Alan Ball Awards 2020: congratulations Record Series!

Since 1986, the Local Studies Group of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals/Library Services Trust has given annual awards to recognise outstanding contributions in local history publishing. There are currently three awards – for hard copy, digital and community publications. The Award is named after Alan Ball, the former Chief Librarian of the London Borough of Harrow, whose publications include a number of books on topographical prints, including Gloucester Illustrated, published by Halsgrove in 2001.

Because of the pandemic, the Awards had been suspended since 2019, but late last year CILIP decided to offer awards for local history publications in both 2020 and 2021. The County Archivist, Heather Forbes, passed this information to the Gloucestershire Local History Association, which ‘cascaded’ it to its members, including BGAS, which decided to submit its two most recent Gloucestershire Record Series volumes for the hard copy award.

We were delighted to learn in February that one of the volumes, Managing Poverty: Cheltenham Settlement Examinations and Removal Orders, 1831-52, edited by Dr John Simpson, had won the award for the best hard copy publication for 2020. So congratulations are due to John, as the volume editor – and also, of course, posthumously to Dr James Hodsdon, the former General Editor of our Record Series, who played a crucial role in initiating and seeing the volume through to publication.

BGAS members may be aware that in 1969, the Society published a volume of Cheltenham Settlement Examinations from 1815 to 1826, edited by the County Archivist, Irvine Gray, and successive editors of the current Record Series, which began in 1988, were aware of the potential for a further volume covering the later records from 1831 onwards, which are held at Gloucestershire Archives.

Eventually, in 2014, James ‘took up the challenge’ and asked John Simpson, the recently retired Chief Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, if he would take on the task. John had recently moved back to his native Cheltenham and had met James through the Pittville History Works group, of which John was the co-ordinator; he was also keen to take on a wider Cheltenham history project – so ‘the deal was done’, and five years of diligent hard work later, an award-winning volume was the result. It’s a splendid publication, and a model of its kind – so any BGAS member who has not yet seen a copy should do so as soon as possible!

Steven Blake