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An archive can be your story

16 January 2017 by Mitty

To celebrate Jamaican independence a Ball was organised in Liverpool. This photograph was donated to the collections by Tayo Aluko

The Sankofa project is looking to support local Black people and communities in highlighting their stories and protecting their histories for generations to come – and we want you to get involved! Heritage consultant Heather Roberts tells us why archives are so important and can be made by anyone:

“Archives aren’t just boxes of dusty paper in ye olde handwriting. Archives, basically, are just evidence. They are evidence of something or someone from the past, which you want to remember for the future.

Leaflets and posters of community activist groups and their events are certainly archives. As are minutes of meetings and annual reports of a community organisation. Newspaper clippings about local activism and activists certainly help shape the story, too. 

Liverpool Black sisters were a women’s group working to improve the lives of women in Liverpool.

Photographs and letters are also fantastic for archives as they help tell a story in someone’s own words and through their own eyes. Even things like a ticket from a journey that was really important is archival if it evidences a story that you wish to remember.

Some things in archives are objects, 3D pieces of evidence for your history. Think about items of clothing, cultural objects and books. If they are evidence of an important part of your history then they are included in your archive.

So, anything can be an archive, really. The question to ask yourself when deciding what is in yours is, “Is this evidence of something from the past that I want to remember?”

However, the most important thing to keep in mind is that history is simply a story. If you don’t tell your own story then someone else will tell it for you, and that will never do you justice. Or worse your history could be hidden all together.

Be proud of your story and take care of those things that tell it.”

The Sankofa project aims to encourage people to tell their stories and highlight their significance in Liverpool’s history. Join us on Saturday 28 January for our event Archives and activism where we’ll be creating a timeline of Black activism. To be part of telling that history, feel free to drop in between 1-4pm to the Martin Luther King building next to the Maritime Museum.

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