The Black Country Society is now 56 years old, and over that period there have been many hundreds of meetings; almost a hundred books published; more than twice that number of editions of the magazine, the Blackcountryman; the production of Christmas cards and calendars for many years, together with occasional first day covers and medallions. In short, a considerable amount of archivable material has been produced. Over recent months, a project has been underway to collect and suitably archive this material. In this post, I will try to explain what we have done and ongoing and future work.
The Society web site at https://www.blackcountrysociety.com/ has been updated and now contains an “Archive” tab in the menu bar. By clicking on this tab, you will be redirected to the Archive page from where you will have access to all the items discussed below. These web pages are very much a work in progress, so there will be changes and enhancements in the coming month as the archive project proceeds.
Firstly (nearly) all back copies of the Blackcountryman have been scanned to a high quality into searchable pdf documents, and these are now mounted on the website. These are accessible by members using the usual Society password. This represents a very significant resource for both the history and development of the Society and for Black County history more generally. Non-members can of course access it by joining the Society! We also have a complete run of all past copies in the Black Country Society store for any future use. Secondly, copies of all the minutes of AGMs and committee meetings from 1967 to 2017 have now been placed in Dudley Archives and are in the process of being catalogued and made available for viewing. A link to Dudley Archives catalogue is provided on the Archive page of the website. Thanks to Judith Davies for helping with this, and to Judith Watkin (former BCS Secretary for providing some meeting minutes and other material)
The next stage in the project is to make sure that all the Society’s publications are properly stored and catalogued. Over the years the Society has published, either on its own or jointly with others, almost one hundred books. Simply putting together a comprehensive list of these was far from straightforward - the latest version can be accessed from the Archive page. Many of these books are safely held in Dudley Archives, sometimes with multiple copies. We would also like to hold a copy of each publication in the Society store for future use if required. Our past chairman, Keith Hodgkins has kindly donated copies of many of the publications we don’t have, but there are still some gaps, which are listed at the end of the article. If any society members would like to donate their copies to fill these gaps, please contact the Society on email@example.com .
Books are not the only publications that have been produced by the Society. Between the 1960s and the 1980s the Society also produced Christmas cards, calendars, first day covers and medallions (and even a goblet). Again, many of these are safely held in Dudley Archives, and Keith has generously agreed to add to the collection there, which will be quite comprehensive when these are deposited and catalogued. Images from the Christmas cards, first day covers and calendars are already available on the web site and can be accessed from the Archives page. If any Society member has other (printed) items that they feel may be of long-term interest and would be happy to donate them for deposition in the archives, please do get back to us at the email address above.
One “side effect” of collating all previous publications has been that we are able to scan some of these and put them on the web site. We intend to do this in two ways – by scanning those documents that contain detailed historical information that might be of use to future researchers and putting them on a member only password protected page on the web site. And secondly to put pdfs of some others on the Society online shop for open sale – mainly poetry and similar material. We have not done this yet, but we should make progress in the next few months, so keep checking the web site.
In recent years, a great deal of information has been posted on the website, particularly with regard to events of different sorts. The Archive page gives a link to pdf versions of these pages. Also over the last year, recordings have been made of both face-to-face and virtual meetings. A link has been provided to the Society YouTube site where they can be viewed.
Finally, there is of course the Society photo archive. Whilst some are already available, again through the Archive page, we hope to make progress on making many images available sometime in 2024. Watch this space.
Books required for the Archive - donations welcome - contact firstname.lastname@example.org
1969 Freeman's Tales of the Black Country, J Freeman
1969 Poster showing 'The Black Country and its Borderland' , Bennet T
1970 Birmingham Canal system and neighbouring canals based on the 1901 canal map
1975 All Saints church West Bromwich, Hannah G W
1976 A lady of Wednesbury Forge Diary of Georgina Elwell 1868-1869, Georgina Ellwell
1978 Tales from Aynuk's Black Country, J Raven
1979 Historical documents relating to the Shut End Railway, Hollis L
1982 Saltwell Spa
1982 Highgate Brewery Walsall, K L Lloyd
1983 So you think you know the Black Country, W Homer
1985 Black Country Victoria Crosses. From the Crimea to World War 2, Barry Harris
1985 No bed of roses, Audrey Franklin
1986 Jim and Kate, Kate Fletcher, J William Jones
1988 Pills and potions, John Brimble
1991 Aspects of the Black Country. Social and economic history, Charles Elwell
1993 Artists in cameo glass, H J Haden
1996 A Black Country Photographer, Frank Powell
1998 The Black Country as seen through antique maps, Eric Richardson
1998 Essays and reviews by Charles J L Etwall , Charles Elwell
1999 Stan Hill's Brierley Hill and life, Stan Hill
1999 Toasted teacakes and baked potatoes, J Sparry
1999 Towpath tale, The BCN remembered, A Truby
2000 Time passeth away - a brief history of the Glynne School, S Ball, K Workman
2002 For a shilling a day; Black Country memories of warfare, Rhodes P
2003 A sketchbook of the Black Country and its environs, Richardson E
2004 A Black country Voyage, P Rhodes
2006 Aspects of the Black Country, Charles Elwell
2009 57 more Black Country people, S Hill
2016 Dudley's 1914-1918 war memorial and the 720 men commemorated, Hale J
2016 Lt. E Felix Baxter VC, 1/8th Battalion: The King's (Liverpool) Regiment 18th April 1916, Peacock R