London archives ensure Women’s Marches a page in history

It may surprise some arts enthusiasts to discover the latest additions to international cultural collections are none other than placards from the Women’s Marches, which took place on 21 January.

London’s Bishopsgate Institute, Washington DC’s Smithsonian National Museum of American History and the New York Historical Society are each gathering signs and other protest paraphernalia borne by the millions of women who participated in the marches to preserve them for posterity. 

The marches originated in Washington DC and spread internationally. Taking place a day after the inauguration of US President Donald Trump, many of the signs targeted statements, which earned the President infamy over the course of the electoral campaign. “Pussy grabs back” read one sign with “Girls just wanna have fun-damental human rights” painted on other.

Approximately 100,000 people rallied in London with gatherings also taking place in Manchester, Liverpool, Cardiff, Belfast and Edinburgh.

Special collections and archives manager at the Bishopsgate Institute, Stefan Dickers explained that it was important to collect placards from the marches so that 500 years from now people could gain a “grassroots view of what people were concerned about in 2017”. “The main thing as archivists is to make sure this stuff survives”, he said.

After a call was put out on Twitter, the Bishopsgate Institute received around 200 photos from the marches as well as leaflets and signs. Twenty protesters have promised to send their placards in. Dickers said that the materials will be entered into the Institute’s archive of radical history and activism.

Many more protesters are expected to answer the call for submissions over the coming weeks.



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