A County Remembers Project

New project starting September 2021.

Marion Hill, Learning and Access Officer, Herts Archives & Local Studies

Cenotaph at Hertford


Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies (HALS) collects and preserves original documents covering many aspects of life in the county, including the environment, businesses, institutions and societies. There are over 3,000,000 documents dating from 1060 to the present.

What is the project about?

In December 2021, the Armed Forces Covenant in Hertfordshire will have its 10th anniversary. To mark the anniversary, HALS will collaborate with local volunteers to co-create an exhibition exploring and reflecting on remembrance in recognition of those who have served the county and country.

There will be a particular focus on the memorials of the First World War as this conflict led to a watershed in memorial making. Before this, war memorials had essentially reflected victory, but by 1918 over 1,100,000 men from Great Britain and its empire had died. Almost every community or family had lost someone, but due to a policy of non-repatriation, the vast majority were not able to attend a funeral and process their grief in the usual manner. The scale of loss demanded fitting responses at both the national and local levels.

Records at HALS show how agreements were reached on how each community would commemorate the war, how these would be funded and where they would be located. In terms of style, memorials ranged from cenotaph type structures to figurative sculptures, as well as practical memorials such as hospitals or village halls. In Hertfordshire there is also one ‘Thankful Village’, where all who served returned and the memorial here is interesting to explore too. Ideally the exhibition also will include some contrast with memorials from more recent conflicts which reflect society’s evolving relationship with war and loss.

There will be two public events exploring remembrance and memorial making and looking at specific examples within Hertfordshire and one internal event to coincide with Hertfordshire’s Armed Forces Covenant Reaffirmation ceremony at County Hall on 16 December, 2021.

What will I be doing?

As part of a small team volunteers, you will be:

  • researching archive and local studies collections at HALS
  • selecting archive material to include in our exhibition, such as photographs, maps and letters
  • participating in exhibition planning meetings with HALS staff, to make decisions about themes, structure, content and key messages
  • writing, proof-reading and editing exhibition text.

What skills or experience do I need?

  • Basic computer skills
  • An interest in local history would be beneficial
  • Attention to detail
  • A creative and collaborative approach.

When will I be needed?

As a volunteer, the amount of time you choose to commit to the project is up to you. This might be a couple of hours or even a day a week. It is hoped that as many of the project volunteers as possible attend the progress meetings, which will be held approximately every two weeks.

The outline timetable is as follows:

Week commencing 6 September – Induction and training
13 September to 24 October – Research and exhibition planning (fortnightly meetings)
25 October to 28 November – Drafting text
Week commencing 6 December – Printing
Week commencing 13 December – Installing the exhibition
January to February 2022 – Preparing public events
February to March 2022 – Delivering events
March 2022 – Project wrap up.

NB: Some meetings may be online via the online conferencing platform MS Teams. We’ll provide guidance for accessing these meetings. The timing of the meetings will reflect the needs of the volunteers. It may be that we run some in the daytime and others in the evening.

Where will I be located?
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies, Register Office Block, County Hall, Pegs Lane, Hertford, SG13 8EJ.

What will I gain from the role?

  • Experience of research using a range of resources (eg online indexes, catalogues) and tools (eg microfilm readers, digital magnifiers)
  • Experience of ordering and handling historic documents
  • Experience of producing an exhibition
  • Increased confidence from trying something new
  • Opportunity to meet and socialise with other volunteers.

What support will I be given?

  • Induction to Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies
  • Training on researching, ordering and handling archive material
  • Training on creating a community exhibition
  • Training on using local studies resources, such as newspaper indexes and microfilm readers.

How do I find out more?

Please e-mail Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies at hals.enquiries@hertfordshire.gov.uk indicating your interest in this project, ideally by 31 August 2021.

Update 16 August 2021:
We are thrilled to have had a terrific response to our call for volunteers are not currently seeking any further volunteers.

This page was added on 11/08/2021.

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  • lemsford local history group wrote a book

    lest we forgethttp://www.lemsfordhistorynews.co.uk/LEST%20WE%20FORGET%20BOOK.pdf
    and a website

    welcome t both

    By andy chapman (26/08/2021)