Research Libraries UK

Inclusive Collections, Inclusive Libraries – It’s All a Show: Fairground Showmen, Identity and Mental Health

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Inclusive Collections, Inclusive Libraries is an RLUK programme of events that aims to foster conversation around decolonisation and inclusive practice in collecting, describing, presenting, and engaging with content in research library collections. It seeks to raise awareness about the opportunities and challenges of dealing with, contextualising, and engaging with offensive collections while also identifying and sharing examples of good practice.

It’s All a Show: Fairground Showmen, Identity and Mental Health

Thursday 30 May, 14:00 – 15:00 (BST), 15:00 – 16:00 (CEST), 16:00 – 17:00 (EEST/SAST), 06:00 – 07:00 (PDT), 09:00 – 10:00 (EDT), 21:00 – 22:00 (AWST/CST), 23:00 – 00:00 (AEST)

Arantza Barrutia, Senior Archivist at the National Fairground and Circus Archive and 7th generation fairground Showman Sheldon Chadwick will be talking about their partnership, Sheldon’s research into the British fairground community and the links between identity and mental health. The main focus of the project is engagement and inclusion, bringing to live the hidden voices of the fairground community and connecting with new audiences, especially the ones that have been traditionally excluded from the archive.

The National Fairground and Circus Archive is a unique research archive dedicated to the collection and preservation of travelling popular entertainment history.

The collection covers every aspect of the travelling entertainment industry and its culture from the seventeenth century to the present day represented by British and international companies, showmen and artistes. Within the core collections are several focussed specialisms including: Magic; Sideshows; Cinematograph Shows; Pleasure Gardens; Amusement and Theme Parks; Menageries; Seaside Entertainment; and World’s Fairs and Expositions.

At the centre of the Archive are the personal, and family collections, which provide a unique insight into the lives, businesses and careers of the people behind the collections.

Arantza Barrutia is the Senior Archivist at the National Fairground and Circus Archive, she has a BA in Fine Art, an MA in Museum Studies and is currently finishing her Mlitt on Archives and Records Management at Dundee University. Arantza’s background is in museums, where she worked for 13 years in a variety of roles and she has spent the last 11 years working in archives at the University of Sheffield. Arantza has extensive experience in all aspects of collections management, exhibition curation and community engagement amongst others.

Sheldon Chadwick is a seventh generation fairground Showman currently undertaking a PhD at Liverpool John Moores University on the ethnographic study of Showmen and the mental health of the community. He is the founder of The Showmen’s Mental Health Awareness Charity and for some time served as the Education Liaison Officer for the Lancashire Section of the Showmen’s Guild of Great Britain. Sheldon is an advocate of his community and campaigns to raise awareness of their history and contributions to mainstream society. He also campaigns against discrimination and provides support for showmen in education and accessing Higher Education.

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