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Eight places, 800 years in the lives of deaf and disabled people
A picture of our exhibition showing a huge map of Bristol with buildings significant to deaf and disabled people build  in the late 19th and early 20th century highlighted on it.

Rising with the city: our first exhibition opens at MShed

Dear all,

The first of our three exhibitons and displays across England has opened. ‘Brave Poor Things: Reclaiming Bristol’s Disability History’ is on at MShed, Bristol until 15th April.

You can read more about how the Bristol Guild worked for disabled people from the late Victorian period to the 80s in our blog here.

Many of the difficulties faced by deaf and disabled people in the 1890s have a familiar ring - convincing employers that they were capable of work, showing resilience and retraining. It uncovers the voices and life histories of many associated with the Guild. It also asks questions about the attitude of the Guild itself, which offered transformative support, but stopped short of allowing people onto the management committee: a choice which may have eventually contributed to its demise.

Read: how we created a banner reflecting the craft and social history of the Guild

Read: Rising with the City: our exhibition about the Bristol Guild.
BSL signing describing the Guild exhibition
The exhibition is wheelchair accessible and also has BSL and audio description which incorporates acting and storytelling into the narrative. We have tried to make the exhibition as accessible as possible and value your views about how we did, if you visit the exhibition.

Meanwhile in London: stories from Normansfield Hospital

A picture of Normansfield Hospital - an imposing building with a small square turret, and a country house Victorian design with many windows
Elsewhere, we have been uncovering stories of some of the residents of Normansfield Hospital, including Dolly Freeman, who lived there from 1899 until her death in 1920. Read more about her relationships with her family and the institution here. Normansfield Hospital courtesy of London Metropolitan Archives.

Getting first person voices into the archive

A sort of postscript to Dolly's story came at our recent symposium - one of our speakers, Dr Nicola Grove asked archives how many deposits they had given personally by learning disabled people with complex needs. The answer turned out to be 'none at all'. She tells the story of how a local artist called Cherry was able to make such a gift - and the processes used to explain the archive and gain informed consent. You can watch this segement of our sympoisum here.
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