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Preserving Ideas for Us and for Future Generations: Archives, Local Studies and Genealogy

Archives are the accumulated unique records of an individual or institution that warrant permanent preservation because of their continuing value to their creator for their legal, administrative or fiscal purposes or to researchers because of their potential research value. Archives are primary sources, they are evidence of the past. Archives are the background of our lives, they depict how decisions were, and are made, and they are at the same time a local, a national and an international treasure. To make sure they are preserved for future generations they will need constant care and management. Their proper preservation reflects a desire for transparency and ensures that the right to access information is protected.

Local Authority archives are not strictly limited to the archives of existing local authorities but encompass a wide range of predecessor bodies.

In Kildare Local Authority Archive, quality archive collections have survived. These include material originating from the Grand Jury System, the Poor Law Unions of Naas, Athy and Celbridge, the Rural District Council of Athy, Newbridge Town Commissioners, Athy and Naas Urban District Councils and Kildare County Council itself. All these records are irreplaceable because they are all unique. Keeping that in mind, the archive service has taken on several activities to enhance access to these archives while not compromising the vital duty of preservation and conservation in keeping with archival best practices and existing legislation. Collections that were previously spread throughout the county were recently transferred and secured in the archive, some material was microfilmed in order to preserve the original material; the service also recently acquired a new system to catalogue archival material.

DONE

  • Appointment of Archivist with Counties Meath and Wicklow
  • Archival store established at Newbridge adjacent to local studies and Genealogy Services
  • Public reading room established and shared with Local Studies and Genealogy Services
  • Research and consultation regarding the development of a new Archive space as part of the development of a new Central Library for Kildare based at Newbridge

TO DO

Appointment of full time Archivist for the County whose brief will include:

  • Devising archival policy in terms of access and preservation
  • Developing better access for the people of County Kildare and beyond
  • Developing Archival Services within the proposed Central Library
  • Developing Web presence to enhance access to collections
  • Outreach programme focusing on schools and Leaving Certificate students
  • Devising policy on donations of local primary sources of private origin
  • Working in partnership with Kildare County Council services to ensure that the proper record series are transferred to the archive on a regular basis
  • Continue preservation microfilming programmes

LOCAL STUDIES AND GENEALOGY

DONE

  • A shared, user-orientated environment established by concentrating both physical and knowledge resources in one place at Newbridge together with County Archive
  • The Local Studies Collection has been extended and re-located thus enhancing the service and making it more accessible
  • Saturday opening
  • Material relating to the study of the heritage and history of County Kildare is now integrated with general Irish History Material which is rare and often out of print
  • A comprehensive collection of books and printed material is in place as well as microfilm, microfiche, photographs and CD-ROMs
  • Establishment of a microform collection with the addition of newspapers dating back to 1763
  • Digitisation of material for web users supported by An Chomhairle Leabharlanna
  • Employment of a Genealogist and provision of genealogical research services
  • Genealogy database of some 400,000 records including church records, census records, graveyard and valuation records
  • Searchable index of Leinster Leader newspaper containing 172, 613 articles
  • Programming including Annual Seminar, class visits, workshops, rare books fair
  • Advisory service to Kildare County Council, County Heritage Forum, National Monuments Advisory Committee, County Kildare Archaeological Society, Kildare Federation of Local History Groups, Irish Family History Society, Kildare Community Network, schools, writers, community groups, students and researchers
  • Online history journal www.askaboutireland.com

TO DO

  • Continued acquisition of primary material relating to the County in conjunction with Archivist
  • Investigate the feasibility of a co-operative access agreement within the next five years with non local authority holders of Archival records and other records of local interest.
  • Continued development of virtual collections as a resource for educational and promotional programmes
  • Assign additional staffing resources
  • Develop Central Library Facility to include Archives, Local Studies and Genealogy
  • Make Genealogical database available via the web in partnership with Irish Family History Foundation
  • Promote e-history journal as ideal place for researchers to publish material
  • Promote graduate research on aspects of the history and heritage of the County through partnership with NUI Maynooth and the County Development Board

BALLITORE MUSEUM

Ballitore Museum is dedicated to local Quaker heritage as articulated through the local built heritage, Quaker costumes and the social historical relationships between the village and the Society of Friends as documented by Mary Ledbeater.

Mary Ledbeater was born Mary Shackleton in 1758, an ancestor of the famous Antartic Explorer Ernest Shackleton. Mary was a keen observer of local life and her role as the first village Postmistress afforded her an excellent vantage point into the economic, social and cultural life of the area. Her first-hand account of the impact of 1798 on local life is a particularly poignant ‘window’ into the complex tensions of the period as well as the unique approach taken to such conflict by the Friends. Through funding from the Local Government Centenary Awards Scheme (Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government) Mary’s original house was refurbished to accommodate the local library and Quaker Museum.

DONE

  • New Quaker Museum established
  • New community library opened

TO DO

  • The museum collection will be enhanced during the period of this plan through our relationship with the Society of Friends and an inter-lending arrangement with other museums holding Quaker relevant artefacts and archives
  • Digitisation of original Quaker material held by Kildare Library Service is a priority in this strategy
  • Publish ‘The Annals of Ballitore’ and continue to publish from the Quaker archives held by Kildare Library Service
  • An exhibition which celebrates contemporary Ballitore and its Quaker heritage will be installed in 2007. This exhibition was created by a professional textile artist working with local people, children and schools in 2005
  • A review of staffing at the museum will be carried out during the period of this plan with a view to providing museum curatorial expertise.