Archives can bring the past to life. Most people who have used original documents has had that wow moment. There is always the chance that you are the first person to use a document since its creation and immediate use. NorAH is keen for people, whatever their age, to experience the thrill of learning something new from using archives. As well as using them to know about the past, archives can be used for a variety of other purposes, such as an inspiration for creativity, improving literacy, or fostering a sense of belonging.
Challenges of Using Archives in Education
It is difficult to take archives out of their host repositories because of preservation reasons. The first challenge is therefore getting learners to the host repository where they can touch and see original documents. NorAH has funded travel for school visits to the Norfolk Record Office. Also, archives can be hard to understand without some interpretation, especially for younger learners. Handwriting and language can be off-putting as can understanding the context in which archives were created. Similarly, it may not always be obvious if archives hold records relevant to what is being taught.
NorAH is supportive of projects which engage learners with archives. They may require an expert to identify and interpret archival resources for specific audiences or subject areas, so language, handwriting, or complex terminology are not barriers. Archives can be used to ignite an interest in learning for those people who struggle in formal educational settings.