The Northumberland Archives Service holds many collections from families and estates, the exact content of which is often unknown due to a lack of staff to undertake the time-consuming exercise of cataloguing all the material. The records concerned are not just of interest to the families who owned the estates but to all those who live on, in or around them and have an interest in the history of Northumberland. However, unless the content of the records is catalogued, they cannot be made available to the public at large as well as to scholars and researchers.
In order to reveal the treasures hidden in these collections, a scoping exercise of all the unlisted Estate Records held by the Archives Service is currently underway. It will aim to establish:
- The number of collections of this type held by the Service and the scope of each one (estate(s) and family covered, geographical location of the estate(s), duration, nature and extent of the records, etc).
- An estimate of the time which might be required to catalogue the records in each collection.
- The status of each collection, i.e. whether its ownership still rests with the estate family or has been transferred to the County and whether there are any restrictions on access to the records.
- An indication of any noteworthy common themes which the records might cover/help researchers to explore.
At that point, it should also be possible to begin to determine the precise shape of a proposal or proposals for carrying forward the required detailed work, which could then be put to prospective funders.
The limited and general nature of the statutory obligations falling on all local authorities in relation to the collections in the care of Archive Services tends to limit work to the preservation of records rather than including the detailed study of what is being preserved, hence the need to raise external funding.
The funding required to enable a significant impact to be made on this problem will be substantial. It may well involve establishing a post of at least two years duration, at a cost in excess of £100,000. Raisingsuch a sum will represent a significant increase in the Trust’s aspirations.
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For further information about the project, please email email@example.com expressing the nature of your interest and what you might be able to do to help.