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INTRODUCTION

For the past six years, the Bloody Sunday Trust has been working towards the creation of a museum and archive focussing on one of the most important periods in the history of this city – the civil rights era of the 1960s and the Free Derry/early troubles era of the 1970s. We intend to open the first phase of this museum – the Museum of Free Derry – in Summer 2006. (A temporary Bloody Sunday Centre will be open in Glenfada Park until the museum opens.) The archive will be known as the National Civil Rights Archive.

For the purposes of the museum, a loose definition of Free Derry has been used, and the term is used to describe the area covering the Bogside, Brandywell, Creggan, Bishop Street and Foyle Road, an area roughly equivalent to the old, gerrymandered South Ward.

Phase One of the Museum of Free Derry will cover the following areas:
The history of the Free Derry area -– the Bogside, Brandywell, Bishop Street and Creggan.
Stormont, the Corporation and the South Ward, 1920s -– 1960s, creating the conditions for conflict.
The revitalisation of local community spirit and self-help in the mid-1960s.
Onto the Streets -– October 1968 to July 1969.
Battle of the Bogside.
Internment and Free Derry.
Bloody Sunday.
Motorman and the invasion of Free Derry.

As the museum develops, this narrative will be expanded to cover events right up to the present day.

The Museum of Free Derry will tell this part of the city’s history from the point of view of the people who lived through, and were most affected by, these events: it will be the community’s story told from the community’s perspective, not the distorted version parroted by the government and most of the media over the years. We believe it is vital that all those involved in the events of the last almost 40 years take the opportunity to tell their own stories in a subjective but honest way as a first step towards a greater understanding of all the elements that led to the most recent phase of the conflict in Ireland. This is not something that can be achieved through attempting to give a single ‘official’ version of events.

The museum currently has an archive of over 25,000 individual items relating to this part of the city’s history. Virtually all of these items have been donated to the museum by local residents, and include some items of immense historical importance. Without this support from the local community this museum would not have been possible.

The Museum of Free Derry/National Civil Rights Archive will be:
An expression of local identity and experience;
A means of education and information on an era that had, and continues to have, major local, national and international significance;
A means to preserve artefacts and documentation from this era for this and future generations, and to make them available for study and research;
A contribution to the local economy, which is still suffering from the effects of this turbulent period.

Once open, the Museum of Free Derry will be managed as a social economy initiative. All income generated by the museum will go towards sustaining and developing the museum and securing long term jobs for its employees. The museum will not just be an collection of artifacts and documents, but will be an active part of the local community, and will expand its activities outside the confines of the building.

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