Frequently Asked Questions
Becoming a Volunteer
Q. Why should I volunteer?
Volunteering for VCH Cumbria allows you to contribute to a programme of focused, serious study with an end-result which will last for decades as a work of reference. You will also gain the satisfaction of working as part of a common endeavour and have the opportunity to enhance your research skills and experience.
Q. How do I become a volunteer for VCH Cumbria?
Volunteers should ideally also be members of CCHT, and should indicate their interest in volunteering on the form when joining. For further information about membership or volunteering, or to express interest, please contact Richard Brockington or Sarah Rose, the Volunteer Co-ordinator.
Richard Brockington Tel: 01768 870352 Email email@example.com
Sarah Rose Tel: 01524 593141 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Further details can also be found on the ‘Getting Involved’page of the website.
Please do not embark on research without first discussing your involvement in the project with the Volunteer Coordinator
Q. Do I need any particular skills / experience to volunteer?
A background in local and regional history, or experience of researching family history will be useful but is not essential for VCH volunteers.
Q. What is expected of me as a volunteer?
We ask that volunteers undertake a particular research task by agreement with the organisers and that in doing this work, volunteers meet the standards set by the VCH and follow any guidelines we provide. In addition, we ask is that you inform us of any change in your commitment to the project.
Q. What training and support will I get as a volunteer?
All volunteers will receive clear guidance on what to do, why and when. This will be given in the form of written guidance notes and at regular meetings. Training tailored to volunteers’ needs will be provided by CCHT.
Q. How much time will I have to commit to this project as a volunteer?
As a volunteer, how much time you spend on this project is up to you. But having agreed to undertake a task, we expect you to fulfil your commitment. If there are any deadlines for particular tasks, we will let you know well in advance.
Researching for VCH Cumbria
Q. How will I know how to approach the task I have agreed to undertake?
The VCH provide national guidance on writing township or parish histories on their website: http://www.victoriacountyhistory.ac.uk/local-history/writing-vch. In addition, the VCH Cumbria project has prepared a Volunteers' Handbook tailored specifically to writing Cumbrian parish/township histories. This can be downloaded from this website and should be read in conjunction with the national guidelines. Most importantly, the Volunteer Co-ordinator will hold meetings with volunteers to guide you in your work for the project.
Q. Will a list of sources be provided?
Guidance on what sources to use can be found in the Volunteers' Handbook, which contains a checklist of sources that should be consulted for every parish/township history.
Q. What happens if I need to access sources held outside of Cumbria?
Access to sources outside of the county should be discussed with the Volunteer Co-ordinator and the Project Leader as this will require coordination of effort. It may be that only one volunteer need visit the archive in question, or copies could be ordered.
Q. How can I get access to sources in private hands?
Accessing sources held by private individuals will first need to be discussed with the Volunteer Co-ordinator and the Director. A letter of introduction can be provided which explains the VCH Cumbria project and why access is being requested.
Q. Can I reclaim travel expenses?
Volunteers may be able to claim travel expenses for research in archives outside of Cumbria, but this must be discussed and agreed in advance.
Q. Do I need to be a member of Cumbria Library Service?
Membership is not essential for VCH volunteers, but it would allow you access to various subscription-only online resources, including the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
Q. Can I get access to subscription-only resources such as journals?
You will only be able to get access to subscription-only material if you are a member of a library service. Lancaster University library and many public libraries have copies of journals on open access and access to online resources from computer terminals in the library. Volunteers are welcome to visit Lancaster University Library, which has an extensive collection of Cumbrian material.
Q. How do I find out the boundaries of the parish/township I am researching?
You should use the 2nd edition Ordnance Survey 6” maps, which will have been revised c.1890-1900. These will show civil parish boundaries (we are using civil parishes as they existed c.1900 as the basis of the project).
Q. Can oral testimony be used?
Oral testimony can be used where documentary evidence is not available. For example, local memory may provide the reasons behind the closure of a local factory.
Q. Can newspapers be used?
Newspapers can be a very valuable source of information for VCH articles.
Q. Are transcriptions of original documents included in township articles?
Transcriptions of original documents are not included in the township articles themselves, but they might be posted on the CCHT website to accompany parish/township articles.
Q. Will my work be acknowledged?
Volunteers can expect full acknowledgement of their contributions to the project. Volunteers must also note an acknowledgement of thanks at the beginning of draft township articles if they have used any material in private hands. These acknowledgements will be collated and placed at the beginning of the published volume.
Q. Who holds the copyright to township articles?
The University of London owns the copyright to the VCH. Once a draft article has been accepted for posting on the Cumbria County History Trust website, the author(s) will be asked to sign a statement transferring copyright to the Cumbria County History Trust. However, this transfer of copyright only applies to the finished article. Volunteers are free to use the research on which their article is based in any way they like.
Q. Do I need permission to publish material on the CCHT website?
Volunteers are very welcome to add material to the “Member Uploads” section of the website. We will also be happy to add your images to the gallery pages. However, images of documents taken for the purposes of VCH research must not be posted without the owner’s consent.