Manchester's China Town Archive Project

Volunteer Andre Li with a traditional Chinese fan
Volunteer Andre Li with a traditional Chinese fan Chris Foster / MOSI

Heritage Grants

Manchester, North West
Manchester Chinese Centre
£48900
The local Chinese housing association used the project’s dvds for further reminiscence work and the local police distributed them to trainees new to the Manchester area.
The project was really successful in bringing together people from communities across Manchester. We even won the Best Volunteer Project category in the 2011 Archives and Research Association awards!
Jenny Wong, project leader
Manchester Chinese archive trained volunteers to record, preserve and share a community’s hidden history.

Manchester’s Chinese community numbers over 40,000 people, but there was little awareness of its heritage in the city and little information in local research centers. After consulting the community, the Manchester Chinese Centre decided to address this by creating a new archive that shared this part of local history. Over 40 Manchester residents from a range of local communities, including Jewish, Malaysian, Vietnamese and Taiwanese, took part in the project.

Working with Manchester Archives and Local Studies (Archives+), Manchester Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) and North West Sound Archive volunteers were trained in oral history skills. At reminiscence sessions, they recorded the memories of 55 Chinese people eager to challenge stereotypes and tell their stories of living in the city. The themes explored included Chinese culture, religion, language, immigration, business and community life from 1900 to the present day.

Volunteers went on to receive archive training and catalogued a staggering 86 boxes of materials donated by the Chinese community and digitised 11,000 documents and images for the new archive.

The fascinating stories were then shared with a wide range of people through radio interviews, educational resources, a dvd booklet, two community events and a six-month exhibition at MOSI’s Community Gallery. The archive is now held at Archives+ and people can continue to add their histories through the Manchester Chinese Archive project website.

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