A joint Women In The Archives exhibition from the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) and the Linen Hall Library, exploring hidden female voices and stories from across the centuries, is beginning a tour of border venues, starting at Derry Central Library on Friday, July 26.
Women in the Archives is a strand of the Making the Future project, a regional programme being delivered by the Nerve Centre, National Museums NI, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland and Linen Hall Library. Making the Future is supported through €1.82m of EU funding under the PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).
The travelling exhibition is being supported by Libraries NI and launches at Derry Central Library on Friday 26 July and will run until the end of August. It then moves to Strabane Library (September), Enniskillen Library (December), Newry Library (January 2020), Letterkenny Central Library (February 2020) and Gweedore Library (March 2020). Further venues will be announced.
The travelling exhibition contains materials from two previous installations at both the Linen Hall Library and PRONI that uncovered forgotten women and stories of advancements and equality in women’s rights. Following successful runs at both venues, the exhibitions are being incorporated together to tour libraries on both sides of the border.
The exhibition begins with a timeline of female advancements over the last 230 years, beginning in 1792 with the first female member of the Belfast Library and Society for Promoting Knowledge (now known as the Linen Hall Library), and makes its way to 2018 when a referendum in the Republic of Ireland saw the public vote by a landslide to repeal the eighth amendment to the constitution.
Further sections of the exhibition provide an intimate insight into the lives of selected women, written by them in their own words, and found in diaries and letters held in public records. Included are emigrant letters, letters from war widows and letters to the gay and lesbian befriending service Cara Friend. Also featured for the first time is the collection of Dr Anna (Nann) Watson, which details a wide range of her interests and her abilities of organisation and leadership, particularly in female movements and circles.
Linen Hall Library Director Julie Andrews said: "The touring Women in the Archives exhibition will give people all over the country a unique opportunity to delve into the immense archives housed in the Linen Hall Library and partner organisations that pertain to women of all ages, political allegiance and social standing. We hope the exhibition will educate, inspire and encourage people to further their knowledge and curiosity with a visit to the Linen Hall Library."
Accompanying the exhibition are opportunities for local communities and groups to get involved in facilitated engagement programmes to help uncover the stories of other women in the archives and to produce a lasting legacy.
Match-funding for the Making the Future project has also been provided by the Executive Office in Northern Ireland and the Department of Rural and Community Development in Ireland.
The exhibition is free to visit at each of its locations. For more information on the exhibition and community engagement programme visit www.makingthefuture.eu.