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Public History Group:Mausoleums or resource centres? Labour history museums and archives and useable pasts

2012 April 4

Saturday 20th April 20 10.30 for 11

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.

Bishopsgate Institute, 230 Bishopsgate, London, EC2M 4QH. This is a few minutes walk from Liverpool Street station (in the direction of Shoreditch and Spitalfields market.

Sessions begin promptly at 11 and will finish before 1.  Please bring your own coffee – lots of places nearby.


2 Responses Post a comment
  1. Terry McCarthy permalink
    December 4, 2012

    Labour history museums.
    I don’t want to be pedantic but the National Museum of Labour history was wound up in 1989 to be replaced by the People’s history Museum. For charitable purposes the name of national Museum of Labour history was used. The Manchester Museum and archive used the name People’s history Museum. Its function is terribly important and is a splendid contribution to the culture of the country.
    And its first Director Nick Mansfield did a splendid job however the PHM was and is totally different in its approach tothe NMLH approach to education a which was based on Socialist /Marxist thinking. Its founders Henry Fry and Water Southgate were both committed Marxists its internal and external education adviser was JP Miller and tne NMLH was very close to the Communist Party.
    Terry McCarthy former Director of the National Museum of Labour history

    • Andrew Flinn permalink
      March 28, 2013

      Hello Terry, In fact the archives and the museum on the 103 Princess Street site remained signed as the Nat Museum of Labour History for quite a few years after 1989 – it was on all the signage at the building and the letterheads, etc. The People’s History name was only used first to describe the Pumphouse site where the whole museum is now located. For a time the banner heading of the institution remained NMLH including the Pumphouse People’s History Museum as one of its sites. At some point, when exactly I cant quite recall, the Labour history part got dropped and the whole institution (archives and museum) became known as it is now, the People’s History Museum. In some senses, this is by the by – but in another way I think these names and their changes are important and it is one of things I wish to explore. I absolutely agree that the Manchester NMLH / PMH and the Limehouse NMLH had very different approaches to education and were rooted in different politics. This is something I am most interested in thinking and talking about – not necessarily to say one tradition or approach is better than the other but to situate the differences and understand the reasons for the differences, and ultimately to think about what is the role for labour archives and museums today and in the future. I would really value the opportunity to talk to you about this offline sometime?

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