Norfolk Welcomes: Building Research Communities
Many of the activities, events and talks on offer during Norfolk Welcomes are born out of months of research. In January 2018, the Norfolk Welcomes citizen researcher team, which is made up of members of the local community from all walks of life, was set the task of looking into three areas of Norfolk migration history: the legacies of ‘The Strangers’; football, migration and the Gallego Brothers (child refugees from the Spanish Civil War who went on to play for Cambridge and Norwich City); and Norwich’s ‘long’ history as a place of refuge and sanctuary.
Working in teams, the researchers used a wide range of resources, including books, historical archives and records, online and digital heritage sites, museum collections, and interviews with local people, in order to find out more about these three areas of Norwich heritage. But, as all good researchers do, our team also followed their noses and discovered new and unexpected stories about the migration histories of post-World War II Polish communities, beer & yeast, and the bubonic plague!
At the end of the first research phase (March 2018), our researchers collaborated with local teachers in the production of learning and teaching materials for KS1, lower KS2 and upper KS2. We also developed these materials with research from ‘Come Yew In’ (2017), an award-winning theatre production by The Common Lot, which celebrated 700 years of migration history to Norwich. But the story of our research does not end there.
As part of Refugee Week 2018, we will be launching the New Routes, Old Roots Heritage Hub, a collaborative digital project involving Norwich Schools of Sanctuary, The Common Lot Theatre Company, and the New Routes, Old Roots research group at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge. Under the direction of Jeannette Baxter (ARU) and produced by citizen researchers of all ages, including local schoolchildren, the NROR Heritage Hub will be an online, open access site that enables the public to explore and carry out their own research into Norfolk’s heritage of migration and sanctuary. The NROR Heritage Hub will also have a ‘creative response’ element: this will allow our researchers and public visitors to the site to respond in any creative way (songs, poems, letters, stories, pictures, comic books, photography etc) to what they find interesting on the site.
By bringing the past and present into dialogue through documentary research and creative response to that research, the New Routes, Old Roots Heritage Hub hopes to emerge as a vibrant and educational creative community publication that will be maintained by, and for, generations to come.
Dr Jeannette Baxter
Curator and Director, New Routes, Old Roots Heritage Hub