Tag Archives: migration

Contemporary Collecting Partnership Project Web Exhibition

On Monday 29th June 2009 a new online exhibition on the BPMA website was launched which was created as part of the Contemporary Collecting Partnership Project, funded by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) and managed by the Museum of London. This project began in May 2008 and funded three museums, including the BPMA to “collect material reflecting the experience of newly and recently arrived culturally diverse people belonging to community groups, associations or similar organisations, and to develop sustainable partnerships with them.”

Members of the Mount Pleasant Hindu Association celebrate Diwali

Members of the Mount Pleasant Hindu Association celebrate Diwali

For this project, the BPMA worked with Royal Mail staff that had migrated to London, in particular with members of the Sikh, Hindu and Muslim Associations in Mount Pleasant Mail Centre. The reason for this choice was the wide diversity that exists within Mount Pleasant Mail Centre, only 34% of workers are White British and many different cultural and religious groups are active within the 24-hour workplace. The other two museums involved were Brent Museum who worked with Polish and Brazilian local communities, and Cuming Museum who worked with Gypsy Roma Travellers in the area.

BPMA staff attended four religious festivals organised by these associations in Mount Pleasant (Diwali, Guru Nanak’s Birthday, Vaisakhi and Eid) to collect oral recordings, photographs and objects. The next stage of the project was to use this material to create an online exhibition with help from participants from these groups, giving information on the associations, the festivals they celebrate and the stories of the people within these associations. A facilitator experienced in working with community groups was appointed on a freelance basis to lead sessions with members of the associations to create this web exhibition.

Guru Nanaks Birthday at Mount Pleasant Mail Centre

Guru Nanak's Birthday at Mount Pleasant Mail Centre

Eight sessions were held in Mount Pleasant Learning Centre with fourteen volunteers from the associations, and much of the text and images in the exhibition was created and uploaded by these people. Many of the participants gained new computer skills from being involved in these sessions. Audio clips from interviews with members of the associations have also been added to the web exhibition and there is also the chance for other staff to add their own stories of migrating to London and working for Royal Mail.

Celebrating Eid at Mount Pleasant Mail Centre

Celebrating Eid at Mount Pleasant Mail Centre

This project has been a great opportunity for the BPMA to diversify its collections by collecting material reflecting groups not previously represented. The collection now better represents the diversity of Mount Pleasant and the different religious groups that exist within it. It has also given us the opportunity to build up stronger relationships with staff in Mount Pleasant that are sustainable into the future and to form new partnerships with other museums. 

The exhibition can be viewed on our website so please have a look at all the hard work done by members of these associations or add your own stories of migrating to London or working for Royal Mail.

The United States on British stamps

Tomorrow citizens of the United States will celebrate Independence Day, marking the approval by Congress of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. As Britain was the country from which the United States became independent, you may think that this date has never been celebrated on a British stamp, but in fact it has.

The Bicentennial of American Independence stamp (1976)

The Bicentennial of American Independence stamp (1976)

A stamp released on 2nd June 1976 to celebrate the US Bicentenary shows Benjamin Franklin, one of the Committee of Five who drafted the Declaration of Independence, and the first Postmaster of the United States. Franklin was also the subject of the first US postage stamp, released on 1st July 1847.

Three further stamps with American themes were released by Royal Mail in the 1990s. In 1992, 42 member countries of CEPT (Conference of European Postal & Telecommunications), including the United Kingdom, released stamps on the theme of Voyages of Discovery in America. The first UK stamp shows Christopher Columbus’ ship, the Santa Maria, about to make landfall in the Americas. The second UK stamp shows the Kaisei, a Japanese brigantine which was involved in the Grand Regatta Columbus, an event celebrating the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ journey. Participating in the rally were members of Raleigh International, which has organised charitable expeditions since 1978.

The Landfall in the Americas and Grand Regatta Columbus stamps (1992)

The Landfall in the Americas and Grand Regatta Columbus stamps (1992)

The Settlers Tale: 17th Century Migration to the Americas (1999)

The Settlers' Tale: 17th Century Migration to the Americas (1999)

In 1999 Royal Mail celebrated the approaching Millenium by releasing a number of sets of stamps on various themes. The Settler’s Tale stamps, on the theme of migration to, from and within the UK, were released on 6 April 1999 and include a stamp on migration to the Americas in the 17th Century. The stamp shows a Pilgrim couple trading with a Native American.

But perhaps the most interesting depictions of the Americas on British postal stationery are the envelope and letter sheet designed by William Mulready. The Mulready stationery was released at the same time as the Penny Black, but proved unpopular, partly due to the elaborate design. The design shows Britannia between depictions of the continents of Asia and America, and, in the lower corners, small family groups anxiously reading letters. The Americas are represented by Pilgrims, Native Americans, and toiling slaves – remember, this was 1840! (For a closer view of the Mulready stationery see Volume II of the R M Phillips Collection, an award-winning collection of British stamps from the Victorian era in the care of the BPMA.)

A coloured version of The Mulready Envelope (1840)

A coloured version of The Mulready Envelope (1840)

So, Happy Independence Day to our readers in the United States, and if you’d like to tell us about US stamps with British themes please leave a comment.