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Volunteering at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

After six months volunteering with the Collections Department, Aldona reflects on what she has learned.

Aldona Gorecka
ML1/19/102 - Playbill (Shakespeare) Macbeth; Harlequin Cherry and Fair Star (Pantimime); Princess's Theatre, Oxford Street - 18/02/1853 - item
ML1/19/102 - Playbill for a performance of Macbeth at Princess's Theatre, Oxford Street, 18/02/1853

Ever since I remember I have always been a history fanatic, and when I say ‘history’, I mostly mean the Tudors. I am a second-year History student at the University of Birmingham and whenever there is an opportunity to study the Tudor period in any way possible, I will always be there. When I heard that I could undertake a placement in the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, I could not contain my excitement. All that I could think about was working in the place where ‘the one who entertained Elizabeth Tudor’ was once born. I have been volunteering at the Trust since October 2016. The last six months have not only been insightful and exciting, but also beneficial and extremely useful.

The placement itself was very enjoyable. As a part of my project, I digitised over 250 eighteenth-century playbills. It was very exciting to work with something so fragile and historic. I was glad to be given a serious task which came along with valuable experiences. My task felt worthwhile and very rewarding. Most importantly, I feel far more employable after sharpening-up my skills in communication, organisation and project-management.

I very much enjoyed visiting the Shakespeare properties. The direct connection to historical grounds was thrilling and made me consider a career in the heritage sector more seriously than ever before. I was surprised by the vast number of items owned by the Trust and was amazed by the satisfying feeling of finishing tasks and editing existing files.

I came into my placement absolutely clueless, and coming out knowledgeable about archives, playbills and of course Shakespeare. He is no longer ‘the one who entertained Elizabeth Tudor’, but rather a playwright in his own right with a great legacy brought forward by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. 

I would recommend volunteering at the Trust to anybody curious about history, heritage and literature. I guarantee that it will be an unforgettable experience. 

Find out more about volunteering opportunities at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust 

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