Things you find when doing a bit of research…

A guest post from volunteer Amber Greenall-Heffernan 

I am a third year History, Museums & Heritage student from the University of Central Lancashire, currently volunteering at the People’s History Museum. For the past couple of months, I have been doing research for the upcoming exhibition, Election! Britain Votes, looking at a wide range of election material such as posters, leaflets and manifestos. I am also currently working with artist Alex Gardner, showing him the most interesting and visually appealing items from the election material in the Labour History Archive to inspire the design of the exhibition.

Whilst doing this research I have come across some very interesting items. These are my favourites so far:

  • Equality of Sacrifice poster (1931)


Equality of Sacrifice poster (1931)This Labour Party poster criticises the 1931 National Government and their ‘Equality of Sacrifice’ policy. This policy was based on the ideas of John Stuart Mill, who believed that tax laws are fair as long as they are applied to everyone equally. The cartoon, by J. F. Horrabin was created in 1929, at a time of economic depression in Britain. Each man on the ladder has a different income, and as each one steps down a rung, the unemployed man at the bottom of the ladder becomes submerged in water, suggesting that the equality of sacrifice would affect the poorest the most.

Mend That Hole poster (1951)Mend That Hole poster (1951)
This Conservative Party poster created in 1951, shows a purse with coins falling out of the hole at the bottom of it. The purse has ‘Cost of Living’ written on it, which implies that the cost of living is increasing and that people are losing money because of it. This poster is particularly interesting as it is not far from issues that affect us today, such as the current debate about implementing a living wage due to rising cost of living standards.

Conservatives and Labour 3D booklet (1950)Conservatives and Labour 3D booklet (1950)Conservatives and Labour 3D booklet (1950)
My favourite item so far, and arguably the most engaging, is this 3D booklet which was created by the Conservative Party in 1950. The booklet folds so that when you put the blue filter over the text, it lists the successes of the Conservative government and what they aim to do in the future, and when you choose the red filter it shows the failures of the Labour government.

Videobooth – Scottish Referendum

A guest post by volunteer Sarah Taylor

The videobooth at the People’s History Museum allows our visitors to give their opinions on a variety of different matters. However, these videos don’t just disappear off into the PHM atmosphere once recorded – it’s my job to go through them and make sure the rest of the world can hear the wonderful ideas and views of our visitors.

In September, we asked: ‘What are your thoughts on the Scottish Referendum?’. Generally our visitors were happy with the results of the Referendum and felt that the two nations were stronger together. They also saw the Scottish Referendum as a good example of democracy with an excellent turnout.

However, most felt that the result had provided the best of both worlds as although it kept us together, it has also opened up a lot of other issues and unanswered questions that now need to be discussed. These include lowering the voting age to 16 and the introduction of an English parliament – maybe even devolution for Greater Manchester!

So all in all, last month’s Videobooth has shown that although our visitors seem to be in agreement on the result of the Scottish Referendum, everyone has their own opinions and ideas on where we should go next. To watch to the videos for yourself have a look at the playlist on our YouTube channel.

We are now asking visitors about the issues on political parties’ manifestos that are most important to them, so come along, have your say and see if you get chosen for YouTube fame as part of next month’s YouTube playlist!

Snapshot on the Future City

3 November 2014, Snapshot on the Future City @ People's History Museum

Did you know the museum holds an archive of over 95,000 photographs?  Go behind the scenes and delve into our unique photo collections, the Labour Party photograph collection and the Communist Party of Great Britain photograph collection.

In this lunchtime drop in session, browse through photographs on the theme of the Future City and uncover history through the lens.

This session will look at the Future City, drawing on the unique archive collection of photographs and pamphlets.  Join us on Monday 3 November between 12.30pm – 1.30pm.

Suitable for adults and young people

  • Treat yourself to 15% off in The Left Bank cafe bar when you attend an event at the People’s History Museum
  • Did you know the museum holds the archives of the Labour Party and much more?  Check out the Archive & Study Centre pages for more information or to make an appointment

Booking Requirements: Booking advised via Eventbrite

  • Please note event attendees must arrive at least ten minutes before the start time of the event, otherwise their booked space will be given to someone on the reserve list
  • Please contact the museum as soon as possible if you wish to cancel your reservation so your place can be given to another visitor

Election! Britain votes: Call for participation

Next February, the People’s History Museum will embark on a new type of exhibition. Election! Britain Votes, will be the most experimental and contemporary show PHM has ever programmed. It will explore historical elections using our wide collection; explain how and why a nation goes to vote and what the importance is to society today.

Card001We will chart historical elections including all the memorable moments which represented a general election from 1900. As the home of democracy, the People’s History Museum is best placed to tell this history, and our collection will take our visitors on a whirlwind tour of posters, pamphlets and pipes (Harold Wilson’s pipe, to be specific) from 1900 to 2010. In each of these elections we’ll also chart key facts and issues including the winners, losers, male to female ratio of MPs and of course all the moments you may remember.

In the second part of the exhibition, we’ll also attempt to explain how the life of a vote works. Elections and all the rules and processes behind them can be confusing so this exhibition will break down the life of the election from it being called to the result being announced, explaining all the things which make a general election happen.

Finally, we hope to create a space which will reflect the changing contemporary landscape and will chart the 2015 general election as it unfolds. This area will be fluid; it will evolve with the debate and will provide an interactive space in which to connect with politics today. We are looking for people to come and use this space to debate, chat, hold a public meeting or run a session. The space will display posters and leaflets as they are distributed throughout the UK and will work as a space to reflect as well as engage. If you would be interested in using this exhibition to evoke debate and conversation amongst a group, discuss how to get issues you care about on the agenda, or talk about the election may affect your life, get in touch with the museum at .

Fascist Newspapers: the tale of an archive placement student

Emily Fisher is currently on placement in the Labour History and Archive Study Centre, in this blog, she tells us about her placement.

Emily FisherI’m a third year student at the University of Central Lancashire, studying Modern World History. For one of my third year modules I am doing a work placement. I chose to go to the People’s History Museum in Manchester as I wanted to gain an insight into the life of an archivist, whilst working alongside historical artefacts.

During my placement I have been listing and cataloguing British Union of Fascist newspaper cuttings spanning from 1927 to 1981. This has been extremely invaluable to me as I am focussing my dissertation on anti-Fascist newspaper coverage. It has also been interesting to learn about an era in British history that is not taught very often in schools, colleges or universities. Reading through all of the newspaper cuttings I have learnt that Fascism in Britain was rather popular, particularly amongst the youth, and middle class men and women, peaking in the mid-1930s with a membership of 50,000. It was also very intriguing to learn that the British Union of Fascists was highly supported by the Daily Mail and Lord Rothermere, with one article titled, “Hurrah the Blackshirts!”

Working in an archive has made me realise just how hard archivists work to preserve some very delicate historical artefacts, whilst helping the general public engage with the vast amount of collections available. I find it very important to have archives available as it allows people to look into the history that has essentially shaped their future.

Overall, I have found the placement extremely interesting and I would recommend anyone to go and be a volunteer at the People’s History Museum. The staff are very warm and welcoming, and the amount of pamphlets, pictures, newspaper cuttings, publications, letters etc, is extremely impressive.

A historic by-election for UKIP?

At 7am this morning, the poll stations opened in Clacton and Heywood and Middleton constituencies, starting off the autumn by-elections. While by-elections are normal affairs in UK politics, one of these two were called under rare circumstances.

After the defection of popular Conservative MP Douglas Carswell to UKIP, he recalled an unneeded by election for the people of his Clacton constituency. Standing as a UKIP candidate against his former party and Labour, Carswell has been popular in Clacton in his time as a Conservative MP, which may help him win his seat back.

In the Labour constituency Heywood and Middleton, a by-election has been called due to the death of their MP Jim Dobbins and has resulted in a battle for the seat between UKIP and Labour. In the light of many recent defections from councillors, MPs and donors, these by elections are important for Nigel Farage and UKIP. While UKIP dominated in the European parliament election, they still hold no representation at a national level.

While this election may or may not elect a UKIP MP for the first time, there is also the upcoming by-election for Mark Reckless in his Rochester and Strood constituency, calling a by-election for the same reasons as Carswell.

Card001This may be the first election in their 20 years of existence that UKIP candidate may be elected to Parliament, and while this isn’t a lot in the face of Labour and conservative domination, it’s still a start for UKIP.

Our Election! Britain Votes exhibition is focusing on the lead up to the general election and while that is a way off, the by-elections play an important part in showing the general mood of the people of Britain before we vote. We are tracking opinion polls and by-election results to get a grasp on what people all across the country and their constituencies are thinking politically.

Our Fun Palace

A guest post by volunteer Sarah Taylor

On 4 October, we turned into a Fun Palace!

Fun Palaces were happening across the country that weekend in a variety of different venues. They could be anything you wanted them to be, as long as they were free, local, innovative, transformative and engaging. Fun Palaces are all about having fun and learning together and being places where arts and sciences meet. I’ve been a volunteer here at the museum since July and was given the job of creating our Fun Palace. It was a daunting task at first, but in the end I was extremely happy with the results and learnt a lot along the way.

Questions about Manchester's historyI decided that our Fun Palace should focus on Manchester’s history. I carried out some visitor consultation during our Work in Progress exhibition to try and find out what people already knew about Manchester and what they wanted to find out. I used the results to create the displays for the day that explained the origins of the name Manchester and a timeline highlighting some key dates and events. Someone told us (as did the Great British Bake Off!) that the twist ice cream cone was invented in Manchester, so this became the inspiration for our family friendly craft activity! I’d also asked visitors to tell us their favourite Manchester memory and the responses became part of our Manchester memory wall on the day.


4 October 2014, Fun Palace @ People's History Museum (6)4 October 2014, Fun Palace @ People's History Museum (22)

The day itself was lots of fun! I made some gallery trails and quizzes for visitors to do which highlighted the Manchester objects in our collections and we had local historian Steve Little on hand to tell people all the wonderful things he knows about the history of the Pump House and answer questions about Manchester. The day was full of people finding out things they didn’t know about the history of the city and we even had some visitors all the way from America who seemed fascinated by all the things we had to tell them. The highlight of the day for me was definitely all the paper ice creams we had made by visitors young and old – they looked good enough to eat!4 October 2014, Fun Palace @ People's History Museum (23)

All in all I felt we had a really successful day. All the visitors seemed to enjoy themselves and I loved seeing all my hard work paying off. I learnt so much from organising our Fun Palace and although it was stressful at times, now all I want to do is plan another one! If we did one next year it could be even bigger and better and I’ve already been taking inspiration from all the wonderful things happening at the other Fun Palaces up and down the country!

I guess I’ll just have to find something else to keep me busy until October 2015…