Connecting Histories was a partnership project led by Birmingham City Archives, working with the School of Education at the University of Birmingham, the Sociology Department at the University of Warwick, and the Black Pasts, Birmingham Futures group. Connecting Histories was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Britain today is commonly portrayed as a multicultural nation. However, the diverse historical experiences which constitute the story of this ‘new’ Britain are less well known. The history of the West Midlands in the 20th century is central to this story but the stories that make up this history remain largely hidden in archive collections. Connecting Histories aimed to release the potential of these collections so that connections can be made between the past and the present and thereby encourage debate about our shared identities, our common sense of belonging and our multiple heritages.
The project began in February 2005 and ended in July 2007. The aims of the project were to:
- Make documents and photographs available about the histories of diverse communities in Birmingham
- Support people from a range of different communities to get involved in archiving their histories
- Ensure that community histories are told and used to support learning
The project sought to meet these aims through a series of inter-related activities, many of which are reflected on this website. These included:
- Cataloguing and providing onsite and electronic access to significant and culturally diverse archive collections.
- Training two positive action trainees who will qualify as archivists at the end of the project.
- Digitising sound and photographic archives to ensure preservation and access.
- Developing five web-based learning packages on a series of linked themes including research skills, Black British History, migration and settlement, campaigning for social justice, and how performance has been used as a form of resistance and a means to bring about change.
- Supporting a range of community and volunteer groups to undertake their own community archives and heritage projects.
- Providing a model of working for the archives and heritage sectors which can be disseminated regionally and nationally.
The project was based in Birmingham Central Library and delivered by a team of 13 people:
Community Access Officer
Outreach Support Officer
Research and Learning Officers
Dr Robert Carter, University of Warwick and
Professor Ian Grosvenor, University of Birmingham
Helen Fisher, Jim Ranahan and Anna Riggs
Sarah Dar and Dr Andy Green
Aishling Fox and Arike Oke
The project also received support and advice from the project Advisory Group whose members were:
Sam Collenette, Michael Cooke (Chair), Brian Gambles, Paul Hemmings, Zualfqar Hussain, Dr Anthony Joseph, Judith Joseph, Shirley Joshi, Rita McLean, Gillian Reynolds, Charles Small and Carol Tulloch.
Click here to download a copy of the project's Full Evaluation Report