Monday was Temperance Day! While that might not sound particularly exciting to most, it was incredible!
After much drama (the train was cancelled and we had to change stations) we took the train to Preston and the world's leading expert on the Temperance Movement in the UK, Dr. Annemarie McAllister gave us a walking tour. Dr. McAllister brought us to the Temperance Archives at the University of Central Lancashire where we examined some periodicals. After a quick lunch in the university cafeteria we headed to a conference room where Dr. McAllister gave us a funny and engaging presentation about the Temperance Movement. Right now her work focuses on The Band of Hope, a temperance organization for children. Her descriptions of the conditions faced by working class families were extremely touching, and helped further my understanding of the conditions people were forced to live in.
We also went to a Victorian chocolate shop where we had the best hot chocolate I have ever had! As a tie in to history, Ben Franklin was a frequent visitor to Preston as his daughter owned a coffee shop in the city. Charles Dickens is another well-known visitor; he visited Preston to interview the working class when writing his novel Hard Times. Here is a picture of the whole group celebrating Temperance Day:
What you can't see here is that we just yelled "Demon Drink" instead of "cheese"
Tuesday was by far the most intellectually stimulating day we have had so far. We spent most of the day at the People's History Museum, it tells the story of democracy in the UK from the ground up. They tell history from the perspective of the "radicals" of each time period.
We began the day with a discussion on Friedrich Engels and his text The Conditions of the Working Class in England in 1844. The class discussion was really great! We focused on how the conditions of the poor described in the book reflect conditions in today's society. The comparison is stark, it was really shocking to realize how little has actually changed.
After a short lunch break we regrouped at the museum to walk through the two galleries. One of them was closed because they were putting up new trade union banners; it looked like we were not going to be able to enter that gallery, but then our luck changed. Both of our professors have volunteered at the museum, and as long as we had a museum employee with us we were able to walk around the gallery. It made us collectively feel pretty special. We walked through both galleries and then went down to the museum archives.
The archives were absolutely incredible! I got to hold a newspaper from 1803 with my bare hands! The paper was made out of cotton, so it has held up much better than any paper that we have now. I know I talk a lot about how old everything is, but this was particularly mind blowing. I have no context for understanding this kind of time.
Emma and I are trying to do most of our studying outside of the room so we can still experience the city while being diligent students (right now she is actually doing the reading while I write, but whatever). I talked about Caffe Nero in the last post, but I have another story that features around it. We went back to the same caffe today, and the woman working there recognized us and had our orders up when we got to the counter. We are regulars now! (If you can be a regular after only going somewhere once before). It's incredibly exciting for me.
The adventures continue daily!