Learning With Archvies
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School Teachers   Primary Courses

Secondary Courses Using Archives

Medicine and public health
Elizabethan Stafford
The English Civil War
Crime and punishment

To arrange a visit to Staffordshire Record Office for one of the sessions listed below, or to discuss your requirements, please contact us.

History Challenge

This visit is aimed at teaching pupils key history skills. Pupils will learn how to read old handwriting (palaeography) from the 16th and 17th centuries (secretary hand). This will be done through presentations, word searches and looking at original documents. They will also be encouraged to question information and examine the historical sources closely. This module has been created to offer a challenging and rewarding experience for pupils across all year groups. It is however best targeted at "Gifted and Talented" groups.

Medicine and public health

This session is history based and has been successfully used by mainly KS3 history classes but also A-level groups. The project aims to bring to pupils' attention the wide range of sources available for the study of public health issues through the ages. How did people access medical advice before the NHS and chemist shops? Who had access to the first hospitals? Who didn't? It covers subject areas such as:

  • Remedies - such as a 16th century remedy "to make wormes come out of the teeth".
  • Epidemics - pupils get the opportunity to look at an original document from 1348 concerning the Black Death (in Latin!).
  • Public Health - such as instructions for precautionary measures to prevent cholera in Madeley.
  • Physical and Mental Health Issues - a letter on the treatment of the insane with remarks on the nature, causes and cure of mental derangement by Thomas Bakewell.
  • Causes of Death - account of death of a 16th century school child due to poisoning of the wound.

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Elizabethan Stafford

This session is a History or Citizenship project. It can and has been used by pupils of all ages with little knowledge of the period. Some very interesting work on citizenship and, for example, with Information Technology been based around this project. The project aims to raise issues of religious tolerance. Charity - who pays for the poor and needy in society? Local democracy - who governs? The session covers subject areas such as :

  • The poor - 1575 entry showing Kirton Charity payments to the needy and poor of the borough.
  • Charity - Will of Dame Margaret Temple showing payments to prisoners in the county gaol.
  • Religious tolerance - account of the execution of Robert Sutton, a Catholic seminary priest in Stafford.
  • Political power, who rules? - 17th century poem "Stafford, why a Mayor?"
  • The Borough of Stafford - account of the visit of Elizabeth I to Stafford.

The session comes with an introduction to the period and themes within the topic that can be emailed out to teachers.

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The English Civil War

This session is based upon the events leading up to the civil war, taking pupils through the war itself and looking, in part at least, at the aftermath of the wars.

The session covers subject areas such as:

  • Causes of the war - late payment of ship money.
  • Effects of the war on society - George Byrch (mason) and a fight over drinking to the "Kings health".
  • The war in Staffordshire - account of the battle of Hopton Heath.
  • Personalities and the war in Staffordshire - letters from Cromwell, Prince Rupert and Charles I.
  • The aftermath of the war - declaration of Sir Thos Fairfax on disbanding forces.

These sessions take one and a half hours. After a general introduction the first task is general palaeography (reading old handwriting), pupils are asked to transcribe (copy out) in full the document before them, each pupil has a document for themselves.

To help them with this they are given a crib (a full copy of the document with words taken out). The crib acts as a guide to the handwriting.

Once they have done this pupils are asked to read through the document to gain an understanding of what the document is trying to say, who wrote it and why? The final task is to question the document, is it a reliable source? What does it tell us? How can it be challenged?

The session ends with a short summary, pupils are encouraged to feedback on their findings and some interpretation is given by the archivist. Teachers are given full transcripts of the documents so that pupils can check their work once back at the school and should they wish follow up the sessions in class.

A group from Walton High School have visited us regularly in 2008 for Civil War sessions and have written about it on their web site.

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Crime and punishment

This is a session aimed at Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 pupils. During the visit pupils will look at documents relating to :

  • Conformity and the law which looks at religious dissenters and a case of wife-selling at Milwich .
  • Punishments such as the nailing by the ears to a post.
  • Gaols which includes the report on a women's prison in Parramatta, Australia.
  • Transportation such as in the case of William Hilditch, sentenced to transportation to America.
  • Riots looks in detail at one case arising from the Chartist riots in Staffordshire.

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The visit encourages pupils to engage with themes of punishment, treatment of prisoners, justice, and in general, how society responds to challenges to the status quo.

The response of pupils to our courses has been very positive.

We also work with SID to provide a course for teachers on the use of archives in teaching history.

Contact us

If you are interested in using any of these courses please contact Matthew Blake, Archivist (Access and Learning) at Staffordshire Record Office or Roger Emmett, Senior History Adviser at SID.
E-mail: Matthew Blake
E-mail: Roger Emmett

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