Volunteers share their own stories

THE new year could bring a new project for Northumberland local history fans.

The Popular Politics Project is seeking more volunteers to collate information held across the region, as well as record personal narratives.

Dozens of people throughout the North East are already involved in the initiative, but there is room for plenty more.

Regional Co-ordinator John Charlton said: “There is a wealth of information in libraries, public archives, museums and even private hands about public people and events and our aim is to collate it, create a database and produce publications so that others might have easier access to it.

“Part of the job will be to find, record and transcribe personal narratives of living participants involved in political parties, movements and campaigns.

“We’ll be offering training in oral history techniques, as well as research methods, so even complete beginners can get involved.”

One of those working on the project is volunteer Peter Nicklin, who found a wealth of information in a box from Morpeth Town Hall as he researched Parliamentary reform.

He also uncovered an 1826 General Election silk banner, bearing the words Beaumont Forever, which was still in excellent condition.

Woodhorn Museum and Northumberland Archives has been a popular destination for many involved in the scheme.

Head of Collections Sue Wood said: “We’ve half a dozen regular archive users carrying out research for this project.

“While many of our regular visitors are looking into family history, we have so many other records and documents so it’s wonderful to see what the Popular Politics Project volunteers are coming up with.

“This is a great opportunity for someone who’s interested in history, but maybe exhausted their family tree.

“Not only will they be exploring some fascinating topics, including working lives, politics, migration and leisure, but they’ll be helping to make the information accessible to a much wider audience.”

The project has been supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Co-operative Membership.

For more details contact Mr Charlton on 07761 818384, or email ppp@nelh.org