Introduction to Archives for Volunteers

Ref: C3530668

Archives are a major yet declining resource in this IT age. We shall consider a wide range of archival sources from medieval parchment to modern DVDs and indentures to photocopies, including more personal records like diaries, letters and wills. Survival of archival sources, the context in which they were first made and their later uses e.g. mid-19C tithe maps are rarely used to study the tithe system - will also be considered.

Course aim

Introduction to a wide range of archival sources which can illuminate social or local history and help us understand our shared past.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Understand the meaning of some new terms like indenture or palaeography.
  • List at least 5 different types of documents.
  • Discuss some of the limitations of documents.
  • Explain some of the reasons why archives don't survive.
  • Research independently for more information.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion

What else do I need to know?

  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)
  • Pen and paper or laptop for taking notes.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful
  • There are many books on Archives and Local History sources in libraries and second hand bookshops. A good recent addition is Paul Carter & Kate Thompson, 'Sources for Local Historians' (Phillimore, 2005), but there are many others.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • Become involved as a volunteer for a WEA partner or another organisation
  • Visit Kresen Kernow when it reopens later this year.

Download full course information sheet

Introduction to Archives for Volunteers


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2018
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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