Watery Archives was a co-designed participatory history workshop at Hull History Centre. Community members and previous project participants were invited to the daylong event to explore historic documents and local stories relating to the City’s watery past. The aim was for the workshop to be participatory, so academics, archivists and community members could freely share their skills, experiences, and knowledge about the city.
During the course of the day we explored four different kinds of archival material: maps, manuscripts, policy documents and newspapers. Information about each was then combined with creative activities and group discussion. For example, after a short talk on historic maps and their power to present places in different ways through their design and use of imagery, participants then went on to explore a range of historical maps of Hull, finding their own homes and sharing stories from those places.
We also gave participants the opportunity to create their own archive at the end of the day. This was framed around the question ‘what do you want to put in Hull’s watery archive?’. This led to a variety of responses; from the sound of water rising through the ground, to ‘reeds’ and the stories of people’s personal experience of flooding.