Monday, 16 September 2013

Lives Behind the Stones

With many thanks to the Heritage Lottery Team 

Several years ago I was fortunate enough to coordinate a Heritage Lottery funded project called Jewish Voices. It involved helping groups of local elderly people from Leicester's Jewish Community to record their memories. The work was fascinating but what made it extra special was that the memories, when gathered together into a book, told a story of demographic and social change in a provincial town during the 1940s and 50s. I hadn't expected the results to be so conclusive and I'm very proud of the book.

I recently submitted an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund [HLF] to run another project, very different but I'm hoping it'll produce just as exciting an outcome. Grant applications are long detailed affairs and I've spent far more hours than I care to count with my Deputy Project Leader, supported by a small but enthusiastic team, filling in forms and working out timetables and costs. It's been a long, nail-biting wait but...

*drum roll* 

Our application has now been approved by the HLF and so for the next year I'll be leading a team of volunteers as we record and catalogue all the headstones in Leicester's Jewish Cemetery. Part of the cemetery dates back to the early 1900s and is in a poor state of repair. We'll be recording all the inscriptions on the stones while they're still legible, creating a website for genealogical research, producing Interpretation Boards for visitors and, most excitingly of all, selecting a cross-section of names and conducting research at the local Records Office into the lives behind those names. This is why I've called the project 'Lives Behind the Stones'.

If you're local and you'd like to volunteer then let me know in the comments and I'll get in touch. Our volunteer list is growing and we're spending the next few weeks recruiting even more people [you can never have too many volunteers!] for one or all of the following:
  • digitally photographing headstones
  • inputting data onto a database
  • researching selected names [There will be a training session run by the Records Office for all those volunteering to do research.]

About the Heritage Lottery Fund  
Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural tradition, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported almost 35,000 projects with more than £5.3bn across the UK.

30 comments:

  1. Sounds fascinating. I hope you let us know about some of the findings. ~Miriam

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  2. Great news, Rosalind. A very worthwhile project. Good luck with it.

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    1. It is, isn't it, and now the work begins!!

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  4. Oh Ros, that's fantastic news! How incredibly exciting for you!! I would so love to be a volunteer, but not in my most exaggerated imaginings could I claim to being local. By the way, I wanted to get a copy of Jewish Voices some months ago, but the link on the site didn't seem to work and I sent an email to the contact address (can't remember what it was now) but didn't get a reply. Is it still available?

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    1. Hope to have a copy in the post to you soon. I still have a few left but they're disappearing rapidly... Which is great :-) Hope you enjoy it.

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  5. Well done on acquiring the funding. This has been done at two of our cemeteries. One of them is unsafe to visit so the families have to photos at least. Also, on visiting the graves of family before the Yom Tavim, I realised that future generations might not know where their ancestors are buried.

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    1. Thank you. An area of ours is becoming unsafe. It's the best we can do to preserve the past for the future.

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  6. Congrats on the grant. That is fascinating and it is valuable to record history so that generations can remember and honor those who went before. If I were on your side of the pond I would certainly want to help you. Best of luck with the project.

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    1. Thanks, Joanne. And you would be very welcome.

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  7. What a wonderful project, Ros - do let us know how things develop.

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  8. Wow, Rosalind, what an interesting project. I hope you get all the volunteers you need! Congratulations on receiving the grant!

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    1. Thanks, gathering volunteers is our next task!

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  9. This is a great initiative. Of course, as a LDS, we do love our family history work!

    Duncan In Kuantan
    Kuantan nature photos

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    1. Thanks, Duncan. I'm guessing that LDS is to do with family research.

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  10. Sounds great. It's a very important thing to do because even 'carved in stone' doesn't last forever. I'm not sure how much time I could give you, but if you think I could be useful - give me a shout.

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    1. I like that. Craved in stone is not for ever. Yes, I'll keep you informed of our plans. Would be great if you could come along :-)

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  11. What a fascinating project to be involved in - and well done for getting the funding.

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  12. That all sounds very interesting. Good luck, hope it goes well!

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  13. Congratulations on getting the grant! You must be thrilled. I'm not Jewish, and I'm not local by a long shot, but if I were, I'd love to help you with this project. It sounds fabulous. Good luck with it!

    Oh, I also wanted to thank you for introducing me to Jo Carroll's book a while back. I read it... and LOVED it!

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    1. Thanks, Susan. I'm so glad you enjoyed Jo's book. She's an amazing lady.

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  14. Hi Ros .. gosh what an amazing and wonderful outcome - I'd love to be a part of the training session at the Records Office .. that sounds an incredible opportunity ... lucky research volunteers.

    I'm so pleased you braved the application process for the HLF .. and CONGRATULATIONS with the grant ... brilliant.

    It will be such a great project to lead, let alone be involved with .. and so suits you ...

    Looking forward to more posts about the project .. and the process - fascinating .. cheers Hilary

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    1. Thanks, Hilary, I will certainly be posting up progress reports :-)

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  15. I just read Hilary's comment above and can only add that this is the kind of project I would love to be involved with, so I'm looking forward to the reports on your progress. Congratulations, it is so great that you got the grant and that they spend lottery funds on projects like this in the UK.

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  16. So interesting Ros I hope you enjoy getting stuck in.

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