Hull History Centre wins national archive volunteering
11 September 2013
The judges said: ‘The volunteers have transformed access to and
awareness of the hidden history of Second World War Hull and the
project has completely changed the way Hull History Centre works
A project to make publicly available Hull’s Second World War
records by using the time and talents of 80 volunteers, has won
Hull History Centre the prestigious national Archive Volunteering
Award of 2013.
The award will be presented at Hull History Centre on 11
The national award, from the Archives and Records Association
(UK & Ireland) and sector partners, recognises work involving
volunteers within an institutional archive service. The judges were
unanimous in choosing Hull History Centre as the 2013 winner.
With 93% of houses damaged or destroyed, the Second World War
affected virtually every family in the Hull area. The extensive
records of the City Council’s departments provide a compelling
insight into how the City coped; but these unique and historically
rich records were not catalogued and therefore not easily
With a grant from the National Cataloguing Awards, Hull History
Centre staff were able to employ a project archivist to lead the
work to catalogue the collection and volunteers were recruited to
sort and input more than 70,000 index cards from the Warden
Service. A new volunteering process was set up across the Council
to develop new processes, policies and procedures to recruit, guide
and retain volunteers. The new volunteering approach was piloted
through the Second World War project.
After a massive response to the call for volunteers, Hull
History Centre offered placements to 80 volunteers on a rolling
programme of work. Under supervision, the volunteers cleaned
documents, numbered Warden Cards or inputted data. Eight volunteers
were also identified to work with children on a new memories
project with a local school.
In all, the project benefited from more than 1400 volunteer
hours in a single year. Carol Tanner, Access & Collections
Manager, who led the project from Hull History Centre: When we
secured a cataloguing grant from The National Archives
to catalogue Hull’s Second World War records, we had no idea just
how successful the project would be. Not only has it enabled us to
make accessible records which are arguably some of the most
important in the city’s history, but also gave us an opportunity to
engage with the community and develop a volunteer programme which
has transformed the way we now approach volunteering, not just at
the History Centre but across the city council.
The work of Victoria Oxberry, Project Archivist and the
dedication and hard work of the volunteers has ensured that the
people of Hull who worked so tirelessly to keep the city running
during The Second World War will not be forgotten and the records,
previously inaccessible, are now available for all to consult.
‘I feel privileged to be involved’ said one volunteer. ‘I would
recommend [volunteering] to anybody who wishes to acquire new
skills, meet people, or simply get involved with a worthwhile
The judges were unanimous in awarding the annual volunteering
prize to Hull History Centre, praising the sustainability of the
new volunteering processes and practices, the impressive outcomes
of the project and the very positive impact on the volunteers, who
gained skills and confidence.