe maps and their accompanying apportionments (or reference books) more accessible online. The project was launched in April and the team of around 25 volunteers have already transcribed more than 350 pages of handwritten documents from the vast collection.

“I have learnt more about local place names and much more about the area and what went on. I then investigate further when I discover something that piques my interest. I get the satisfaction of work completed, stimulation of interest and a sense of still being useful as a volunteer when physically excluded.”

Roger Sarjeant, a volunteer on the project

Often the earliest complete maps of parishes, tithe maps and their apportionments were drawn up in the 1840s and, with information on land owners and occupiers, field names and land use, they provide a snapshot of a parish or township at that time and a basis for further research.

They were produced to assess the tithe payable in cash to the parish church for the support of the church and its clergy. This tithe had been paid in kind until the Commutation Act was passed in 1836, when it was agreed that this should be converted to a monetary payment.

David Brooksbank

“I’ve always had an interest in local history and these tithe records provide a unique and valuable window into the past, hinting at families, relationships, wealth and ways of life in times gone by. This project is a great way to make these hugely important documents available to more people and a way for me to make good and productive use of my time during lockdown.”

David Brooksbank, a volunteer on the project

Our archivist Kimberley & volunteer Roger were interviewed on BBC Tees Breakfast on Saturday 6th June about the project. You can listen to it on the BBC Tees website, the interview starts at 3:38.

One thought on “Volunteers Week 2020

  1. Brilliant project, which will make a huge difference to many researchers. I wish I had the spare time to help. Great that you already had the records digitised & so were in a position to get the project started despite lockdown.

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