The Collections Team are currently working on the records of the West Riding County Council (WRCC).
The West Riding County Council (based at County Hall, Wakefield) administered public services in the West Riding of Yorkshire from 1889 to 1974. The major responsibilities of the West Riding County Council were education, health, welfare, highways, libraries, police and fire services, planning, smallholdings, and the registry of deeds.
This is a large, complex collection. The collection takes up about 57 M3 of space – that’s nearly 3000 archive boxes of material relating to all aspects of the WRCC’s work.
The County Council was structured around committees and departments. The committees were involved in policy and decision-making whereas the departments carried out the day-to-day administration. Some departments such as the Clerk’s Department and the Treasurer’s Departments carried out administrative work on behalf of a number of departments.
Each committee or department is listed separately, and in order to arrange the final catalogue we have had to ascertain which records were created by which committee or department.
Particularly tricky is discovering where material was created by a department and where it was created by the Clerk’s department. It is important to know who created a record as it needs to be seen in the context of other records created alongside it to make sense. In this instance the process was made easier because Jenny and Helen had previously been through all the accessions paperwork from when the WRCC collection was deposited in the archives. We were also helped a lot by finding some speeches in the collection written by the WRCC Clerk himself which talk at length about the role of the Clerk’s department and its responsibilities.
The Collections Team have some experience of cataloguing clerk’s papers. Over the past couple of years we have been involved in the cataloguing various Town Clerk’s departments (see previous post) as well as some initial work on the WRCC Clerk’s records. These borough clerk’s departments operated on a sectional basis and therefore follow to some smaller degree a structure very similar to that of the Clerks Department of the West Riding.
Now in August we have almost completed listing the departmental records. After listing the remaining Clerk’s Department records (about another 700 + boxes worth!) we will have a full overview of all the WRCC material. We will then be able to concentrate on the way in which the material is arranged and how to make it easily searchable. Watch this space for further updates…