An online ‘Memory Box’ celebrating highlights from Manchester’s proud LGBTQ+ history has been published to coincide with this weekend’s Alternative Pride Festival.

New Memory Boxes – presenting selected images and documents which form part of the photographic and archive collections housed at Manchester Central Library – are being created and published weekly during the coronavirus pandemic by the Archives+ Centre, to help people connect virtually while restrictions on face-to-face gatherings still apply.

The latest Memory Box captures iconic scenes from Manchester’s LGBTQ+ history.  During two virtual workshops organised by Archives+ and The Proud Trust, groups of young people explored a range of photos and archival documents collected during the past 50 years, choosing some of their favourite pieces for inclusion.

Inspired by the archival documents, the young people also created illustrations and wrote a series of questions to kickstart conversations on a series of worksheets which accompany the Memory Box, as prompts to start up dialogue.  The worksheets are based on six different themes – The Gay Village, Radical, Culture, Community, The Proud Trust and Information.  These worksheets provide an opportunity for families and friends to connect and explore history together virtually.

Sixteen other Memory Boxes have been published so far by the Archives+ centre.  The collections cover Blackley, Cheetham Hill, Chorlton, Didsbury, Fallowfield, Gorton, Harpurhey, Levenshulme, Longsight, Moss Side, Rusholme and Victoria Park, Withington and Wythenshawe, plus a bumper box for Manchester city centre.  “Branch Libraries” and “Library City”, are special editions taking a look at the magnificent libraries past and present in Manchester city centre and the neighbourhoods.

Memory Boxes were originally produced in physical form for distribution to Manchester libraries, boosting the local history offer to local communities.  But when libraries were forced to close due to the coronavirus pandemic, staff decided to produce digital versions, to give people online access to discovering their family’s history, by looking back at the area where they grew up, bringing to light childhood memories and maybe uncovering some hidden gems in their family’s story.


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