Learning more about the history of textiles in Bradford can uncover some surprising stories. A group of volunteers, working with HLF Consultant Jennie Kiff, have come together to look at historical records and to collect oral histories that will form part of a new insight into the history of rags in Bradford. These local volunteers are currently working on discovering hidden histories related to the rag business and those who collected rags in Bradford. By exploring original records from the archives they hope to piece together the lives and communities that made their living working with rags.
They will be looking at the families of the rag workers, where they lived, came from and at their personal histories from the 1880s up to 1930s. Many of the rag workers faced hardships with some having to enter the Bradford Workhouse or the infirmary. They lived in close communities, often living and working together.
The project aims to look at how these workers lives may have been intertwined. The fabric of families, woven together by their work and shared culture.
The volunteers are also looking to create another, more recent, historical legacy for later generations. Working together they aim to collect a series of oral histories from people whose lives have been linked to rags and to Bradford. These unique memories will be preserved at the Bradford Local Studies Library and add to older collections linked to the Bradford textile trade.
Both of these projects reveal new dimensions to the overall knowledge and awareness of Bradford’s place in the history of textiles. They are innovative and creating new resources that can be used by researchers in the future to learn even more.
Images above from our workshops at Hive and at Bradford Local Studies Library/West Yorkshire Archives. Many thanks to Jennie Kiff for writing this post.