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Radicalism & reform remembered in museum-inspired course

23 July 2019

From left to right Peterloo commemorative handkerchief, Peterloo to the Pankhursts postcard and Manchester suffragette banner © People's History Museum

200 years on, the People’s History Museum is launching ‘Peterloo to the Pankhursts: Radicalism and Reform in the 19th Century , which aims to look at the history of radicalism and reform, and the factors that bound events a century apart, in a way that is accessible to all.

The formation of modern democratic ideas is the starting point, and the campaign for votes for women is where the learning journey ends.   The project is developed by People’s History Museum and Royal Holloway, University of London, with expert archivists, curators and historians from both organisations leading the interactive learning.

The learning experience is brought to life through the examination of original artefacts and documents, the use of specially commissioned illustrations and animations, and the opportunity to watch compelling historical testimony and speeches — some dramatised for the first time. ‘Peterloo to the Pankhursts’ will be available on FutureLearn, Europe’s leading online social learning platform, to make it accessible and convenient for all.  Also supporting ‘Peterloo to the Pankhursts’, with materials from their collections featured, are History of Parliament Trust, Parliamentary Archives and The National Archives.

Dr Shirin Hirsch, researcher for People’s History Museum, says, “The Peterloo Massacre is a watershed moment for rights and representation, but this was just the beginning with ‘Peterloo to the Pankhursts’ mapping out how the events that came afterwards unfolded, and where the linkages lie.

“The scale and impact of Peterloo was unprecedented, and yet awareness levels have remained fairly low.  We hope the course will give people the opportunity to make a connection to this period of history and through it gain an insight into its importance to our lives today.”

Dr Matthew Smith, Senior Fellow in Public History from the Department of History at Royal Holloway, added: “We’re delighted to be launching this course with the People’s History Museum for the nationally important bicentenary of Peterloo and engaging learners nationwide.

“Peterloo to the Pankhursts’ is a course of firsts – it is the first university produced free online course designed to align closely to the collections and visitor experience of a national museum and it will enable visitors to continue to explore ‘ideas worth fighting for’ online.

“It is also the first to bring together expertise and objects from People’s History Museum, the Parliamentary Archives and The National Archives and contains modern day adaptations of historic speeches, some filmed for the first time.”

‘Peterloo to the Pankhursts’ will run for the first time on Monday 12 August 2019 and the last date for enrolment is Sunday 20 October 2019.  The course takes four weeks to complete, requiring four hours of study a week, and is free-to-join on FutureLearn.  ‘Peterloo to the Pankhursts’ is also due to run a number of times in 2020. 

‘Peterloo to the Pankhursts’ is part of Royal Holloway’s Citizens Project, which is supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.  For People’s History Museum, the national museum of democracy, it forms part of a year that has been dedicated to the exploration of the past, present and future of protest throughout its galleries, exhibitions, learning and events programme.  In its main galleries and current exhibition, Disrupt? Peterloo and Protest, you can find some of the artefacts featured as part of the ‘Peterloo to the Pankhursts’ learning programme and gain a greater insight into the events and historical moments that feature as part of the course.

People’s History Museum is open seven days a week from 10.00am to 5.00pm. Radical Lates are on the second Thursday each month, open until 8.00pm.  The museum and its exhibitions are free to enter with a suggested donation of £5.  To find out about visiting the museum, its full exhibition and events programme, visit

More information on ‘Peterloo to the Pankhursts’ is available at:


For further information, please contact Fido PR: /

0161 832 3588

A selection of images can be found here:

You can read Peterloo and Protest, a piece written by PHM’s researcher Dr Shirin Hirsch about the events of 16 August 1819 here:

Notes to editors:

About People’s History Museum (PHM)
People’s History Museum (PHM) in Manchester is the national museum of democracy, telling the story of its development in Britain: past, present, and future.  The museum provides opportunities for all people to learn about, be inspired by and get involved in ideas worth fighting for; ideas such as equality, social justice, co-operation, and a fair world for all.  PHM offers a powerful programme with annual themes; 2018 looked at representation and commemorated 100 years since the first women and all men won the right to vote in Britain, 2019 sees a year of activities around protest movements to mark the bicentenary of the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester, and the programme for 2020 will be on the theme of migration.  Recent winner of Kids in Museums Family Friendly Museum Award.

About Royal Holloway, University of London
Royal Holloway, University of London, is ranked in the top 25 universities in the UK[1].   Through world class research that expands minds and changes lives, the dedication of our teachers and the feel of the Royal Holloway experience, ours is a community that inspires individuals to succeed academically, socially and personally.

The university was founded by two social reformers who pioneered the ideal of education and knowledge for all who could benefit. Their vision lives on today.  As one of the UK’s leading research-intensive universities we are home to some of the world’s foremost authorities in the sciences, arts, business, economics and law.  We are strengthened by diversity, and welcome students and academics who travel from all over the world to study and work here, ensuring an international and multi-cultural perspective within a close knit and historic campus.

Visit our website:

The National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF)
Thanks to National Lottery players, The National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife.

Follow NLHF on TwitterFacebook and Instagram and use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund.

About FutureLearn
FutureLearn is a leading social learning platform formed in December 2012 by The Open University and is now jointly owned by The Open University and The SEEK Group. FutureLearn has nearly ten million people signed up worldwide. FutureLearn uses design, technology and partnerships to create enjoyable, credible and flexible online courses as well as undergraduate and postgraduate degrees that improve working lives. It partners with over a quarter of the world’s top universities, as well as organisations such as Accenture, the British Council, CIPD, Raspberry Pi and Health Education England (HEE). It’s also involved in government-backed initiatives to address skills gaps such as The Institute of Coding and the National Centre for Computing Education.

About Parliamentary Archives
The Parliamentary Archives collects, preserves and makes accessible the records of UK Parliament. These records include Acts, bills, plans of roads, railways and canals (relating to the whole country), the journals of both Houses and many more items of interest to a wide range of historians including those researching local and family history. Our most iconic document is the Death Warrant of Charles I.

We provide a records management service for the House of Commons and House of Lords and operate a free public archives service. ‘Parliament & Peterloo’ is a free exhibition which is now open to the public in Westminster Hall, UK Parliament, until 26 September 2019. Booking recommended,

Follow @UKParlArchives on Twitter and UK Parliamentary Archives on Facebook or visit our website:

About History of Parliament Trust
The History of Parliament Trust is a research project creating a comprehensive account of parliamentary politics in England, then Britain, from their origins in the thirteenth century. The History is generally regarded as one of the most ambitious, authoritative and well-researched projects in British history. To date we have published twelve sets of volumes, totalling forty-six individual volumes covering different periods of parliamentary history. These consist of detailed studies of elections and electoral politics in each constituency, biographies of all MPs or Peers in the period, together with surveys drawing out the themes and discoveries of the research and adding information on the operation of Parliament as an institution. These articles, along with our current oral history project, materials for schools and information about events, are available free of charge on our website:, and you can follow us on Twitter and Facebook .

About The National Archives
The National Archives looks after and makes available to the public its collection of historical records dating back more than 1,000 years, including records as diverse as the Domesday Book and MI5 files. It is a world-leading cultural heritage organisation which promotes public accessibility to iconic documents such as Guy Fawkes’ confession, Shakespeare’s Will and Edward VIII’s letter of abdication, while ensuring preservation for generations to come. It hosts talks, conferences and has an expanding events programme. The National Archives is a non-ministerial government department whose parent is the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). It is the official archive of the UK government, and England and Wales.

Follow @UkNatArchives on Twitter, TheNationalArchives on Facebook, @NationalArchivesUK on Instagram or visit our website:

[1] Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019


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