Project aims to reach new audiences for archive heritage

This story was published 28 August 2019

Thanks to National Lottery players, North Yorkshire’s County Record Office will be getting out across the county to talk to the people who are unfamiliar with the archive of the area’s history and heritage.

Visitors are shown archives relating to the early police force of North Yorkshire during an Archives at Dusk event

The Record Office, which is based in Northallerton, has been awarded a grant of £75,700 by the National Lottery Heritage Fund for its Resilient Records project.

The project sets out to widen the audience for the archive’s amazing range of historic documents, which date from the twelfth century, by learning how people who don’t currently use the archive would like to get involved and how the archive can support community groups achieve their objectives. The team will work with people who currently use the archive and those who don’t to explore what they would like to see from a digital-age record office.

North Yorkshire County Councillor Greg White, Executive Member for Customer Engagement, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for us to open up access to the archives to a broader range of users and to show how working with archives can contribute to their goals, whether that be promoting health and wellbeing or encouraging artistic inspiration.

“North Yorkshire has a rich and varied heritage and so much of this is captured in the County Record Office’s extensive archive. Everyone who lives or works here is part of the county’s story and I believe many people are interested in understanding that story and their place in it, but they may not know about the archive and what it can offer.

“This project is about exploring ways of bringing that story to people who are not familiar with the County Record Office and learning how they might want to make use of what it offers. It’s about finding different ways of working that suits them.”

As part of the project, the Record Office has appointed an education and outreach officer, who will work with a wide range of groups, including young, older and vulnerable people. They will use the library network and other avenues to find out what people would like to see from an archive and how they would want to use it. Using that feedback, the service will look at how it can develop.

“There are people who know the archive and understand what it does,” said Cllr White, “but we want to reach the people who don’t know what we do or why they should use us. One of the issues is how to deliver this service for a big, rural county. We want to strengthen our position within the county, because the Record Office is a strong heritage resource.”