Women of Ladybird: New Feminism in Old Tales

What was your favourite Ladybird Book growing up? What did you learn the most from it? Ladybird Books are iconic for generations who grew up in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, but they weren’t just educational tools. The subliminal messages throughout the pages of Ladybird books helped establish the gender roles and expectations within society […]

The history behind an absolute unit

Written by Dr Ollie Douglas, Curator of MERL Collections Intrigued by the photo of the‘absolute unit’ that’s been doing the rounds on social media? Why was this ram such a unit? Why is livestock so often large and… well, stocky? And why does the Museum of English Rural Life have massive numbers of photos, prints and paintings of enormous farm animals? Well, here’s a short cartoon made […]

‘The Poetry Survives’: Lindsay Anderson’s ‘Foot and Mouth’

Written by Jack Thacker, Poet in residence. Two months into my time as residency at the MERL, and I’ve discovered a wide range of objects and archival documents to inspire my poetry. The process, so far, has been one of gathering: which hand tool might prompt a poem, which diary or artwork can I mine for […]

The Land Girl’s Lament: Tracking a mystery poet

This is the story of trying to find a lost land girl. It began when a poem recently arrived at the MERL (reference D DX2222, to be exact). It is written by a Land Girl who talks of both the perceptions and the reality of what a land girl does. The person who gave us […]

Something worth crowing about: our new Poultry Archive project

We are delighted to announce the launch of a new project to develop and explore some of our poultry-related archive collections! Whether your interest is professional, amateur or just beginning, we will have delights from our archives and library aplenty for you over the coming months. Thanks to the generous support of the Poultry Club […]

Research bursaries available: Land Settlement Association and Landscape Institute

This year, thanks to the generous funding from an anonymous donor and the Landscape Institute we are pleased to offer bursaries to encourage use and engagement with our Land Settlement or Landscape Institute archives. The Land Settlement Association was established in 1934 to provide employment on the land for unemployed industrial workers from depressed areas.  Find out more here. The Landscape Institute was founded in 1929 […]

No longer such a new town: Milton Keynes at 50

This year Milton Keynes turns 50.  Tonight BBC4 is marking this anniversary with the programme Milton Keynes and Me by Richard Macer. Designed to provide housing for over populated London, which had been badly bombed during World War II, development of the existing village of Milton Keynes began in 1967. Milton Keynes was part of the third wave (1967-70) of […]

Discovering the landscape: cut it out!

Written by Claire Wooldridge, Project Librarian Over the past few years, my colleague Jen (Landscape Institute Archivist) and I have been working to integrate the library and archive of the Landscape Institute into the collections of the Museum of English Rural Life. The LI collections are rich and varied, including material such as books, pamphlets, […]

Improved Open Access Library fully accessible again

The MERL and Special Collections Open Access Library is now fully accessible again! In this library, which can be accessed from the Reading Room, you can find reference works relating to our Special Collections and to Samuel Beckett, as well as the library collection of the MERL, consisting of about 50,000 books, pamphlets and periodical volumes. We have been working hard to […]

Discovering the landscape: lost landscapes of Michael Brown

In this post Amber Roberts, recipient of MERL’s landscape academic engagement bursary talks about her work on our Michael Brown collection (Landscape Institute collections). Michael Brown’s work is unfortunately little known to today’s landscape architects. Thanks to a generous research bursary from MERL I have been able to delve into his archive and begin to uncover Brown’s idiosyncratic approach, his lost landscapes and […]

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    The Museum reopened in October 2016, following a major redevelopment, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

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