20sStreets is a project designed to bring local history to life for children using archival material.
Inspired by the release of the 1921 census in January 2022, The National Archives collaborated with local archives and artists to help children explore life in one local street 100 years ago. These were ordinary people’s lives that had never been researched in this way before. Our local archive partners were Tower Hamlets, Lancashire, West Yorkshire and Kresen Kernow.
Watch our film about the project created by Postcode Films:
Take a look at the key stage 2 online teaching resource developed from this project.
Explore the resource
The children took part in online workshops and a local history day at their school. They investigated the 1921 census entry initially, then explored a wealth of archival material researched by our local archive partners. Fascinating stories emerged including Allan Hargreaves in Accrington, born ‘at sea’ on the Lusitania ship and James Craske, living in East London, a pianist at a long lost cinema who accompanied silent films. There were joyful points of connection, for instance when a student realised that the butchers they were learning about was now the chip shop they visited every Friday night! Or the student in Falmouth that later found a handwritten family tree relating them to one of the people they had learnt about.
The children were encouraged to creatively imagine parts of people’s lives not evident from archival sources, for instance what people looked like. The artistic outcomes were varied, reflecting how they all had been inspired by different elements of the people’s lives.
- At Olga school in Tower Hamlets, artist Rudy Loewe designed a banner, being displayed outside the school, using student’s drawings of maps showing local buildings and streets and imaged people from the past.
- In Methodist Junior School in Wakefield artist Seanna Doonan created a permanent indoor mural and led a workshop where students decorated wooden, house shaped clocks inspired by their learning.
- At Hyndburn Park Primary School in Accrington artist Kate Eggleston-Wirtz led workshops where students created collaged houses and decorated a vintage 1920s door with images of historical documents. This door will be displayed in the school playground and used for learning activities.
- Melanie Young led workshops at King Charles C of E School in Falmouth with students to create a stop-motion animation inspired by the stories of people who lived locally in the 1920s.
Watch the finished animation here:
This project demonstrated that learning about local history can strengthen children’s connection to their local area and provide a greater sense of identity. A student at Hyndburn Park Primary school said local history ‘brings you closer to the people who lived here before and makes you appreciate what’s around you.’
To read more about this project visit our blog:
Read our blog
The National Archives Education service will continue to work with schools involved in 20sStreets and have plans to establish a collaborative local history regional programme.