Schoolchildren dig into archives to mark 75th anniversary of VE day

This story was published 13 May 2020

Primary school pupils dug deep into North Yorkshire’s archives to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day.


Children from St Peter’s School, Brafferton, in the district of Hambleton, joined with the North Yorkshire County Record Office for the project, which saw them use ration books, public information leaflets, posters and photographs to find out about life on the Home Front during the Second World War.

In addition, the children were able to cook up dishes using authentic wartime recipes, grow their own vegetables inspired by the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign and embrace the ‘Make Do and Mend’ spirit of the times by upcycling old clothes, all thanks to home-schooling activities created by school staff with the Record Office’s Audience Development Officer, Virginia Arrowsmith.

On VE Day itself (8 May), pupils created buntings which were used to decorate the school and organised tea parties for their families.

The school is planning a community day with a local history focus, using the archives to inspire exploration of the area and its heritage. It is hoped this will provide an opportunity for engagement with the local community.

St Peter’s work forms part of the County Record Office’s Resilient Records project, which has been made possible with funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. 

The project is currently working with a wide range of groups across the county, including young, older and vulnerable people, to open up access to the archive’s amazing historic documents.

Working with archives can contribute to their goals, be it education, promoting health and wellbeing or encouraging artistic inspiration.

Sarah Anderson from St Peter’s said: “The VE Day 75 celebrations have provided a great opportunity to immerse children in learning about the Second World War and its impact on our community, in creative and interactive ways.

“Using some of the fascinating archive material from the County Record Office, we were able to bring the story of wartime Britain to life for pupils, and encourage them to get hands-on with their learning at home.”

Cllr Greg White, executive member for customer engagement, said: “This digital project has been a great way to open up our wonderful archive collections to young people and to help them to gain a greater understanding of the past and life during wartime.”