I have always loved engaging people with history, and those closest to me know that I go on about it all the time. Thus, if you ever read any first drafts of my work, you will probably find it very conversational, as my supervisor would probably attest! When we were first put into lockdown, I had the idea to put my love of public history into practice. After a few discussions with Lewis Smith, and after a bit of practice teaching over the internet, we felt that we could bring History to the homes of other people stuck indoors. You can find out more about us here!
After seeing the success Emma was having with History@Home, we decided to launch HistoryIndoors, a project which involves 20-30 minutes talks which covers a variety of histories from a variety of PhD students from the department. Since our beginning in March, we have expanded into a YouTube channel and a blog.
We cover a vast range of subjects with talks on the British Civil War, The Mosquito Coast and Zimbabwe. Our upcoming talks include the East of England’s Co-operative society, Statues in Suffolk, Mary Famer and her daughters; Quakers in the eighteenth century, Women in the First World War workplace, Witchcraft in East Anglia, Representations of the First World War through art, Golden Age of Football, and the Modernisation of the Railways from 1945-1990. These talks are usually on Wednesdays at 2pm and 7pm. You can find out more about the talks here, and can sign up to the talks here.
The students involved here at Essex have been amazing; from one email, our team went from two to ten. Now we are at twelve and are happy to accept more people from Essex. They all have been active in promoting the site and the project, so it has been an absolute pleasure to work with them all! You can find more information about our team here.
The biggest issues we face are time, money and reach. This is a volunteer project so it’s about getting the balance correct with our academic work! As it’s a volunteer project, we do not have access to better equipment or fancy marketing, so we have to make do with what we have for now.
Getting our project’s message out has been the most intense part; we have an active twitter account with over 350 followers, a Facebook page and a great website, but it’s hard to reach the general public so we were so grateful when the Colchester Gazette ran an article about us and what we do, followed swiftly by BBC Suffolk and recently the East Anglican Daily Times. This has been the biggest challenge, and we have to keep thinking of new ways of getting the word out!
The whole project has been incredible so far, we reach around 60-75 homes every week with the talks, and we hope that it will continue to increase. Our YouTube channel helps us reach even more people, and the talks will be there for a long to come so people can access them whenever they want!
But most importantly, it has been really good fun, and the team are incredible, none of it would have been possible without them. Huge credit to the team; Steven Bishop, Mike O’Keeffe, Julie Miller, Ryan Clarke, Liam Redfern, Sam Woodward, Christopher Walklett, Percy Lomax, Louise Rodwell, Ben Fuggle, and Miles Clayton.