4th Jul, 2022

Amateur detectives wanted to help uncover Warwickshire's real-life historical crimes

AMATEUR detectives are wanted to help uncover some real-life historical crime stories.

The Warwickshire Online Volunteer Network (WOVeN) is the result of the successful Warwickshire Bytes Depostition Indexing Project, launched by Heritage and Culture Warwickshire last year, which is pulling together information from 100 years of Warwickshire County Record Office’s collection of Quarter Sessions depositions, mostly from the 19th century.

The project was initially developed as a way of using online tools to share historical materials, but in just over a year the original 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 historical projects will be opened up to WOVeN volunteers in the future.

During lockdown, the WOVeN volunteer network has grown to almost 100 volunteers who are working from home computers in their spare time, with the Deposition Indexing Project more than halfway complete.

Warwickshire County Council (WCC) 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.”

WCC heritage and environment spokeswoman Coun Heather Timms 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 will be given on how to do this, but you need to be handy with a computer and have access to one 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.”

Email woven@warwickshire.gov.uk for more information.

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