Liverpool residents and historians are being asked to take part in a new research project to document the city’s disappearing Hispanic history.
In the 19th Century Liverpool was the second city of the British Empire and the gateway to America, with a vibrant, multicultural society. With shipping routes from Europe to Liverpool and then on to Cuba, the Philippines and America, the city became home to a large Hispanic community, one whose history hasn’t been documented and is quickly disappearing.
Dr Kirsty Hooper, a historian from the University of Warwick is working with descendants of Liverpool’s nineteenth century Hispanic community on a long-term research project which will attempt to record what is rapidly becoming Liverpool’s forgotten Hispanic history.
“The Hispanic Liverpool Project” will investigate what Liverpool's forgotten Hispanic history can tell us about the city's role as a hub in the networks of trade, commerce, migration, travel, tourism, politics and culture during the nineteenth century (from approximately 1800 until the First World War). Working with community members to record memories, stories and photographs handed down through generations Dr Hooper hopes to assemble a large online digital archive of the history of Liverpool’s Hispanic residents.
Dr Hooper said: “Liverpool is quite unique in that it was the only city in the UK outside London that attracted a large, permanent Hispanic community during the nineteenth century. Additionally a significant proportion of the movement between the Hispanic world and Liverpool after 1870 can be traced back to one very influential Basque family, the Larrinagas, who moved to the city for its shipping routes and brought with them a huge following of employees, friends and relatives from their native Basque Country, but also from Galicia and the Philippines.
“This is the first event of many to help us start to plot the somewhat forgotten history of Hispanic families in Liverpool. The project will gather record and interpret the stories of the people who inhabited those commerce and trade networks, the trading connections they forged and exploited, the places they lived, worked and are remembered, and the traces we can still find of them today, in Liverpool and elsewhere.
“We are very keen to hear from people whose families are of Hispanic origin – we know that some returned to Spain but a lot also married into Liverpool families and remained in the city. Unfortunately this first event is now fully booked, but we are appealing to local residents and historians to get involved online. We have put together a website and online forum where people can post their stories and memories. Sadly, the Hispanic community in Liverpool hasn’t retained formal links or meeting places like other communities, which means it’s more important than ever to preserve the history – often passed down by word of mouth from generation to generation wherever we can.
“We are also working with the Liverpool Central Library to put together a guide for those trying to trace their Hispanic roots – we know that a lot of Hispanic communities abroad have links with Liverpool too so whilst this project will start at the ‘gateway’ in Liverpool, we are sure it will extend to America, Latin America and the Philippines as well as throughout Europe over time.”
People wanting to get involved with the project should visit the website and forum at www.warwick.ac.uk/hispanicliverpool. Those with stories can post messages on the forum pages for the research team. Information on further events will also be posted on these pages.
Notes to editors:
On Saturday 6 December Dr Hooper is holding the first of several community information events in conjunction with the Liverpool Central Library to help share the story of the Spanish, Basque, Galician, Filipino and Latin American communities who settled in the city and to begin to collect the stories of the descendants of those communities still resident in the city. This event is fully booked but we will try and accommodate media if at all possible.
The event runs from 2-5pm at Liverpool Central Library – there will be a talk from Dr Hooper, presentations by two families who have traced their Liverpool Hispanic heritage and the opportunity to network with other local residents.
For interview requests or to attend the event please contact Alison Rowan, Communications Manager by email - firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone on 024 7615 0423 or 07876 218166