Hull History Centre wins 2013 Volunteering Award

‘The volunteers have transformed access to and awareness of the hiddenhistory of Second World War Hull and the project has completely changedthe way Hull History Centre works with volunteers’

A project to make publicly available Hull’s Second World War records by using the time and talents of 80 volunteers, has won Hull History Centre the prestigious National Archive Volunteering Award of 2013.

The award was presented by Caroline Williams, President of ARA, at Hull History Centre on 11 September.

hull11septembervolunteers 249x166The national award, from the Archives and Records Association (UK & Ireland) and sector partners, recognises work involving volunteers within an institutional archive service. The judges were unanimous in choosing Hull History Centre as the 2013 winner.
With 93% of houses damaged or destroyed, the Second World War affected virtually every family in the Hull area. The extensive records of the City Council’s departments provide a compelling insight into how the City coped; but these unique and historically rich records were not catalogued and therefore not easily accessible.

With a grant from the National Cataloguing Grants Programme administered by The National Archives,   Hull History Centre staff were able to employ a project archivist to lead the work to catalogue the collection and volunteers were recruited to sort and input more than 70,000 index cards from the Warden Service. A new approach to volunteering was introduced across the Council to develop new processes, policies and procedures to recruit, guide and retain volunteers. The new volunteering approach was piloted through the Second World War project.

After a massive response to the call for volunteers, Hull History Centre offered placements to 80 volunteers on a rolling programme of work. Under supervision, the volunteers cleaned documents, numbered Warden Cards or inputted data. Eight volunteers were also identified to work with children on a new memories project with a local school. In all, the project benefited from more than 1400 volunteer hours in a single year.

Carol Tanner, Access & Collections Manager, who led the project from Hull History Centre says: ‘When we secured a grant from The National Archives to catalogue Hull’s Second World War records, we had no idea just how successful the project would be. Not only has it enabled us to make accessible records which are arguably some of the most important in the City’s history, it also gave us an opportunity to engage with the community and develop a volunteer programme which has transformed the way we now approach volunteering, not just at the History Centre but across the City Council.

‘The work of Victoria Oxberry, Project Archivist,  and the dedication and hard work of the volunteers has ensured that the people of Hull who worked so tirelessly to keep the City running during The Second World War will not be forgotten and the records, previously inaccessible, are now available for all to consult’.

‘I feel privileged to be involved’ said one volunteer. ‘I would recommend [volunteering] to anybody who wishes to acquire new skills, meet people, or simply get involved with a worthwhile cause’. hull11septembercaroltanner 249 x 165

The judges were unanimous in awarding the annual volunteering prize to Hull History Centre, praising the sustainability of the new volunteering processes and practices, the impressive outcomes of the project and the very positive impact on the volunteers, who gained skills and confidence.

A personal message from Alan Johnson, MP for Hull West and Hessle, was read out during the ceremony:

‘I’m very disappointed that I can’t be at Hull History Centre today and so proud that this prestigious national award has been given to Hull History Centre and to its wonderful volunteers.  This project has revealed an extraordinary story to the world: the story of the people of Hull in the Second World War. I congratulate everyone involved. You have earned the gratitude and respect of all of us who care about Hull and who care about history.’

PHOTOGRAPHS: Above left - the volunteers celebrate their award. In the picture is a 1935 car owned by one of the volunteers. Above right - Carol Tanner, who led the project for Hull History Centre, holds the 2013 trophy.

Photographs by Hannah Rogerson for the ARA.

Read more about the project at

Read the winning submission by Hull  History Centre here .


There were 12 entries to the 2013 volunteering awards. The judges particularly praised two other projects:

Lancashire Archives’ Volunteering Programme was praised for its ‘sustained achievement, offering high quality volunteering opportunities for over a quarter of a century…. It provides a model for the sector in how to get a huge amount from your volunteers long-term while offering a flexible, satisfying and people-focused experience in return’.

The Forty Years On initiative from Vivacity Peterborough Culture & Leisure was praised as ‘transformational for a small and relatively young archive service….It is turning the service’s largest collection from an uncatalogued headache into the core inspiration it should be’.


The Annual Volunteering Award – the only one of its kind -  is given by the Archives and Records Association (UK & Ireland) in partnership with The National Archives,  CyMAL (Museums, Archives and Libraries Wales – a division of the Welsh Government) and the Scottish Council on Archives.

The award is given for a Volunteering project which took place in 2012/13

Read more about the ARA and Volunteering.

The 2012 winner of the national Archive Volunteering Award was Wolverhampton City Archives; the winner in 2011 was Manchester Chinese Archive; the 2010 winner was Suffolk Record Office.
The closing date for entries for the 2014 award will be in June 2014.

The National Cataloguing Awards programme is run by The National Archives. The programme supports the cataloguing of collections to enable accessibility to key collections.