Jennifer Reid

Student spotlight details

'Broadside balladeer' Jennifer enrolled on our online local history course to add knowledge to her performances, opening up surprising opportunities.

'I'm a performer of 19th century Industrial Revolution broadside ballads specifically from Manchester and Lancashire, which I perform at events locally. Before I enrolled on the Advanced Diploma in Local History (Online), I was working at a car auction part-time. I picked up the leaflet for the course when I was volunteering at the Working Class Movement Library in Salford, and thought it would add an academic element to my historical singing performances. Being a singer it’s easy to get gigs, but I'd wanted to develop my research skills in order to give better talks and workshops. The thing that initially attracted me to the course was actually studying history. It was something I'd never done before, plus I was keen to see if I could handle higher education.

'Studying from home was most useful: I'm bad with routines so it was really great to be able to work towards a deadline, and being able to plan my own study schedule. My tutor Sylvia was great, and very supportive, but I tried not to rely on her too much. The group chats were very important for my development through the course as we could discuss things that some may have thought too trivial to bother Sylvia with, and we actually got to meet up one time in the Town Hall in Manchester, where it was nice to put faces to names.

'On the course, I learnt new techniques and how to really read data in a way that benefitted my study; the course also really improved my writing and research skills. The most challenging part of the course was the level of detail the essays required, and using Access as a way of analysing and achieving this level of detail. Really, it was exactly what I needed to broaden my scope and now conduct my own (successful!) research using these techniques. So the course was a great gateway; challenging but not too stressful.

'I have since gone on to guest lecture at the University of Manchester; teach workshops in primary and secondary schools; write concise applications to funding bodies and deliver quality talks to local history groups. I will also be completing a chapter on Manchester's working class and folk revival for Routledge's History of the Working Class, which was beyond my wildest dreams when I started the course. Since I finished the ADLH I have sang and spoken in New York, Croatia, Switzerland, Lancaster and Manchester. I have more of a presence in academic circles (however much I choose to be on the fringe) and have been invited to share papers at conferences. I've been on BBC Radio 3 and 6, and on the telly with the BBC's Hairy Bikers. We filmed an episode of their series ‘The Hairy Bikers' Pubs that Built Britain’ at the Olde Boar’s Head in Middleton. They’d chosen Manchester as their location, so we spoke about the Peterloo massacre (that’s my facsimile banner in the background, made by my good friend Ed Hall) and I sang them a song written by Harvey Kershaw in Rochdale dialect about the event.

'Most recently, I have just returned from conducting my own research in Bangladesh, where I was comparing Manchester and Bangladeshi work song using the garment/clothing industry that our two countries have shared for over 300 years.

'To anybody who is applying - do it! It is worth it, it will definitely improve anybody’s skills in researching history and it will give you the autonomy and confidence to develop your own historical research. Do. It!'

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