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We hold vast collections of social history items relating to the working, domestic, social and personal lives of ordinary people through history. These include:
- Bristol at home
- Victorian school room
- The history of Blaise estate
Most of the collection is kept at the Blaise Castle House Museum.
The galleries show only a small selection of the 30,000 items held by the museum. Much of the collection is in store at the museum and includes
- Domestic objects, fixtures and fittings - from kettle tilters, to beer bottles, to early televisions.
- Community history, including schools, churches, societies, services such as hospitals and the police. Events such as the Blitz and the Bristol riots.
- Approximately 7,000 costume items dating from the 1730’s to the present day, along with textiles such as quilts and banners, and the entire contents of a Bristol haberdasher’s shop.
- Toys and games including teddy bears, dolls and dolls houses, board games, several Noah’s arks, a large collection of lead soldiers, toy trains, tin plate toys, and many other novelties.
- Postcards, photographs, tradecards, catalogues, certificates and all sorts of paper ephemera relating to the lives, loves, homes and work of Bristol people.
- The library at Blaise contains selections of books relating to the main collection areas, and a range of local history information.
Most of the items we collect have a connection with Bristol, for example they might have been made, bought or used here. Occasionally we purchase special items from auctions and sales. Howver, most of our collections have been given to the museum, and this means we can be very sure of their connection to the city.
The items that surround us in our daily lives change so fast that often things can disappear from use without us even realising. Our social history collections ensure things that were useful, innovative, treasured or important in people’s lives are not forgotten. We try to collect items that will offer future generations an insight into the lives of ordinary people across time.
Anyone can see the stored collections by making an appointment with the curator. Staff are also happy to answer enquiries about objects in the collections, and to offer advice regarding your own items or possible donations. Please be aware that due to M Shed work commitments, there may be a delay in responding to your enquiries though.
The department runs regular events, activities and tours.
From time to time we also have volunteer opportunities. Please contact us for an informal chat if you would like to know more.
Senior Collections Officer - Social History
Tel: 0117 903 9816 or 0117 352 6953