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Wednesday 22 April 2015

This week the Wednesday group project thought about what it would like to do with the stories we uncover. For most of us this is the first time that we’ve ever been part of a heritage project, and this session helped us to see where we were going, and why.

By looking at the flyers, websites and posters produced by other projects we started to think about what we wanted to uncover through the project, how we could share this, and who we’d like to share it with. We especially liked the printed trail around Nottingham produced by the William Booth Birthplace Museum (which we got from the Tourist Information Centre). We also liked the variety of materials made by Nottinghamshire Rainbow Heritage.

Focusing on items that grabbed our attention we thought about the audience that they were designed for, why these were successful and how they worked well. It was sometimes quite a surprise to see how just one image or a very short piece of writing could be very effective. We also learnt from Roz, Policy and Communications Officer at Nottingham CVS about blog-writing, and explored some of the blogs published by other heritage projects.

We then had a look at Picture the Past. This is a great website that allows you to see historic photos of not just Nottingham but also Nottinghamshire, Derby and Derbyshire. We learnt how to search for certain places or building names, or by other information, and looked at photos of some of the workhouses and almshouses that people living in Nottingham in 1875-1901 would have used, tried to use, or tried to avoid. These are the important background to the stories of people in need in Nottingham in 1875-1901 that we’ll be uncovering.

Volunteers discussing heritage documents
Volunteers discussing heritage documents and possible sources

The independent researchers also met for their first meetings this week. Working individually and in pairs they’ll be exploring how the Nottingham Society for Organising Charity – the organisation that eventually became Nottingham CVS – was set up in 1875 in response to 'the problem of the poor'.

In these first meetings we talked about what they were interested in focusing on, with ideas ranging from the role of women, xenophobia, the nitty gritty of committee life, and changing levels of poverty in Nottingham. After a break of chocolate éclairs we also worked out how we wanted to carry out the research, and what we wanted to achieve. 

The independent researchers were also introduced to the original materials that they’ll be using as the starting point for their research. We talked about how little we knew of the history of Nottingham CVS, and discovered that none of us had known about its archive. It’s exciting to think that we’ll be uncovering the history of an organisation that has been supporting the people of Nottingham for 140 years.


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