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The Contribution of the National Banner Survey to Debates on Nineteenth-Century Popular Politics

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Abstract:

The People's History Museum in Manchester has the largest extant collection of historic banners and has expertise in their conservation and interpretation. In 1999 it undertook the National Banner Survey, which created a detailed inventory of both the 400 in the museum's collection and over 2,000 in other museums in the United Kingdom. By looking at a broad sample of these, this article will suggest how they can be used as evidence in the debates on nineteenth-century political processes and especially those related to popular participation. Such complex and contested concepts as “radicalism” and “patriotism” can be interpreted in banners from working-class organizations. The article will also discuss how the National Banner Survey can be accessed, and indicate future avenues for research.

Keywords: Banners; Collections; Material Culture; Museums; Popular Politics

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01973760802042663

Publication date: June 1, 2008

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