The Legacy of Ahmed Archive and the Courage and Inspiration of his Mother

Archives Hub feature for March 2018

In 1986 Ahmed Iqbal Ullah was murdered by a fellow pupil in the grounds of his high school in Manchester. Very quickly, Ahmed the boy disappeared behind the story of his tragic death. The story of his family and of his mother’s bravery and fortitude similarly became obscured.  The Legacy of Ahmed Archive held in the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre at the University of Manchester Library was collected through a Heritage Lottery Fund project across 2015-16, leading up to an event commemorating the 30th anniversary of Ahmed’s death in 2016. In creating this archive and curating the exhibitions that have emerged from it, we have tried to restore Ahmed the boy and to reveal the extraordinary and positive developments led by his mother Fatima Nehar Begum. We want to share her story again for International Women’s Day.

“[Ahmed] had a strong sense of justice and a soft heart. After he died lots of people came to me – I didn’t even know them. They said ‘He was my best friend’… He gave his life for pride, honour and dignity and I would like people to remember him.”

Fatima Begum, Ahmed’s mother (GB3228.19.1.5)

Ahmed was 13 years old. He was tall for his age and often defended smaller children from bullies. He enjoyed sports, particularly playing football with friends. He liked reading and regularly visited the library. His favourite author was the sci-fi novelist Isaac Asimov. The summer before he died Ahmed started to write a novel about a Third World War set in Western Europe. He spent time researching the war in Vietnam and writing out the lyrics to Paul Hardcastle’s record ‘19’.

Ahmed’s written copy of the lyrics to ‘19’ by Paul Hardcastle (GB3228.19.6.2)
Ahmed’s written copy of the lyrics to ‘19’ by Paul Hardcastle (GB3228.19.6.2)

Ahmed was one of six children in a close-knit family. His parents settled in Britain during the 1960s. His mum, Fatima Nehar Begum was one of the first Bangladeshi women to live in Manchester.

Family photograph, Ahmed third from left (GB3228.19.6.1)
Family photograph, Ahmed third from left (GB3228.19.6.1)

Ahmed’s death and the way it was handled by the ambulance service, the police, the school, Manchester City Council and the press caused fear and outrage. The shock of the murder reverberated across Manchester and the whole of Britain. Ahmed’s family and the local community demanded an independent inquiry into the murder and the circumstances around it. Young people took to the streets to protest against racism. In 1987 Barrister Ian Macdonald conducted an Inquiry into racism and racial violence in Manchester schools. The Macdonald Inquiry report ‘Murder in the Playground’ was published in 1989 (we also hold the papers of the Macdonald Inquiry in our archive).

“I think Ahmed Iqbal Ullah’s murder was in a way a catalyst and a watershed … people woke up to the fact that this could happen and why.”

Nurjahan Ahmad, former Ethnic Minority Achievement Service teacher (GB3228.19.1.19)

Fatima Nehar Begum was part of a small community of Bangladeshi women who felt impelled to become better organised. They created Ananna, the Manchester Bangladeshi Women’s Organisation in 1989. For its founding members, Ahmed’s death was a catalyst that brought women together, highlighting the need for greater cooperation and an organised response to discrimination. Addressing inequalities within the education system was an initial priority.

Since 1997 Ananna has been based in the Longsight area of Manchester, welcoming women from all cultures. During weekly advice sessions staff help those in need to access practical and emotional support. Regular classes in English and information technology help women to develop new skills and improve their employment opportunities. Other courses such as childcare, yoga and dressmaking encourage women to increase their confidence and have fun. Ananna also organises lunch clubs, social events, outings and a crèche. The organisation is today a cornerstone of the local community. We hold the Papers of Annana collection in our archive, which tells the story of this remarkable organisation.

Ananna flyer for International Women’s Week celebrations 1990 (GB3228.58.3.1)
Ananna flyer for International Women’s Week celebrations 1990 (GB3228.58.3.1)

Fatima Nehar Begum was determined that something good would come out of death of her son. Through a community fundraising campaign in Manchester and with land donated by her family, she built a school named in Ahmed’s memory in her home village of Sylhet, in Bangladesh. She supervised the building work in meticulous detail, counting the bricks to ensure they were all accounted for. She interviewed and recruited all of the staff. The Ahmed Iqbal Memorial School opened in 1996 with just four classrooms and a head teacher’s office.

Fundraising leaflet from the campaign that helped to raise the initial £7000 building cost (GB3228.19.5.2)
Fundraising leaflet from the campaign that helped to raise the initial £7000 building cost (GB3228.19.5.2)

By 2016 the building had 14 classrooms and provided secondary education for nearly 1000 young people.  Fatima is President of the school and continues to be intimately involved with its development, still supporting it with her own money. Literacy rates in the school catchment area have risen to around 98% and graduates now work in a wide range of professions including banking, the police service, medicine and education.  Fatima’s efforts and commitment are an inspiration.

“We may have lost Ahmed but we feel that Ahmed is with us all the time, because of the school. We can never forget him. He will always be remembered as our son, brother, grandson…and we believe the benefit is enormous.”

Committee member, Ahmed Iqbal Memorial High School (GB3228.19.5.3)

Jackie Ould , Co-Director
Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre and Education Trust

Related

Legacy of Ahmed Project Archive, 1984 – 2016

All Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre collections on the Archives Hub.

All images copyright Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre and reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holders.

The Basque child refugee archive

Archives Hub feature for May 2017

Explore descriptions relating to the Spanish Civil War on the Archives Hub.

Habana
Habana

In May 1937 approximately 4,000 children, with labels pinned to their clothes, came to Southampton on board the Habana from Santurzi/Santurce, the port of Bilbo/Bilbão, fleeing the Spanish Civil War and its consequences.

Label of the Departamento de Asistencia Social
Label of the Departamento de Asistencia Social, one for each Basque child refugee on board the ship.

The Spanish Second Republic had been established in 1931, with an ambitious agenda to eliminate deeply-rooted social and cultural inequalities. The republican programme encompassed land and education reform, improved rights for women, restructuring the army, and granting autonomy to Catalonia and the Basque Country. Threatened by far-reaching change, diverse political groupings aligned themselves in the so-called ‘two Spains’. The ensuing civil war lasted three years, with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy helping one faction, Communist Russia the other, with Chamberlain’s Britain leading a policy of appeasement among Western democratic nations. In this bitter conflict, there was a third Spain, which did not want to take up arms, but to live in peace. War, hunger, revolution, counter-revolution, denunciations, persecution, summary trials and executions, and mass repression often resulted in the disintegration of family and community life, desolating a country and forcing thousands of its people into exile.

On 26 April 1937, General Franco attacked Guernica and Durango, one of the first bombings of a civilian population in Europe. In the wake of this, the Basque government and the National Joint Committee for Spanish Relief, co-ordinating relief in the UK, organised the evacuation of children from the north front of the war zone.  The British government had a policy of non-intervention in Spain and, whilst it permitted the children to entry the UK, no public funds were made available for the expedition, nor for the care of the children once they arrived. Their maintenance was provided for entirely by private funds and those raised by voluntary groups and organisations, under the overall co-ordination of the Basque Children’s Committee.

On arrival at Southampton, the children were sent to a hastily constructed camp at North Stoneham, near Eastleigh, which now forms part of Southampton Airport.

Camp at North Stoneham.
Camp at North Stoneham.

This was the children’s temporary home until they were dispersed to be cared for by the Catholic Church, the Salvation Army, which accommodated children in a hostel in London, or in the so-called “colonies” set up by local committees across the country.  Eventually over ninety “colonies” were established, each housing between 20 to 50 children. Ranging from stately homes to converted workhouses, the “colonies” were run on donations. When the initial funding for them began to dry up, the niños were drawn into helping raise funds by performing concerts and shows and by taking part in football matches with local teams.

Football team, Hull colony
Football team, Hull colony

The children who came on board the Habana brought very little in the way of personal possessions with them, but they brought memories of the conflict and a sense of their identity. Aside from the shows and concerts where the children dressed in national costume, sang songs or performed dances from home, publications such as Amistad, one of the newsletters produced by the children themselves, were a means for them to remember. Conceived as an informative monthly publication, the newsletter contains pieces describing life in the Basque region, the bombing of Guernica, reflections on war and the journey on the Habana.

Amistad newsletter
Amistad newsletter

The Special Collections at the Hartley Library, University of Southampton, holds archives for the Basque Children of ‘37 Association UK (MS 404), which was founded in 2002 to ensure that the legacy of the Basque children was not forgotten, together with small collections relating to Basque child refugees (MS 370) that have come from individuals. Further details on the collection can be found on the website at:

http://www.southampton.ac.uk/archives/resources/basquecollections.page

There are also a series of interviews of the niños vascos conducted as part of an oral history project undertaken by the University of Southampton:
http://www.southampton.ac.uk/archives/projects/losninos.page

Karen Robson
Senior Archivist
Hartley Library, University of Southampton

Related:

Browse the University of Southampton Special Collections on the Archives Hub.

Archives Hub Themed Collection: Open Lives. The OpenLives project documented the experiences of Spanish migrants returning to Spain after settling in the UK. Researchers from the University of Southampton collected oral testimony, images and other ephemera.

All images copyright the Hartley Library, University of Southampton and
reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holder.

Archives Portal Europe builds firm foundations

On 8th June 2016 I attended the first Country Manager’s meeting of the newly formed Foundation of the Archives Portal Europe (APEF) at the National Archives of the Netherlands (Nationaal Archief).

The Foundation has been formed on the basis of partnerships between European countries. The current Foundation partners are: Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Norway and Slovenia. All of these countries are members of the ‘Assembly of Associates’. Negotiations are proceeding with Bulgaria, Greece, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and the UK. Some countries are not yet in a position to become members, mainly due to financial and administrative issues, but the prospects currently look very positive, with a great willingness to take the Portal forwards and continue the valuable networking that has been built up over the past decade. Contributing to the Portal does not incur financial contribution; the Assembly of Associates is separate from this, and the idea is that countries (National Archives or bodies with an educational/research remit) sign up to the principles of APE and the APE Foundation – to collaborate and share experiences and ideas, and to make European archives as accessible as possible.

The Governing Board of the Foundation is working with potential partners to reach agreements on a combination of financial and in-kind contributions. It’s also working on long term strategy documents. It has established working groups for Standards and PR & Communications and it has set up cooperation with the Dutch DTR project (Digitale Taken Rijksarchieven / Digital Processes in State Archives) and with Europeana. The cooperation with the DTR project has been a major boost, as both projects are working towards similar goals, and therefore work effort can be shared, particularly development work.

Current tasks for the APEF:

  • Building an API to open up the functionality of the Archives Portal Europe to third parties and to implement the possibility for the content providers to switch this option on or off in the Archives Portal Europe’s back-end.
  • Improving the uploading and processing of EAC-CPF records in the Archives Portal Europe and improving the way in which records creators’ information can be searched and found via the Archives Portal Europe’s front-end and via the API.
  • Enabling the uploading/processing of “additional finding aids (indexes)” in the Archives Portal Europe and making this additional information available via the Archives Portal Europe’s front-end and the API.

The above in addition to the continuing work of getting more data into the Portal, supporting the country managers in working with repositories, and promoting the portal to researchers interested in using European-wide search and discovery tool.

APEF will be a full partner in the Europeana DSI2 project, connecting the online collections of Europe’s cultural heritage institutions, which will start after the summer and will run for 16 months. Within this project APEF will focus on helping Europeana to develop the aggregation structure and provide quality data from the archives community to Europeana. A focus on quality will help to get archival data into Europeana in a way that works for all parties. There seems to be a focus from Europeana on the ‘treasures’ from the archives, and on images that ‘sell’ the archives more effectively. Whatever the rights and wrongs of this, it seems important to continue to work to expose archives through as many channels as we can, and for us in the UK, the advantages of contributing to the Archives Hub and thence seamlessly to APE and to Europeana, albeit selectively, are clear.

A substantial part of the meeting was dedicated to updates from countries, which gave us all a chance to find out what others are doing, from the building of a national archives portal in Slovakia to progress with OAI-PMH harvesting from various systems, such as ScopeArchiv, used in Switzerland and other countries. Many countries are also concerned with translations of various documents, such as the Content Provider Agreement, which is not something the UK has had to consider (although a Welsh translation would be a possibility).

We had a session looking at some of the more operational and functional tasks that need to be thought about in any complex system such as the APE system. We then had a general Q&A session. It was acknowledged that creating EAD from scratch is a barrier to contributing for many repositories. For the UK this is not really an issue, because we contribute Archives Hub descriptions. But of course it is an issue for the Hub: to find ways to help our contributors provide descriptions, especially if they are using a proprietary system. Our EAD Editor accounts for a large percentage of our data, and that creates the EAD without the requirement of understanding more than a few formatting tags.

The Archives Hub aims to set up harvesting of our contributors’ descriptions over the next year, thus ensuring that any descriptions contributed to us will automatically be uploaded to the Archives Portal Europe. (We currently have to upload on a per-contributor basis, which is not very efficient with over 300 contributors). We will soon be turning our attention to the selective digital content that can be provided by APE to Europeana. That will require an agreement from each institution in terms of the Europeana open data licence. As the Hub operates on the principles of open data, to encourage maximum exposure of our descriptions and promote UK archives, that should not be a problem.

With thanks to Wim van Dongen, APEF country manager coordinator / technical coordinator, who provided the minutes of the Country Managers’ meeting, which are partially reproduced here.

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Archives: The Shakespeare Hut

Archives Hub feature for July 2016

Photograph of Shakespeare Hut aerial view
Shakespeare Hut aerial view (YMCA archive image, courtesy of the Cadbury Research Library at the University of Birmingham).

A forgotten building that opened 100 years ago and which was a safe haven for nearly 100,000 First World War soldiers, is to be remembered at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine this summer.

Digital Drama, a UK-based media production company, was awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)  grant for the project Resurrecting the Shakespeare Hut, in partnership with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and The Mustard Club.

Photograph of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine under construction, c.1927.
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine under construction, c.1927.

The project commemorates the lives of the servicemen who used, and the women who worked at, the Shakespeare Hut, which was erected on the grounds of what is now the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine’s Keppel Street site in Bloomsbury, in August 1916.

During the First World War the YMCA (http://www.ymca.org.uk/) erected over 4,000 huts to provide soldiers with food and a place to rest, either on the frontline or at home in military camps and railway stations. For the duration of the War, 35,000 unpaid volunteers and 26,000 paid YMCA staff ran the huts, serving 4.8 million troops in 1,500 canteens.

YMCA Huts were a regular sight in England, France and on all the fighting fronts during the First World War, providing a ‘home from home’ for soldiers to rest, recover and be entertained. However, the Keppel Street hut was built with a special purpose – to commemorate the 300th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death and to entertain the troops through the playwright’s work.

In the year of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, and with the ongoing commemoration of the First World War Centenary, this is a relevant time to resurrect the Shakespeare Hut. The project will introduce the public to the Hut’s history, lift the lid on what life was like for those who used the building, and relive stories of those who fought and lived through the First World War, as well as preserving its heritage for future generations.

On 8 July an installation will open at the School, providing visitors with a chance to go back in time by stepping into a replica room – the design is taken from a photograph taken inside the original building. Images showing the Hut in action will also be on display as well as audio and visual exhibits recounting local residents’ family memories of the First World War.

 Architects' drawing of London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine North Courtyard, 1924.
Architects’ drawing of London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine North Courtyard, 1924.

At the same time, the School’s Archives Service are mounting an exhibition called The Changing Face of Keppel Street, which uses material from the archive collections to explore the history of the Keppel Street area and the development of the School’s iconic art-deco style building.

Engaging with the community and bringing people together is an essential element of the project. ‘Digital Drama’ will work with volunteers to capture local stories, and 90 students from local schools will receive valuable research and media experience by developing blogs, animations and web pages. After the installation closes, photographs and recordings will be displayed and then kept at the London borough of Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre.

Stuart Hobley, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund London, said: “In the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare, this is an ideal moment to celebrate how Britain’s most famous playwright inspired troops during the First World War. Thanks to National Lottery players, the Resurrecting the Shakespeare Hut project will record and exhibit the hidden heritage of the forgotten YMCA building and share the stories of servicemen and women during the Great War.”

Photograph showing London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine exterior, c.1951.
Photograph showing London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine exterior, c.1951.

The Installation and The Changing Face of Keppel Street exhibition  runs from 8 July to 18 September. It will be open to the public from 9am to 5pm weekdays and for the Open House weekend – 17 and 18 September.

The School’s archives include documents, photographs, maps, publications and objects relating to tropical and infectious diseases and public health issues. The Archives also hold material on the history and development of the School since its foundation in 1899. Our collections date from the mid-nineteenth century to the present and have a global coverage.

Photograph of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Library reading room in 1929.
Photograph of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Library reading room in 1929.

For more information:

Claire Frankland
Assistant Archivist
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Related:

Browse the LSHTM Collections on the Archives Hub

NB. the LSHTM images in this feature are from a collection not yet included on the Archives Hub but the collection description is planned to be added in the future.

All images copyright the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and YMCA Archive, reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holders.

 

Federation of Worker Writers and Community Publishers Collection at the TUC Library (London Metropolitan University)

Archives Hub feature for May 2016

Photo of books
Books from the TUC Library’s collection of publications from the Federation of Worker Writers and Community Publishers.

The Federation of Worker Writers and Community Publishers (FWWCP) was a network of community-based writing groups that stretched across the UK and, to a much lesser extent, Europe and the USA. Voluntary, community-run groups met to allow working class people to share and discuss their creative writing and facilitate community self-publication.  It was the most significant working class writing/publication project of the 20th century, distributing over a million books between 1976-2007. It thrived during a period of significant social, economic and political change in the UK especially through the 1970s and 1980s, and represented a significant counter-cultural movement.

Many of the groups emerged out of local politics and campaigning, some such as Hackney’s Centerprise were a model of community cohesion, providing a bookshop, publisher, crèche, cafe and legal advice. Others still exist such as Brighton’s QueenSpark, Books, the UK’s longest running community publisher that started out of a grassroots campaign to establish a nursery school instead of a casino.

Photo of books
Books from the TUC Library’s collection of publications from the Federation of Worker Writers and Community Publishers.

Through the medium of poetry, prose, fiction, biography, autobiography and local history, they document the changing experience of working class people over the course of the second half of the twentieth century, and much like oral history, they contain testimony about cultural history and working lives. They also reveal an emerging identity politics focused on issues of local community, immigration, race/ethnicity, gender, mental health and sexuality, with groups setting up to discuss, publish and represent those identities.

Some of the groups were involved in the establishment of community bookshops, Bookplace, Newham Books, and Tower Hamlets Arts Project (known as THAP and Eastside Books). They were important in providing an outlet for FWWCP publications and frequently provided a meeting space for writers and adult literacy groups.

Photo of books

Books from the TUC Library’s collection of publications from the Federation of Worker Writers and Community Publishers.

The TUC Library started its collection of publications from the Federation of Worker Writers and Community Publishers in August 2014 with a major deposit from Nick Pollard, a lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University who had a long-running involvement in the Federation. This has been followed by a number of other smaller deposits over the last 18 months, from former writers, members and enthusiasts.

From London alone there are at least 11 groups represented, including: Black Ink, Peckham People’s History, Stepney Books, Basement Writers, Working Press, Tower Hamlets Arts Project, Hammersmith & Fulham Community, Newham Writers Workshop, London Voices, Age Exchange, Southwark Mind and Survivors. All published biographies, autobiographies, fiction, prose and poetry.

There are also audio recordings of meetings, performances and festivals, and some video footage of these events. The Collection contains publications from over 100 groups that were part of the Federation.

Photo of prose and poetry books
Groups were prolific in publishing prose and poetry.

Some of the FWWCP legacy still exists in the form of The FED, a much smaller network that follows many of the FWWCP principles but uses an online presence to keep members in touch. The FED includes writing workshops and groups across the country, mostly centered in London, and like its predecessor, continues to celebrate diversity. It is holding its annual writing festival on the 4th June 2016.

Photo of book collection
Although generally about working class experience, some groups were focused on gender, LGBT, BAME and mental health, and there is much testimony contained in this collection.

The TUC Library is working closely with the University in making the most of the FWWCP Collection, and we’ve provided inductions for students from social sciences and humanities generally, we’ve also provided workshops for those from creative writing students to theatre and performance students. Students from Syracuse University taking a Civic Writing course, helped create an index to the collection. The group taught by Jess Pauszek, through Syracuse’s London Campus, at Faraday House, spent three weeks in summer 2015 and will continue work in 2016.

Having carried out a series of consultative meetings with former members London Metropolitan University and the TUC Library will be applying for funds to carry out an oral history and digitisation project.

You can see an index of the collection that’s been sorted so far Federation of Worker Writers and Community Publishers

Jeff Howarth, TUC Librarian at London Metropolitan University

Related:

Browse the London Metropolitan University’s Trades Union Congress Library Collections on the Archives Hub.

All images copyright London Metropolitan University and reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holder.

 

Black Georgians: Phillis Wheatley

Archives Hub feature for January 2016

Founded in 1981, Black Cultural Archives’ mission is to collect, preserve and celebrate the heritage and history of Black people in Britain. 

Photograph and Printed Document, originally purported to be of Francis Barber.
PHOTOS/27 Photograph and Printed Document, originally purported to be of Francis Barber.
Photographic reproduction of artwork, originally purported to be a portrait of Francis Barber, companion to Dr Samuel Johnson, in the manner of Sir Joshua Reynolds. The original is held in the Tate gallery and a copy is displayed at Dr Johnson House. Original date unknown.

Black Cultural Archives have opened the UK’s first dedicated Black heritage centre in Brixton, London, in July 2014. Our unparalleled and growing archive collection offers insight into the history of people of African and Caribbean descent in Britain. The bulk of the collection is drawn from the twentieth century to the present day, while some materials date as far back as the second century. The collection includes personal papers, organisational records, rare books, ephemera, photographs, and a small object collection.

Our work at Black Cultural Archives recognises the importance of untold stories and providing a platform to encourage enquiry and dialogue. We place people and their historical accounts at the heart of everything we do.

The current exhibition at Black Cultural Archives is Black Georgians: The Shock of the Familiar. Imagining the Georgian period awakens images from Jane Austen’s parlour to Hogarth’s Gin Lane. Black Cultural Archives’ new exhibition takes you on a journey a long way from these quintessential English images. This new exhibition interrogates the seams between the all-too-often prettified costume period dramas and the very different existence of hardship, grime, disease, and violence that was the reality for many.

Photograph of a portrait of Olaudah Equiano.
PHOTOS/73 Photograph of a portrait of Olaudah Equiano. Black and white photographic copy of portraits (from unknown book source) of Olaudah Equiano (Nigerian, born c.1745, Britain’s first Black political leader).

This exhibition will reveal the everyday lives of Black people during the Georgian period (1714-1830). It will offer a rich array of historical evidence and archival materials that present a surprising, sometimes shocking, and inspiring picture of Georgian Britain.

The Black Georgian narrative not only challenges preconceptions of the Black presence in Britain being restricted to post World War II, but it speaks to us of a growing population that forged a new identity with creativity, adaptability, and remarkable fortitude. It is a complex picture: while there was much oppression and restriction, there was also a degree of social mobility and integration.

Key individuals form the backbone to the exhibition, including Phillis Wheatley, the subject of this article in particular. Aged only seven, Wheatley was brought to Boston, United States, and sold as a child servant to the all-white Wheatley family in 1761. At the time, Boston was home to only 15,000 people, 800 of whom were of African descent; only 20 of these 800 were “free” individuals and not enslaved.[1] From the start, it was clear to the Wheatley family that Phillis was an extraordinary child, referred to by critics today as a ‘child prodigy’,[2] who ‘gave indications of uncommon intelligence’.[3] Susanna Wheatley, the mistress of the Wheatley family, recognised this extraordinary flair of intuitive intelligence, fostering the intellectual development of Phillis by allowing her to learn to read and write, learn Latin and to read the Bible. One may ask, why was Phillis saved from the usual domestic chores which was expected of the other servants? Vincent Carretta argues that Susanna’s attention may have been ‘a kind of social experiment to discover what effect education might have on an African’ or, perhaps, that Phillis reminded Susanna of the daughter she had lost years earlier.[4] Though we can never be certain as to why Susanna felt compelled to provide for Phillis in the manner that she did, we can see how it undoubtedly shaped the young child, with Wheatley later becoming the first African-American woman to publish poetry.

Wheatley’s first volume of poetry, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, was first published in England in 1773, the same year that she visited London. Wheatley was viewed by many during her trip to London as a “celebrity” of the day, though she was of course not without her critics; Wheatley had to prove the authenticity of her authorship, for many doubted that a women, more especially a former enslaved individual, could be capable of producing the poetry that she published.

Unfortunately, Wheatley’s life was short, dying at the young age of 31. She had married another free Black man, John Peters, in 1778, but despite the promising turn of events in her earlier life, including literary fame as the first female African-American poet, Wheatley died in poverty in 1784, having struggled to publish any further poetry.

Photocopy of a Phillis Wheatley Portrait
PHOTOS/25 Photocopy of a Phillis Wheatley Portrait. Colour photocopy (undated) of artwork by Scipio Moorhead portraying Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784) for her book ‘Poems on Various Subjects’ (unknown source).

Though short, Wheatley’s life was certainly remarkable, although there is still relatively little known about her beyond the basic facts, and less still known about her former years before being brought to Boston. Black Cultural Archives has previously recognised the remarkable life of Wheatley, highlighting her in a previous newsletter from 1992 as a ‘personality of the month’; this newsletter is part of our archival collection today, and can be found under the reference BCA/6/4/7.

Phillis Wheatley was the focus of the free Treasures in the Archive lunchtime talk on the 17th December, delivered by the Assistant Archivist, Emma Harrison; Wheatley and other prominent figures from the Georgian period can be explored further in the Black Georgians exhibition at Black Cultural Archives, which runs from the 9th October 2015 – 9th April 2016. For those who wish to interrogate and explore archival material relating to the Black Georgians exhibition, you are able to search our online catalogue (http://www.calmview.eu/BCA/CalmView/advanced.aspx?src=DServe.Catalog ). Archival material can be viewed by emailing archives@bcaheritage.org.uk to book an appointment in the reading room, which is open for archive appointments Wednesday-Friday 10am-4pm, and every second Thursday.

Emma Harrison
Assistant Archivist
Black Cultural Archives

[1] Vincent Carretta, Phillis Wheatley: Biography of a Genius in Bondage (London: The University of Georgia Press, 2011), p. 1.

[2] Peter Fryer, Staying Power (New York: Pluto Press, 2010), p. 91.

[3] William H. Robinson, Phillis Wheatley in the Black American Beginnings (Detroit: Broadside Press, 1975).

[4] Carretta, Phillis Wheatley, p. 37.

Related:

Browse the collections of the Black Cultural Archives on the Archives Hub.

All images copyright the Black Cultural Archives and reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holder.

Archives of Nostell Priory and the Winn Family

Archives Hub feature for May 2015

Image of Winn Arms, Rowland Winn 1st Baron, 1885
Winn Arms, Rowland Winn 1st Baron, 1885

The collection and cataloguing project

In 2011 the West Yorkshire Archive Service [WYAS] held a public vote in each of its five districts to find out which collection was considered to be the ‘Treasure of the Archives’. The Nostell Priory (Winn Family) collection (finding number WYW1352) easily won this title in the Wakefield district with a massive 40.73% of the votes.

Leading on from this, in 2013, WYAS secured funding for a year cataloguing project from the National Archives Cataloguing Grants Programme to fully catalogue and make accessible the archives of Nostell Priory and the Winn family spanning 800 years of history. The project enabled the original catalogue for the collection to be enhanced and brought up to current archival standards, as well as making available previously unlisted and unknown records of the Winn family.

Additional information has been added for some 6000 entries including Civil War tracts from the 17th century and eye-witness accounts and letters relating to the doomed invasion of Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745.

Records held in the collection include family papers [13th century-1999] and estate papers [1215-1987]. The collection consists of over 544 boxes worth of material. Whether you are looking for your ancestors who worked there, researching the influential Winn family, the estate, the Priory, coalmining or any aspect of local history, there is something for everyone in this wonderful collection!

A brief history of the house and the Winn Family

The Priory of St Oswald at Nostell was founded in the early 12th century out of a pre-existing hermitage that was devoted to St James.

In 1540 the Priory was closed down by Henry VIII during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and the buildings and land were granted to Dr Thomas Leigh. The estate passed through a number of owners and was then purchased by Rowland Winn, a London Alderman, in 1654. The Winns were originally from Gwydir in North Wales but had since become textile merchants in London, George Wynne of Gwydir was appointed draper to Elizabeth I. As the family increased its wealth they began acquiring land, which included the estate and manor of Thornton Curtis, Lincolnshire, and the manor of Appleby, Lincolnshire, before the purchase of Nostell in 1654.

By this time sections of the old Priory buildings had been converted into a manor house known as Nostell Hall, and the next three generations of the Winn family would use this house as their principal residence. The house that exists today is a result of the work commissioned by the 4th and 5th Baronets, both called Sir Rowland Winn. Work began in 1729 with Colonel James Moyser, James Paine and then Robert Adam all working on the house. Adam’s work on the interior and exterior of the house continued until 1785, when the 5th Baronet was suddenly killed in a carriage accident and money problems stopped all further work.

Engraving of Nostell Priory
Engraving of Nostell Priory

During his time at Nostell, Adam had brought in the painter Antonio Zucchi, the plasterer Joseph Rose, and the cabinet maker and furniture designer Thomas Chippendale to complete the interiors of the house, and these contributions are widely celebrated today.

After Sir Rowland Winn, 6th Baronet, died unmarried in 1805 the estate passed to his 11 year old nephew John Williamson, who was the son of Sir Rowland’s sister, Esther Winn, and John Williamson, a Manchester Baker. Upon inheriting the estate, John Williamson (junior) and his siblings, changed their names to Winn and we have the grant conferring John Williamson of Nostell Priory with the surname of Winn and coat of arms [see image above]. However the Williamson children did not inherit the Baronetcy, which could only be inherited through the male line in the family, and so it instead passed to Edmund Mark Winn, 7th Baronet, a first cousin. During much of the 6th Baronet’s ownership and the minority of John Winn, the daily management of the estate was left to Shepley Watson, a local solicitor.

After John Winn died in Rome in 1817, his brother Charles Winn inherited the estate. Charles commissioned further work on the furnishing and interiors at Nostell and, as a result of his keen antiquarian and scholarly interests, significantly added to the art, furniture and library collections at the house.

After Charles’ death in 1874, his son Rowland inherited the estate and embarked on further building and refurbishment work at Nostell. Rowland Winn was keenly interested in politics as was his son, Rowland [2nd Lord St Oswald]. The 2nd Lord St Oswald divided his time between Nostell and London and also travelled extensively overseas.

Following his father’s death in 1919, Rowland George Winn, 3rd Lord St Oswald, succeeded to the peerage but did not live at Nostell. During the 1920s and 1930s the house was occupied by other members of the Winn family. The Royal Artillery occupied the house during the Second World War, but the 4th Baron, Rowland Denys Guy Winn, returned to the family home following a distinguished service record in the Second World War and in Korea.

Upon his return he embarked on a political career and then succeeded to the title on his father’s death. He was an active member of the House of Lords throughout the rest of his life.

During the early 1950s the house was opened to the public as a heritage site, and in 1984 Nostell Priory was conveyed to the National Trust in lieu of inheritance tax, largely down to the work of the 4th Baron. Upon his death in 1984, he was succeeded by his younger brother Derek Edmund Anthony Winn, 5th Lord St Oswald, the father of the present Lord St Oswald, Charles Rowland Andrew Winn, 6th Baron Saint Oswald, who in turn took the title on the death of his father in 1999.

How to view the collection

Photo showing Nostell correspondence
Nostell correspondence

The collection is fully listed and information about the records can be found on the WYAS online catalogue at http://catalogue.wyjs.org.uk/Record.aspx?id=LC03029

This information is also due to be available to view on the Hub in the next fews months. Original records can be viewed at the Wakefield office of WYAS wakefield@wyjs.org.uk , telephone 01924 305980 [appointments are recommended as the material is not held on site]. Opening times and details of where the Wakefield office is located can be found at http://www.wyjs.org.uk/archives-wakefield.asp

Related information on the Archives Hub

West Yorkshire Archive Service, Wakefield: browse Wakefield collections

West Yorkshire Archive Service, all districts – Hub contributor information

Jennifer Brierley
ICT and Collections Archivist
West Yorkshire Archive Service

All images copyright the West Yorkshire Archive Service, and reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holder.

Europeana Tech 2015: focus on the journey

Last week I attended a very full and lively Europeana Tech conference. Here are some of the main initiatives and ideas I have taken away with me:

Think in terms of improvement, not perfection

Do the best you can with what you have; incorrect data may not be as bad as we think and maybe users expectations are changing, and they are increasingly willing to work with incomplete or imperfect data. Some of the speakers talked about successful crowd-sourcing – people are often happy to correct your metadata for you and a well thought-out crowd-sourcing project can give great results.

BL Georeferencer, showing an old map overlaying part of Manchester: http://www.bl.uk/maps/georeferencingmap.html
BL Georeferencer, showing an old map overlaying part of Manchester: http://www.bl.uk/maps/georeferencingmap.html

The British Library currently have an initiative to encourage tagging of their images on Flickr Commons and they also have a crowd-sourcing geo-referencer project.

The Cooper Hewitt Museum site takes a different and more informal approach to what we might usually expect from a cultural heritage site. The homepage goes for an honest approach:

“This is a kind of living document, meaning that development is ongoing — object research is being added, bugs are being fixed, and erroneous terms are being revised. In spite of the eccentricities of raw data, you can begin exploring the collection and discovering unexpected connections among objects and designers.”

The ‘here is some stuff’ and ‘show me more stuff’ type of approach was noticeable throughout the conference, with different speakers talking about their own websites. Seb Chan from the Cooper Hewitt Museum talked about the importance of putting information out there, even if you have very little, it is better than nothing (e.g. https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18446665).

The speaker from Google, Chris Welty, is best known for his work on ontologies in the Semantic Web and IBM’s Watson. He spoke about cognitive computing, and his message was ‘maybe it’s OK to be wrong’. Something may well still useful, even if it is not perfectly precise. We are increasingly understanding that the Web is in a state of continuous improvement, and so we should focus on improvement, not perfection. What we want is for mistakes to decrease, and for new functionality not to break old functionality.  Chris talked about the importance of having a metric – something that is believable – that you can use to measure improvement. He also spoke about what is ‘true’ and the need for a ‘ground truth’ in an environment where problems often don’t have a right or wrong answer. What is the truth about an image? If you show an image to a human and ask them to talk about it they could talk for a long time. What are the right things to say about it? What should a machine see? To know this, or to know it better, Chris said, Google needs data – more and more and more data. He made it clear that the data is key and it will help us on the road to continuous improvement. He used the example of searching for pictures of flowers using Google to find ‘paintings with flowers’. If you did this search 5 years ago you probably wouldn’t get just paintings with flowers. The  search has improved, and it will continue to improve.  A search for ‘paintings with tulips’ now is likely to show you just tulips. However, he gave the example of  ‘paintings with flowers by french artists’ –  a search where you start to see errors as the results are not all by french artists. A current problem Google are dealing with is mixed language queries, such as  ‘paintings des fleurs’, which opens a whole can of worms. But Chris’ message was that metadata matters: it is the metadata that makes this kind of searching possible.

The Success of Failure

Related to the point about improvement, the message is that being ‘wrong’ or ‘failing’ should be seen in a much more positive light. Chris Welty told us that two thirds of his work doesn’t make it into a live environment, and he has no problem with that. Of course, it’s hard not to think that Google can afford to fail rather more than many of us! But I did have an interesting conversation with colleagues, via Twitter, around the importance of senior management and funders understanding that we can learn a great deal from what is perceived as failure, and we shouldn’t feel compelled to hide it away.

Photo from Europeana Tech
Europeana Tech panel session, with four continents represented

Think in terms of Entities

We had a small group conversation where this came up, and a colleague said to me ‘but surely that’s obvious’. But as archivists we have always been very centered on documents rather than things – on the archive collection, and the archive collection description. The  trend that I was seeing reflected at Europeana Tech continued to be towards connections, narratives, pathways, utilising new tools for working with data, for improving data quality and linking data, for adding geo-coordinates and describing new entities, for making images more interoperable and contextualising information. The principle underlying this was that we should start from the real world – the real world entities – and go from there. Various data models were explored, such as the Europeana Data Model and CIDOC CRM, and speakers explained how entities can connect, and enable a richer landscape. Data models are a tricky one because they can help to focus on key entities and relationships, but they can be very complex and rather off-putting. The EDM seems to split the crowd somewhat, and there was some criticism that it is not event-based like CIDOC CRM, but the CRM is often criticised for being very complex and difficult to understand. Anyway, setting that aside, the overall the message was that relationships are key, however we decide to model them.

Cataloguing will never capture everyone’s research interests

An obvious point, but I thought it was quite well conveyed in the conference. Do we catalogue with the assumption that people know what they need? What about researchers interested in how ‘sad’ is expressed throughout history, or fashions for facial hair, or a million other topics that simply don’t fit in with the sorts of keywords and subject terms we normally use. We’ll never be able to meet these needs, but putting out as much data as we can, and making it open, allows others to explore, tag and annotate and create infinite groups of resources. It can be amazing and moving, what people create: Every3Minutes.

There’s so much out there to explore….

There are so many great looking tools and initiatives worth looking at, so many places to go and experiment with open data, so many APIs enabling so much potential. I ended up with a very long list of interesting looking sites to check out. But I couldn’t help feeling that so few of us have the time or resource to actually take advantage of this busy world of technology. We heard about Europeana Labs, which has around 100 ‘hardcore’ users and 2,200 registered keys (required for API use). It is described as “a playground for remixing and using your cultural and scientific heritage. A place for inspiration, innovation and sharing.” I wondered if we would ever have the time to go and have a play. But then maybe we should shift focus away from not being able to do these things ourselves, and simply allow others to use the data, and to adopt the tools and techniques that are available – people can create all sorts of things. One example amongst many we heard about at the conference is a cultural collage: zenlan.com/collage. It comes back to what is now quite an old adage, ‘the best innovation may not be done by you’. APIs enable others to innovate, and what interests people can be a real surprise. Bill Thompson from the BBC referred to a huge interest in old listings from Radio Times, which are now available online.

The International Image Interoperability Framework

I list the IIIF this because it jumped out at me as a framework that seems to be very popular – several speakers referred to it, and it very positive terms. I hadn’t heard of it before, but it seemed to be seen as a practical means to ensure that images are interoperable, and can be moved around different systems.

Think Little

One of my favourite thoughts from the conference, from the ever-inspirational Tim Sherratt, was that big ideas should enable little ideas. The little ideas are often what really makes the world go round. You don’t have to always think big. In fact, many sites have suffered from the tendency to try to do everything. Just because you can add tons of features to your applications, it doesn’t mean you should

The Importance of Orientation

How would you present your collections if you didn’t have a search box? This is the question I asked myself after listening to George Oates, from Good Form and Spectacle. She is a User Interface expert, and has worked on Flickr and for the Internet Archive amongst other things. I thought her argument about the need to help orientate users was interesting, as so often we are told that the ‘Google search box’ is the key thing, and what users expect. She talked about some of her experiments with front end interfaces that allow users to look at things differently, such as the V&A Spelunker. She spoke in terms of landmarks and paths that users could follow. I wonder if this is easier said than done with archives without over-curating what you have or excluding material that is less well catalogued, or does not have a nice image to work with. But I certainly think it is an idea worth exploring.

View of V&A Speleunker
“The V&A Spelunker is a rough thing built by Good, Form & Spectacle to give a different view into the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum”

Kettle’s Yard Archive

Archives Hub feature for September 2014

Image of Kettle's Yard House
Kettle’s Yard House, University of Cambridge

Kettle’s Yard – A Way of Life

Kettle’s Yard is a unique and special place.  It is so much more than a house, a museum or a gallery, and it invariably leaves a lasting impression with those who visit.

Between 1958 and 1973, Kettle’s Yard was the home of Jim and Helen Ede. In the 1920s and 30s, Jim had been a curator at the Tate Gallery in London. It was during this time that he formed friendships with artists and other like-minded people, which allowed him to gather a remarkable collection of works by artists such as Ben and Winifred Nicholson, Alfred Wallis, Christopher Wood, David Jones and Joan Miro, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Constantin Brancusi, Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth.  Ede also shared with many of his artist friends a fascination for beautiful natural objects such as pebbles, weathered wood, shells or feathers, which he also collected.

Jim carefully positioned artworks alongside furniture, glass, ceramics and natural objects, with the aim of creating a perfectly balanced whole. His vision was of a place that should not be

“an art gallery or museum, nor … simply a collection of works of art reflecting my taste or the taste of a given period. It is, rather, a continuing way of life from these last fifty years, in which stray objects, stones, glass, pictures, sculpture, in light and in space, have been used to make manifest the underlying stability.”

Image of Jim Ede's bedroom table
Jim Ede’s bedroom table – Kettle’s Yard, 
University of Cambridge. Photo: Paul Allitt.

Jim originally envisaged making a home for his collection in quite a grand house, but unable to find a suitable property, he opted instead to remodel four derelict 19th century cottages and convert them into a single house.

Kettle’s Yard was conceived with students in mind, as ‘a living place where works of art could be enjoyed . . . where young people could be at home unhampered by the greater austerity of the museum or public art gallery.’  Jim Ede kept ‘open house’ every afternoon of term, personally guiding his visitors around his home. This experience is still faithfully recreated as visitors ring the bell at the front door, and are welcomed into the house.

Image of Jim Ede
Jim Ede at Kettle’s Yard – Kettle’s Yard, 
University of Cambridge

In 1966 Jim gave the house and its contents to the University of Cambridge, though he continued to occupy and run it until 1973. In 1970, the house was extended, and an exhibition gallery added to ensure that there would always be a dynamic element to Kettle’s Yard, with space for contemporary exhibitions, music recitals and other public events.

The archive

If Kettle’s Yard is the ultimate expression of a way of life developed over 50 years and more, the archive adds an extra dimension by documenting the rich story of how that philosophy evolved.  At its core are Jim Ede’s personal papers, which chart a wide range of influences throughout his life, from his experience of World War I, through the ‘open house’ the Ede’s kept in Hampstead through the late 1920s and early 1930s and the vibrant set who attended their parties; the weekend retreats for servicemen on leave from Gibraltar at the Ede’s house in Tangier at the end of World War II; the ‘lecturer in search of an audience’ who travelled to the US in the early 1940s; the prolific correspondence not just with artist friends, but figures such as T E Lawrence; and the development of Kettle’s Yard and its collections.

Thanks to the support of the Newton Trust, we are now half way through a 2-year project to improve access to the archive and support research by producing a digital catalogue of the collections, putting in place proper preservation strategies, and establishing procedures for public access. This work builds on the foundations laid by the dedicated archive volunteers, who continue to work with us.

We have started out by publishing a high-level description of the Ede papers on the Archives Hub [http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb1759-ky/ede?page=1#id1308050], to which we will add more detail over the coming year.  The catalogue already includes detailed descriptions of c.120 letters Jim Ede received from the artist and writer David Jones between 1927 and 1971, and c. 200 from the collector and patron Helen Sutherland, from 1926 to 1964.   We will soon be adding correspondence with the artists Ian Hamilton Finlay and Richard Pousette-Dart, and the museum director Perry Rathbone; papers relating to Jim Ede’s lifelong mission to promote the work of Henri Gaudier Brzeska, and the establishment and running of Kettle’s Yard; and other small collections such as Helen Sutherland’s letters to the poet Kathleen Raine.

In another exciting development, Kettle’s Yard has now received backing from the Arts Council England Capital Investment Programme Fund to create a new Education Wing and carry out major improvements to the exhibition galleries.  The plans [http://www.kettlesyard.co.uk/development/index.php] include a purpose-built archive store and dedicated space for consulting and exhibiting archive material.

One recent addition to the archive is a letter that Jim Ede wrote in 1964, in response to a thank you note from an undergraduate who had visited Kettle’s Yard.  In typical style, Jim expresses concern about whether he really is providing pleasure to others through his endeavours at Kettle’s Yard, and draws strength from the expression of gratitude.  He ends the letter ‘Do come in as often as you like – the place is only alive when used’.

Image of letter from Jim Ede
“the place is only alive when used” – Kettle’s Yard Archive, University of Cambridge

This is very true of the house, but equally true of the archive – and hopefully everything we are doing to improve physical and intellectual access to the archives, and integrate it into all aspects of the Kettle’s Yard programme, will ensure that it is well used.

Frieda Midgley, Archivist
Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge

All images copyright Ketttle’s Yard, University of Cambridge, and reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holder.

A Spring in Your Step

Archives Hub feature for May 2014

Photograph of ballet dancer, Anthony Crickmay Dance Photographs, © V&A Department of Theatre and Performance.
Anthony Crickmay Dance Photographs (THM/20), © V&A Department of Theatre and Performance, Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

The Archives Hub contains a range of material linked with dance – dancers, choreographers and teachers, schools and companies, ballet, contemporary and other styles of dance. This feature highlights some of these collections.

Dancers and Choreographers

Jack Cole Scrapbook Collection, 1910s-1970s, dancer and choreographer. He was known for his unpredictability and originality, grafting on elements from Indian, Oriental, Carribean, Latin American, Spanish, and African-American dance. He worked on Broadway and in Hollywood as both dancer and choreographer, being popularly remembered for his choreography for Marilyn Monroe. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb71-thm/106

Ram Gopal Collection, 1930s-2004, dancer, choreographer and teacher. Gopal was trained in classical Indian dance forms of Kathakali, Bharatra Natya and Manipuri. He wanted Eastern and Western dance forms to work together and taught Indian folk dance at the Harlequin Ballet Company. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb1975-ram

Papers of Diana Gould, 1926-1996, dancer. Diana Rosamund Constance Grace Irene Gould was a British ballerina. Early in her career Sergei Diaghilev spotted her and invited her to join his Ballets Russes but he died before this could be arranged, events said to have been fictionalized in the film ‘The Red Shoes’. Diana married Sir Yehudi Menuhin in 1947.
http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb2228-dpdg

Papers relating to the career of Bruce McClure, 1925-1989, dancer and choreographer. Bruce McClure trained as a dancer and worked as a dancer at the Citizens’ Theatre among other places. In the 1960s he moved on to choreography including for television. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb247-stabmc

Collection of material relating to Margaret Morris, 1891-1980, ballet dancer and choreographer. She established the first national ballet company for Scotland, developed a modern dance technique and a system of movement therapy. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb247-stabq1

Harry Relph (Little Tich) volumes, 1881-1974, dancer. Known on stage as Little Tich (he was 4 foot 6 inches tall), Harry Relph became one of Britain’s most popular music-hall and variety acts. One of his best known routines was called ‘Big Boots’, which had him dancing in boots that were 28 inches long.
http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb71-thm/326

Shirley Wimmer Collection, 1946-1987, dancer, choreographer and dance scholar. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb1701-d3

Dance schools, companies and educational organisations

Photograph of tap dancing class 1942
Tap dancing class in the gymnasium at Iowa State College, 1942. Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsc-00250.

Papers relating to the Pushpalata Dance Company, 1991-2005. The company focuses on Odissi and Kathak dance practices, but also performs in a number of collaborations with Western dance forms, most notably investigating the point at which Flamenco and Kathak dance meet. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb1975-pu

Philip Richardson Archive Collection, Royal Academy of Dance, c1900-1963; c1760-1780; c1800-1900. Richardson’s interest in the history of dancing led him to become an avid collector of rare books on the subject. His personal library collection was bequeathed to the RAD after his death in 1963. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb3370-rad/pjsr

The Mimi Legat Collection, The Royal Ballet School, White Lodge Museum, 1900-1970. Papers relating to the Russian ballet dancers Sergei Legat, Nicolas Legat, and Nadine Nicolaeva-Legat. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb3208-rbs/mim

Rita Dow Ballet Bequest, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, 1920s-1990s. Dancer and teacher. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb2607-rd000-682

Rambert Dance Company logo
Rambert Dance Company logo

Marie Rambert collection, Rambert Dance Company, 1890s-1980s. Collection of films, costumes, photographs, correspondence, diaries, programmes, press cuttings, personal papers, autobiographical notes, awards and medals owned and collected by Dame Marie Rambert throughout her life as well as papers relating to her death and memorials. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb2228-mr

Laban Collection, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, 1918-2001. Papers and other material relating to Rudolf Laban: teacher, philosopher, dancer, choreographer, author, experimentor and the father of modern dance. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb1701-lc

Ballet

Dance scrapbooks (ballet), c1951-1978. Containing newspaper cuttings of national and international ballet companies and dancers including Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev.
http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb1701-lz

Ekstrom Collection: Diaghilev and Stravinsky Foundation, 1902-1984. Letters, financial records, and telegrams, which give a unique insight into the day-to-day running of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes.
http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb71-thm/7

Russian Ballet Collection, 1911-1914. Programmes of the Russian Ballet’s seasons at the Theatre du Chatelet, Paris, held by the University of Exeter. Included are many colour illustrations of costume designs, as well as photographs and illustrations of various dancers and text about various ballet productions. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb29-eulms158

Records of Scottish Ballet, 1952-1999. Programmes, photographs, leaflets, periodicals, press cuttings, posters and other papers relating to the Scottish Ballet and Western Ballet Theatre. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb247-gb247stasbetc

Valentine Gross Archive, 1700-1960s. Valentine Gross, a.k.a. Valentine Hugo (1887-1968), was a French art ballet enthusiast, illustrator, researcher and painter and still a student at the time of 1909 Saison Russe in Paris.
http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb71-thm/165

Contemporary dance

Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance logo
Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance logo
Bonnie Bird Choreography Fund Archive, 1981-2001. The Bonnie Bird Choreography Fund was established in 1984 to support and promote innovative choreographers and dance writers in Britain, Europe and America. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb1701-d25

Contemporary Dance Trust Archive, 1957-1998. Consists of papers relating to the running of the Contemporary Dance Trust which incorporated the London Contemporary Dance Theatre and the London Contemporary Dance School.
http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb71-thm/22

Independent Dance at the Holborn Centre for Performing Arts Archive, 1989-1999. Independent Dance is an artist-led organisation which provides specialist training to contemporary dance artists. It was established in 1990 and has the longest running daily training programme in the UK.
http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb1701-d17

Bob Lockyer Collection, 1970-1995. Photographs and scripts from various dance programmes produced for the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) by Bob Lockyer. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb1701-d8

Dorothy Madden Collection, 1912-2002. Dr Dorothy Gifford Madden, former Professor Emerita of the University of Maryland, United States of America who was responsible for bringing American modern dance practice to the United Kingdom.
http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb1701-d23

Transitions Dance Company Archive, c1985-2009. Established in 1983, Transitions Dance Company was among the first graduate performance companies in the United Kingdom. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb1701-d24

Clubs, societies and other dance-related collections

Image of couple dancing, 1900s.
Lecon de Cake-Walk, 1900s.
Image in Public domain

Cambridge Dancers’ Club (Cambridge University), 1963-1983. Correspondence, minutes and other papers. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb012-ms.add.8694

Classical and Ballroom Dancing Society (University of Manchester), 1946-1948. The Society was set up in 1946 to encourage “the improvement of all forms of dancing” amongst its membership. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb133-vss.html?page=2#idp32580000

Dance theatre programmes collection, c1950-1999. A collection of over 3,000 dance theatre programmes from over 500 national and international dancers and dance companies. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb1701-ld

Folk Dance Society (University of Manchester), 1948-1976. Established in 1948 to promote folk dancing, particularly the traditions of the British Isles. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb133-vss.html?page=3#idp18573024

Papers of the Foundation for Community Dance and predecessors, 1984-2011. Papers of the Foundation for Community Dance and its predecessors the Community Dance and Mime Foundation and the National Association of Dance and Mime Animateurs. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb3071-d/036

Henry Rolf Gardiner: Letters to Margaret Gardiner, 1921-1960. 34 letters from Gardiner (businessman and author) to his sister Margaret Gardiner, on his time at Cambridge. Topics include folk-dancing, morris-dancing and work on a dance-book. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb012-ms.add.8932

Els Grelinger Collection, c1928-2000. Notation scores, papers and videos of Els Grelinger, dance notator. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb1701-d22

Sadler’s Wells Theatre Archive, c1712-2012. The Sadler’s Wells site has been occupied by six different theatres since 1683. The current theatre, which opened in 1998, is dedicated to international dance. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb1032-s/swt

Peter Williams Collection, c1950-1980. Williams was the editor of the journal Dance and Dancers. The collection includes c40,000 black and white photographs of dancers and dance companies from all over the world. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb1701-d11

Photo of Bharatanatyam male dancer.
Bharatanatyam male. Image in Public Domain.