What's Your Story?
31 May 2012
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What's Your Story? Discovering Family History
23 June – 27 August 2012
Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens
The true tales of tragedy, poverty and survival against the odds are the focus of this summer’s exhibition at Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens.
Buried family stories and long-forgotten dramas have been unearthed by researchers to make this fascinating, deeply personal exhibition that details the trials and tribulations of the recent ancestors of people who live in Tyne and Wear.
What’s Your Story? celebrates family histories and illustrates the varied rags to riches journeys, love affairs and feats of courage experienced by ordinary people. The exhibition has brought forth remarkable stories of strength, determination and endurance that so characterise the spirit of the people of the North East. .
Martin Routledge, Keeper of History at Sunderland Museums says:
“It is amazing to learn about the real people who lived and breathed on these very streets, and throughout Tyne and Wear; the people who have shaped the place in which we live today and who are part of the rich tapestry of the history of this region.
“Thank you to all of the people who have contributed pieces of their own family history to make this exhibition come alive.”
Take Barbara Pollard for example, from Sunderland, whose great-grandfather was a coal miner and started work at the Washington ‘F’ Pit as the winding engineman in 1874.
He kept diaries which were left to Barbara that chronicled the fatalities and accidents of the coal miners and in time became a Trade Union delegate campaigning for better working conditions for his fellow workers.
Jo Cunningham, Manager of Sunderland Museums, said
“These dramatic and often moving stories will really strike a chord with many people.
“We hope that our visitors will also be inspired to research their own family trees, which we would like them to share on the What’s Your Story? website.”
If people would like to share snippets of their family history, they are encouraged to contribute them to the What’s Your Story? family history website at www.whatsyourstory.org.uk , where they will find many more stories of the real people of the region.
Gaps in the family tree of Gary Wilkinson prompted him to investigate – his father was a labourer and municipal lamplighter in South Shields, and his mother worked at Willington Quay.
It turned out he had a great-uncle no one ever spoke of – who ended up in politics and rose from humble beginnings to become a Sunderland MP.
All these stories can be seen in the What’s Your Story? exhibition, and there will be a whole programme of walks and talks this summer to help people in Sunderland learn about their own city see www.sunderlandmuseum.org.uk .
Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and Connecting Through Culture.