Devon Archives and Local Studies Service


Devon Archives and Local Studies Service Projects

Here are details of our present and past projects, several undertaken in partnership with other organisations.  In some cases, we have supported outside projects with source material, resources, and advice.

Some of these projects have been made possible by external funding, and most are, or were, helped and supported by volunteers working in the Devon Heritage Centre, the North Devon Record Office or at home.


Devon Parish Registers Online

Most of the Church of England parish registers held at the Devon Heritage Centre and North Devon Record Office have now been digitised and some of these are now searchable online on the genealogical subscription website, Find My Past. The first batch of digitised parish registers was released online on 30 May 2014 and the second on 14 November 2014.  More are to come.  These join the Plymouth and West Devon Record Office’s parish registers, most of which are already available on Find My Past.

The Right to Remain Silent?

This project, initially funded for one year by a grant awarded by the National Archives Cataloguing Grants Programme, resulted in the cataloguing of some of the Devon County Quarter Sessions records.  The original year-long funded project ended in 2013, but a volunteer archivist has been carrying on since then, with further cataloguing of the Quarter Sessions bundles.

Devon Remembers: The First World War 1914-1918

In the period leading up to the centenary of the First World War, Devon County Council joined with a range of partner organisations to instigate, support and co-ordinate community projects across Devon & Torbay commemorating the centenary of the First World War.  A central focus of the Devon County Council’s Devon Remembers project was initially on supporting the restoration and maintenance of public war memorials. The project will continue until 2018.

Devon Heritage Services (now renamed Devon Archives and Local Studies Service) received a First Round development grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2014 to plan its own Devon Remembers Project, based at Devon Heritage Centre, which would support individual community projects exploring the stories behind the names recorded on (or missing from) their war memorials, and related First World War activities and events. A Project Development Officer was appointed for a set period in March 2014 to develop this aspect of the project and to assist in preparing a Second Round grant application. The progress of this first round project and other related First World War projects underway in Devon and England generally, is recorded in the Devon Remembers Project pages on this website.

In 2015, the Southwest Heritage Trust was awarded a Second Round grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to fund a full 4-year Devon Remembers Heritage Project, to bebased at Devon Heritage Centre. A full-time Project Officer and part-time Project Assistant were appointed in 2015 to work on the project.

This project forms part of the Devon Remembers programme of First World War commemoration activities which are being held in Devon.  It has additional support from the South West Heritage Trust, Devon County Council, Torbay Council and the University of Exeter.

Tithe Maps Online

Funding from Devon County Council enabled the scanning of Devon’s tithe maps some years ago, and some of them are now available online on a Devon County Council website in the form of large digital images.  The project to eventually make all of these maps, together with their tithe apportionments, available online so that they can be viewed without visiting the Devon Heritage Centre, has not yet been completed.

Tithe Apportionment Transcription Project

This project was part of the Tithe Maps Online project, and the first stage, which involved volunteers working to transcribe tithe apportionments at home, was completed some time ago. The second stage, checking and correcting these transcriptions before they were placed online, was carried out by volunteers in the heritage centre under the close supervision of a staff member. The third stage, that of converting the corrected transcripts to .pdf format, and providing them to Devon County Council IT staff so that they can upload these online, has been completed on our part.

Womens Institutes (W.I.) Records Project

This project aimed to involve volunteers in helping to catalogue the Women’s Institute records which are held at Devon Heritage Centre, Sowton, Exeter. Although significant deposits of branch records have been made by the Devon Federation of Women’s Institutes (D.F.W.I.) between 2009 and 2015, these have not been easily accessible because they were unlisted. A volunteer has been working on this project once a week for several years.


From the Grassroots: an oral history of community politics in Devon

This project, which is supported by a grant awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund to the History of Parliament Trust, began in October 2013 and was completed in 2015.  A part-time project coordinator and oral historian was appointed, and was based for the duration of the project at Devon Heritage Centre.

AHRC Collaborative Skills Project: South West and Wales Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership

This programme, funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC), was planned as a collaboration between universities in the South West & Wales, and a wide range of partner organisations, to offer placement opportunities for postgraduates in a variety of subject areas and workplaces from Autumn 2014 onwards.  Devon Heritage Centre offered to make work placements available to postgraduate studentsunder this programme.

Digitised School Admission Registers Online  

Devon school admission registers dating up to 1914 which are held at Devon Heritage Centre and North Devon Record Office were digitised, and the images were published online as part of Phase One of a national digitisation project, on the subscription website Find My Past. This was the first project under the framework of the new National Digitisation Consortium, which includes up to 120 English and Welsh archives and schools working together to offer records for digitisation.  Devon Heritage Centre and North Devon Record Office were among many archive repositories involved in this project, and all admission registers up to the year 1914, which had been deposited as part of school archive collections in both offices, were included.

Genuki Devon Wills Index Project

This volunteer-run project provides a free on-line finding-aid in the form of an index of all known Devon wills, administrations and inventories prior to 1858, through the Genuki Devon website.   Devon Heritage Centre and North Devon Record Office staff assisted with this project from its inception.    The Genuki Devon Wills Index is also searchable through the genealogical subscription websites and Find My Past.

Devon Shipping Records Project

This project, in partnership with volunteers from Devon Family History Society and the Friends of Devon’s Archives, digitised and indexed shipping registers held at Devon Heritage Centre and North Devon Record Office, and made the detailed information they hold more easily accessible through our online catalogue.

Devon Family History Society Small Projects

This project was carried on by all three archive repositories in Devon, in partnership with Devon Family History Society, to produce transcriptions of, or indexes to, unusual records of interest to family historians.

Peter Orlando Hutchinson Project

This community heritage project, which was completed in 2013, aimed to continue the legacy of volunteer study and involvement in landscape heritage that grew through the East Devon Area of Natural Beauty Partnership and the Parishscapes project. It drew on the work of Peter Orlando Hutchinson, a Victorian geological and archaeological researcher, diarist and artist, who spent all his adult life in Sidmouth, Devon. His five volume diaries are held at the Devon Heritage Centre, together with six volumes of his sketchbooks and his History of Sidmouth. These were digitised by heritage centre staff and volunteers, and made available online through the project website.

Tuckers Hall Project

Tuckers Hall is the home of the Incorporation of Weavers, Fullers & Shearmen in Exeter.  Devon Heritage Centre assisted volunteers working for the Tuckers Hall Heritage Lottery funded project, to digitise the historical records held here. Some of these are now incorporated into a graphic display at Tuckers hall in Fore Street, Exeter.

Mapping the County

This project to make the maps held in Devon's archives more readily available to schoolchildren studying their local history was funded by Devon History Society and began in 2012. The report created by the project is now available online through our website.

Interpreting our Medieval Past

Devon Heritage Centre was asked to participate in a collaborative project to explore our medieval charters and manuscripts. The project was developed by the University of Exeter and University of Bristol.

Explore North Devon  

This community archives project began in 2006 and enabled individuals or groups to contribute content to a growing digital community archive and to make this available through the Explore North Devon website.  North Devon Record Office was one of a number of project partners. The site is no longer active and will eventually be discontinued. Content from this site was transferred, and is now viewable on the ‘Devon’s Heritage’ community pages on the eHive website.


eHive is a collection management system on the Internet. It enables community heritage groups or individuals to share and discover collections online. The community heritage data captured through the past Explore North Devon project was migrated to eHive, which will provide a more sustainable and flexible platform for future development.

A ‘Devon’s Heritage’ community was set up on the site to which all present and future contributors will be linked. Henceforth, any community heritage group operating in Devon that wishes to present its images, etc., online will be able to sign up and join the growing community.  Storage of data is free up to a certain limit, after which there is a modest annual charge.  Devon Heritage Services (now renamed Devon Archives and Local Studies Service) covered the costs of storing the Explore North Devon data, but new members will be encouraged to budget for any costs themselves.