Frequently Asked Questions

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.

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 Sarah Rose, the Volunteer Co-ordinator. Sarah Rose Tel: 01524 593141 Email: Further details can also be found on the ‘Be a Member’ page of the website. Please do not embark on research without first discussing your involvement in the project with the Volunteer Co-ordinator

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.

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.

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.

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.

How will I know how to approach the task I have agreed to undertake?

The VCH provide guidance on writing township or parish histories on their website: In addition, the VCH Cumbria project is also producing a set of guidelines tailored specifically to writing Cumbrian parish/township histories. These can be found under the “Resources”section of the CCHT 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.

Will a list of sources be provided?

A checklist of sources will be provided for every topic covered by a parish/township history, e.g. social history, religious history etc. Guidance on what sources to use can be found in the Briefing Notes which can be downloaded from the “Resources” section of the website.

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.

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 Project Leader. A letter of introduction can be provided which explains the VCH Cumbria project and why access is being requested.

Can I reclaim travel expenses?

Volunteers can only claim travel expenses for research on behalf of the whole project in archives outside of Cumbria, and only if they have been specifically requested to do so by Sarah Rose or Angus Winchester.

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.

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. Access to online journals will be available to those who are members of university libraries. Lancaster University library and many public libraries will have copies of journals on open access.

Can I get access to university libraries?

Access to many university library collections requires a library card. Unfortunately, membership of university libraries cannot be arranged for VCH volunteers. However, some volunteers will already have library cards and may, therefore, be able to act on another volunteer’s behalf.

How do I find out the boundaries of the parish/township I am researching?

To work out the boundaries of your parish/township, you should use the 1st edition Ordnance Survey 6" maps. These are available online - or at

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.

Can newspapers be used?

Newspapers can be a very valuable source of information for VCH articles.

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.

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.

Who holds the copyright to township articles?


Once a draft has been accepted for posting on the VCH Cumbria project website, the author(s) will be asked to sign a statement transferring copyright to Cumbria County History Trust.  Note that assigning copyright applies only to the article itself – it in no way prevents a volunteer from using the research on which the article is based in any way they like.

Publishing your material on the CCHT website?

Volunteers are very welcome to send us images for the Gallery pages, Themes and Places. However, images of documents taken for the purposes of VCH research, or other copyright material, must not be posted without the owner’s consent.

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