Bolton Community Gala

The Bolton Branch had an enjoyable day at Bolton Community Gala on Saturday 30 June 2018.  Our stand at Bolton Interchange attracted a great deal of attention.  Despite the heat, we talked to plenty of people about the Historical Association and the Bolton Branch’s activities. We gave away lots of pencils, postcards, magazines, and, most importantly, copies of our programme for next year.  We hope to see some of you at our meetings next season.


Archive Tours Celebrate the NHS

We have received the following information about an event at Bolton Museum which may be of interest to our members:

Join the archivist for a tour of the strong room and a peek into the archives to take a look at original records documenting the history of healthcare in Bolton.

The tours will take place on Thursday 5 July at 10am, 12pm, 2pm and Saturday 14 July 11am and 2pm. To book your free place on one of the tours please visit Eventbrite:

or call the History Centre on 01204 332161 or email:

Martin Luther King


Martin_Luther_King_Jr_with_medallion_NYWTSThe Bolton branch rounded off its 2017-18 season in style with a lecture from the Historical Association President, Professor Tony Badger. His lecture asked ‘How Did Martin Luter King Change America?’  He addressed the questions of why the civil rights movement was successful and how far Martin Luther King’s achievements are threatened by a president who owes his position to the far right?

Professor Badger described how, before King, the belief was that religious southern whites would be shamed into changing their ways through the suffering of the non-violent black protests.  Through King’s work, this attitude changed. The Montgomery Bus Boycott caused the bus companies to lose ¾ million dollars but still they wouldn’t negotiate. Businessmen were prepared to lose an awful lot of money rather than change the traditional patterns of race relations.  President Kennedy’s eyes were opened to the problem by the attacks on freedom riders in Alabama in 1961, the opposition to James Meredith taking his place at the Univerity of Mississippi in 1962, and finally the use of hoses on blacks by the police in Birmignham.

img_20180416_203139.jpgProf. Badger suggested that two factors came together in the civil rights movement at this time: pressure from underneath, plus the pressure from northern whites liberals downwards.  This led to passing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Tony Badger 3

He identified several groups that Martin Luther King was able to bring together in support of black civil rights.  Firstly, King could get the northern white liberals on side by using the right rhetoric, but Prof. Badger noted that it was easier for northern white liberals to accept black demands because of their prosperity, but they expected to increase the size of the cake all round, not to redistribute it.  He also noted that during this period 75% of northern whites still thought the federal government could be relied on to do the right thing.


Another important group was the moderate northern Republicans who could get round the filibustering of Senator Robert C. Byrd who completed an address lasting 14 hours and 13 minutes, while it was a Republican senator from Illinois who proclaimed that civil rights was “an idea whose time had come”.

Furthermore, the black church was relatively independent of white control, creating a free space for civil rights activists.  In addition, in the north the black church was able to raise funds.  Likewise, the white northern churches mobilised a lot of support for the civil rights acts.

The final factor was the Cold War imperatives, as the USA needed to keep overseas’ support, especially the support of 3rd world countries.  King himself was validated by overseas regimes especially after he was tainted by the claims of communism.  The fact that he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize shows that Europeans viewed him as a moderate bulwark against Black Power movement.

tony badger 6Although these factors combined to explain his success up to 1965, after that there were no advantages that he could exploit.  Now audiences saw angry Black Power protesters throwing Molotov cocktails.  There was a threat of lawlessness. The downside was that the southern whites won this battle, championing King in retrospect as a more moderate or sanitised influence than the violent civil rights activists.  This period also saw the end of prosperity for many ordinary Ameriicans.  Support for civil rights in the 70s-90s meant a shift towards its costs, which resulted in pessimism.  The white working class voters in the Rust Belt were left behind, and they were the ones who voted for Trump.  But they had also voted for Obama.  The problem was that all the demands for the minority groups were administered by non-elected officials who weren’t held to account, and these voters felt left out.   Republicans follow a strategy of appealing to southern whites.  The party is not inherently racist, but with no African American support there is no incentive to pursue policies that would appeal to them.  Meanwhie, the African Americans are still looking for someone who has the same levelof ability and charisma as Martin Luther King Jr.



How did Martin Luther King Change America?

Please join us on Monday evening 16 April at 7.30pm in Bolton School Girls’ Division when the HA President, Professor Tony Badger, will give the David Clayton Memorial Lecture: ‘How Did Martin Luther King Change America?’

In the lecture Tony Badger asks how Martin Luther King enabled a politically and economically powerless minority to wrest change from a determined entrenched white majority in the American South. He also examines how far these changes went? How justified was King’s faith in the ballot and politics? Has a sanitised version of the civil rights leader’s career downplayed the economic radicalism and anger of his rhetoric? In today’s America and with a white southern Republican Attorney-General, do Black Lives Matter? How successful has been the drive to restrict African-American suffrage? How much did African-Americans benefit from the first African-American president? What, if anything, does Donald Trump offer the African-American community?

This lecture will appeal to students and the general public alike.  Admission for visitors to the branch is £4, although students are not charged.

The David Clayton Memorial Lectures are an intermittant series of lectures held in memory of our late branch chairman and president, who always appreciated lectures which stimulated new lines of thought and opened up historical topics to current debate.

Tony Badger is Professor in American History at Northumbria University. He taught at Newcastle University from 1971 to 1991. He was then Paul Mellon Professor of American History at Cambridge University (and latterly Master of Clare College) until 2014. He was chair of the Kennedy Memorial Trust, 2009 to 2016. He is also Independent Reviewer for the Foreign Office overseeing the release of previously secret records. He has written extensively on the New Deal and on the modern American South. He is currently completing a biography of Albert Gore Sr. He has Honorary Degrees from Hull University and North Carolina State University. He has just been elected President of the Historical Association.

Two Upcoming BAES Events

March Lecture

‘Howard Carter: You Who Love Thebes – biography of Howard Carter from birth to 1914’
Claire Ollett, Egyptologist, The University of Liverpool

Tuesday 20th March 2018, 7pm

This month we welcome guest speaker Claire Ollett, Egyptologist at The University of Liverpool.

Claire Is co-founder of TheBES…not the ancient Egyptian city, The Blackburn Egyptology Society. She has given us some brilliant talks in the past on different subjects. This month she talks on one of her really Egyptology passions – Howard Carter.

Claire will give us a biography of the famous Egyptologist from his birth up until 1914, several years before his discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb. It will be fascinating to learn about what made the man that made one of the world’s most impressive archaeological discoveries.

We will meet at our new venue, Bolton Library Lecture Theatre, Le Mans Crescent, BL11SE at 7pm for a 7.30pm start. (Doors will be closed at 7.30pm).

There is FREE PARKING outside the museum and on Queen St Car Park (through the arches) after 6.30pm.

£5 on the door for visitors, £1 for members, Refreshments included.



‘Daily Life in Ancient Egypt – Kha and Meryt’

Prof Joann Fletcher and Dr Stephen Buckley

Thursday 5th April 2018, 7pm-9pm

Bolton Museum will be welcoming back Prof Joann Fletcher and Dr Stephen Buckley next month as part of their #BoltonsEgypt programme.

Jo and Stephen will talk about the Daily Life in Ancient Egypt, featuring the husband and wife duo Kha and Meryt who have featured in Jo’s TV programmes.

The talk is aimed at a wide audience and is FREE to everyone and will be held in their Library Lecture Theatre.

Branch members’ daughter tells tales of family history

Watchers of the Skies

Bolton Little Theatre, March 23  &  24, 7:30

 Edna Leigh was raised on a farm in rural Kansas and, after marrying an RAF pilot from Breightmet, she crossed the Atlantic with her two children in April, 1945, in a convoy that was attacked by a German U-boat with heavy loss of life.  From then until her death in 1991, Bolton was Edna’s family home.

Edna, with a deep love of literature and the classics, made a pioneering study of the long-forgotten knowledge of the stars and constellations embedded in the Homer’s epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey.

The recent discovery of the tiny 3.6cm exquisitely carved agate seal from Pylos as described by Simon Sharma in the BBC Programme Civilizations has led archaeologists to believe that the tales told by Homer were known at least 700 years before him.


Carol Graham is a former pupil at Smithills Grammar School and works in the performing arts as a teacher and storyteller.  Carol has woven her grandmother’s love of the beautiful night skies of Greece and Kansas and the epic myths of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey into a solo story-telling performance.

Carol now lives in Hereford and has performed Watchers of the Skies in Leominster, Ledbury, Hay on Wye, Cheltenham, and the Birmingham Mac. The family believes it is time for her to bring Edna’s story back to Bolton!