Kenilworth residents offered the chance to investigate historical crimes from the comfort of their own homes

By James Smith

5th Aug 2021 | Local News

A new, online volunteer group in Warwickshire is calling for volunteers to help investigate historical crimes, by searching through archive material.

The Warwickshire Online Volunteer Network (WOVeN) is looking for computer-literate volunteers, with a few hours to spare, to join a team working to investigate real, historical crimes.

The WOVeN volunteer network is the result of the successful 'Warwickshire Bytes Depostition Indexing Project', launched by Heritage and Culture Warwickshire last year.

It is pulling together information from 100 years of of quarter sessions depositions from the Warwickshire County Record Office's collection.

Most of these are from the 19th century.

The project was initially developed as a way of using online tools to share historical materials.

However, in just over a year the original 'Warwickshire Bytes' volunteers from the UK, Australia, Canada and the United States have transcribed more than 6,000 documents and indexed over 30,000 names and crimes.

As well as the 'Deposition Indexing Project', other fascinating historical projects you can to choose to get involved in will be opened up to WOVeN volunteers in the future.

During lockdown, the WOVeN volunteer network has continued to grow and today almost 100 volunteers are working from home in their spare time, with the 'Deposition Indexing Project' more than halfway complete.

Warwickshire County Council Project Archivist, Sharon Forman said "This has been one of our first forays into remote volunteering and has achieved success beyond our wildest dreams.

"It is such a great way of involving people who otherwise might not venture into heritage volunteering and during lockdown it has further proved its worth by providing people with a creative and worthwhile activity to focus on."

Councillor Heather Timms, Warwickshire County Council's Portfolio Holder for Heritage and the Environment, said "We are so grateful to our volunteers, who give so much of their time to help support the work of Heritage and Culture Warwickshire and, in the case of the WOVeN network, specifically the Warwickshire County Record Office.

"It is amazing to think that we have volunteers all over the world contributing to these projects, some of whom have family links back to Warwickshire and who therefore find this work particularly fascinating.

"If you volunteer, you will be given access to digitised witness statements from 19th and early 20th century court cases and will be asked to transfer key information into an online spreadsheet."

Support is of course provided to new volunteers, but computer literacy is required, as well as access to a computer at home.

"The information you provide will help us build a searchable database of the records, which will help us open up these collections to more people. If you have a few hours to spare, we'd love to hear from you."

There is plenty of work still to do, so to find out more, email [email protected]


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