One Hundred Years of Representing Birmingham

Birmingham played a key role one hundred years ago in women gaining the vote – ‘Represent’ is a new community heritage project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund to explore the impact on the lives of Birmingham’s people now and then.

Over the next 18 months we will be working with Birmingham Citizens and the People’s Heritage Co-operative to find out more about how the city’s people responded to the tumultuous events of the period following
World War One. 

The project will be launched at the city’s Archives and Collections Service at the Library of Birmingham on 15th December, coinciding with the Centenary of first General Election to take place in this country where women were able to vote. The People’s Heritage Co-operative will host a ’show and tell’ of some significant archives from the period alongside a selection of their work from previous projects.

‘Represent’ focuses specifically on the impact and legacy in Birmingham of the ‘Representation of the People Act, 1918’. Extending the franchise in 1918 to include most men, and for the first time some women, had a radical impact on political representation, campaigning and the development of
civic life in Birmingham. It was the beginning of an exciting era of ideas and activism. Coupled with the huge upheavals of the First World War and citizens’ responses to this, the post-1918 period of Birmingham’s history is rich with important stories which still have resonance today.

The project will engage with Saheli Women’s Group and Edgbaston Community Centre. The project will focus both on women’s historic role as active citizens and historic housing campaigns.  Through exploring local archives and drawing on their own lived experiences, the groups will ‘re-present’ their archival research for new audiences through a new touring exhibition, co-created with
local Artists.

‘We are very keen here in Archives and Collections to work
with new audiences to enrich their understanding of local heritage through the rich repository of material housed here.  ‘Represent’ has archives at its heart and I am very excited to see how the project’s participants interpret this material over the course of the project.’

Corinna Rayner, Archives and Collections Manager at the Library of Birmingham

‘As we commemorate the end of WW1 and mark 100 years since the first women were able to vote, we are curious to find out how people responded
to the challenges and opportunities of the era.’

Rachel Gillies, Represent Project Manager

‘The Active Wellbeing Society is really excited to be working with this People’s Heritage Co-operative project.  Active citizenship and an appreciation of the lessons history can teach us is at the core of the work that we do with some of the most vulnerable and deprived communities.  If we understand how we all came to be here, it can help us to understand what we have in common.  Understanding our past can provide ways to show how we can best live alongside each other in happy, healthy communities right now.  We are delighted to be part of this work and excited to bring this to our citizens.’

Karen Creavin, Director, The Active Wellbeing Society

Find out more about:

Civic Engagement
14th December 2018  |  Marcus Belben