During my work experience week at the Norfolk Record Office, I have undertaken many different tasks in all areas of the work. This includes working in the search room, finding documents in the strong room, and learning about the conservation and preservation work that is done here. Before this week, I didn’t realise how many different jobs there are at the Record Office and how different many of them are to what I expected. I have also worked on two projects that are currently underway at the Record Office: the cleaning of their collection of maps, and the indexing of their birth records. These have both been fun as they gave me a chance to work with documents that are over 150 years old and so give an idea of what Norfolk was like almost two centuries ago. It has been interesting to see how different areas of the county, especially the area I live in, have grown so much in this time, from what were just fields to a now densely populated area.
One of the main tasks I have worked on is the cataloguing of an old document: a photo album created by Corporal Mechanic Cyril Morris of the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War. This was very interesting as the album was very detailed and gave a clear insight to life at Snarehill airfield, near Thetford, during the First World War. It included pictures of the men who were stationed there, both while at the airfield and in their free time (when they played football, cricket, and other sports), and of the planes they flew and worked on. This is especially interesting as we do not see much about these early warplanes nowadays and these photographs show them in great detail. Furthermore, it also contains many photographs of crashed aircraft (which seemed to happen a lot) and includes the reasons for their crashes. The reasons were very intriguing as they show just how unreliable and uncontrollable some of these early aircraft were. This album is interesting as it brings to life an aspect of history that isn’t thought about as much now and those who took part in it, which wouldn’t be possible any other way.
Overall, it has been an interesting, enjoyable week in which I have learnt much about the Record Office and the work that is done here, as well as the history of Norwich and Norfolk. It has been especially surprising to find out how much history there is in Norfolk that I had no idea about, but is so easily accessible at the Record Office, and learning about the work that is done to make this history accessible and to preserve it.
Ollie Calver, Hellesdon High School