History in the City: Hands on History at Forge Valley School, Sheffield
20 April 2023
By Grace Carver
On 20th February 2023, 7 volunteers, all members of History in the City went to Forge Valley Secondary School to run a Hands on History session. This consisted of seven university students bringing in artefacts to reflect changes within the twentieth century home. Included within these were an African American Barbie, yarning needles (one made of plastic and the other wood), Good
Housekeeping magazines and a range of crockery and breakfast sets. But what can this visit contribute to the idea of community?
The outreach of the University of Sheffield in the wider
community allowed for younger children to see where history can take them as a discipline, hopefully it making some more pupils interested in taking history on further. The lessons were full of
excitable year 7s, mostly all willing to contribute to the session and gave their own anecdotes of their home life within their communities. There were stories of outdoor toilets, houses being made of cement and how many toys we all had when we were younger.
Furthermore, the artefacts we showed can help to understand the history of Sheffield as a community. The breakfast set, for example, surprised many of the children as they didn’t really know that families would sit down and often have breakfast together. This suggests a shift in the role of the family as a community. It is no secret that Sheffield has had a large shift in its industry within the past 40 years, and this change is sometimes reflected within the community. With the shift of mining communities and closure of pits and especially in the aftermath of COVID, the role of community spirit has never been more important.
On a more personal note, going to Forge Valley allowed me to not only go into the wider community (something that I feel strongly about and is the aim of HinC), but also to see how communities and people come together to tell their own stories, regardless of their age. It was a great experience listening to the pupils bring their own opinions on the objects and their own stories, highlighting how strong communities, whether inside the classroom or not, can have such a strong impact on the people within them.