Heritage Volunteering

The Arts Society Isle of Man runs a programme of heritage volunteering. heritage volunteering

IOM DFAS Heritage Volunteers: Report 2011-2012

IOM NADFAS Heritage volunteering is carried out under the auspices of Manx National Heritage Library and Archives, based at the Manx Museum in Douglas. Our main point of contact is the archivist, Wendy Thirkettle. Overall, she is delighted with volunteer progress in this reporting period.

Volunteers initially contact me and I then forward them onto Wendy. As such, they make their own arrangements about the time they commit to the volunteering. So far, it is all individual work rather than operating as a group.

There are currently four projects which are being undertaken on a long term basis, all concerned with preparing material for the iMuseum, a means of electronic access to the collections of MNH.

  • 1. ‘Good Deed’ project. This is a two-stranded initiative to prepare registered deed information for delivery at the iMuseum. Manx National Heritage holds such deeds up to 1910. The first team of volunteers have been transcribing information from registers onto spreadsheets for upload to the MNH database. Working backwards from 1910 the end goal is to reach 1847. In early July a significant landmark in progress was reached by delivery of data 1880 to 1910 live at the iMuseum facility. Volunteers are now concentrating on the period 1860 – 1879. A second team have been preparing the actual documents for digital capture. Again progress has been made with deeds 1847-1910 completed (removal of staples, noting of tears etc); since March 2012 the team has begun unfolding pre 1847 deeds, ensuring they are clearly sub-numbered and again checking if they need conservation work prior to digitisation. This is an enormous project and The Arts Society volunteers have worked alongside volunteers from other organisations.
  • 2. Folk Life Survey. Two The Arts Society volunteers are making progress on summarising the content of this unique resource for eventual access in the iMuseum.
  • 3. Prison records. 1 The Arts Society member is transcribing early gaol registers from 1829 for the prison which was based until 1891 in Castle Rushen, Castletown. Again the spreadsheet data will be made available through the iMuseum. As a result of this work, the volunteer has been asked to give guided tours of Castle Rushen when it was the Island’s prison, to which these records refer.
  • 4. 1911 census. This is the latest project and involves volunteers transcribing the information from the census into a format which will be able to be accessed at the iMuseum. Besides these regular volunteers, I sometimes get requests from students via the website for temporary volunteer work. Wendy again has found suitable projects for them. In short, while the number of actual volunteers might not be large, they are doing an invaluable job. Many do not consider themselves especially skilled, but the Manx Museum staff offer the necessary training and they get a profound sense of doing something useful. It is very gratifying to be able to funnel this enthusiasm (whether it be from the newly retired or the student looking for additional experience) into something which will benefit the community and the Island’s heritage.

Besides these regular volunteers, I sometimes get requests from students via the website for temporary volunteer work. Wendy again has found suitable projects for them.

In short, while the number of actual volunteers might not be large, they are doing an invaluable job. Many do not consider themselves especially skilled, but the Manx Museum staff offer the necessary training and they get a profound sense of doing something useful. It is very gratifying to be able to funnel this enthusiasm (whether it be from the newly retired or the student looking for additional experience) into something which will benefit the community and the Island’s heritage.