Previous Meetings

Saturday 18 May 2013

Living with the Past at Home

Dr Caron Lipman, Research Fellow, School of Geography, Queen Mary University of London

This talk will offer preliminary insights into a current research project that seeks to understand people’s attitudes to and understandings of the history of their homes. It involves interviews with a range of householders to discover how their knowledge of the past of their homes informs the choices they make in living in them, and describes what has been ‘inherited’ from previous inhabitants – materially, aesthetically, and in terms of stories that might have been passed on or uncovered.

Saturday 20 April 2013

Mausoleums or resource centres? Labour history museums and archives and useable pasts

Dr Andrew Flinn, University College London.

In ‘Mausoleums or resource centres’ Andrew will examine the history of working-class movement and labour archives, museums and libraries in the UK. He will look at the origins and the motivations of the founding figures of these bodies, the changes, controversies and challenges which these institutions faced over the years and will conclude with some reflections on the role and trajectory of contemporary labour archives and museums. Andrew was an archivist and museum researcher at the National Museum of Labour History in Manchester between 1989 and 1999 and is now a Senior Lecturer at UCL specialising in archives, oral history and community history.

Saturday 9 March 2013

The Public History Reader

Dr Paul Martin and Dr Hilda Kean

The session will launch the Public History Reader published by Routledge in 2013 which explores public history as an everyday practice. It is embedded in the idea that historical knowledge is discovered and accrued from everyday encounters people have with their environments and points to the continuing dialogue that the present has with the past, exploring why this has burgeoned on a popular level in recent years. For one month only from March 9th a copy can be purchased for £20.01 and free p and p by going to the Routledgewebsite and typing in the code PHR13

Saturday 9 February 2013

In Search of Florence Hancock: How to put a museum exhibition together when Wikipedia lets you down

Paul Connell, Assistant Curator, Chippenham Museum & Heritage Centre

To mark the centenary of the event which launched her career in the trade union movement, the formation of a branch of the Workers Union and then a strike at the local Nestles & Anglo-Swiss Milk Factory, Chippenham Museum & Heritage Centre is putting together an exhibition on the life and work of Dame Florence Hancock for January 1913. Florence’s life story, one of a family of 14, leaving school at 12 to work in a café for 5s a week, to starting a union branch then progressing up through that union (through two World Wars) has been described as a ‘microcosm of the union movement in the 20th century’. You might expect that researching the life of second female president of the TUC, a dame of the British Empire, National Women’s Officer for the TGWU would be easy, but it has proved to be anything but – and also a lesson in not believing everything you read and checking facts.

Saturday 12 January 2013

Physical Resistance: a life, a book and a history of anti-fascism

Louise Purbrick, University of Brighton

The author of a new book on the history of anti-fascism in Britain, Dave Hann, died before he finished its manuscript. Louise Purbrick will discuss Dave Hann’s practice of writing, which was always part of his anti-fascist activism, and the process of completing his history.

Saturday 10 November 2012

Beastly Sneaks: Rescuing Other People’s Diaries

Irving Finkel,founder of the Great Diary Project

This talk will discuss the extraordinary way in which other people’s diaries are disregarded and often just thrown away, and explain why they are such important human documents and why the Great Diary Project has come into being.

Saturday 28 April 2012

Towards a public history of disability- Mandeville legacy.

Jon Newman, archive consultant

The last public history discussion group for the academic year
Jon Newman has been working with Bucks County Council, Stoke Mandeville Hospital and various sports disability charities to assemble a history of the changes to the treatment of spinal injuries patients and the development of wheelchair games – latterly the ‘paralympic’ movement – since the Second World War. Using the Revisiting Collections methodology in conjunction with hospital and charity archive collections he has worked with groups of former patients, athletes, hospital staff and sports administrators to both capture their responses to the ‘official’ record and to create new narratives.

Saturday 10 March 2012

Public History group : Memory, place, identity

Christine McCauley MA (RCA) University of Westminster

Christine gave an interesting talk that took further her earlier work presented at a public history conference . As she explained, it started as an exploration of my troubled relationship with my father, a veteran of the Burma conflict during WW2 and resulted in 2 journeys to the North Eastern frontier states of India, searching for the remnants of the British presence there and the ‘ties that bind’ countries and peoples geographically so far apart. As a mixed media artist I use a wide range of media and techniques. The evocative potential of materials and processes is an important part of my practice.

Check out her work on her website.

Saturday 4 February 2012

The 1984/85 Miners’ Strike: Re-claiming Cultural Heritage

Michael Bailey (University of Essex) Simon Popple (University of Leeds)

In this session Michael and Simon discussed their research as follows: Shortly after the 1984/85 miners’ strike had come to an end, the socialist historian Raphael Samuel noted that the meaning of the strike would be determined not ‘by the terms of settlement … or even by the events of the past year but by the way in which it is assimilated in popular memory, by … retrospective understanding both in the pit villages themselves and in the country at large’. The significance of Samuel’s remark is that, though the 1984/85 strike was a decisive defeat for mining communities, it is imperative that such communities are encouraged to participate in the creation of new representations and social rituals that seek to democratise the mediation of the strike. Not only because such texts hold out the promise of raising public awareness of what actually happened twenty-five years ago but because they also provide affirmation for those miners and families most affected by the strike-action and the subsequent closure of pits. This presentation discusses the two AHRC/BBC funded projects undertaken on this between autumn 2007 and summer 2009 by a small team from the Institute of Communications Studies, University of Leeds.

They have written up aspect of this in an article in the book eds Laurajane Smith, Gary Campbell & Paul Shackel, Heritage, Labour and the Working Classes Routledge, 2011

Saturday 3 December 2011

Young historians take to the street: school students tackling the big picture of race, protest and immigration control.

Martin Spafford

In 1995 thirty 11 year olds in an East London school spent several months looking at the world of asylum seekers and the politics of immigration control. Last year ten 15 year olds from the same school worked with historians to investigate fascist assaults on the East End over time and how local people have responded. These projects took them onto the streets, into detention centres, to Parliament and even into direct confrontation with organised racism.

Present and former students from George Mitchell School showed clips from their films and discussed with their teacher Martin Spafford the impact of such projects – at the time and in later life – on their politics and values.

Saturday 5 November 2011

Revealing the Rookery, St. Giles – art, artifacts and anecdotes.

Jane Palm-Gold (Artist and curator) and Sian Anthony (former Senior Archaeologist at Museum of London Archaeology)

This was the first of the public history group sessions to take place at the Bishopsgate Institute : I had run them since 1998 at Ruskin College, Oxford.

As Jane explained, ‘The recent ‘London’s Underworld Unearthed: The Secret Life of the Rookery’ exhibition in London, illustrated everyday life in the notorious St. Giles Rookery. ‘Revealing the Rookery’ seeks to further explore the narratives presented in the exhibition, using recollections, prints and archaeology.’

The talk was presented by Jane Palm-Gold (artist and curator behind the exhibition) and Sian Anthony, former Senior Archaeologist at Museum of London Archaeology, who led the excavation into the foundations of Central Saint Giles, the site of the Rookery.
One of the most fascinating aspects of Jane’s work is that she lives in St Giles overlooking part of the former Rookery.Some of her artwork is of incidents taking place outside her flat. Her work both draws on her own experience but also has resonances with some of Hogarth’s images.
Check out Jane Palm-Gold’s website here