On the 18th June 2019 we launched ‘Journeys to Manchester’, an exhibition exploring the lives of people displaced by conflict, persecution or natural disaster who have settled in Manchester. The main purpose of the exhibition is to highlight experiences and realities of migrating to a new country, using quotes from oral histories of individuals involved in our projects. It was important to us that we included cherished memories of people’s countries of origin and the discovery of cultural differences once in the UK, rather than only portraying the traumatic experiences that have become synonymous with being a refugee in mainstream media.
Upon the launch of her latest book, Kwame Nkrumah and the Dawn of the Cold War, Marika Sherwood spoke yesterday on the topics of colonialism, communism and the importance of researching black history and activism at an event hosted by the AIU Centre. The talk was followed by an engaging Q&A and insightful discussion with members of the audience who shared Marika’s passion for research and black history.
Marika Sherwood speaking at Central Library 30/4/19
Held in Manchester in 1945, the 5th Pan-African Congresswas part of a series of seven meetings, intended to address the decolonisation of Africa from Western imperial powers. Set within a new world order of international cooperation during the 1940s, the Congress demanded an end to colonial rule and racial discrimination, as well as the recognition of human rights and equality of economic opportunity for all peoples of African descent.
Photograph of Congress attendees, 1945 Pan-African Congress. Among the people to attend were George Padmore, W. E. B. Du Bois, Jomo Kenyatta and Kwame Nkrumah. Source: Pan-African Congress 1945 and 1995 Archive, GB3228.34
As soon as I opened the ‘Adventure Play’ folder of the Elouise Edwards photograph collection I knew I wanted to write about these pictures. Although the folder also included photos of children horse riding, ice skating, river-wading and bouncy castle-jumping, the photos of the adventure playgrounds are what had me hooked. I have so many questions! Who built them? Where were they? Were they safe? Did that even matter?
The photos show enormous wooden and metal structures, usually near a large housing block or in large empty space, with children leaping, hanging and balancing on the various platforms, slides, planks and ropes – smiling for the camera as they go. It struck me just how different playtime was for children in the 70s than it is today – not a screen in sight (just dizzying heights and a couple of splinters instead).
For me, photographs are such a valuable aspect of any archive. This is not only because of the stories they tell and the memories they preserve, but also because they transcend any language or literacy barriers and can be appreciated by everyone who sees them. We are lucky enough to have had thousands of photographs donated to us over the years, and they are by far my favourite collections to look through.
The Elouise Edwards Photograph Collection is our largest collection of photographs, featuring everything from sporting events and political demonstrations to photos from the Abasindi Black Women’s Collective and Roots Festivals. Most of the photographs are shot beautifully in black and white, and show members of various communities around Manchester in the 1970s and 1980s, mostly in Moss Side and Hulme. Elouise Edwards is a longstanding resident of Moss Side herself, after moving here in 1961 from Guyana where she was born. Although Elouise was at first unhappy in England, she soon found her passion in the promoting, defending and empowering of her community. If these photographs are anything to go by, she helped make a lot of people happy!
While the majority of the boxes in our archive contain uplifting material about the lives and experiences of black and minority ethnic people and their histories, there are inevitably some boxes that are far from uplifting. Though difficult to read and controversial in content, this smaller and lesser-known part of the collection reminds us that racism has always existed and should not be excluded from our collective memory.
This is one of the reasons I decided to take a look in our box labelled ‘Scientific Racism’, a certain type of racism that claims to be backed up by scientific research. The other reason is the unwelcome fact that scientific racism never truly went away, and is once again rearing its head in an increasingly mainstream corner of America, according to several recent news articles. A small group of political scientists is attempting to revive the types of findings that are recorded in our archive, which are then being used to a certain degree by members of the ‘alt-right’ to justify their nationalist and racially discriminatory politics. Searching through the box I noticed that the material in our archive and the claims made in the past few years are alarmingly similar, but so are the methods of scrutiny, backlash and protest against them. I hope this blog post will remind us that racism never disappeared and is still a threat to racial equality today.
Anti-racism cartoon from Science for the People, Vol. 14, No. 2, March/April 1982
Our archivist Jo Robson reflects on our Hulme Study collection
The Hulme Feasibility Study was undertaken between 1987 and 1990 to formulate proposals with a view to improving the environmental, commercial, employment and social conditions in Hulme and the Moss Side District Centre areas of Manchester. Professor Valerie Karn of the University of Salford was appointed as an independent chair to the Supervisory group. The Hulme Study Archive held at the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre is made up of the papers collected by Valerie Karn during her time as Chair of the group.
The Study was innovative in its management which was tri-partite being jointly supervised by The Department of the Environment, Manchester City Council and tenants representatives. The aim of the Study was to provide an independent account of the social, physical and economic conditions on the estate. In addition it aimed to identify opportunities for improvements and recommend short and long term strategies which the three parties could use to develop an action plan for the area.
At the beginning of this year we were (and still are!) very pleased to announce that our collection of publications from the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) were made available digitally, meaning numerous pamphlets, reports and policies are now online for you to look at – Click here to view the collection, and click here to read a blog post about the digital process! I have decided that these are especially worth a look this month, as it was 42 years ago in November that the CRE was first created.
One document I came across was the ‘Training Handbook for Social Services Departments’ working in multi-racial areas (see below). The Handbook explains that the CRE was formed under the Act of 1976, with the hope of eliminating racial discrimination within England, Wales and Scotland. This 1976 legislation replaced the previous 1965 Race Relations Act, which failed to address racial discrimination within housing, employment and the legal system. Almost half a century later, racial discrimination still exists in our society – which causes me to ask: Did the 1976 Act succeed in its aims? How is racial discrimination characterised now in comparison to how it was perceived in the 1970s?
Library Assistants Waqar Younis and Letitia Budu have had some important insights whilst re-organising our Institute of Race Relations Newspaper Clippings collection…
The IRR newspaper clippings collection focuses on race related matters from the late 1970s until the early 1980s. In the process of reorganising the clippings to make them more accessible, we’ve also been able to understand how far the UK has come in terms of race equality and where improvements still need to be made.
It’s important to look at history to prevent it from repeating itself. Looking back at the past might help us in the future! Continue reading →
Members of our collections team also attended the workshop on describing and managing racially insensitive archives earlier this year, along with Jass Thethi – a colleague (And good friend) of ours over at the John Rylands Library.
In this blog post, Jass uses two concrete examples to explore how archivists might approach potentially insensitive catalogue descriptions and documentation, without ‘white-washing’ history.
Items within special collections can date back hundreds of years, so it’s no surprise that within these materials it is possible to find outdated or problematic attitudes and language. I am currently researching potential ways to manage this.
In May 2018 I attended ‘Protocols for describing and managing racially insensitive archives,’ a workshop facilitated by Arike Oke and Simon Demissie, from the Wellcome Library, based on the Master’s Dissertation by Alicia Chilcott. This workshop explored the racial insensitivity in archival descriptions and potential solutions.
In June 2018 I attended ‘Museum Remix,’ a workshop facilitated by Museum Detox at the University of Cambridge. Here, we explored how the use of insensitive descriptions in record keeping can bleed into online catalogues and exhibitions. This spreads misinformation by misrepresenting marginalised groups: an injustice to the educational value of archives and the communities surrounding them.
Another great post based on our archives from the Archives+ Digital Journalist Volunteers – Louise Da-Cocodia and the Windrush Generation’s vital contribution to the NHS.
The summer of 2018 sees the 70th anniversary of two key moments in British history – the first wave of post-war mass immigration with the arrival of HMT Empire Windrush on 22 June 1948 and the establishment of the National Health Service (NHS) on 5 July 1948. There would appear to be no obvious connection between the two, and yet, in its days of infancy, the NHS heavily relied on many of those who stepped off of the boat in Tilbury, their children and also the thousands who arrived in the years to come – all dubbed the ‘Windrush generation’.
When the Windrush docked in Tilbury, she brought with her approximately 492 people – most of whom were men, but also women and children – from the Caribbean, mainly from the islands of Jamaica and Trinidad. Invited by the British government to help ‘rebuild’ Britain after the destruction of war, the…
The Archives+ Digital Journalists have been delving into our oral history collections to learn about experiences of the Windrush Generation here in Manchester. Here’s an insight into the life of one of the many ordinary/extraordinary members of this generation; Euton Christian.
You can learn more about Mr Christian in the Roots Oral History Project collection and the Exploring our Roots Collection.
This year marks seventy years since the Empire Windrush set sail from the West Indies and docked in the UK on June 22nd 1948.
Originally sent to bring servicemen who were on leave from the British armed forces back to the UK, because of the size of the ship, hundreds of others were offered the chance to join them on board to fill up space, for a £28 fee. These men were attracted to the idea of life in Britain for a variety of reasons; including the high unemployment rate in Caribbean countries, and Britain being presented throughout the education system as the loving mother-country filled with opportunities.
The Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre in Manchester Central Library has an extensive collection of material relating to those who came over on the Windrush from the West Indies and settled in Manchester, including several oral history projects. It was…
A couple of weeks ago I (Hannah) wheeled a precariously-laden trolley of archive boxes over the road to the Friend’s Meeting House, to be the source material for a day-long research workshop for undergraduate History students. Reblogged from History@manchester, here are Dr Kerry Pimblott’s reflections on what was a hugely inspiring day for all of us.
The key to a more just future lies in a real reckoning with our collective pasts.
At least that was the thinking of the eminent scholar-activist, W. E. B. Du Bois. Writing in February 1905 – at the height of what many consider ‘the nadir’, or lowest point, in American race relations – Du Bois stated,
We can only understand the present by continually referring to and studying the past: when any one of our intricate daily phenomena puzzles us; when there arises religious problems, political problems, race problems, we must always remember that while their solution lies here in the present, their cause and their explanation lie in the past.
Du Bois’s call to ‘look-back-to-move-forward’ rings no less true today than it did over a century ago. Last week it was this dictum – in a new nadir typified by the twin tragedies of Grenfell…
Originally posted on Coming in from the Cold : We currently have two postgraduate students from the Institute for Cultural Practices (ICP) at the University of Manchester on a placement with us. They have been investigating the value of historic documents and…
For International Women’s Day this year we’re sharing the story of Fatima Nehar Begum, the mother of Ahmed Iqbal Ullah, who in the 30 years since Ahmed’s tragic death has led a number of extraordinary and positive developments, including building the Ahmed Iqbal Memorial School in Bangladesh.
We explored and documented her story, among others, in our HLF supported Legacy of Ahmed project 2015-17. The resulting archive contains an extensive collection of oral history interviews with those who remember Ahmed, those who experienced the aftermath of his death and those involved in the many projects and initiatives that make up his legacy.
This month marks a new departure for us at the Resource Centre, as we spread the word about our first open-access digital collection: A (very nearly) full set of the Commission for Racial Equality‘s (CRE) publications.
541 pamphlets, reports, guides, etc etc, covering all aspects of race relations policy, practice and debate in the UK, from 1976 to 2007. These publications can be accessed free, by anyone, through the University of Manchester Library’s digital collections database. We invite you all to browse the collection and spread the word!
As we wind up for our Christmas break (until Wednesday 3rd January) we’re reflecting on what an action-packed year 2017 has been for us. We’re not very good at shouting about our successes, but our colleagues and stakeholders at the University, in the city council and in the community often comment on how much we achieve for such a small team.
So, in the spirit of giving ourselves a well-deserved pat on the back, here are our 2017 highlights:
Most of us know the basics of using a lending library, and anyone who has studied history will have a grasp of what archives are, how they’re accessed and why they’re important. But seeing all of the possibilities of a collection for your particular area of study takes time; something many researchers don’t have. So we want to give you a few shortcuts, suggestions and an insider perspective, to help you make the best use of our archive and library collections.
Over the coming months our Honorary Research Associate Dr Alison Newby will be exploring the collection and putting together a series of blog posts about how it can be used. She’ll cover practicalities, such as how to use databases and collection information; she’ll highlight some collection strengths, such as studying oral histories; and she’ll also reflect on the issues that a collection like ours raises for research, such as reflecting a diversity of historical voices.
Alison is a historian by training, as well as a qualified coach working in the HE sector. For her, the roles of coach and historian involve using similar skills – including the abilities to see lots of different perspectives, and to pull together reflections based on the ‘stories’ people actually narrate. You can read about her coaching work here. On the history side, she completed her PhD on nineteenth-century American social and political history at the University of Manchester, and has been specialising in focused research projects bringing together race relations themes and materials from cultural institutions in the Manchester area. Having visited a variety of archives of different sizes in the UK and the USA, she is able to appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of each.
The posts in this Research Skills Series are aimed at researchers at all levels, so whether you’re just starting out with independent research or a school project, or you’re a seasoned researcher interested in maximising your time at the Resource Centre, we hope there will be something here for you. Check out the series to date (which includes some skills-focused past posts) in the Research skills category.
Last week Jennie (our Projects Manager) and myself presented at the Archives and Records Association (ARA) conference, here in Manchester. Our paper was called:
Telling the Whole Story: Community partnerships and collection development in the Legacy of Ahmed project
We’ve been thinking a lot recently about the way we work, as an organisation that undertakes both outreach projects and heritage collection work*. Not only do we give equal weight to these areas of our work, the two have a symbiotic relationship: The outputs of community and schools-based projects (such as oral history interviews, teaching resources, donated ephemera, creative works and publications) are accessioned into the library and archive collections**, ensuring that community voices are preserved for the long-term, but also building a bank of resources to support ongoing outreach work – both our own and other people’s.
It’s the reason we call ourselves a ‘resource centre’ rather than an archive or library; our collections have always been intended to have contemporary, active and practical purposes. Continue reading →
Our freelance archivist Heather Roberts has been working her magic on our large, and until now slightly unwieldy, Manchester Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Communities collection. Here she reflects on the process and reveals some of the thinking behind her work:
Arranging the Manchester BME Communities collection was an interesting adventure in flexing the rules. As well as deciding what to keep and what not to keep, organising the remaining material was a bit tricky.
We have 17 issues of the local community newspaper Moss Side News from 1969 – 1978. They’re not in good condition (so I sadly won’t be taking them to the CoDE conference) but they are fascinating reads, revealing the burning issues of the time, namely housing (‘slum’ clearances were taking place), space for children to play and generally defending Moss Side against the bad press it got in the more mainstream local media.
Here are Daniella’s final reflections on her museum studies work placement with us. We’re pleased she gained so much from the experience, and she has been a real asset to us over the past five months. Student placements are a great way for us to bring in new ideas and fresh insights, especially when, like Daniella, students have professional as well as academic knowledge and experience to contribute.
Thankfully we’re not saying goodbye to Daniella just yet – she’ll be staying with us on a voluntary basis throughout the summer to continue her work documenting and promoting the Coming in from the Cold project.
I chose the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre and Education Trust for my placement, before even starting the MA Art Gallery and Museum Studies (AGMS) programme. In the first couple of weeks of September 2016, I met the Director, Jacqueline Ould, and a few staff members at a talk they hosted alongside the Black Cultural Archives. I immediately liked their work, which reminded me of what I do home in Trinidad and Tobago, at the Culture Division. Right there, I knew the Centre and Trust was the place for me!
A photograph of me taken by my supervisor Hannah Niblett
The Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre and Education Trust are two organisations with a common goal; to capture the life stories of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities in Manchester. They are named after Ahmed Iqbal Ullah, a Bangladeshi boy who lost his life defending a…
For the month of March, my placement duties have shifted focus, from collections to project work. I am assisting with the documentation of ‘Coming in from the Cold‘, the latest project of the Centre’s sister organisation, the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Education Trust. I get to do photography, which I always enjoy, and practise blogging, my current interest.
The project team had the idea of using a blog to provide updates and insights into the ‘Coming in from the Cold’ project. I was given creative liberties to revitalise an existing blog for the project. In coming up with a concept, I explored the archives at the Centre for visual content and inspiration. The Senior Library Assistant, Ruth Tait, at one point became an impromptu model while I photographed the Ann Adeyemi collection (more on the blog about Ann Adeyemi here). Listening to Ruth talk about the people and history within the collection, showed her knowledge but also her working relationship with the archives.
As part of my placement, I got a half day to learn about preservation techniques, by getting hands on experience in book binding. Leading the lesson was Nic Rayner, Conservation Officer at Archives+ – the archive partnership the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre is a part of. Nic assists the Centre by assessing the condition of new archival material acquired, and in general advises on preservation.
Getting into the book binding process. Photo taken by Hannah Landsman.
We’re delighted to have Daniella Carrington, a postgraduate Museum Studies student, working with us over the next few months as Collections and Projects Assistant. She comes to us through the Institute for Cultural Practices placement scheme, University of Manchester, and we’re already making full use of her skills and knowledge. Here she reflects on her first month in post…
It has been (technically) one month since I began a work placement at the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre. How time flies! Learning about this rather special place, how they were founded, and the kind of needful work they do, has been an enriching experience so far. I got to know the staff both personally and professionally, peruse the library, and even get an up close look at the archive to understand the scope of work at the Centre and its sister organisation the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Education Trust.
In the library. Photo taken by Hannah Niblett of the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre
Documentation Assistant Carly Morel is currently pulling together various bits of American Civil Rights material to create a new open-ended archive collection. She highlights a couple of interesting items for us:
With US politics so much in the headlines at the moment, I thought, what better time to tackle our US Civil Rights material?
Did you know that once the historic centre of Salford boasted one end of the longest railway platform in the world? Were you aware that we could all have been sauntering along an elevated walkway stretching from the University of Manchester right down Oxford Road to the heart of the city? Or even that our universities are part of what might be called a ‘Silk Road of Knowledge’?
No, neither was I… Not until a few weeks ago, when I spent a day at the University of Manchester, riveted to every word uttered by several enthusiastic academics chewing over Mapping the Historical Geographies of Higher Education in Greater Manchester. Yes, I do sometimes break out from among the Centre’s bookshelves, and on this occasion I was listening to talk after talk, as well as enjoying numerous question and answer sessions. You’ve guessed it, I was attending a symposium!
Christmas is almost upon us and since the good folk at Archives+ digitised our Christmas card collection in preparation for their Christmas extravaganza I can share the whole series with you here on the blog! Isn’t Christmas around the world … Continue reading →
Over the past 18 months we, through our Education Trust, have been working on our HLF funded Legacy of Ahmed project. The project is now drawing to a close and I’ll be sharing some of the outputs on here over the next few weeks. First up, these wonderful anti-racism posters created by young people from our project partner Ananna: Manchester Bangladeshi Women’s Organisation.
You might think there is something contradictory about a refugee archive: archives are the permanent repositories of physical history, whilst refugees are transitory and homeless – those who have lost their history.
But the archive of the Manchester Refugee Support Network (MRSN), recently deposited with us following completion of a major heritage project, challenges this assumption. Not least in the sheer amount of material; 12 boxes of physical material and more than 30,000 digital files, charting the 20 year history of this remarkable organisation. From governance, services and partnerships to cultural programmes (such as the Refugee World Cup and Manchester Refugee Cultural Festival), campaigning activities and the many community organisations that made up the network.
Building this archive and depositing it with us, here at Central Library, creates permanence and acceptance, carving out a place in history for Manchester’s many refugee communities. Continue reading →
We’ve recently done a little conservation and access work on our Institute of Race Relations (IRR) Newspaper Clippings collection. It really is one of the gems of our archive – a vast collection of race-related stories from provincial UK newspapers, covering the short but intense period of September 1977 to April 1984.
The collection has been in need of some TLC for a while. It takes up 49 lever arch files, in varying states of dilapidation. We’ve only been able to replace the ones that were most severely falling apart, but we’ve also relocated a whole box of orphaned pages and moved the more fragile sheets to separate storage. With the detailed content summaries we now have for each folder, this is starting to feel like a much more accessible collection, ready to have its hidden depths explored by intrepid researchers….
We all have our dreams. But what if they turn into nightmares?
Take the Hugh Wilson and Lewis Womersley firm of chartered architects and town planners. In the 1960s they dreamt of solving the problems of twentieth-century living by providing quality design and housing to a level reached in the eighteenth century for Bloomsbury and Bath. By using similar shapes and proportions, large scale building groups and open spaces, plus skilful landscaping and extensive tree planting, they hoped to make their dream reality. Where? Don’t laugh when I tell you. Hulme in Manchester.
Yes, Hulme was to be the setting for pioneering brave new town planning. The slums were to be cleared and in their place would arise beauty. There was just one problem. The designers’ dream became the Hulme residents’ nightmare scenario. Leafing through the Centre’s Hulme Study Collection, I came across Wilson and Womersley’s hopeful musings on the cover of Manchester City Council’s Survey Report Hulme. A Position Statement September, 1987.
The Southern Voices (SV) archive collection relates to the establishment and development of the Manchester based organisation Southern Voices, founded in 1990 and originally named the Southern Voices Project. Southern Voices is still running; however, the AIU Centre archive holding runs up until the year 2009.
This is the second post in the two-part series which aims to give an overview of the contents of the Stephen Lawrence Newspaper Cuttings archive collection, gathered together over the decades by AIUC founding director, Louis Kushnick, and now being made available for reference by researchers and members of the public.
The first post looked at the first three of six themes running through the collection (The Metropolitan Police, the Lawrence family and the Macpherson Report). This second post looks at the community reaction, the perpetrators and the criminal justice system.
24 years ago this week Stephen Lawrence was stabbed to death at the age of 18 by a gang of white youths, in an unprovoked racist attack at a bus stop in Eltham, south east London. The date was April 22nd 1993. Two of his killers, Gary Dobson and David Norris, were only convicted (for life) in January 2012 for their part in the attack.
The same year, founding director of the AIU Centre, Louis Kushnick, began to collect press cuttings, mainly from the broadsheet newspapers, reporting on the case. As part of my job at the Centre I was responsible for archiving the collection.
It’s an experience most people who work in archives have had: you find a box of intriguing-looking papers at the back of the archive, but there’s no paperwork with it, nothing to identify what the material is or where it came from and no-one else in the organisation knows anything about it. So you put it back and forget about it.
Nigel de Noronha has been our Researcher in Residence this year, working on the Tandana Collection; a large archive of material about the Asian Youth Movements (AYMs). Nigel was a member of the AYM in Manchester in the 1980s, so this project has been of personal as well as academic and professional interest for him. In this post he reflects on the process of re-engaging with his own personal history through working in the archive.
Asian Youth movements (AYMs) emerged spontaneously in Britain in the 1970s and 1980s. The AYM was active in anti-deportation campaigns in Manchester, connected to other AYMs and supported their campaigns against racist discrimination and racial violence. I joined AYM Manchester in 1982. We adopted a black political identity. Many young Asians witnessed racist and fascist violence, state discrimination from the police, schools, housing and immigration authorities, and discrimination in the labour market.
This second post in the two-part series on Elouise Edward’s and Marie Noble’s 1970s/80s oral history project, that became the Roots Family History Project, aims to give an overview of the women respondents and their experiences of settling in Britain during the 1940s – 1960s, covering discrimination, employment, housing and Black activism.
Roots Family History Project: ‘A people without history is like a tree without it’s roots’
Varona Nurse, who we saw in the first of these two posts came originally from St Kitt’s, had experience of sewing clothes back home, and once she had settled in Manchester she took up work in a garment factory. She also worked as a house mother in children’s homes. She fostered for 19 years, and tells the interviewer some lovely stories about her wards:
I knew one, when it was my birthday, he used to rush out early and when I opened the front door, I used to meet a bunch of flowers… I went to a meeting one night and when I return home I met them painting the house.
In the 1970s, the oral history project that became the Roots Family History Project was born out of a volunteer management committee, of which Marie Noble and Elouise Edwards were members. It originated in the need felt among Manchester’s Black communities to record for posterity the experiences and life histories of Manchester’s ongoing African and Caribbean diaspora.
Roots Family History Project: ‘A people without history is like a tree without it’s roots’
This two-part post will give an overview of the testimonies of the women involved in the project. Although there is a fairly even balance gender-wise, it’s important to acknowledge the contribution of these women to Manchester’s Black communities as well as to the wider UK society.
In the second in her a series of guest posts based on her fascinating PhD research into British student activism, Sarah Webster looks at Manchester student involvement in anti-deportation campaigns.
In October 1982, the Manchester University Students Union affiliated to Workers Against Racism, an anti-racist campaign organisation run by the Revolutionary Community Party to fight deportations during the eighties. The affiliation is formal recognition of student anti-deportation activism across the decade. Under Thatcher, immigration rules were significantly tightened. Even those with long standing ties and who had not personally committed infractions faced deportation threats. Motivated by anti-racist sentiment, Manchester students supported many anti-deportation campaigns. They were particularly active in local campaigns, supporting many Manchester based families.
Students protesting outside the University of Manchester. Source: University of Manchester archives
So two weeks on from the general election and I know we’re all pretty sick of politics, not to mention politicians, but I couldn’t let this week pass without a quick nod to Mohammed Afzal Khan MEP who was invested as Manchester’s first Asian (and youngest) Lord Mayor 10 years ago.
Jo has recently been doing some work on the Exploring our Roots oral history collection. This post looks at the lives and experiences of three interviewees from the Chinese community in Manchester. What emerges is a picture of how Chinatown developed and how different people fared in their journey from East to West as they came to settle in Manchester.
Chinatown. Source: Angel Belsey
Exploring our Roots is an oral history project focusing on South Asian local heritage (Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Sikh) and Chinese, African Caribbean and West African communities. Among the topics covered are personal memories regarding migration and settlement; community-building, education and work, religion and culture; and experience of racism and prejudice. Continue reading →
We’ve been working on the Ann Adeyemi collection recently, a family archive of photos and personal ephemera, donated by Ann in 2011 alongside a series of four oral history interviews in which she tells us about her grandparents, her parents and her own life, in her own defiant and inimitable style. This post is just a potted history – I highly recommend reading the interviews for yourself, and having a browse through her archive, to get the full and fascinating story.
8th of March is International Women’s Day (IWD), but like any good celebration it has started well in advance of the day itself, and will stretch out well beyond, with events celebrating the achievements of women happening throughout March.
We got in on the action this week by hosting a Spotlight session here in Archives+, looking at Black female activists from our collection. It’s got me thinking about the nature of specifically black and female activism – so often subsumed under the banner of either black or female – and prompted me to do a little research into the motivations and approaches of Black women’s organisations.
On 11 February 1990 Nelson Mandela was released after spending 27 years in South African prisons, most of them on Robben Island, where he and other African National Congress members were sentenced to hard labour. It would be another 4 years until a democratic election, open to all South African adults for the first time, resulted in him becoming president.
The Labour History Archive & Study Centre at the People’s History Museum houses many photos of the anti-apartheid movement in Britain, as well as a wide range of pamphlets from South Africa, Britain, and elsewhere, including a few in support of Britain’s economic links with apartheid South Africa. Anyone is welcome to come and look at them and much more. See our website for visiting information.
How did two Manchester businessmen from a respectable Jewish family come to be accused of supporting the enemy during the First World War?
January 1915. The Great War was less than six months old, but already more than a million British men had volunteered to serve; many thousands had been killed. The Manchester Regiment (including the newly-formed Manchester Pals) had been deployed and seen action, including at the first Battle of Ypres.
Supporting the effort
In central Manchester, tobacconists Marcus and Henry Themans decided to show their support for the troops. Continue reading →
This interesting post popped up on the Archives+ blog this morning, highlighting the Fifth Pan-African Congress that took place in Manchester in 1945. Have a read!
If you’re interested we have material relating to the Congress in the Resource Centre; a couple of really comprehensive books, a small archive collection of original material and a series of six interviews created in 1995 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Congress. The interviews are with those who were living in Manchester in 1945 and some who attended the Congress, including Sam Nelson and Alfred Gaisie.
Looking through the photographs held at the Central Library I came across a truly interesting image. From the 15th to the 21st October 1945 Manchester played host to an event, largely ignored at the time, which would have huge significance for the future of an entire continent. It was at Chorlton-on-Medlock Town Hall that 90 delegates from across Africa, Europe and North America came together to hold the Fifth Pan-African Congress to discuss the future of Africa.
1945 was a momentous year in world history, the Second World War had ended the previous month and many of Europes’ colonies looked towards the prospect of finally gaining independence as a reward for their immense sacrifices. Pan Africanism was a political ideology developed by African intellectuals to challenge the artificial division of the African continent by the Colonial powers when they had scrambled for territory. Its ultimate goal was to unite…
Our archive volunteer Helen has uncovered a fascinating story about women confronting racism in 1970s Manchester…
Decades before Facebook and Twitter allowed people who had never met to communicate anonymously, a group of women from Manchester decided to use a real life ‘wall’ to gather views from local people on the subject of racism. The women, from Longsight and Levenshulme, were united by their opposition to the National Front, a right-wing, racist organisation that was responsible for preaching racial hatred and carrying out violent attacks on members of Britain’s ethnic minority communities. On discussing how to react to a planned National Front march in the city, the women came up with the idea of a ‘wall newspaper’ where they could get local people to air their views on the National Front.
For Refugee Week (16 – 20 June) our Widening Participation Officer Sam ran a refugee arts day for three local secondary schools here at Central Library. I spent an enjoyable morning getting covered in acrylic paint, supporting artist Amang Mardokhy’s painting workshop.
Amang is Kurdish, from Northern Iraq. He came to the UK in the early 2000s, fleeing Saddam Hussein’s regime. At the start of his workshop he told the students a little about his personal story, including his experience of being an artist under a repressive regime and the difficult decision to take his family, including his five year old son, in search of safety. But he talked more about his artistic motivations, to express the suffering of the Kurdish people and explore global experiences of war and displacement. The students produced postcard-sized paintings reflecting on the contrast between peace and war; safety and danger, beauty and ugliness, plenty and poverty, belonging and loss.
Last week we had a session at the Archives+ handling table with material about the singer, actor and civil rights activist Paul Robeson.
It’s a bit of stretch to call this a handling session – most of what we had out were books that you can ‘handle’ in our library at any time. Having said that, the main attraction was something from our archive; a signed copy of Here I Stand, Robeson’s autobiography, donated by Linda Clair. This definitely generated some interest – there’s something magical about seeing the marks made by a famous hand.
In preparing for our Paul Robeson hands-on session next Wednesday (details on our website and Facebook) I keep coming across the name Wilf Charles. He was one of a small group who established the New International Society in Moss Side in 1946, an organisation that promoted anti-racism locally but also supported international causes, including many championed by Robeson. As a result of this relationship Robeson came to sing at the Society in 1949, but more about that another time…
Wilf Charles is mentioned, in passing, in literature about Len Johnson (Manchester’s black boxing hero), about the International Brigade and the Spanish Civil War, the Communist Party and the 5th Pan-African Congress in Manchester.
This week, as it’s the Manchester Histories Festival and we’re here in our new home at Central Library, we’ve been taking advantage of the handling table in the Ground Floor Archives+ exhibition area.
On Tuesday afternoon Ruth and I pulled together a selection of items from the Steve Cohen archive, which is a large collection of anti-deportation campaign memorabilia from the 1970s, 80s and 90s, donated by the Manchester activist and community lawyer Steve Cohen. There are more than 70 campaigns represented in the collection but we decided to focus on the case of Viraj Mendis.
Here’s a lovely festive photo from our Ann Adeyemi archive collection. It was taken in Lewis’s in Manchester in the late 1950s. It feels like Lewis’s has been gone a long time, but it only closed in 2001, before Primark opened in the building. Wikipedia tells me that Lewis’s in Liverpool was the first department store to open a Christmas grotto, back in 1879, and many Manchester and Liverpool residents remember their annual December trip to see Father Christmas there.
There’s something not thoroughly convincing about the Father Christmas in this photo – he’s a bit slim and looks like he might have borrowed that outfit from someone a size or two bigger than him. Ann has a bit of a knowing look, I think perhaps she wasn’t convinced either.
Ann Adeyemi is living proof that Black people lived in Manchester well before the 1950s. Her grandmother was White Irish and came to Manchester at the start of the 20th Century, her grandfather was Black Liberian. Ann’s mixed race mother Mary was born in Salford in 1920 and grew up in Manchester. She married James, a Black merchant seaman from West Africa. Ann was born in Cheetham Hill in 1951 and grew up in Middleton. Ann herself has had a fascinating life, involved in education, anti-racism work and theatre. Here at the Centre we have an extensive collection of photos and memorabilia that Ann has donated, as well as oral history interviews that document her wonderful life.
Seasons greetings from us all at AIU Race Relations Resource Centre – see you in 2014!
With the Centre closing to the public on 6th December and the movers booked for mid-February, our move to Central Library (as part of the Archives+ partnership) is starting to feel very real. We keep trying to imagine what it will be like having so many more visitors into the library every day… it’s going to be amazing, but we need to think about how we balance the demands of greater access with preservation of the collection.