An online ‘Memory Box’ celebrating highlights from Manchester’s proud LGBTQ+ history has been published to coincide with this weekend’s Alternative Pride Festival.
New Memory Boxes – presenting selected images and documents which form part of the photographic and archive collections housed at Manchester Central Library – are being created and published weekly during the coronavirus pandemic by the Archives+ Centre, to help people connect virtually while restrictions on face-to-face gatherings still apply.
The latest Memory Box captures iconic scenes from Manchester’s LGBTQ+ history. During two virtual workshops organised by Archives+ and The Proud Trust, groups of young people explored a range of photos and archival documents collected during the past 50 years, choosing some of their favourite pieces for inclusion.
Inspired by the archival documents, the young people also created illustrations and wrote a series of questions to kickstart conversations on a series of worksheets which accompany the Memory Box, as prompts to start up dialogue. The worksheets are based on six different themes – The Gay Village, Radical, Culture, Community, The Proud Trust and Information. These worksheets provide an opportunity for families and friends to connect and explore history together virtually.
Sixteen other Memory Boxes have been published so far by the Archives+ centre. The collections cover Blackley, Cheetham Hill, Chorlton, Didsbury, Fallowfield, Gorton, Harpurhey, Levenshulme, Longsight, Moss Side, Rusholme and Victoria Park, Withington and Wythenshawe, plus a bumper box for Manchester city centre. “Branch Libraries” and “Library City”, are special editions taking a look at the magnificent libraries past and present in Manchester city centre and the neighbourhoods.
Memory Boxes were originally produced in physical form for distribution to Manchester libraries, boosting the local history offer to local communities. But when libraries were forced to close due to the coronavirus pandemic, staff decided to produce digital versions, to give people online access to discovering their family’s history, by looking back at the area where they grew up, bringing to light childhood memories and maybe uncovering some hidden gems in their family’s story.
The images are sourced from two of our photographic collections – The Manchester Local Image Collection and the Town Hall Photographers’ Collection. Both collections can be accessed online, free of charge.
The Manchester Local Image Collection has more than 80,000 images and prints of Manchester and the surrounding area. The Town Hall Photographers’ Collection has over 200,000 images covering the varied work of Manchester City Council, giving a unique view of Manchester’s development over the last 60+ years. Volunteers have been digitising this collection over the last few years and, to date, almost 20,000 images are available to view on the Archives+ Flickr photostream .
Executive Member for Skills, Culture and Leisure, Councillor Luthfur Rahman, said: “Each week during lockdown, Archives+ have published an online memory box focusing on different areas in Manchester. This week, to tie in with the Alternative Manchester Pride Festival, we’re sharing some of our brilliant LGBTQ+ archives. Take a look and see if the photographs and images trigger any memories for you, your friends and families.”
If anyone would like to share their new found stories, photographs or memories, please use the hashtag #ArchivesPlusMemorybox and post them on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
For more information and further images and audio from the archives, go to the Archives+ blog.