By Nicole-Kerstin Baur
Bringing History to Life at the Devon Record Office
Whether you want to uncover your family’s history, find information about a place or institution or you are researching a particular historical subject related to Devon, the Devon Record Office (DRO) will provide you with relevant paper documents and electronic guides. The DRO also holds a considerable number of documents related to the sciences of health and weather.
The Devon Record Office, as the record-keeping department of Devon County Council, was founded in 1952 and incorporates the Exeter City Record Office, which had been collecting records from all areas of Devon since 1946, when it took over from the Exeter City Library, where records had been collected from the early 20th century. The Devon Record Office now collects and preserves all types of historical records relating to the county of Devon, the city of Exeter, and East, Mid and South Devon, including Torbay. These include the records of the parishes, and of innumerable individuals, families, estates, businesses, societies, chapels and schools. It is also the diocesan record office for the Diocese of Exeter. Public records including those of the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital (from 1743), the West of England Eye Infirmary (from 1808), and the County Gaol (from 1821) are also available to searchers. All documents are kept in specially constructed strongrooms, and public access is provided in the main searchroom.
The DRO provides a wide range of electronic search facilities, including 29 microfiche readers and eight microfilm readers. Additional searchroom computer facilities provide access to specific online archives and library catalogues, including the office’s own online catalogue. The searchroom is open to the public five days a week from 10:00 am to 06:00 pm, and parking is available.
Have you ever wondered what weather reporters mean when they say it has been the wettest, or driest, or warmest month since records began? Those records are also housed in a separate part of the DRO: the National Meteorological Archive (NMA). The NMA holds the official British daily weather reports from when they began in 1869, although earlier, personal and local records – from land and sea-voyages – are also included in the collection. In conjunction with the Royal Meteorological Society, the NMA also contains historic writings on the weather including those of Aristotle and the early-modern century natural philosophers Francis Bacon and Robert Boyle.
The NMA is open to all but you must make an appointment first.
Address: Devon Record Office, Great Moor House, Bittern Road, Sowton, Exeter, Devon EX2 7NL
Tel: +44 (0)1392 384253
Fax: +44 (0)1392 384256
National Meteorological Archive website: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/learning/library/archive