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Imagining the Past

This pack aims to provide interest and conversational prompts to those affected by mild to moderate dementia and their carers. Over the years we have often been told that as life becomes restricted there are less points to discuss, less things to share. We hope that this pack will fire your imaginations and lead you into fantasies of the past which will stimulate emotions, memories and laughter.

The pack draws on the principles of Cognitive Stimulation Therapy

All you need to do is to share each image with your client, friend or relative, and use the suggested questions to provoke conversation. Be prepared to follow any train of thought which may be stimulated, and do not be afraid to wander right off the point! Imagining, remembering and speech are closely linked functions and using this pack will encourage all three. Regular use of the materials, either 1-1 or in small groups, will yield the best results as participants become used to the process and to sharing their imaginings.

Where the pack comes from and how it was made

The images in this pack have all been selected from the collections at the Dorset History Centre, where we care for over 1,000 years of records relating to Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset.

They were selected by a short-term volunteer, who says;

Hello, I’m Simon and I have autism. I have worked on this pack to help me re-join society. I hope it helps you as much as it helped me.

Further packs will also be curated by volunteers with additional needs.

Get an electronic copy

To order a free electronic copy of this pack, and join Dorset History Centre’s list of recipients, please contact us, and enquire about ‘Imagining the Past’ packs.

DHC ref. D-588-4
DHC ref. D-588-4
  • Can you list ALL the things this man is wearing? Including those you cannot see!
  • What do you imagine might be the very next words out of his mouth, and who would he be speaking to?
  • How do you think this man earned his living (there’s a big clue)?
  • What do you make of the object in the bottom right hand corner of the portrait?
DHC ref. D-719-1-7-1

DHC ref. D-719-1-7-1

  • Imagine that you work in an eighteenth-century wig shop. What name would you give to this style of wig?
  • How do you think this man knew the person who drew his portrait?
  • Think of words which you think this man might have used during his work – try taking it turns.
DHC ref. D-1988-1-4

DHC ref. D-1988-1-4

  • Take a careful look at this uniform- in which of the services do you think this man served?
  • If you offered him a drink, what sort of tipple would you guess he’d choose?
  • Does this man remind you of anyone that you have known?
  • How do you interpret his expression… kind? firm?
DHC ref. D-BKL-J-C-3-269

DHC ref. D-BKL-J-C-3-269

  • How would you address this man?
  • Try describing this man to somebody who cannot see the picture. They should draw him from your description so add as much detail as you can. Now compare the two pictures!
  • Try to stand in the same posture as this man- get somebody to help you get your hands and feet in the same position as him. And your chest! How does it feel to stand in this posture?
DHC ref. D-BKL-J-C-3-270

DHC ref. D-BKL-J-C-3-270

  • Choose a name for this woman – first and second name!
  • How would you describe her mood, and why do you think she feels like that?
  • Try taking a hank of wool, fastening it to the back of a chair, and then attempting to recreate this hairstyle - you may need a ribbon and a button!
  • Choose three words to describe her ear.
  • Close your eyes and imagine first the pearls and then the lace trim between your fingers - how do they feel?
DHC ref. D-BKL-J-C-3-271

DHC ref. D-BKL-J-C-3-271

  • What do you think the four people were doing the day this picture was taken?
  • If you had to choose one of these hats to wear to the shops, which would you choose?
  • The people are about to burst into song - what song do you think they might sing? (You can go on to listen to potential choices together or sing the song yourselves).
  • This picture could be on the cover of a book- what would be the title of the book?
DHC ref. D-BKL-J-C-3-289

DHC ref. D-BKL-J-C-3-289

  • How do you feel about this boy?
  • How do you imagine he spent his leisure time?
  • If this boy was offering you a helping hand, what little jobs would you give to him?
  • What sort of adult life can you imagine for this young man?
DHC ref. D-Dev-PHOTO-1-1

DHC ref. D-Dev-PHOTO-1-1

  • What do you think this cheery chap has in his glass?
  • Is this the end or the beginning of the party - what makes you think this?
  • What do you imagine is in the package under his arm?
  • What three things do you think you could smell in this room?
DHC ref. D-DEV-PHOTO -1-3 (1)

DHC ref. D-DEV-PHOTO -1-3 (1)

  • How would you describe this girl’s expression?
  • Can you describe what she is wearing in detail?
  • Where do you think she went to after this photograph was taken?
  • Who do you think accompanied her to the photographers? Tell me as much about that person as you can.
On a path
  • What could be the relationship between these two people?
  • Who do you imagine took this photograph and why?
  • How do you think they spent the next couple of hours?
  • What might have happened to spoil their day?
  • Does this photograph remind you of anything?
DHC ref. D-967-17-5

DHC ref: D-967/17/5

  • How many wheels can you count in this image?
  • What do you think is the role of the two cyclists?
  • How do you think the men felt about being photographed?
  • Does this picture make you think of any sounds?
  • What time of the day or day of the week do you think this was?
DHC ref. NG PR1 D5 1

DHC ref: NG PR1 D5 1

  • This woman is a prisoner – what do you imagine was her crime?
  • Describe the woman’s home and family.
  • This woman could never have imagined that you would be looking at her picture today. What do you think she would say to you if she could speak?
  • If you could travel in time and give this woman one gift, what would you choose?

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