Posted: 07.09.20 at 14:12 by Nick Hudson
A NEW plea has gone out for history-mad enthusiasts in Bedworth and Bulkington to join a growing global group digging into a century of real-life crime stories from the area.
The appeal organisers are trying to match “computer-literate locals with a few hours to spare” to the task of teaming up with Warwickshire Online Volunteer Network.
The WOVeN organisation has come into existence as a result of the successful ‘Warwickshire Bytes Deposition Indexing Project’, launched by Heritage and Culture Warwickshire last year.
It is pulling together information from 100 years of depositions from courts’ quarter sessions from the Warwickshire County Record Office's collection.
Most of these date back to the 19th century.
The project was initially developed as a way of using online tools to share historical materials.
However, in just over a year the original Warwickshire volunteers from the UK, Australia, Canada and the United States have transcribed more than 6,000 documents and indexed more than 30,000 names and crimes.
As well as the Deposition Indexing Project, other fascinating historical projects will be opened up to WOVeN volunteers in the future.
During lockdown, the WOVeN volunteer network has grown even further and today almost 100 volunteers are working from home computers in their spare time, with indexing Project more than half way complete.
Warwickshire archivist, Sharon Forman said: “This has been one of our first forays into remote volunteering and has achieved success beyond our wildest dreams.
“It is such a great way of involving people who otherwise might not venture into heritage volunteering and during lockdown it has further proved its worth by providing people with a creative and worthwhile activity to focus on.”
County council heritage portfolio holder Councillor Heather Timms said: “It is amazing to think that we have volunteers all over the world contributing to these projects, some of whom have family links back to here and who therefore find this work particularly fascinating.
“If you volunteer, you will be given access to digitised witness statements from 19th and early 20th century court cases and will be asked to transfer key information into an online spreadsheet.”
“Support will be given on how to do this, but you need to be handy with a computer and have access to one at home.
“The information you provide will help us build a searchable database of the records, which will help us open up these collections to more people. If you have a few hours to spare, we’d love to hear from you.”
If you want to turn ‘tech detective’ then you are asked to email [email protected]
The courts of quarter sessions were traditionally held at four set times each year in England and Wales from the year 1388.
They sat in the seat of each county and county borough and were only abolished in 1972 when the Courts Act 1971 replaced them, and the old assizes, with a single permanent Crown Court.
In Scotland they survived until 1975, when they were abolished and replaced by district courts and later by justice-of-the-peace courts.
The quarter sessions were named after the quarter days on which they met – Epiphany, Easter, Midsummer and Michaelmas.