Sutherland Papers Project Completion
The Archive Service is pleased to announce that, after a total of five years of planning, fundraising and project work, the Sutherland Papers Project has come to a successful conclusion.
The success of this demanding project is due to the hard work and dedication of both staff and volunteers, who have achieved a tremendous amount in the two and a half years in which the project has run. Tribute must also be paid to the generosity of the many public and private donors, including the Heritage Lottery Fund, local authorities, charitable bodies, the Friends of the Archive Service, local societies, companies and individuals which made it all possible. Throughout the whole project, the Archive Service has been very grateful for the continuing support of Staffordshire County Council and Stoke on Trent City Council.
As part of the Archive Service's original application to the Heritage Lottery Fund, submitted in 2004, a number of new access initiatives were identified in order to improve and encourage future public access to the Sutherland Papers. These have now been completed through the work of the Sutherland Papers Project.
The Sutherland Collection Website is the major legacy outcome from the Project. It is now live on the web at www.sutherlandcollection.org.uk. It is structured on seven themes: places; people; progress; estate; power; philanthropy; and extraordinary. Under these themes, the site provides context and interpretation for documents in the collection, ranging in date from the late twelfth century to the 1950s and relating to many places in the County and the City. The site contains digitised images of some 1,700 documents.
The site also includes a Personal Name index which contains over 10,000 entries from various selected series of records within the collection. As the index largely concentrates on the period before the availability of census name information (1841), this index becomes a most important resource for family historians in both the north and south of the County. This Name Index could not have been compiled without the help of over 40 volunteer indexers and typists.
During September 2008, a senior and experienced history teacher was commissioned to create learning packages around documents featured on the website. Seventeen learning packages have been created, ranging from Keystage 3 to A Level standard. Enhanced printable images for free download accompany these packages.
In total over 60 people gave some part of their time freely to the Project, indexing and transcribing documents, contributing to the interpretation of the collection and assisting the Project staff. Some were existing volunteers with the Service and others new recruits.
The scale and the success of volunteering within the Sutherland Project has provided the opportunity for the Archive Service to embark confidently on two new large scale volunteer projects for the Archive Service - the indexing of the Staffordshire tithe apportionments and the listing of the Staffordshire Quarter Sessions Rolls.
New Catalogue Available Soon
The catalogue of the newly acquired material, totalling around 120 boxes, will be made live electronically once the archive material is transferred back to Staffordshire Record Office from its temporary home at Stoke on Trent City Archives in early December 2008. This is another significant and lasting outcome from the Project.
Displays about the Project and the Collection itself had been prepared by the Archive Service conservation staff and the Project staff in collaboration. The exhibitions have toured libraries in the South Staffordshire, Newcastle, Staffordshire Moorlands and Stoke on Trent. In addition replica documents were taken to accompany a presentation given by the Project Manager to the Wolverhampton History and Heritage Society. Further talks about the Project and its outcomes have been booked by local societies over the winter months.
The Archive Service is also committed to deliver a 10 year Conservation Plan for the Sutherland Papers The first three years' work have concentrated on the conservation of fine groups of mediaeval deeds and the relocation and repacking of the collection within the Staffordshire Record Office strong rooms. The next phase will see the conservation of the personal letters in the collection.