Volunteer opportunity at London Metropolitan Archives (LMA)

    ‘A Place in the Sun’ volunteer project co-ordinator (half day per week)

Post description

The volunteer post requires:
* an understanding of research and of the purpose of indexing
* accuracy
* some editorial skills
* a knowledge of British place names and London street names is helpful
* ability to liaise with volunteers and staff

The volunteer project co-ordinator brings together work volunteers are doing on an important indexing project, ‘A Place in the Sun’. This project is creating an index of people, places, business names and occupations set out in the fire insurance policy registers of the Sun Fire Office (held at London Metropolitan Archives, LMA) so that people can readily find registers and policies of interest to them. The results are available online and are being used in the Survey of London, National Portrait Gallery database of British artists, by V&A curators and some Dictionary of National Biography entries, as well as by many thousands doing their family or local history.

The index currently covers 1781 to 1842, and volunteers, who each have an individual register to work on, choose whether they want to add to the index at the earlier or the later end. 220 registers have been indexed, and the total is added to at the rate of ten or so a year. Before 1793, the records are nationwide; from 1793 on they focus mainly on London.

Volunteers attend for two or three hours each week at an agreed time, recording their progress with the index, inputting into an Access template (this work is backed up by the co-ordinator weekly).
The project co-ordinator checks and edits the volunteers’ input, transferring it onto LMA’s computer system for inclusion in the digital catalogue.

All files are read over by the co-ordinator, twice, at this final stage: once against the register, then a further read-through to spot and check remaining typos and possible or likely errors, for further confirmation against the register as necessary. The second check can take place in part off-site.

In particular the role (which involves a commitment of about half a day each week) involves –

1. Visiting LMA, ideally on different days (Monday-Thursday).
2. Transferring file backups from USB stick onto the LMA computer system.
3. Checking and editing files as they are completed, for consistency with the project guidelines (and with other inputting); lodging the files on the system when finalised.
4. Reporting observed problems, if any, to LMA project liaison.

Occasionally, or as the need arises –
1. Updating the record of progress to date.
2. Planning the allocation of new registers.
3. Setting up new files on the laptops and backing up the laptop contents.
4. If there are new volunteers, training & reviewing their input for likely problems
5. Liaising with volunteers.
6. Implementing (very infrequent) changes in the system on behalf of LMA.
7. Keeping an eye on the laptops with a view to anticipating problems where possible
8. Dealing with any permanent changes in the volunteers’ schedule

Once or twice a year
1. Producing a newsletter for present and past volunteers and other interested parties.
2. Notifying LMA cataloguers when 4 or more register indexes have been newly filed
3. Producing a record of registers and policies indexed to date.

Volunteers at London Metropolitan Archives have the support of an LMA member of staff for each project and are generally overseen by the Senior Archivist who is responsible for our volunteer programme. We have a programme of events and occasional visits to reward our volunteers.

If you are interested in getting involved with the project, please contact Sally Bevan, Senior Archivist at LMA (ask.lma@cityoflondon.gov.uk)