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Events programme at the Museum of English Rural Life, Reading – University of Reading

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Events programme at the Museum of English Rural Life, Reading

Release Date 09 May 2006

Action Women: The real story of the Women's Institutes The Museum of English Rural Life, University of Reading 30 May – 27 August 2006 What do you think of when you hear about the Women's Institutes? Jam making and cake baking, or Fair Trade and fundraising? For over 90 years, the Women's Institutes have been a positive force in British women's lives, campaigning on many significant issues for rural communities, as well as issues affecting millions of lives across the globe. Membership of a Women's Institute is also about fun, friendship and being part of a network of support, particularly essential in more isolated areas of rural Britain. In celebration of all the women who have been a part of this dynamic and powerful organisation, The Women's Library, the Museum of English Rural Life and the Berkshire Federation of Women's Institutes have brought together photographs, rural crafts, oral history accounts, campaign badges, posters, pamphlets and a stunning banner to tell the stories of generations of WI action women. If you think you know about the WI, it's time to think again! During the exhibition friendly and enthusiastic guides will be on hand to answer questions and tell you more about the WI, daily between 2-4pm. Events Talks programme: All talks will be held at MERL in the seminar room and will start at 4.30pm. Talks will last about an hour, with time for questions afterwards. Tickets are free but advance booking is recommended: contact Judith Moon on 0118 378 8660 or email 15 June: Caitlin Adams & Mick Wallis: Interwar Amateur Drama and the WI Hear more about the impact of amateur drama on rural life and WI members in the interwar period – and see it brought to life by current members! 29 June: Jean Sheppard, NFWI Public Affairs Committee: From Local Concerns to National Campaigns Jean Sheppard considers the enormous achievements of the WI in campaigning at local and national level, including the recent campaign on hazardous chemicals 6 July: Antonia Byatt, Director, The Women's Library: Why The Women's Library? Why are the archives of the Women's Institutes at The Women's Library, and what other gems of history does the Library hold? An opportunity to hear more about this unique collection and its fascinating history. 13 July: Dr Nicola Verdon, Lecturer in History, Sheffield Hallam University: Women, work and welfare in the inter-war countryside What was life like for women in the countryside between the wars? Nicola Verdon will present her recent research into this fascinating period of 20th century history. 20 July: Maggie Andrews, Chichester Institute: The acceptable face of feminism: the Women's Institutes as a social movement Maggie Andrews explores the relationship of the WI to feminism, from its foundation in 1915 to feminist activity in the 1960s. Training Session for WI Members: Our living legacy - care of the WI's archival treasures 31st July 2-4pm, MERL conference room Anne Stamper, NFWI's Hon Archivist, will talk about the importance and practicalities of looking after WI archives. Participants are invited to bring examples of their own archival 'treasures' and advice will be given on their care, as well as on using archives as a basis for local exhibitions and the writing of short histories. Places are free but must be booked in advance: tel: 0118 3788660 or email Family Activities for Half Term and Summer Holidays Want to get stuck in with craft activities? Come along, see demonstrations and make something special to take home! All sessions are free and held in the Studio at MERL from 2 - 4pm. Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times - to book tel: 0118 378 8660 or email Half term 31 May: Fabulous Felt: find out more about this fantastic fabric and make a wall hanging to take home. Ages 4+ 1 June: Beautiful Baskets: a demonstration of traditional basket making, plus the opportunity to make a simple basket to take home. Ages 8+ 3 June: Modelling Magic: Make all sorts of models out of marzipan and icing sugar. Ages 4+ Summer 2 August: Creative Cards: Why buy cards when you can make your own unique designs for all occasions? Ages 6+ 9 August: Modelling Magic: Make all sorts of models out of marzipan and icing sugar. Ages 4+ Group Tours Are you a member of a group or organisation? Why not arrange a visit with your group, and find out more about the WI and MERL. Group visits can be booked Tuesday-Friday, for more details tel: 0118 378 8660 or email Museum of English Rural Life, The University of Reading, Redlands Road, Reading Tel: 0118 378 8660 Email: Website: Open: Museum and Reading Room: Tuesday - Friday, 10am - 4.30pm. Museum only: Saturday - Sunday, 2pm - 4.30pm Admission Free Ends For media enquiries please contact: Eleanor Holmes, Press Officer, The University of Reading, tel: 0118 378 6166 or email:

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