Double First for the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre

19th February 2021, 2:10pm | By Peter Dunford |

An e-volunteering project run by the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre has resulted in a collection of historic postcards becoming the latest addition to an online heritage mapping resource.

The work to add the Wilkinson Collection is a double first for Wiltshire Council’s History Centre – the first of its photographic collections to be given its own layer on the Wiltshire section of the Know Your Place (KYP) website and its first volunteer project to be completed remotely and online.

Closures and restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic meant nearly all volunteer work went on hold but despite these challenges, Archivist Max Parkin and County Local Studies Librarian Julie Davis launched the History Centre’s first remote, online volunteering project.

Max, who managed the project, explained: “Since the start of the first lockdown we have engaged with our community of users and volunteers as much as possible online, and this project was an extension of that. It was great to get it up and running and the feedback from volunteers has been really positive. It has definitely been worth the effort.”

Other images from the History Centre’s photographic collections appear on the Community layer of Know Your Place Wiltshire but the Wilkinson postcards are the first to have their own collection layer on the interactive map.

A small team of volunteers worked on 342 postcards, using their detective skills to identify precisely where each historic image was taken so it could be accurately located – geotagged – on the KYP interactive map of Wiltshire. The meticulous work took just over two months to complete and the information layer is now live on Know Your Place at www.kypwest.org.uk

Volunteer Tony said: “I was very pleased to be able to contribute to the KYP project and enjoyed the challenges of identifying where the various images I worked on were taken from, finding out about them and putting the information into the database.”

Cllr Richard Clewer, Wiltshire Council Cabinet Member for Heritage and Arts, said: “What a brilliant project this has been, and even more so given the challenges of running it during a pandemic. Thanks to our volunteers for their work and contributions on this, and I’m sure people will enjoy using this mapping technology to view these fascinating postcards of years gone by.”

To help budding historians get the most out of Know Your Place the History Centre has created a User Guide which can be found at https://wshc.org.uk/know-your-place.html

The success of the project also means Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre is looking for more volunteers willing to work online – people will need a computer, an internet connection and a keen eye for detail. If they would like to take part, they should email WSHC.Volunteers@wiltshire.gov.uk

The History Centre’s community engagement throughout the pandemic has supported Wiltshire Council’s Active Communities programme which encourages residents to stay fit and active – physically and mentally – through online activities and resources. For more information people should visit https://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/leisure-active-communities

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