The Society and the County Archives
Through three-quarters of a century the efforts of members of the Buckinghamshire Archaeological Society built up for the society a collection of hundreds of medieval and post-medieval documents. These were stored in the Miniment Room at the County Museum – this too had been founded by the society. As a result in 1924 the society was designated an approved repository for manorial records under the Law of Property Act of that year.
By 1932 there were many hundreds of items in the Society’s care and an underground Muniment Room was built in the County Museum for their safe-keeping. This was opened in 1934 by the Master of the Rolls, Lord Hanworth. By 1950, as reported in Records of Bucks, 'it has become increasingly apparent that the resources of the Museum could not be strained indefinitely to accommodate and care for the large number of documents which were steadily accumulating'.
By this time the County Record Office was well established, so the following year, 1951, the post–1600 deeds were transferred there, leaving the Society with manorial records, early deeds and all 'documents of literary, artistic or archaeological importance'.
In 1951 also, the Muniment Room was made the official repository for parochial records of the archdeaconry of Buckingham (that is, the county of Buckinghamshire). However, in 1971 these parochial records too were transferred to the County Record Office where they were more readily available to the increasing number of genealogical researchers.
In the five years 1990-1995 the County Museum underwent major refurbishment, during wehich all the material in the original Muniment Room was deposited for safe-keeping in the County Record Office. A new Muniment Room was constructed within the new Museum basement.
When this was completed, however, the Society’s Council and the County Archivist agreed that the court rolls, early deeds, estate maps and other original documents should be retained in the Record Office on indefinite loan. This valuable Bucks collection of thousands of items is now readily available to researchers at all times rather than just once a week, and it receives the professional attention that archives should have nowadays.
The archives remaining in the Society’s carein the Muniment Room now consist mostly of collections donated by past members. These are the results of their researches into their county of Buckinghamshire, together with topographical prints, maps (other than estate maps), election material and various miscellaneous items. Details of these are given in the Archives Catalogue.
LIBRARIANS AND ARCHIVISTS
During and immediately after the Second World War, from 1940 to 1946, the whole Museum was in the care of Cicely Baker. On the appointment of a full-time Museum Curator in 1947, Cicely Baker became the Honorary Archivist. In 1975 Elizabeth M. Elvey took over, having previously been Honorary Librarian for eight years. She was succeeded in 1986 by Lorna M. Head, the Honorary Librarian, who combined the two appointments for ten years.
Mrs Head gave up the Honorary Librarianship to Diana Gulland in 1996 and relinquished the Honorary Archivist appointment to her in 1998, thus combining the two jobs once again.