Annual Review 2019

Welcome to the twenties! As we enter a new decade, we have taken the opportunity to reflect on the past year and some of our highlights and achievements during 2019 and this will be our final review as Denbighshire Archives as we know it.

During 2018 and 2019 there has been lots of discussion around collaborative working between archive services across North Wales and as a result Denbighshire and Flintshire County Councils have made progress to take this further for our services. This move towards further collaboration has culminated with the decision to merge Denbighshire Archives and Flintshire Record Office formally from April 2020 when we will be known as the North East Wales Archive, formed of two branches (Ruthin and Hawarden). The eventual goal for the service will be to come under one roof, preferably in a purpose built, environmentally friendly building where we can come together to provide you as researchers, depositors and online users with a much improved service (further details on this can be found here). We will continue into the New Year working on our collaborative bid to the National Lottery Heritage Fund to raise the money we need to do this and we will provide further updates on our progress as and when we receive news.

Staff

2019 has seen the end of our two year project to catalogue the North Wales Hospital records and as a result of that we have seen our staff numbers at our office reduce down to our usual four members- Sarah, Nicola, Lowri and Rhian.

We wish everyone who has worked with us during 2019 (Kerry, Liz and Lindsey) all the best in their new opportunities, you are all greatly missed and thank you for everything you achieved whilst you were with us.

Website

Website stats

Website views are ever increasing with 150,000 page views on our own website this year and an additional 22,000 views on catalogue which is hosted on the Archives Hub website. The majority of our website traffic comes from within the UK (83%) and 9% of traffic comes from the US. 1320 catalogues are available to search online, which equates to around 85% of our catalogues in total.

Thanks to our virtual volunteers a number of small catalogues have been added to the online catalogue this year. There are almost 2000 minor collections and 705 catalogues are online. Another 150 are ready for import soon. The somewhat random nature of the small minor collections means that they are difficult to find and now they are published on the online catalogue the lists are now more searchable.

All of our online catalogues available on our website are now also available on the Archives Hub. We have noticed over the last two years increasing number of people coming to our office after using the hub online catalogue to discover what we hold.

The most common search terms on the website in 2019 were “North Wales Hospital” and “Wrexham Workhouse” and the most popular subject page was our Birth, Marriage and Death guide.

Some of our users may have noticed that we have been quietly testing online ordering over the last couple of months. The trial is going well so far and we are ironing out any issues that have arisen. We are keen to see more people pre-booking to use the searchroom and, where possible, pre-ordering their documents to be ready on arrival. Please ask a member of staff for more details. Please note that pre-ordering of documents is only available through the website, not for telephone bookings.

Researchers, Enquiries and Events

Service stats

877 researchers used our office during 2019 consulting 3129 original documents. 57% of documents consulted were privately deposited records (i.e. estate records etc) and 20% of documents consulted were official records (i.e. Quarter Sessions, Council records, Schools, Court etc).

Local history is the most popular subject for research accounting for 46% of our researchers, closely followed by family history accounting for 33% of researchers.

Research areas

We answered 995 enquiries by post, social media, email or telephone. We now have 1124 followers on Facebook and 200 followers on our blog.

948 visitors attended our events during 2019 including The North East Wales History Fair, Open Doors and an evening of talks relating to The North Wales Hospital project.

Cataloguing and Accessions

You can keep an eye on our new accessions on The National Archives survey here.

45 new accessions were recorded during the year including records of;

Volunteers

We have had 17 onsite volunteers working with us this year and 11 virtual volunteers helping us with numerous ongoing projects such as:

  • Retrospective conversion of small minor catalogues including the James Maurice Manuscripts, the Bodgynwch Manuscripts and records relating to Wrexham Beast Market.
  • Box listing of the large collection of Clerk’s papers continues. This group project began in April 2016 and we now have over 2000 files listed, equating to over 300 boxes! We expect this project to be finished by the end of 2020.
  • Numbering and repackaging of the Richards Solicitors papers.
  • Cataloguing a large collection of topographical prints and local/private acts.
  • Improving the catalogue for building control plans within the Colwyn and Colwyn Bay Urban District Council records including a condition survey.

In total our volunteers have contributed over 1300 hours of volunteer time during 2019.

Once again, thank you to all our researchers and volunteers, we have had a very productive and busy year!

 

3 Responses to “Annual Review 2019”

  1. Sue Page Says:

    I note the entry, “Numbering and repackaging of the Richards Solicitors papers” – does this mean that they are now available for production and research?

    • Denbighshire Archives Says:

      Hi Sue, we have now numbered up and repackaged around 2500 items from the Richards collection and the collection is over 9000 items in total. We are currently looking at a way of making the collection available in stages. Keep an eye on the blog and facebook for further news on this, best wishes, Sarah

      • Sue Page Says:

        Thank you Sarah – I live in hope that I shall get to see these papers before too long. Sue Page

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