Finding out about the past

It may be obvious but we only know about the past because of the documents, photos and stories that people have left behind. Without this evidence, the past is a mystery.

I once worked with an inspirational Advisory Teacher who told me how she explained this concept of evidence to teachers on INSET days. As all the teachers arrived for the session, they were asked to jot down their impressions of the room – for example, whether it was warm or cold, bright or dark. Having collected all the notes together, the Advisory Teacher then threw away all but one of the notes. The surviving note was then read out as the definitive description of what the room was like. No one else’s opinion mattered.

This is what happens with history – it can be only the opinion of one or two people that goes forward into the future. What everyone else thought, felt or experienced is lost unless it’s recorded and preserved in some way. Traditionally, it’s the voice of kings, queens and the important/powerful that has survived to come down to us. Since the 1960s, it’s been increasingly recognised that it’s vital also to document people’s more everyday experiences.

This is what we’re hoping to do with Solihull Life In A Day on Tuesday 12th November. The more contributions we can get, the better the chance that our time capsule will be more broadly representative of people’s experience. Please encourage everyone you know who lives, works or studies in the Solihull borough, or who will be visiting on #soliday to share their day with us all.


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