County Record Office largeEncouraging people to use maps from North Yorkshire’s archives to create their own stories has won the County Record Office the Community, Participatory and Libraries Award in the national Big Draw Festival.

The Record Office, which is in Northallerton, took part in The Big Draw for the first time last year.

The Big Draw Festival is an international celebration of drawing each October. It has encouraged more than three millions people to draw since its launch in 2000. Every year, it involves hundreds of activities in schools, galleries, museums, libraries and heritage sites. Last October, events were held by more than 1,000 organisers on seven continents, involving 400,000 people.

The documents at the Record Office date from the 12th to the 21st century and are mainly used for family history research, but there are many possibilities for creative uses, so for its Big Draw event the Record Office team used the archives to appeal to an audience of children and young adults. Its traditional audience is people interested in local and family history, who tend to be older.

The Every Map Tells a Story event was held on 3 October last year, when people were invited to visit the Record Office to tell their story through a map. Using various drawing materials and tracing paper on top of a modern Ordnance Survey map of Northallerton, participants mapped their journeys, stories and memories, drawing buildings, transport and points of interest and illustrating how they use the town. There was also a choice of Ordnance Survey maps from 1913 and 1943 to draw on, which allowed people to see changes in the town.

More than 250 projects were entered for the award, and Every Map Tells a Story was chosen as the winner from the shortlisted entrants by a panel of judges. The team collected the award on Thursday 26 May at a ceremony in London.

County Councillor Chris Metcalfe, Executive Member for Library and Information Services, said: “Taking part in the Big Draw enabled us to showcase the huge potential of archives and historic documents to inspire creativity. Winning this award is a tribute to the team and to the value of the material held in the County Record Office.

“We wanted to inspire with the fascinating materials we hold for North Yorkshire while bringing a new, educational and artistic event to the area. The event also showed what the office does, how the archival material is used and that it is there for people to visit and enjoy. We wanted participants to think about how life in the town has changed, using materials from our archive, and to think about their ancestors while expressing their ideas creatively.”

Kate Mason, director of The Big Draw, said: “The winners of The Big Draw Awards have once again demonstrated the power of the universal language of drawing to break down cultural barriers, to build connections across generations and to serve as a tool for learning, expression and invention.”