Badges of Protest
Badges have always been used to make a statement, and hold an important place in the history of peaceful protest. Small and easy to produce in large numbers, they’ve adorned the jackets and bags of protestors for many years. It’s no wonder, then, that we have almost 2000 badges in our collection at The Peace Museum!
Making a statement
Protest badges can take many forms, and they can be designed in different ways to get across their message. One format that we see repeated a lot across the badges in our collection is [group name] against the bomb; these badges are linked to The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
These ‘badges against the bomb’ show the variety of different groups that stand against ‘the bomb’, which here means nuclear weapons more broadly. They often feature hand-drawn illustrations to represent the group they are referring to, for instance ‘Dog Lovers’, ‘Super Grans’ and ‘Ageing Hippies’. As with many badges, they tell the world something about the wearer’s identity as well as the cause they’re protesting for. These badges below are examples:
Sometimes badges don’t have any words on them at all, relying instead on symbols to show the cause they represent. A good example of this is these original CND badges from 1958, which feature the logo design by Gerald Holton. As it was never placed under copyright, the CND symbol has been reproduced by people all over the world, and used to call for peace.
You can learn more about these badges through our digital collections site here: CND Badges (peacemuseumcollection.org.uk)
Other symbols have also been used throughout history to represent peace and peace movements, including the dove, which features in the logo for our museum! Doves have been used to symbolise peace in many different cultures, but the use of the dove as a peace symbol is often linked to the biblical story of Noah’s Ark, in which a dove was the animal which found land, returning to the ark with an olive branch in its beak. We have many badges in our collection featuring doves, including these:
Learn more about our badges
As part of this project, two of our volunteers here at the museum have written blog posts highlighting some of their favourite badges from the collection, and explaining their significance. You can read the first of these blog posts, written by Emilia Bazydlo, now by clicking here.
Badge of Protest Workshops
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Greenham Common Peace camp, The Peace Museum worked with artist Layla Khoo in 2021, inviting members of the public to Artworks in Halifax to come and make their own protest badges. These events ran alongside Calder Valley CND’s ‘Our Greenham’ exhibition, which put the Greenham women’s peace camp into the context of the wider struggle against nuclear weapons, and featured several objects from The Peace Museum’s collection.
These workshops were also run by Layla in response publication of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill in 2021, which brought issues around the right to protest to the forefront of debate. In the UK protest has been used throughout history to allow underrepresented voices to be heard, from the suffragette’s movement to the Greenham Common protest. In the last year spotlight has been placed on protest, with the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement following the murder of George Floyd. Women’s safety at peaceful protests has also been in the spotlight following the police’s handling of the vigil held in memory of Sarah Everard who was murdered whilst walking home. These themes, and many more, acted as inspiration for the new badges created at the workshops.
Watch the video below to see some of the badges made at the workshops, and the different issues that they represent:
With thanks to ‘AIM Tackling Inequality Hallmarks Grant Award’ supported by Arts Council England for supporting this project.