East Riding Archives explore new ways to save and promote untold stories

East Riding archives entered the virtual world of Minecraft with their Blockdown project.

They have created their own digital content of film, online exhibition and even a Minecraft virtual platform

Hannah Stamp, Archivist for East Riding Archives

The East Riding Archives and Local Studies are based at the Treasure House in the market town of Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire. As an accredited local authority archive, we take care of over 800 years of East Riding history in our five environment controlled repositories.

We would describe ourselves as a heritage hub for all things East Riding of Yorkshire, people and place.

Archivist, hannah stamp

In this article we take a closer look at the #Archive30 theme of #UntoldStories.

Since the first Covid-19 lockdown in 2020, we have explored new ways of capturing, preserving and making accessible the many ‘untold stories’ in our collections and communities.

Self produced film behind the scenes in the repositories with the archives team.

Before the pandemic, our Heritage Open Day events were large. They were great in-person celebrations of the annual theme, featuring document displays, tours and lots of dress-up!

However, due to Covid-19, our Heritage Open Day and collections stories moved online to our YouTube channel.

This is a new method of storytelling and engagement for the archives team.

Behind the Scenes in the Archives Repositories

Along with some lone visits to the repositories to capture some collection shots, our own homes became filming studios. Complete with green screens, we produced never-before-seen video content. The wide subjects range from seabird preservation, behind the scenes in the archives, iron gall ink, historical postcards, and mushrooms! The archives team recorded their own audio commentaries to accompany the collections videos.

An extensive project about the lives of WW1 soldiers becomes a digital exhibition

Our enthusiastic and dedicated team of volunteers did not stop working over lockdown. Our volunteer-led project ‘First World War Lives’ revealed over one thousand WWI soldiers’ life stories.

Archive documents compiling previously untold stories of East Riding first world war soldiers. Folders, document file, soldiers photographs, three volunteers involved in the project
A-Z research folders, a soldier’s yellow research file, soldiers photographs and the project volunteers (The First World War Lives project)

To finalise over 6 years of project research, our volunteers created the First World War Lives online exhibition. They worked remotely from their homes throughout lockdown (an achievement in itself). They promoted and showcased their research into these fascinating life stories.

Each folder contains a biography and a photograph (if the soldier was featured in the Greens’ Beverley Almanac or Beverley Guardian newspaper). Furthermore the folders hold copies of various life records such as a military service, census, baptism and marriages.

Also in the exhibition are links to downloadable finding resources and the WL collection of biographies on the archives catalogue.

East Riding Blockdown, a project turning the archives into a virtual Minecraft world.

In January 2022, the East Riding Blockdown project brought together digital storytelling with video games and contemporary collecting. The service became part of the Minecraft world with our ‘Archiverse’. This is a fully-explorable reconstruction of the Treasure House complete with characters that would tell gamers facts about the archives!

Digital reconstruction of the East Riding archive building in the style of the popular Minecraft digital game. Used as platform to upload previously untold stories of young people.
The Archiverse features a fully explorable, Minecraft recreation of the Treasure House, home of the East Riding Archives (East Riding Blockdown project)

The Archiverse was created for the project as a platform for collecting young East Riding people’s experiences about the covid-19 pandemic. The project was funded by The Audience Agency and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. For a start, before this project the stories of young people in our county had been untold.

The ‘digital LEGO’ aspect of the Minecraft video game enabled youths to be creative. In addition, they saw what other young people experienced. And all made their mark on the permanent historical record.

Over 50 young people took part, aged between 5-15, through building or writing about their lockdown experiences in our Archiverse. Each contribution was exported as a jpg screenshot and ingested into our growing digital archives.

Each young person’s creation forms a record in our archive collection ERBP. They will be preserved to tell the story of how the pandemic affected young people in the East Riding.

The themes that arose in their lockdown stories will be useful for future historians. They explore the themes of home, place, activities, education, family and digital technology.

Video showcasing young people’s creations crafted in the Archiverse (East Riding Blockdown project)

Further Information

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