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Celebrating Volunteers' Week

To celebrate Volunteers' Week we highlighted the amazing contribution that volunteers make to our work at Surrey Heritage. Would you believe our volunteers give over 10,000 hours of their time to us every year? 

Just to take one example, at the Who Do You Are? Live exhibition at Olympia in February 2014, we launched a huge set of online records that will be invaluable to both family and social historians and give a fascinating insight into the life of the poor in 19th century Surrey. This was part of an ongoing project to index the Surrey Board of Guardians' Poor Law records, our archive volunteers Jan, Mike, Naomi and Paula having completed an index to the Richmond Guardians' Application and Report Books. Between them they had indexed 91 registers, covering 1870 to 1912 and containing 103,398 entries, taking over 800 hours to complete the project! Now users around the world can access this index and others free of charge on our website. See the Surrey records online to discover what else is available, including records from Chertsey and Godstone Poor Law Unions, deaths in the County Gaol, Princess Mary Village Homes pupil registers, and Mayford Industrial School admission registers.

Our archives and local studies volunteers come to Surrey History Centre every week to participate in a wide range of projects. These include digitising historic postcards and photographs; indexing records - such as case registers of Surrey mental institutions and photograph albums of the Surrey Regiments - and transcribing collections of letters. For the centenary of the First World War, our volunteers are also indexing many of our First World War records.

Some volunteers have been able to contribute to projects using their home computers. The transcription of the Surrey tithe records was mostly undertaken at home, with 86 volunteers involved. Members of our Surrey Heritage Ancestry Volunteers Group have indexed mental hospital records, regimental records and calendars of prisoners, all of which was done at home, as part of the Ancestry World Archive Project.

Surrey's Historic Environment Record is a comprehensive record of the archaeology and heritage of Surrey, and our HER volunteers have added thousands of sites as diverse as historic aircraft crash sites, gardens, parks, canals, brickworks, mines and quarries. All the extensive research they have completed has a direct impact on our knowledge of Surrey's past, and aids the Heritage Conservation Team to ensure that archaeology is properly considered, monitored and conserved as Surrey develops. The Historic Environment Record can be searched online on the Exploring Surrey's Past website.

Every week, another team of volunteers busily sorts and processes finds and environmental samples in our Surrey County Archaeological Unit. Many volunteers have taken part in community digs around the county, such as the Wealden Glass Project, which aimed to investigate the medieval and early post-medieval glass industry in the Surrey and Sussex Weald. Every summer season hundreds of volunteers join community digs at Woking Palace, and there have been some very exciting finds.

Interested in volunteering with Surrey Heritage? For details of opportunities, please check Volunteering with Surrey Heritage on our website.

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