From the moment this project landed on my desk at the end of 2021, I knew it was going to be special… Invited by our friends Global Link in Lancaster to be one of their five partners across the North West, the project brings together history, global learning, community and more. I’m a bit of a history geek on the quiet, and our first team training day at the People’s Museum only served to fire my enthusiasm further. Going down into the archives – the bowels of the museum – we were each presented with a folder of original documents pertaining to the stories of children who migrated to the North West during the Spanish Civil War. Wow. I hadn’t anticipated the emotional response I had to handling old letters and reports. It is truly like being transported back in time.
The project has been an opportunity for Liverpool World Centre to work with volunteers once more, something that hasn’t featured heavily in what we do with communities for some years. We had a great response to our call-outs and ended up working with a team of ten volunteers. I felt incredibly honoured to take them into the Liverpool Records Office and share with them the awe that I felt myself on first handling primary source documents, some from hundreds of years ago.
Those volunteers have gone on to research and write the stories of nine individuals who migrated into or out of the North West between the end of the 8th century and the middle of the 20th! The breadth of our research has at times been challenging, but so rewarding, with the team becoming really invested in the lives and stories of those about whom they chose to write. What has been created so far across the partner organisations, and covering our whole region, is incredible. Well worth a look for historians, educators and the public alike, it has been meticulously put together by the team at Global Link. We’re so proud to have been a part of it.
In terms of our wider work on ‘global education’, maybe at first the links don’t seem obvious, but they are there, they really are. What the rich tapestry of individual stories highlighted most strongly was the vast social history linked to each story, bringing to life the impact of industrialisation, trade, empire and more on the lives of ordinary people. We cannot adequately reflect on where the world is today, and the challenges we face, without having an understanding of where we have come from, of how the past has shaped the present, and how fundamentally important migration has been as an engine for progress. It enriches and shapes our lives.
We are all migrants.
Watch this space, there’s more to come in Years Two and Three of the project, including working with school children to collect more recent oral histories, and touring our work with exhibitions and more. The stories collected so far, and our interactive map can be found at www.migrationstoriesnw.uk/stories