King Henry VIII and Napoleon - A Week's Work Experience at the History Centre
Every year the History Centre hosts work experience students from Year 10 to Higher Education. Alex, a year 10 student from Malmesbury School describes what he got up to during his week:
Recently I have had work experience at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre in Chippenham. On my first day I got shown around the strongrooms which they have lots of original documents, records and certificate etc. I actually saw King Henry VIII’s marriage deed with Jane Seymour. After that I saw Archives Conservation and got told how they restore letters, papers and maps, I also saw a small piece of Napoleon’s hair, and a really nice photo album. I also had a look at a newspaper by Swindon Advertiser in 1918 and 1919 which was really interesting to look at all the different stories they had at that moment in time.
On the second day for the morning I was copying and pasting wills onto a disc for a researcher. Then I got an original document from the strongroom and I had to find the names and occupations of people, where they lived and the year, but it was sometimes really hard to find some people because the writing was really hard to read and some documents did not give names. After lunch I went into the object conservation lab and saw a sole from a roman shoe in the wet room with a freeze dryer, also I went into an x-ray room. After that I saw a very old ceramic pot that had been damaged by a badger when it was digging, the people in the lab were trying to put it back together. After that I did community history and I had an introduction to the Wiltshire Community History website and was able to look at all the different parishes that they have written information about.
On the third day I started off on the help desk and went back and fro to the strongrooms getting documents, records etc. that people in the research areas had requested. After that I went and saw pictures of human remains and the houses that went from the Stone Age to Anglo-Saxon times with the archaeologists and the World Heritage Site officers, which I found particularly interesting on what they had recovered. After lunch I looked at the Malmesbury Boys and Girls Schools’ log books that the head master or mistress kept and that they had to write in everyday. I looked at it from November 1918 – December 1919 in the boys and girls log book to find out how children and schools reacted to the end of the First World War. It turned out that both the boys and the girls school was closed in 1918 on about the 8th November because the doctors had detected influenza and were closed for a month.
On my last day of my work experience in the morning I was helping reception and helping them make a new membership card after the person had filled in a sheet, I had to sign in people with cards by scanning the cards into a system, if they were only there temporarily they would get a sticker. I have really enjoyed being here for my work experience and I am very grateful that I was able to come here it was very interesting. I would definitely recommend this place.
Alexander, Malmesbury School