The Demeter Project Archive is a major and unique project examining history through the lives of Belfast women. The oral history interviews and images collected and maintained by the Archive cover a wide range of topics not always associated with the history of Belfast including family life, women’s experiences in the workplace, particularly life in the mills and factories in the 1950s-1970s, and times of upheaval such as the Blitz, and the Troubles. We have explored 100 years of women’s contributions to our city and collected over 100 stories about family, weddings, work, leisure, sport, upheaval, trouble, success and of course, humor. Our collection, which are held in the Linen Hall library in Belfast, range from single items to larger collections of images, interviews, photographs, documents and testimonies.
The voices and stories of the women who participated in The Demeter Project are the heart and soul of this project. We have included as many excerpts-both audio and transcribed-in this gallery as possible. We want you to be able to listen to real stories about women’s lives in Belfast: what inspired us most is the successes and wisdom these women have gained through their own experiences and also the experiences of the women around them.
As you move through the gallery, you will find photographs of some of the women and participants who worked on the project. These personal snapshots and portraits illustrate the joy, laughter, celebrations and adversity of everyday life.
In addition to the interviews collected by the Archive, other ephemera has been deposited/supplied including the Northern Ireland Museum Association and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive as well as community partners Linen Hall Library and Belfast Exposed.
The Demeter Archive is more than a collection of dates and facts, it is the coming together of many stories and women to represent the history of the Belfast. We have provided a timeline which was designed and shaped by the young girls and women living in Belfast today.
This timeline brings together data from oral histories, newspapers, and personal testimonies. This unites many of the elements and people involved/of this project. It helps tell the story hardships growing up during the Blitz and war rations alongside expansion of Belfast’s industries or celebratory events such as births and marriages during times of upheaval and conflict.