Hi, my name is Ellie Mitchell and I’ll be writing the occasional blog post for the museum, as well as working with Sarah on a bigger project centred on local women’s history (which is hopefully coming soon). I’m a final year English Literature student at the University of Nottingham and I’m currently writing my final essay on D H Lawrence, which is what brings me to the museum and to an area so full of literary history. Some of the most interesting parts of Lawrence’s writing aren’t actually the sex scenes (contrary to popular opinion), but the incredible social realism and detail he uses when describing day to day life in small mining towns – my favourite bit of Sons and Lovers is when Lawrence describes one of the miner’s ‘blue scars, like tattoo marks, where the coal-dust remained under the skin’.
For me, museums have a nostalgic quality. Lots of my earliest memories are of me and my little sister being taken to the Godalming Museum, our local museum in Surrey, by my Grandma in the school holidays to shut us up for a few hours. We would pretend to be Victorian schoolchildren whilst she chatted to all the volunteers (why do Grandma’s know everyone?!) and then beg her to buy us something from the museum shop after. The same friendly atmosphere here is what makes being at Erewash so enjoyable – it’s such a nice place to come to once a week, away from the university atmosphere which can sometimes feel quite stern and sombre.
For mine and Sarah’s project we’re hoping to interview lots of local women of all ages (including volunteers and staff at the museum) to look at a wide range of female experiences. Please get in touch via the museum if you’d like to be interviewed – although ‘interview’ is probably too much of a scary word -- it will be more like a long chat, on topics ranging from childhood memories to sexism in the workplace. We have also recently started up an Instagram (@sarahelliemuseum) and Twitter (@erewashintern), so please give us a follow!