Wellbeing and Archives: Sustained Engagement with the Past is Good for You.

In May, History Begins at Home was launched.  This national public-facing campaign delivered via social media – Facebook @historybeginsathome and Twitter @beginshistory –uses archives to improve wellbeing by encouraging new audiences to explore the past they are directly connected to.

The idea behind the campaign is to encourage people to connect or re-connect with members of their family, friends and neighbours, through conversations about the past, discovering previously unknown facts or stories, sharing memories, experiences and expertise, and capturing these conversations and findings for future posterity.  We also want people to continue the conversations by sharing stories online.

Central to the campaign is the aim to actively support mental health and wellbeing. The campaign embodies the principles of the 5 Ways to Wellbeing (Connect, Be Active, Keep Learning, Give, and Take Notice).  Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, mental wellbeing was a major issue; now it is more important than ever. 

Archive services can help to address many of these challenges – we all appreciate the benefits that can come from connecting with the past.  History Begins at Home provides a great way of engaging in a positive way not only with current archive users, but also with future audiences.  If you spark an interest and they want to find out more, they will need to explore their archive.

Based on a series of themes – coming soon fashion, which will no doubt include some clothes we have been trying to forgotten – each fortnight we will encourage followers to start a conversation about it, engage in an activity relating to it, record something about it and, if they like, share what they’ve found out on our Facebook or Twitter feeds.  We will also have a website –  www.historybeginsathome.org – where we will keep prompts for questions from each campaign and top tips for capturing the conversation.  Although we are promoting a new theme every fortnight, we want to keep all the conversations flowing.

History Begins at Home is a campaign promoted by the Chief Archivists in Local Government Group and the Archives for Wellbeing Network.   Primarily it is there to deliver a public benefit – everyone needs to look after their mental wellbeing – but it also about proving that archives can make a positive contribution to an this incredibly important agenda.  Archives provide an opportunity for sustained engagement with a past with which people have a personal connection.  This wellbeing benefits of this can last a lifetime.  Engaging people through History Begins at Home can only help.

Gary Tuson

gary.tuson@norfolk.gov.uk

Tel: 01603 222003