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Social History

The Social History collections contain thousands of objects representing the everyday and exceptional lives of local people from around 1500 to the present. It aims to cover all aspects of the domestic and social lives of those for whom Sheffield is home.

The range of items in the collection is vast, from small personal objects to entire shop interiors. These include a 1960s hair salon, a traditional butcher’s shop and Preston’s c1900 chemists which stood on the corner of West Street and Mappin Street in Sheffield until the 1980s.

There are relics from the Crimean War and the First and Second World Wars including letters, pin badges, ration books, gas masks and uniforms.

Toys, from teddy bears and dolls to card games, jigsaws, farmyards, lead animals and clockwork toys, show how children have played through the years.

Costumes, sewing machines, theatre posters and programmes, typewriters, samplers and domestic equipment are just a selection of the many items in the collection that reveal how people lived in the distant and recent past.

There are also over 1,000 topographical paintings, prints and drawings of Sheffield and the surrounding area dating from around 1750 to the present day. This collection provides a unique visual record of Sheffield’s dramatic transition from country idyll to urban sprawl.

Show Objects
Name of ObjectAccession NumberCollectionDate Made/FoundTimes Viewed
A Smith's ShopK1923.4 Social History circa 185645099
accordion, box1992.488 Social History 1880-190041366
animal collar2007.900 Social History 186488843
apron2013.164 Social History 1920-195815314
apron2013.165 Social History 1920-195815152
apron2013.167 Social History 1920-195814804
artificial leg, box1981.989 Social History 191926593
ash tray1998.248 Social History 195053606
attendance board1978.609 Social History circa 190025563
badge2006.96 Social History 198213343
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