Rotarians rolling back the years with historical research project

Rotarians rolling back the years with historical research project

The Alumni Association of District 1210 has launched an exciting new venture to record and celebrate the history of Rotary in its District. This is known as the ‘rotarYears project.’

Known as the ‘rotarYears project’, the stories being shared trace the evolution of Rotary in the District though historical documents, artifacts and images that show people and events that have shaped our organisation.

The archives, located in a disused chapel near Rugeley in Staffordshire, are creating a lasting legacy that accurately preserves Rotary’s history, continually building with new material as history is being made every day, today and tomorrow.

There are three areas of focus:

  • Thousands of photos, recordings, publications and artifacts.
  • Regalia and similar items that are no longer in use so that this historical treasure is kept safe for ever.
  • Oral history, recording people’s memories, feelings and attitudes.

District 1210 covers most of Staffordshire and Shropshire and part of the West Midlands. Everyone of the 55 clubs in the District has been contacted by the Alumni Co-chair Beverley Ricketts working together with members of m&m Rotary Passport Club.

A President’s chair donated by Wolverhampton Rotary Club.

She reported that a number of replies have been received ranging from those who have nothing in their club to others who have many historical artifacts which they would like to donate it to rotarYears for safekeeping.

Colin Foot, Secretary at the Rotary club of Shrewsbury Darwin, said: “I’ve had a chance to trawl round the club and have come across many hard luck stories of why we have so little in our archive; items lost when a cupboard was emptied by our host hotel, albums with pages stuck together and documents stored in garages that have not survived.”

However, Colin set off on a task of tracking down materials and his persistence has paid off.

One Rotarian produced a carrier bag which resulted in the unearthing of many treasures including a diary of events from the club’s charter to the present day; a photograph of some members at the charter presentation evening, an illuminated list of the first members; the original charter (a duplicate had been obtained because it had been thought that the original was lost;) and a presentation plaque from a sister club in India.

In Dudley, archivist Colin Knipe reported that he had scanned 20 gigabytes of documents, photographs and press reports.

The City of Wolverhampton Rotary Club donated an elaborate President’s chair and items celebrating its member Tom Warren who rose to become the President of Rotary International in 1945/46.

Alumni co-chair Beverley Ricketts said: “This is exactly why we established the project, to avoid so many treasures being lost. We are also recording information from ‘retired’ Rotary clubs and trying to find regalia items that have been lost.

“This is an important part of the project, and one of the reasons that inspired us to begin rotarYears.”

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