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History Trip to the Records Office

Added 4 years ago

By Emily Haddrell—Year 7
 
On Wednesday 6th May, twelve year 7 pupils were given the opportunity of visiting the Cornwall Records Office in Truro and I was lucky to be one of them.
The Cornwall Records Office is situated in the grounds of the Old County Hall site.  On arrival at the Records Office we were greeted by several of the team who work there. We learned that the Cornwall Records Office was established in 1951 and looks after the largest archive collection in Cornwall. 
 
We were given a tour of the archives which if you lined up all the different records would equal four miles - that would be the same distance from there to Chacewater!  We were told that we would be able to examine some of the records but that they would be documents which related to people who had been dead for at least 30 years (this is a rule which applies to all research).  We looked at numerous types of records including huge, hand-drawn maps, prisoners’ records and baptism records. The prisoner records included lots of personal information about the prisoners including what eye colour they had, what type of hair they had and even if they had any tattoos or distinctive marks.  The general personal records contained the person’s date of birth and the land which they owned.  There were even record books the width of a 30cm ruler! The records held at the Cornwall Records Office date from the 12th century until the present date.
 
After we left the archives and re-joined in the main room, we were split into four groups of three to act out different stages of life and how they would have been recorded before 1837 and after 1837.  Each group was appointed one of the following: registering births, marriages, deaths and completing a census (a survey designed to obtain certain information about the population). We watched each performance and found them very entertaining and informative.  After 1837, more information on documents such as death certificates was required (i.e. occupation). 
 
In groups, we were then assigned a different famous Cornishman to research including Richard Lander! Firstly we had two minutes to Google their date of birth and death and other important information which we thought may be relevant to this particular task and to copy it down onto a clipboard.   Once the two minutes were over we looked at some record pages under a microfiche. We had to work out what date they were baptised as quickly as possible and afterwards looked at some websites which contained lots of information about their marriage status, who they lived in a household with and how much land they owned.  It was amazing how much information we managed to find out!
At the end of our visit to the Records Office, on the way out, we were each given a sheet containing information about how to continue with our researching skills and find out more about our own family history.  
 
I enjoyed this trip and found it fascinating. I am glad I went because I now know a lot more about Cornish history, how it is recorded and how to find out information about people in the past. If you are interested in researching your family history, you may like to visit the Cornwall Records Office website at:
http://www.cornwall.gov.uk/community-and-living/records-archives-and-cornish-studies/cornwall-record-office/visit-cornwall-record-office/
 
Richard Lander School