M&S and the University on the hunt for your M&S memories


Marks & Spencer and the University have today launched a search for people to contribute to the M&S Company Archive by coming forward with their stories and memories of the retailer.

As part of a unique partnership between M&S and the University of Leeds, which will see the relocation of the retailer's entire archive to a purpose-built location on the University campus later this year, people in Yorkshire are being offered the opportunity to have their M&S memories immortalised.

Their contributions will also feature in the planned celebrations to launch the new Michael Marks building. Second and third year students completing a BA History course at the University are working with M&S archivists on an oral histories project; gathering a collection of culturally and historically valuable testimonies from M&S customers and employees (former and current).

The testimonies will provide an insight into people's diverse memories of the retailer and perspectives its impact on the region. The project offers students the opportunity to work with one of the UK's most iconic businesses to develop their research and interview skills whilst enhancing the oral history collection in the M&S Company Archive. Members of the public are invited to submit their written accounts and a number of these participants will be approached for interview in autumn 2011.

The edited interviews will be incorporated into the archive, forming an evolving part of the collection. Selected submissions will also be featured as part of  the launch celebrations when the archive opens to the public later this year.

The project will form a permanent feature of the University's new 'Research Collaboration & Communication' module, which allows enterprising students to liaise with Yorkshire charities, community groups, heritage organisations and businesses, providing an innovative research and learning experience, beyond the horizon of the University itself. Alison Houston, Head of the M&S Company Archive, said: "This project will provide a valuable and lasting contribution to the M&S Company Archive by allowing staff and customers of all ages to tell us their anecdotes.

We therefore urge people across Yorkshire to come forward and share their M&S memories for the opportunity to become a living part of the archive." Dr Raphael Hallett from the University of Leeds School of History said: "This is a wonderful chance for our students to discover how Marks & Spencer is woven into the fabric of the region's history since being founded at Kirkgate Market in Leeds 127 years ago.

It will also provide an exceptional learning opportunity which will enable University of Leeds BA History students to develop crucial research, interview and editing skills." The M&S Company Archive comprises approximately 60,000 pieces including business papers, advertising materials and merchandise such as clothing, toys and household items.

It will be available to University students and staff for research, teaching and learning. It will also be fully accessible to the public for the first time and continue to function as an important internal research facility for Marks & Spencer. The new archive facility will have a permanent exhibition space, conference facilities and reading room.

To submit your M&S memory please send an overview of your story in no more than 150 words to M&S Memories, Beattie Communications, 46 The Calls, Leeds, LS2 7EY, email memoriesmands@gmail.com or call 0113 213 0300. Images may be included (no more than 1MB via email) but cannot be returned.

For further information:

Please contact the University of Leeds Press Office on +44 (0)113 343 4031 or email pressoffice@leeds.ac.uk

To download pictures of the M&S archive collection, please visit: www.marksandspencer.com/imagelibrary

For more information on the history of M&S, please visit: www.marksandspencer.com/thecompany

Notes to editors

  • The University of Leeds is the UK's eighth biggest research powerhouse according to the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise. It is also one of the largest higher education institutions in the UK and a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. The University's vision is to secure a place among the world's top 50 by 2015. http://www.leeds.ac.uk/
  • The M&S Company Archive enhances the University of Leeds' rich collection of cultural and artistic assets which includes the Stanley and Audrey Burton Art Gallery, the Library and Special Collections, Clothworkers' Centenary Concert Hall and a theatre complex, stage@leeds. The Refectory remains a perennial favourite with bands; and the University's ground-breaking partnership with Opera North is attracting plaudits.

The M&S Company Archive - background

  • The M&S Company Archive has been deemed by independent experts as having the potential to be one of the UK's finest corporate archives. It offers an unrivalled insight into the company's corporate history with an extensive collection company documents.  It also includes clothing, toys, books, homeware and food packaging.
  • The M&S Company Archive is deemed to be of considerable value to scholars due to the economic and social importance of M&S - lending itself to a number of research projects from the evolution of the company, development of staff welfare programmes and financial performance through to the growth of the store network and the range and nature of products provided to a growing mass market.