British democracy did not arrive fully formed with Magna Carta in 1215, on the contrary, it had to be fought for hundreds of years and many thousands died to bring it about. Yet this struggle for liberty, democracy and social justice is today largely unknown.
Many UK citizens, especially those under 35, have had little opportunity to engage with this history and as a result the idea that achieving and maintaining democracy and social justice involved ‘struggle’ is becoming increasingly remote from public consciousness.
The multi-media, digital resources on the People’s History Hub aim to make this history publicly available to all citizens, in an online, shareable, digital format suitable for the age of social media.
These multi-media resources including text, images and ‘bite size’ video documentaries, will cover individual subjects such as ‘The Suffragettes’, ‘Peterloo’, ‘Tolpuddle’ or ‘The Peasants Revolt’. In addition groups of resources will form collections grouped under broader subject headings such as, ‘The History of Parliament’, ‘The English Civil War’, Trade Unions’, ‘Slavery’ etc.
The People’s History Hub will also be a central on-line access point for people’s history material created by other organisations and institutions and include links to digital sources of more in-depth histories, images and source documents.
The project is specifically targeted as an educational resource but as a free, open, online resource it will be available to all UK citizens and indeed many millions across the globe.
In 1938 A.L. Morton’s, A People’s History of England, was
published by the Left Book Club. After World War Two this book was hugely influential and informed many tens of thousands of ordinary people about a previously hidden version of English history. Partly as a result of this book it was common in the 50’s, 60’s and ’70’s to see and hear the stories of the people’s history of England told in the mainstream of English arts, media and education. For example it was not uncommon for primetime television drama and documentary to tell these stories and the English Revolution along with the Luddites, Tolpuddle and Peterloo were part of the mainstream history syllabus in English schools.
After the election of Margaret Thatcher in 1979 these stories largely disappeared from our mainstream arts and media and were completely eradicated from the history syllabus in schools. As a result three or four generations have grown up with almost no knowledge of this aspect of our history. The People’s History Hub is part of a broad cultural and educational movement that aims to address this imbalance in our knowledge of our own history.
“This history is a source of inspiration, encouragement and legitimacy for today’s campaigners. It’s a long slog, but with the right conviction, evidence, and determination even the most unlikely citadels can be brought down and the world can be changed for the better.” – ANDREW PURKIS. ACTION AID
The People’s History Hub is a project developed and produced by Public Domain Arts & Media.
Public Domain Arts & Media is a not-for-profit, community interest company, founded in 2017, that uses the tools of the arts & media to encourage the development of active democratic citizenship in the UK by advancing public knowledge and understanding of historical and contemporary struggles for liberty, human rights and democracy.