Category Archives: Events

Sharing information on relevant exhibitions, lectures, and other events, etc.

Birmingham Children of War

September 12 2016 saw the official launch of Birmingham Children of War. This six month project, run by the Friends of Birmingham Archives and Heritage (FoBAH), with funding from the Heritage Lottery through their ‘First World War: then and now’ grants programme, was established to explore the experiences of children born or living through the First World War in Birmingham.


Hall of Memory, Broad Street, Birmingham. Plaque (last of three) William Bloye. 1925.

The launch in the Wolfson Centre in the Library of Birmingham identified some initial archive and library resources to help us to learn more about children’s lives during this tumultuous period. A small selection of resources had been chosen to illustrate some of the themes that the project hoped to investigate in more depth with the help of volunteers and in partnership with other organisations.

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The Enduring Eye

Open from Friday 20th January, in the floor 3 Gallery at the Library of Birmingham, is an exhibition marking  the centenary of The Endurance expedition, led by Sir Ernest Shackleton, across the Antarctic, 1914-17. The Enduring Eye features Frank Hurley’s photographs, documenting the epic and harsh journey faced by the crew as they navigated across the unforgiving ice, both before and after their ship became stranded and then sank.

More details about the exhibition can be found here:


Benjamin Stone Collection [MS 3196 Box 664/21-2]

Searching through our collections for references to Shackleton, I came across the above image of him, posed outside the Houses of Parliament in 1909. Featured alongside him is Arthur Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour, a former Prime Minister.  This image was taken some five years before the crew of The Endurance faced their epic journey, by Birmingham East’s own MP, Sir John Benjamin Stone.  Upon entering Parliament, Stone had been passionate about recording its people and buildings, but photography was forbidden within Westminster. However, as the rules relaxed, he eventually became one of the first photographers to record inside. This determination and passion to document seems a feeble link to make compared to the hardships faced by the members of The Endurance crew, however, having the opportunity to glimpse into the past through Hurley and Stone’s images is one of immeasurable value for modern viewers.


LGBT History Month 2017


February 2017 marks LGBT History Month. The archive of the project Gay Birmingham Remembered (MS 2788) held here at the Library of Birmingham contains material relating to the history of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans people in the city. The focus of the project was to collect material and memories from Birmingham citizens about gay life. The project culminated in the transfer of the records to the Library so that gay people’s lives in the city could be documented for the future and made available.


Badges from the Gay Birmingham Remembered collection. [MS 2788]

As well as the colourful campaign badges featured in the photograph above, a number of LGBT newspapers and newsletters circulated in the West Midlands in the 1980s and 1990s feature in the archive. In the Pink: West Midlands free Lesbian and Gay newspaper is one of these and we hold copies dating from late 1980s. The newsletters are important because they record developments in the history of LGBT rights and are a reminder that legislation and attitudes taken for granted now were by no means commonplace in the 1980s.


In the Pink from the collection of Gay Birmingham Remembered [MS 2788]

Here are some snapshots from the newsletters:

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Uncovering Quaker Heritage: A retrospective


Visitors to ‘Uncovering Quaker Heritage’, in the Wolfson Centre, 23rd January 2017

Having spent the last 2½ years cataloguing the records of the Central England Area Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, and with still more records being deposited, I was keen to uncover some of the treasures from the archive for the public to see. After all, the reason archivists catalogue archive collections is so that archives can be made available to the public. And while blog posts are one way of highlighting some of the records in a collection, nothing quite brings the past alive as being able to see and touch documents created several hundred years ago.


A selection of material relating to adult education and a plan of Moseley Road Friends’ Institute (SF)

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Holocaust Memorial Day


Every year, Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27th focuses on a different theme and this year, the theme is survivors. At the heart of Holocaust Memorial Day is a dedication to ‘learn something new about the past’.

How do people react in the immediate aftermath of unimaginable suffering? How can life be rebuilt after such trauma? Is justice after genocide possible? What role do we in the UK have towards individuals, communities and nations who have survived
Holocaust Memorial Day is not only about commemorating past genocides and honouring those who died, but about standing with those who survive.

Holocaust Memorial Day Trust

This desire to learn is embodied in Zoe Josephs. Born in Manchester in 1915, Zoe moved to Birmingham and graduated from the University of Birmingham before marrying Dr. Harry Josephs in 1939. Zoe Josephs was the founder and leading personality, up until her death in 1998, of the Birmingham Jewish Historical Research Group. Between 1980 and 1998, she conducted research with the group on locally related Jewish history. Her research was acknowledged as extending the account of the Jewish population in England beyond London and into the provinces, and providing larger public access to these stories.

The papers of Zoe Josephs were deposited by the Birmingham Hebrew Congregation and are accessible by appointment in Archives and Collections at the Library of Birmingham. Many of the papers in the collection relate to the research for her book Survivors which includes a dedicated chapter of case studies, following the lives of refugees from the Holocaust (BCol 19.8, floor 4, Library of Birmingham). An extract of her book can be found on the Birmingham Images website, along with an article which describes her book as ‘a remarkable personal history of 89 refugees’. The full catalogue for the Zoe Josephs papers (MS 2524) can be accessed online through the Connecting Histories website, and for details of how to make an appointment to view items from the collection, please visit the Library of Birmingham website .

It seems only fitting that this year we remember Zoe Josephs, who worked so hard to remember the survivors.

Uncovering Quaker Heritage: a pop-up exhibition


Monday 23rd January 2017 4.00-6.30pm

Wolfson Centre, Level 4, Library of Birmingham

Since the middle of the 17th century Birmingham and Warwickshire have been major centres of Quaker activity. Despite being a minority group, Quakers have been highly influential in the social, economic, philanthropic and political development of the region.

To find out more about the records we hold, come and view a selection of original Quaker material dating from the 17th century to the 20th century from the archive of the Central England Area Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends.

Made available via the Birmingham & Warwickshire Quakers project, a cataloguing project funded by a National Archives Cataloguing Grant and a bequest from a member of Central England Area Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends.

Entry is free. All are welcome!

It’s Behind You!

Happy New Year!! From all of us here at The Iron Room, we would like to wish you all a very peaceful and prosperous New Year.

The festive holiday may  be nearing its end, but traditionally the theatre will still be busy performing pantomimes up until the end of January to the delights of children everywhere (young and older!).

Pantomimes perforemd at the Theatre Royal, Birmingham in 'The Theatre Royal, Birmingham 1774 - 1924: A Short History' by R. Compton Rhodes. [BCol 28.1]

Pantomimes performed at the Theatre Royal, Birmingham in ‘The Theatre Royal, Birmingham 1774 – 1924: A Short History’ by R. Compton Rhodes. [BCol 28.1]

The tradition of theatrical performances over the Christmas period is decades old. The Theatre Royal in Birmingham was performing pantomimes at least as far back as 1840-41 with Harlequin and the Knight of the Silver Medal, with a performance of The Dragon of Wantley in 1844.

Theatre Royal Play Bills, 1844. [MS 2899]

So if you are still feeling festive, why not see if there is a pantomime near you!

Happy New Year!