The Young Peoples’ Archive project finally started this week with our two schools – Waverley School and Four Dwellings High School – visiting the Archives at Birmingham Central Library. Most of the historical information and material which tells the story of Children’s Lives will come from the Archives – and the Young Peoples’ Archive, containing the stories of young people, will be kept in the Central Library once this project has been concluded. This resource will begin to give young people a voice within the archive and will be available for generations to come as a permanent record of both life today, and of the project itself.
At the Archives, each respective school group was split into two groups. One group took part in a workshop which looked at different kinds of material from the collections relating to childhood histories. The other group went on a behind-the-scenes tour of the archives to see where some of the material is kept – a very special opportunity that most people do not get!
The young people were also asked to consider the different themes being covered by the project and the different activity groups that they will be divided into. The themes of their project echo themes contained within the main exhibition:
- Home or Family Life
- School and Education
- Outside; Street Life, Parks, Clubs, Sports, Friends
- Imagined Life; Play, Escapism, Role Play
- Children as represented by adults
The groups were asked to place archival material into the themes they thought were the best match, encouraging them to start thinking about the areas we want to explore and hopefully help them come up with ideas about the different kinds of things they might document, record and talk about.
The project also involves organising part of the Children’s Lives exhibition, which will open at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery in March 2012. Each of the groups will be divided into smaller activity groups and we asked the young people to think about which one they would prefer to join. These activity groups will enable the pupils to develop specific skills related to professional roles and careers. The skills and insights they will develop will then enable them to undertake set tasks with important aims, objectives and outputs.
The groups are:
- Archivists – they will archive and catalogue material gathered or created by the project
- Curators – they will plan, select and organise material for display at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery
- Communicators – they will market and promote the project, leading on the celebration event, and will regularly blog here, enabling communications between the schools and us at the library
- Recorders – they will record young peoples’ stories, through social documentary photography, oral histories and film, and will research and collate material
To be continued!