My mother, Susan Parsons, who has died aged 65 from lung disease, was a historian and archivist. She worked for most of her career at the county record office in Warwick, initially as an archives assistant and then as an archivist after completing a postgraduate diploma. It was work she very much enjoyed, not least because it indulged her fascination with history and the stories that records could reveal about our past and present.
Keen to share her passion, and to broaden access to archives in her local community, she was involved in co-ordinating the record office’s volunteer programme and in showcasing some of the important and interesting items within its collections. She was especially proud of her public talk on the records of the Warwick county lunatic asylum which documented the treatment of mentally ill people in Victorian England.
Born in Chester, Susan was the elder of two children of Kathleen (nee Green) and Kenneth Groucott. The family travelled widely as a result of Kenneth’s position in the RAF, and Susan grew up in Germany, Cyprus and Libya as well as the UK. She gained a degree in history at the University of Leicester in the early 1970s. She developed a keen interest in social history, and studied for her MA under the leftwing historian Dorothy Thompson at Birmingham University, and then for an MPhil at Leicester; for her thesis she examined working-class leisure patterns in 19th-century industrial Birmingham.
Susan retired from the county record office due to poor health in 2014. Beyond work, she was a great lover of animals – her home was a haven for all kinds of pets and wildlife – and was perhaps best known for her beloved Irish wolfhounds. She nurtured her garden into a wonderland of trees, rambling roses and secluded spots in a 30-year labour of love. Left-leaning politically, she was an eager and formidable participant in any debate on just about any subject, but one who showed great respect for the opinions of others.
Her marriage to Ian Parsons ended in divorce in 1989. She is survived by her brother, Christopher, and by me.