14 April 2011 Trustee Meeting and Project Plan

The Third Meeting of the Trustees took place on 14 April, to revise the project plan and agree The Way Forward following the rejection of the HLF bid. Read the Project Plan here.



PROJECT PLAN 2011-2012 (APRIL 2011)

This document is intended to be read with the Project Plan drafted in 2009, and to define the research strategy of the Trust whilst the search for fuller funding continues.

Overall Directionis currently determined by CCHT and the Project Director, who reports on progress to the Head of the History Department at Lancaster University and to VCH Central Office at the biennial national meetings of county representatives and staff.  Now that the VCH Cumbria project is underway, consideration should be given to establishing a formal Steering Group, consisting of representatives of CCHT, VCH Central Office and Lancaster University. 

Academic Direction and Support, 2011-12

  • The project will be directed by Angus Winchester, the Trust ‘buying’ 0.05FTE of his time from Lancaster University
  • The Trust will employ Sarah Rose as Volunteer Coordinator on a 0.5 FTE contract, initially for 12 months.
  • Priority will be given to developing a system of guidance and support for volunteers.  A possible model for focusing effort and ensuring momentum is that Volunteer Leaders might be identified from the most experienced volunteers to work with the Project Director and Volunteer Coordinator in realising specific objectives.
  • The Trust will develop a programme of training, within the County and free of charge, to meet the needs of volunteers.


Research Priorities

  • The Trust will seek to identify at least one coherent group of townships for priority study with a view to early publication
  • The Trust will at the same time encourage, facilitate and support work in any part of the county where a volunteer, or group of volunteers, can demonstrate the ability and enthusiasm to research and write VCH articles on specific townships for initial publication on the web.
  • The Trust will also encourage, facilitate and support transcription and analysis of archive sources at county level, to generate research materials for future use in preparing VCH township histories.


Objectives, April 2011-April 2012

A. Planning and infrastructuredevelopment

1. Website development

  • Complete the establishment of CCHT website as an interactive tool to support volunteers, including a password-protected area for use by volunteers and project staff
  • Establish a Resource Bank on CCHT website, consisting of a ‘Level 1’ (‘wiki’ level) repository at township level and a repository for county-wide/volume-wide data. Materials previously envisaged as forming Levels 2 (research materials) and 3 (draft articles) of the Resource Bank will be posted on the Cumberland and Westmorland pages of the VCH national website.
  • Post fruits of initial work by volunteers (completed census data and bibliographies) on resource bank.

2. Checklists of sources

  • Compile ‘volume’ and ‘township’ checklists of primary sources and post these on the password-protected section of the website

3. Planning article length and volume coverage

  • Complete collection of census data 1801-2001.  To date, volunteers have collected data for 116 townships in Cumberland and 32 in Westmorland (approximately half of the total number of townships).
  • Use census data to (a) confirm notional division of county into ‘red book’ volumes; (b) define places for which individual articles will be written; (c) determine length of township articles.

4. Organising the volunteer body

  • Confirm the interests/wishes of individual volunteers with a view to allocating them into groups for the following twelve months, as follows:
    • those wishing to pursue research at ‘volume’ level (i.e. a ‘red book’ group of townships), focusing on particular primary sources
    • those wishing to focus on an individual township and to work towards preparing the VCH article treating its history.


B. Research and writing

By the end of this twelve-month period, the objective will be to have completed drafts of eight township histories, and to have posted further materials at volume or county level on the web.  The aim of the first year of concentrated work is to develop the confidence of the volunteers, as much as their skills, with a view to increasing the number of articles that can be prepared in subsequent years.

  • Preparation of draft township articles: the model will be to combine the national VCH guide to writing a parish history with the Cumbria-specific sources checklists to support volunteers to undertake structured and focused research and writing in manageable stages.  The Project Director and Volunteer Co-ordinator will provide close guidance, meeting with volunteers in groups on approximately a monthly basis to plan each stage of the work in detail.
  • Work with sources at volume or county level.  Overseen by the Volunteer Co-ordinator, this aspect of the project will be linked closely to the training programme for volunteers.


C. Training

The Trust will develop a programme of practical training tailored to the needs of volunteers for the work they are undertaking for the VCH Cumbria project.  Specific training needs already identified include:

  • IT Data Collection and Analysis: using spreadsheets and databases to record and analyse historical data.  The data analysed during this training programme will subsequently be uploaded on to the Resource Bank.
  • Palaeographyof 16th- and 17th-century English handwriting.  Materials transcribed could subsequently be made available on the Resource Bank.
  • Using online Catalogues and Resources(including the National Archives catalogue, Manorial Documents Register, A2A, and Cumbria Archive Service catalogue) to locate archive material for particular places.

The Trust retains the general aim of encouraging interest in historical research and will continue to look for ways of helping the less experienced to develop their skills

D. Sharing research results

At least one symposium by and for the volunteer body will be arranged, to enable volunteers to keep in touch with the work of other volunteers and the progress of the project as a whole.

AJLW ( 4/4/11)