Getting Creative

Art Exhibition

As part of our work to promote The ballad of Chetham's library, we asked third year students from the BA in illustration from UCA (London) to explore this material and come up with their own responses to our own collections. The students were inspired by the stories, the characters and the content of the songs, but also the aesthetic, the format and the design of the broadsides. This is an exhibition of their work.

EFDSS  Library Lectures

We hosted three lectures organised by the English Folk Dance and Song Society as part of their outreach programme. 


Thursday 28th September 2017: Street Literature and the Folk by Steve Roud.


Friday 27th October 2017: Barbara Allen: Broadside Ballad, Theatre Song, Traditional Song by Vic Gammon.


Thursday 30th November 2017: Drink, Song and Politics in Early Modern England by Angela McShane.

This provided us with a great platform to start promoting our collection of ballads and music broadsides amongst this community.

Colouring the Collection

Inspired by the The New York Academy of Medicine Library's 'Colour Our Collection' initiative we invited the public to colour images from the Halliwell-Phillips collection. Click the image below to view the PDF of the chosen images.

Storytelling Event

In collaboration with the Manchester’s branch of the Society for Storytelling “Word of Mouth”, and Graham Moss from Incline Press, we held a Storytelling event at Chethams. We invited two professional storytellers, Honor Giles and Helen Stewart, to explore our collections of chapbooks and street literature. They chose two traditional tales each and performed them at a family workshop during National Storytelling Week 

Jennifer Reid Talk, Music Performance and Printing Workshop

Jennifer Reid’s Talk & Music performance – Manchester and Dhaka: Drawing Links
Jennifer gave a talk about her research trip to India where she studied the similarities between Manchester in the 19th century and Bangladesh in terms of their textile industries and the hard conditions of their workers. She then sang a couple of songs similar to Barbara Allen from her Lancashire-based repertoire, such as Frolicsome Kate.

Printing workshop:

This talk and music performance was followed by a printing workshop where the audience had the opportunity to illustrate their own copies of Barbara Allen (as specially produced by Graham Moss from Incline Press) using rubber stamps designed by Desdemona McCannon and Stephen Fowler. These rubber stamps were created using the woodcuts that appear on our collections of street literature as inspiration.

Collecting Political Ephemera Conference

We invited speakers from all over the country and beyond to talk about collecting political ephemera. It was a great opportunity to further showcase our collections and learn more of the issues around political ephemera that are discussed today. See the twitter hashtag #bballadschet and #politicalephemera for more.

Peterloo Research Workshop

As part of the Civilisations Festival we invited Year 10 students from Stretford Grammar to work with our collections of Peterloo related material.

The Christmas e-card Competition

December 2017 we invited members of the public to have fun with the visual aspects of the Axon collection of 19th century ballads and to come up with their own designs for a Christmas e-card. Click the image below for more information and to see the ballads we highlighted with the most creative potential.

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We have also been very active on twitter - posting about outreach events, competitions, interesting finds and more. All the posts can be found through the hashtag #bballadschet and on Chetham's twitter account. Click the twitter logo above to follow @chethamslibrary and find out more.

Andrew Shaw

Andrew Shaw, an interactive arts Graduate at MMU (Manchester), made use of our collection of ballads for a degree project. He chose two nineteenth-century ballads from the Holt collection and created music videos for them. He presented these in a degree exhibition at MMU entitled: 'Folk Songs' & 'Fun Fair' & 'Happening Stream'. The videos are below with the original ballads underneath. 

The Moon Behind the Hill

The Banks of the Dee

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