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Durham County Record Office: the official archive service for County Durham and Darlington

Volunteer Activities

Information about how you can participate as a volunteer on the Durham at War project.

Volunteering in 2016

The main focus of activity as this project continues is to:

  • Improve access to relevant archive collections in Durham County Record Office
  • Complete indexing of the 1918 County Durham Absent Voters' lists (60,500 names)
  • Analyse the Durham Light Infantry medal collection for all WW1 County Durham soldiers and extend biographical research
  • Identify and record WW1 sites to enrich the Historic Environment Record
  • Analyse online photographic databases for WW1 County Durham content

This year we are asking volunteers to help with:

  • Archive collections care
  • Data processing
  • Indexing and checking
  • Research
  • Transcription

Archive Collections Care

Volunteers can help with the packaging and digitisation of Durham Light Infantry archives at Durham County Record Office as part of a programme to make more of the collection accessible online during the First World War centenary. For this activity you will need to travel to County Hall in Durham.

Data Processing

Absent Voters' Lists (AVLs) are an important source of information for servicemen who survived WW1. They record the names, home addresses, service numbers and units of men aged 19 and over who were away on military service in October 1918.

We would like help to process the 60,500 names on the AVLs at Durham County Record Office.

This activity involves work with Word documents and Excel spreadsheets. We will show you how to tabulate the information in an existing Word document so that it can be transferred to a spreadsheet.  This is a task that you can do at home. After an initial training session we can send data processing work to you by email or you can collect it on a memory stick. You do not have to live in County Durham to help with this part of the project.

Indexing and Checking

If you have a good eye for detail you can help checking indexes and transcripts for accuracy - particularly army and navy service numbers. This is another task which can be done at home.


Do you enjoy searching for information:

  • on the internet
  • in museums, libraries and archives
  • on the ground

Help this project to:

  • identify relevant WW1 material in physical and online heritage collections
  • accurately record where you found the information so that others can find it easily
  • improve existing descriptions of WW1 photographs, records and objects

Online Photograph Collections

Initially we want to identify WW1 photographs of County Durham people, places and events in collections such as The Durham Record and the People Past and Present Archive (Area of Easington) This is a task you can do at home. Please tell us if you already know a lot about a particular online photograph collection.

Durham Light Infantry Medal Collection

We also want to identify all the WW1 soldiers who were born or lived in County Durham from the Durham Light Infantry medal collection database. This is another task which could be done at home.

Historic Environment Record

Volunteers can work with archaeology staff to research WW1 sites and buildings that either still survive or no longer exist. This research will cover many different sites, including airfields and seaplane stations, coastal defences, drill halls, hospitals, naval depots, prisoner of war camps, refugee housing, rifle ranges, tank banks, training camps and zeppelin attack locations. This research is likely to use original maps and other sources in archives, libraries and museums.

Historic Environment Record


There are many unpublished WW1 diaries and letters full of fascinating detail about people, places and events at home and abroad. We would like help to transcribe some of this manuscript material into an easily readable and searchable format so that it can be more widely used. This is a task you can do at home.

Joining this Project

If you think you can help with any of these activities, see how to volunteer and register your interest in the project. We will tell you about introductory and training sessions where you can talk to project staff and find out more. There will be opportunities to work in groups and share knowledge and skills. We look forward to hearing from you.