Sources for Local History Course

on Tuesday, 16 January 2018.

We are pleased to be running another six-week course this year, this time on 'Sources for Local History'.

postcard [colour], ducking chair last used in a pond near the Crown Hotel, High Street, now in Town Hall, Wootton Bassett, Wiltshie, 1908

The course is designed to help you discover the wealth of archives and published resources available for researching local history led by our team of professional archivists and the County Local Studies Librarian.

The sessions will take place on Tuesday mornings from Tuesday 1 May to 5 June 9.30am-1pm.

The cost is £40 for 6 sessions. Places are limited to 20 so book your place now on 01249 705500!


Find More Wiltshire Records on Ancestry

on Friday, 08 December 2017.

An early Christmas present! We are delighted to announce that over 400,000 additional Wiltshire records have been added today to the Ancestry website.

These records comprise bishops’ transcripts (prior to 1812) which contain the same information as parish registers and can help to fill in gaps in the original registers, as well as, for the first time, the parish registers of Ludgershall and Sherston Magna.

We hope that you enjoy using these records free of charge at your local Wiltshire library or at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre – or via a subscription to Ancestry of course!

Conservation Corner

on Wednesday, 27 September 2017.

How to look after your old photographs

Where possible it is best to transfer your photographs from damaged or acidic albums to archival paper binders or ready-made archival albums.

An archival album

Things to avoid:
• Gluing or taping photographs into an album as the adhesive can be damaging to the photograph instead use archival quality photo corners

• Self- adhesive albums and poor quality paper albums can cause deterioration of the photographs inside due to acids in the paper and chemicals in the adhesives instead mount photographs on acid free paper in an archival or a ready-made archival photographic album


Examples of poor quality card and adhesive albums

• plastic pockets can be unsuitable for photographs as the plastic degrades releasing damaging chemicals Instead try acid free photo safe paper envelopes or archival polyester pockets (polyester pockets are only suitable for photographs without any surface damage as static created by the polyester can lift loose or damaged areas)

An archival polyester pocket and paper envelope

• Touching the surface of a photograph as oils from our fingers can damage the delicate photographic surface  instead handle by the edges

Sophie Coles, Assistant Conservator, Wiltshire Conservation Museum Advisory Service

Wiltshire Conservation and Museum Advisory Service is based at Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre. We preserve the Wiltshire and Swindon Archives and provide support to help museums, heritage organisations and individuals care for and conserve historic collections and meet professional standards.

Please contact us for further information or come to one of our conservation roadshows to find out how to look after your precious family keepsakes, photographs and treasures. Get advice on the best materials and techniques to care for your items at home and when to seek help from an expert.

If you have items in need of a little TLC see if our conservators can give you hints and tips for cleaning without damage or a quote to get them repaired.

Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, Chippenham - October 12th, 2-4pm – booking required on 01249 705500
Salisbury Library – November 9th , 2-4pm – drop in
County Hall, Trowbridge - December 14th, 2-4 pm – drop in

Carry on Coping: Diary of a Doctor 1942-1945

on Wednesday, 27 September 2017.

Joan F. Hickson, edited by Ruth Skrine
2013 Ex Libris Press  pps 253   £9.95

© 2013 Ruth Skrine

Copies available for view at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre and for loan at Chippenham and Corsham Libraries, ref: CHP.611

This is the diary of a Chippenham GP, written during WWII and recently edited by her daughter. The years that were chosen for the publication were reported as the most coherent and interesting. Included in the preface are Ruth’s own feelings regarding her mother’s writing and an attempt to provide a little background to explain the personality behind the diary.

The diary begins with Joan visiting the aftermath of the Baedeker raids in Bath, witnessing the devastation caused and commenting on how the civil defence workers were coping. The content of her entries is compelling. From viewing firsthand the mental anguish of the evacuees arriving in Chippenham, to her views on Beveridge’s White Paper from the perspective of a medical practitioner, her thoughts are both vivid and enlightening. Joan’s frustration with the medical system is laid bare… but also apparent are the minutiae of day to day living: the blackout, fuel rationing, rumours of D-Day, her civil defence work. The difficulties with her domestic staff, her teenage children and evacuee patients are heart-felt, as is the real sense of exhaustion of a 43 year old giving as much as she has, felt both in the tone of her writing as much as the text.

Ruth Skrine calls the diary a contemporary record of one middle-class family at an extraordinary time in the history of England, but it is more than that. It is a true and honest expression of life during wartime, warts and all, and of the feelings which must inevitably go with it. Joan had a feeling that her thoughts may be of interest to her children and there is a sense, towards the end of her diary entries, that she was in also writing for an audience. I felt privileged to have been able to share her thoughts so many years after they were written. As a research study for social history it will not disappoint, and as a guide for local and family historians it will give an insight into the workings of a market town during wartime.

An insightful and enjoyable read, skilfully edited.

You might also be interested to know that the original diaries have been deposited with us at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, ref:4236/1-8.

Julie Davis
County Local Studies Librarian

The Public Art Project

on Wednesday, 27 September 2017.

A number of workshops are being held in libraries around the county to give potential volunteers the opportunity to find out more about this exciting project and how they can get involved.

The project has been devised by Meril Morgan, Wiltshire Council’s Arts Lead who is based at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre. It is being managed by Creative Wiltshire, a Heritage Lottery funded project also being run from WSHC with myself as this project’s lead.

The Public Art project aims to locate, record and photograph public art, namely artwork made by an artist, arts practitioner or craftsperson and located in publicly accessible spaces and places in Wiltshire. Public artworks are vulnerable to change, whether it be through environmental damage or vandalism, or through redevelopment of an area in or around it. At present very little is known about the whereabouts and extent of public art in the county.

Volunteers are needed to gather data on public art in the community such as the location of the item, its condition, what is known of it and a photograph of it in situ. Data collected as part of the project will be made available in the Local Studies Library at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre with images deposited in the Historic Photograph and Print Collection. The images will be pinned to the Know Your Place site to map their location geographically. Volunteers can devote as much or as little time as they can spare from the summer to December and join a community effort to help support public art in the places that matter to us all.

I have been running various workshops at Wiltshire’s libraries and at WSHC. The response has been very positive with great excitement at the prospect of getting out and about and discovering just what types of artwork are out there! The lively discussions have centred on how we can adequately define public art in terms of the project with attendees sharing their ideas and giving examples of artwork they already know of. Follow-up sessions have been run at venues in September due to popular demand, to enable volunteers to meet again to discuss their progress.

There’s still time to take part in the Public Art Project, please feel free to contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to find out more.

Volunteers will each receive a volunteer badge. They may need to send material to me via the library van; I have requested they explain who they are and show their identification if needed. I look forward to receiving their data!

If you’d like to keep up to date with my progress I’m @LibLocalStudies on Twitter.

Julie Davis
County Local Studies Librarian

<<  2 3 4 5 6 [78 9 10 11  >>  


Accredited Archive Service