Like many others I have spent the summer in awe at the courage and dedication of the Olympians and Paralympians, sharing in the national pride of the incredible achievements of TeamGB and ParalympicsGB. I’ve been equally inspired by the outpouring of support and appreciation for the volunteers who helped make both Games such a great success.
The National Archives has a very long and successful relationship with volunteers, stretching back over 20 years. Traditionally, volunteering has taken place at Kew, making an invaluable contribution to our work, helping to catalogue and conserve thousands of records. In more recent times our focus has broadened beyond paper and parchment to online records. In 2010-11 we delivered over 120 million records to over 20 million online users, and for every document delivered in our reading rooms at Kew, 200 were delivered online. This wider notion of participation, combining traditional volunteering activities with virtual collaboration, is at the very heart of our newly published approach to engaging with volunteers.
A long and successful relationship
In 2011, volunteers from the Friends of The National Archives completed a lengthy cataloguing project of record series WO 97, WO 119 and WO 121, resulting in the addition of more than 20,000 soldiers’ records to the catalogue. We’ve worked with volunteers from the National Association of Decorative & Fine Arts Societies (NADFAS) since 1997. NADFAS volunteers have contributed around 2,500 volunteer hours per year to conservation activities such as ordering, numbering, dry surface cleaning, encapsulating and re-housing. 200 project volunteers, from across the country, came together to describe poor law records in our record series MH 12, adding 4.6 million words to our catalogue.