The Friends of Devon’s Archives have come up with a rather novel idea – an idea that I’d like to see duplicated worldwide. Devon is a large county in southwest England. The Donor Cards have been distributed throughout the county. The idea is that people who would like to see their personal papers deposited with the local record offices at their death will fill in the card and leave it with their children and/or papers in hopes that these historic items will escape destruction. As we all know, the next generation often doesn’t appreciate the historic significance of personal papers until years later, when it’s much too late.
Could this be done in the United States? Sure, it could. I doubt that our civil records offices (county clerk, county auditor, registrar of deeds, secretary of state vital records office, etc.) would want the papers. But there are thousands of museums, historical and genealogical societies that would surely be interested. Any museum or society could take this idea and run with it. How about it? Can your group duplicate what is being accomplished in Devon?
Following is a teaser from an article in the September 26, 2009 edition of the BBC News. Click on the “Friends” logo to go to their “Donor Card” page.
A group which promotes Devon’s history is urging people to sign up for a “document donor card” to help save the county’s heritage.
Friends of Devon’s Archives are concerned over the number of personal archives thrown out when someone dies.
Now it wants people to leave a Devon Document Donor Card with their papers so that on their death, they can be given to Devon Record Office in Exeter.
It says papers of local county value are often binned in house clearances.
The organisation, which was set up in 1998, added that significant items such as old letters, maps, diaries and even recipes were thrown away.
Read the full article about Devon’s Document Donor Cards in the September 26, 2009 edition of the BBC News.