As part of the run up to Census 2021, Strike a Light – Arts & Heritage and the University of Brighton’s Centre for Memory, Narratives and Histories set up a series of public talks on key themes.
On 21st March, Census day itself, we explored the themes and changes from 1901 and 1911 censuses to date in an open, free workshop which looked at topics such as housing, health, work and family and shared skills for researching houses and family history. We used a variety of tools, including Find My Past, which hosts these census details from 100 years ago.
We’d like to thank all involved in our recent project ‘Census 2021 Disability and Health: Changes in Disability over 100 Years’! We teamed up with University of Brighton’s Centre for Memory, Narrative and Histories to help deliver a series of fascinating workshop with panel discussions, schools workshops, organisational consultation, training with University of Brighton students and resources for local charities.
Suffragettes & the Census
On 8th March, we hosted a free online panel discussion and Q&A on the subject of the Suffragettes & the census. This event took place on International Women’s Day 2021.
We welcomed speakers Dr Margaretta Jolly (University of Sussex), Karen Antoni (Brighton Museum), Dr Diana Wilkins, and Nicola Benge (Strike a Light – Arts & Heritage) to explore themes including Sussex suffrage struggles, the development of women’s rights, research tools for exploring suffragette history and the background to the right to vote.
During this two hour session, our speakers looked at the broader issues around the historical census of 1911 to situate histories of women, suffragism and the right to vote with a specific reference to Sussex.
We then ran a session on how to use Find My Past to research 20th century women’s history. Finally, we held a Q&A to explore the suffragettes and the right to vote in a wider historical context.
My Place Through Time – Researching Hastings & St. Leonard’s History
This session took place on 10th March 2021 from 12-2pm and looked back to the Hastings and St. Leonard’s censuses of 1901 and 1911 to explore housing, health, work and family situations during the early twentieth century.
Most historians agree that historical census data is a rich source for understanding key social, cultural, economic and political shifts over time. However, reading and analysing the data itself can often seem daunting, particularly when attempting to research your own family or community history.
The session highlighted ways to get the most out of using the census, including practical, technical advice and ideas on how to frame the data critically. Nicola Benge from Strike a Light – Arts & Heritage offered participants tips and tricks to get the most out of resources to discover who lived in their house and what their family did for a living and to understand more about their family’s and their area’s past.
Census 21 – Disability & Health: Changes in Disability over 100 Years
The session included a talk and Q&A with a panel of speakers from the British Polio Fellowship and Diversity and Ability discussing diagnosis, awareness, isolation, stigma, previous epidemics and how things have changed for people with disabilities in the UK over the past 100 years. This was followed by a section on how to research medical history.
We explored the broader issues around the historical censuses of 1901 and 1911 to situate histories of disability, polio and its changing complexion, and how specific issues like continued lack of awareness, isolation, stigma need airing, especially in light of Covid.
During this two hour session, our speakers looked at the history of disability, previous epidemics and their legacies, and the challenges of how to capture accurate data with regards to health. We discussed how things have changed for people with disabilities in the UK over the past 100 years, disability then and now, work around the diagnosis and identifying of post-polio syndrome, what themes remain the same and what is radically different.
This is the first time people with disabilities are captured more consistently on a national census and we looked at what this means and discussed incorporate histories of inclusion both individually and on an organisational level.
Each talk lasted around 20-25 minutes and we then held a session on how to research medical history and that of disability. The event finished with a Q&A session exploring histories of disability and illness in wider context.
Census Day workshops – My House, My History – Learn How to Research Your Heritage
We joined up with The Centre for Memory, Narrative and Histories of University of Brighton to host this workshop exploring housing, health, work and family and offering advice on researching home and family history. Historian Dr Deborah Madden, Deputy Director of the Centre for Memory, Narrative and Histories, discussed how census data can be effectively used contextually and Nicola Benge shared tips on using census data to understand the histories of houses, families and local areas.
The session highlighted ways to get the most out of using the census, including practical, technical tips and ideas on how to frame the data critically. Dr Madden discussed how census data can be leveraged effectively in personal, family and community histories, drawing attention to key issues related to contextualising data alongside other primary sources.
Nicola Benge offered tips and tricks to enable participants to get the most out of resources by discovering who lived in their house, what their family did for a living and increasing their understanding about their and their area’s past. Finally, we had a Q&A framing census themes in a wider context.
Our free family history and census research webinars may have finished but our University of Brighton partnership continues! We’ve worked with their Widening Participation team to aid students using primary material to explore local history and by creating for them a series of learning tools and activities which look at the past. We have delivered Key Stage One workshops in Fairlight Primary & Nursery School in Brighton.
We all learn more when we’re engaged with the subject, so finding creative ways to teach is our forte! We recently delivered six workshops to Fairlight Primary & Nursery School as part of our Census 2021 community event project.
In the first sessions the youngsters were asked to consider ways to collect and record interesting data from their class in Year 2. They gathered information on favourite toys, food, pets and activities then created their own tally chart and pictogram to show their results.
In later sessions the children studied real local census data from 100 years ago in Brighton and drew charts to compare and contrast their lives with children back then, whilst listening to music of the era. The importance of the census data was discussed, how governments use it and how money should be spent was debated. The sessions culminated in planning time capsules and fancy dress as office workers of the time.
This project has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), part of UK Research and Innovation.