Friday, January 13, 2017

I Stood On History


Wednesday was another amazing day here in Manchester! We had a pretty relaxed day, only one museum tour and a walking tour so I'm still feeling pretty energized (even though it 11 pm as I'm writing this). 

We started our day at the Working Class Movement Library. The WCML has a great history, it was started by a married couple that were trade union activists. The library began as their personal collections, and they were soon being given artifacts. Their whole house was consumed by these archives before they moved the location of the library. The library is just a short bus ride from the hotel which is incredible, I absolutely want to go back (and not just to work on my research project). 

At the library we were given small group tours of the archives and allowed to look at some of the material they have. The staff set up the reading room for us and we were able to examine the artifacts at  our leisure. The amount of material they have in their possession is mind blowing. We barely scratched the surface on our tour; we were able to tour the Thomas Paine Room and look at the Peterloo Massacre scarf. Here is a picture of just one side of the Thomas Paine Room: 

Now just imagine a house filled with rooms like this

After the library we had a quick lunch and then went on a walking tour on the events of the Peterloo Massacre of August 16, 1819. The tour was given by Ed Glinert, who told us that he gives this particular tour 4-5 times a year. I think that is when it finally hit me how lucky we are to be having these experiences, people are going out of their ways to make sure that we are having an enjoyable time. I am so grateful for this opportunity, and the experiences we are able to have through this program. 

The tour was incredible! It was two amazing hours of information overload. Ed Glinert has an unbelievable amount of information stored in his head. At every stop on the tour he was able to share information about the sights we were looking at, and answer any questions we might have had (usually before we even knew we had them). This is the first of two tours we are doing with him, and I cannot wait for the second! Here is a picture from our tour. It doesn't have anything to do with the history of the Peterloo Massacre, I just like it.

This is the Manchester Central Library (it is very near our hotel)

Dinner on Wednesday was our group meal. We went out to Indian food in Curry Mile (but don't ask me the name, I just follow where the professors lead). It was another bus ride from the hotel, and was absolutely delicious. This was my first time eating Indian food so I went with a very mild chicken korma, which was fantastic. One of our professors ordered Vindaloo curry, and anyone who wanted to was allowed to try some. I opted not to have any, but those who did seemed to enjoy it. There were two responses: some felt that it wasn't at all spicy, and others felt it was incredibly spicy. I guess there is no middle ground. 

Thursday was another amazing day! On paper it looked like a really easy day, we only had one walking tour scheduled. It was even a really late start (we didn't meet in the lobby until 10 am)! The focus of the day was: Elizabeth Gaskell, the author we are reading for this week. We took a short walk through Manchester City Center to see a few sites that are important in Gaskell family lore, particularly the Portico Library. This library is a private library that you must be referred to in order to join. They have records going very far back in their history, and even have evidence of what books Elizabeth Gaskell and her husband William were checking out. Here is a picture of the outside: 

This isn't the best photo, I just think the date is impressive

After the Portico Library we took a bus to Manchester University, Elizabeth Gaskell lived nearby so our professors wanted us to get a sense of the neighborhood before we saw her home. They led us past the Pankhurst House, the sight of early women's suffrage, and expected us just to be able to see the outside. However, the house is open every Thursday and we were able to go inside. 

I got to stand in the room where the suffrage movement began in Manchester! I honestly cannot believe that I can say that. It is incredible to think that with all of our rights today women weren't always guaranteed things that we take for granted. I was really in too much awe to take many pictures, but here is one I did manage to take:
There is really no explanation needed

After our surprise stop we went over to The Elizabeth Gaskell House. This museum only opened 2 years ago, so it is very new and absolutely amazing. They have decorated the home as it would have been during Gaskell's life, and even have artifacts from when she lived there. It is a really beautiful home that has great literary history. Gaskell was good friends with Charlotte Bronte, and Charles Dickens was her editor. It is truly amazing to see the house, especially as a result of the efforts made to restore it to its former glory. 

Gaskell House Museum

I am heading to London this weekend to stay with a friend, and hopefully meet up with the larger group that is heading down a day after I am.

Here are to endless adventures!


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