There is no doubt that we are living through truly historic times. Future generations will look back at this period and study what to us is day-to-day living, and that is where your opportunity lies! The West Sussex Records Office has turned to each of us and asked us to play our part in documenting the way this pandemic impacts our lives. For some it will be the practical, for others the emotional. It is the patchwork collection of each of our thoughts and experiences that will together present the true picture of this time in history.
The WSRO is asking us to diarise our experiences, either as written or video recordings – an interesting opportunity to reflect, and focus our thoughts. Comments Wendy Walker of the WSRO, “Ideally we would like to be able to preserve as wide a range of experiences as possible…. We have teamed up with our partners at Screen Archive South East so that we can take in video diaries as well as paper and other digital records.”
West Sussex Record Office (commonly abbreviated to WSRO) acquires and preserves the historic archives of the County, makes them available to everyone who wishes to see them, and promotes their use for study and enjoyment.
The Record Office was set up in 1946 and has been located in its current purpose-built archive centre at 3 Orchard Street, Chichester, since 1989. It holds collections dating back to 780 AD.
Wendy continues, “We have diaries at the Record Office dating back over three hundred years and they give us a unique window into the past and bring history to life before our eyes. By contributing diaries and other material recording your experience of the Covid-19 pandemic, you will help historians of the future to understand what people thought, felt and experienced during this time and offer them an insight into the impact of this event on people locally.”
If sending in materials digitally please use the commonly accessible formats. These include: Microsoft Word (.docx or .doc), Microsoft Excel (.xlsx or .xls), TIFF (.tiff), JPEG (.jpeg), PDF (.pdf), .wav and .mp3. If you have any questions about the file formats of your digital records and what the WSRO can accept then please don’t hesitate to contact them. If you are taking photographs or filming you should ensure that people appearing in the image or film have given their permission or cannot be identified (e.g. if you are taking a photograph of a queue you might want to do so from the back so that people’s faces can’t be seen).
There are several different ways the WSRO can receive material including in person, via post, and over email. However, before you bring an item in or send it, please contact them (firstname.lastname@example.org). They may need to arrange an appointment to meet you, have questions about the format the item is in, discuss with you what will happen to the item(s) you donate, and agree what will happen with the copyright in the item.
If you are depositing a diary, it would be very helpful if you could write a very short paragraph to include your name, where you are from, your occupation and a little bit about yourself. This only needs to be a couple of sentences but it will help the WSRO, and researchers, to understand more about the context in which your diary was created.
Content submitted to the WSRO should be done so as a gift, handing over copyright of your materials so that they can share them as a public record. Your diaries and recordings will then be catalogued and made available on the online catalogue and to visiting researchers.
There is also the possibility that your diary may contain information which would cause damage or distress to people mentioned in it. If this is the case, then under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) WSRO will need to close your diary to protect those individuals. Staff will discuss with you whether there is the possibility that your diary contains sensitive information about other people and will also check themselves. If your diary does need to be closed under Data Protection legislation then staff will contact you to let you know.
So, with all that information to hand, why not get underway with recording your own personal place in the history of our time. For further information and contacts please visit the WSRO site directly here.