Young offenders developing an exhibition about the history of North Allerton Young Offenders Institute as part of the TPYF programme. Picture courtesy North Yorkshire County Record Office
A pioneering educational and learning initiative that has allowed museums, libraries and archives across England and Wales to unlock their resources and engage the public in innovative and often daring schemes has announced its final round of funded projects.
The Museums Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) has announced the third and final phase of the Their Past Your Future 2 (TPYF2) programme, with 39 new projects from around the country set to tackle a variety of issues ranging from media awareness to intergenerational understanding.
Supported by the Big Lottery Fund, TPYF2 continues to explore the effects of 20th and 21st century conflict on all areas of society. This time the focus is not only on remembering the world shattering events of WW2, but also investigating aspects of more recent clashes that have still hugely influenced the way we live today.
“The programme is focussed on an exploration of the themes of remembrance and commemoration, citizenship, diversity, conflict resolution and peacekeeping,” said Eve Pattinson, TPYF Project Officer at MLA.
“Many projects in year two have sought to focus their activities on an exploration of post 1945 topics with a strong emphasis on local stories as well as tackling issues that affect us all.”
TPYF projects have a strong track record for tackling difficult subjects. In 2008, the resources held by North Yorkshire County Council’s Record Office were used to unlock the latent talents of young offenders, who used archive records of military prisoners from WWI as a focus to develop an exhibition about the history of North Allerton Young Offenders Institute. The exhibition is now touring across Yorkshire Libraries and is being used as a resource by the local prison service.
Picture courtesy North Yorkshire County Record Office
One of the newly funded projects for 2009/2010 is the London School of Economics and Political Science Archives’ Telling the Story of a Peace Movement, which looks at war in an innovative way – by focusing on peace. Children will get the chance to interview veteran peace campaigners and obtain an oral history of protest from people with a range of motivations, from the political to the religious.
“The aim is to convey to young people the wide range of motivations and reasons why people get involved in this kind of civic activity and to give them a broader and more diverse view of this kind of work and involvement,” said Sue Donnelly, Archivist at LSE.
“But it’s also for the veterans to hear more on what young people are concerned about, forming a two way process. I think it has a contemporary resonance - a lot of previous projects are about trying not to forget things that happened a long time ago but we’re trying to bring things more up to date.”
The outcome of this exercise - which is all the more relevant in the wake of the recent G20 protests - will be a website containing interviews, resources and outlines for classroom use.
Other projects are similarly innovative, reaching across boundaries of race, religion and age to examine the threads that tie a society regardless of a history of conflict.
Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery is involving the community in an exploration of the experiences of the Muslim WW2 veterans who live in the area, while in Bristol young people will make documentaries investigating how the media represents conflict and how this could have a local impact.
These will join the 81 previous TPYF2 projects developed by regional museums, libraries and archives that have been initiated in the past two years. Many can be found on the school podcasting website www.radiowaves.co.uk with media-savvy pupils documenting their experiences through video, from veteran’s tea parties to trips to Hiroshima in Japan.
“A programme of this nature enables young people and their communities to learn and engage with these themes through participation,” added Eve Pattinson.
"Museums, libraries and archives are ideal partners for such work as they provide the opportunity to see, touch and discuss objects, gain knowledge about our past and discuss issues important to our future.”
Culture 24 has published a full list of the new projects here.