Our social history collections document life in Norfolk and are displayed across all our museums. The Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell and Strangers' Hall Museum have the bulk of the social history collections, with Strangers’ Hall concentrating on domestic life and the Museum of Norwich on the story of Norwich, its communities and trades and industries.
Highlights of the Strangers’ Hall collections include children’s books of the 18th century, early 19th century, and ‘Golden Age’ publications; over 500 dolls including one dating to the 1790s and wax dolls dating from the 1840s to 1870s, and over 200 bisque and china dolls.
The musical instrument collection contains rare instruments including a tenor cornett, a Bressan bass recorder and a horn by Nicholas Winkings.
There are numerous strong collections including Valentines (including the Norwich tradition of ‘Vinegar’ Valentines), small personal equipment, writing equipment, and home entertainment etc.
The collections at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse concentrate on material and that reflects the changing character of rural life in Norfolk, including 20th and 21st century developments. This encompasses material relating to community life, domestic life, personal life and working life.
Cromer Museum’s collections concentrate on the social history of the locality especially as typified by the fishing families, notably the Fisherman’s Cottage with furnishings of the late nineteenth century, and occupational costume. It also has a large collection of photographs of the town.
Ancient House Museum of Thetford Life collects social history items which reflect the character of Thetford and the surrounding area knows as the Brecks. It also contains the Maharajah Duleep Singh Collection and material associated with Thomas Paine.
Lynn Museum’s social history collections also include industrial history and maritime history which relate specifically to King’s Lynn and West Norfolk.
Great Yarmouth Museums collect material and associated information which reflects the history of the Borough of Great Yarmouth encompassing industries, trades and crafts, buildings, personalities, community life and events. Their collections chiefly reflect the history and character of Great Yarmouth and its connections with the sea.