“The Hard Way” The story of Hannah Mitchell by Louise Jordan

I don’t know how many of our followers are in London, or within striking distance thereof – but this sounds like a very stimulating event.  The London School of Economics is staging a free performance tomorrow, Wed 26 June 2019, at 6.30pm, viz., a one-woman show entitled ‘The Hard Way’: the story of campaigner Hannah Mitchell by musician and composer Louise Jordan.  If you can make it, please drop a line to d.challis@lse.ac.uk.  Here’s a publicity quote about the event:

From a remote hilltop farm in the Derbyshire moorlands to Manchester city magistrate. The Hard Way is a one-woman show of storytelling with song by acclaimed musician and composer Louise Jordan. With two weeks’ formal schooling behind her and through her sheer force of character, Hannah escapes domestic drudgery to become a campaigner, speaker, writer, suffragette, councillor and finally a magistrate. A self-taught, self-made woman, Hannah leaves home aged 14 years, exchanging one exploitative situation for another. In 1906 she finds herself face to face with Winston Churchill at a public meeting and spends time in Strangeways prison. This show celebrates one woman’s determination to take power in the face of insurmountable barriers, motivated by a desire to improve life for those around her.

Louise Jordan is a singer, songwriter, musician and composer whose interests include history and the tradition of interpreting stories through song.  Further details can be found on the LSE events page.

A pattern book with a difference

While moving some of our outsize items to more suitable shelves last week (a seemingly endless job), I came across an unusually thick volume (D4984/11/1).  I don’t normally look at the records I’m moving – I would never get anything done if I did! – but occasionally I allow my curiosity to get the better of me and I removed the packaging:

D4984 11 1 pattern book

I’m sure you’ll agree it’s big!  When I opened a random page, it became clear that this is a pattern book, with some lovely fabric samples:

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We have other pattern books in our collection and they’re always a pleasure to look at, although most have a wider variety; the samples in this book are all very delicate and in pastel colours.  Looking at some other pages, I was surprised to find examples of metal fastenings and some kind of metal rods – definitely not something I’d come across before:

And then right at the back of the book it all goes very feminine again, with examples of pretty trims and bows:

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Intrigued, I looked in our catalogue when I got back to my office: it is indeed a pattern book, dating from the late nineteenth century, from an Ashbourne company called Richard Cooper and Co. Have you guessed what they made?

Corsets!

 

We’re in the news!

The Derbyshire Times has a big article about our crowdfunding campaign and did you catch us – very briefly – on East Midlands Today on Wednesday evening? Great to see so much interest!

And we’ve had another wonderful comment from a supporter:

‘Cultural history is very important and we should do everything necessary to preserve our knowledge of it’

Will you be next to help us preserve our cultural history?  Then support us on our crowdfunding page or by calling our reception on 01629 538 347.

 

Wonderful support!

Only a few days into our crowdfunding project and we’ve already reached nearly £200! A huge thank you to everyone who has supported us so far, and especially for the lovely comments you’ve left behind, such as:

‘Because the past is as important as the future.’

‘Real history is vital in the midst of meaningless memories. Support this venture for future generations.’

If you agree, then do have a look at our video and support us on our crowdfunding page.

Or you can call our reception on 01629 538 347 and donate over the phone.

 

Sir John Franklin’s Log Book

This log book from 1821-1822 records the last months of Sir John Franklin’s first independent land expedition to the Arctic (1819-1822), where he intended to travel from Hudson’s Bay to the mouth of the Coppermine River in Coronation Gulf.

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It took two years before the expedition came within sight of the sea and only a brief survey of the coast could be undertaken before the expedition had to return because of lack of supplies. Unfortunately, the group then found themselves stranded in the ‘Barren Lands’ west of Hudson’s Bay and were near death when they were rescued by an Indian Chief, Akaitcho. During the months covered by this log book, many members of the 34-strong expedition died of starvation.

 

 

We’re crowdfunding!

Did you get it from our teaser? It showed us having a go at shooting a video to go on our crowdfunding page. Yes, we’re diving into the 21st century and are starting a crowdfunding campaign for the objects in Lady Jane’s Museum.  As I’ve mentioned before, Lady Jane Franklin kept some of her most precious mementos in a small museum at her home, where she would show them to visitors. All these lovely objects came to us jumbled up in a box, together with objects kept by the Gell family from Hopton Hall (the family Eleanor Franklin, Lady Jane’s stepdaughter, married into).

D3311 OBJ all

Lying loose in a box isn’t very good for any of them, as they are moving about and damaging each other, so we want to package them in such a way that they are safe, but still together as one collection.  We’d also like to hire a professional photographer to take high quality photographs of them all, which we can then add to our online catalogue so everyone can see them. Through crowdfunding we want to give people from all over the world the chance to be a part of our Discovering Franklin project and help us look after this amazing collection.

There’s more information on our crowdfunding page, where you can watch that video and find out why we’re not asking for boats…

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Mathinna’s doll

When Sir John Franklin was Lieutenant Governor of Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania), he and Lady Jane adopted a local Aboriginal girl, Mathinna. By this time virtually all Tasmanian Aborigines had been removed from the main island, making Mathinna the only Aboriginal person, save for those at the Orphan School, still allowed to live there. Sir John’s daughter Eleanor was put in charge of Mathinna’s education, and a diary entry from Eleanor from 14 September 1841 suggests the two girls got on well, with Eleanor describing Mathinna as ‘affectionate and intelligent’.

The entry also mentions Mathinna had been given a doll with a petticoat – amazingly we have come across a small black doll in our Franklin collection that matches the description! Could this be Mathinna’s doll?

D3311 OBJ 03 front ruler

There is also a pincushion, neatly labelled as having been made by Mathinna, which was clearly part of Lady Jane’s Museum, alongside some other mementos from Tasmania.

D3311 OBJ 14 ruler

When the Franklins left Tasmania in 1843, they left Mathinna behind; apparently doctors were concerned that she wouldn’t survive the British climate. She was sent  to the Orphan School – perhaps she wasn’t allowed to take her doll? – and then back to Flinders Island.  Abandoned to a life of poverty, she lived at Oyster Cove, south of Hobart and died at a young age, the precise date of which is unknown.

Mathinna’s life has inspired literary works and dance productions in Australia, where she has come to symbolise the way colonists treated all Aboriginal people.

 

 

 

 

On This Day 1847…

On the 11th June 1847 Eleanor Franklin wrote in her diary how much she and Lady Jane Franklin were enjoying their visit to the ancient ruins around Salerno, just south of Naples. That morning she writes about hurrying after breakfast to see the Cathedral, with it’s impressive Roman sarcophagi, pillars and mosiac work; where a saint’s bones are said to lay in the crypt beneath.

Many years later someone added a rather harrowing note to that page – that this was also the day her father Sir John Franklin had died on board the H.M.S. Erebus, trapped in the ice off King William Island, on his fateful journey to find the Northwest Passage.

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