Anglia Ruskin History students unearth hidden voices in Churchill Archives Centre
Undergraduate History students at Anglia Ruskin University have created an online exhibition sharing hidden stories to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Churchill Archives Centre.
To mark half a century of preservation and access, Churchill Archives Centre asked students to create an exhibition that highlighted the range and diversity of its collections, and specifically people and communities who had been historically neglected.
Students were given a behind-the-scenes tour of the Archives Centre before archivists presented a specialist introduction to our collections. Students scoured catalogues ahead of their first research visit, where they looked at letters, diaries, poems, and even calculations. They then had the difficult task of deciding which items to write about in the final online exhibition.
In their exhibitions, students share the histories of the first female MPs, the emotions of warfare, the ‘Dilly girls’ of Bletchley Park, suffrage campaigners, and conservative views on post-war immigration.
This is the second year that the Archives Centre have worked with History undergraduates, as part of Anglia Ruskin’s Live Brief programme, which gives students the opportunity to work collaboratively with organisations on a real-world project.
Allen Packwood, Director of the Churchill Archives Centre, said:
“It is important that the Churchill Archives Centre is seen as a resource for all, and not just as a specialist repository locked away within the University of Cambridge, accessible only to a handful of academic historians. This then is an ideal project for us, working in partnership with another university and with a group of enthusiastic students who have brought their fresh perspectives to our collections.”
Dr Joseph Harley, Lecturer in History at Anglia Ruskin said:
“The archive has fantastic resources which our students absolutely loved exploring and getting to grips with. Many have said that working with the archive was their favourite part of their course and the first time that they have felt like ‘real’ historians! It has been fantastic to see our students get to grips with sources from the archive and to analyse them for themselves.”
Chloe Boast, second-year History BA student, said:
“I was thrilled and privileged to be allowed a look inside Churchill Archives. I learned early on that the work done within the archives is not as simple as it seems. So much work goes into preserving documents, photos, physical objects etc. I was lucky enough to be allowed to work with some of their documents and it was truly amazing to see history in front of my eyes.”
Archie Jennings, second-year History BA student, said:
“Through this experience I have learnt how to use an archive for primary research. From the first group visit to the research phase, the staff and mentors were incredibly helpful and knowledgeable. A fantastic introduction to archival research.”
To view the students’ online exhibition, visit https://www.chuarchivestories.uk/stories/hidden-voices.
About Churchill Archives Centre
Purpose-built to house the papers of Winston Churchill and his contemporaries, the Archives Centre holds the personal papers of over 570 leading political, scientific, and military figures. For decades, their collections have been consulted by researchers all over the world, to broaden and enrich understanding of the history of modern Britain.
Throughout the year, the Archives will be inviting its researchers, archivists, conservators, volunteers, and depositors to share their stories from the archives.
To find out more, visit: https://archives.chu.cam.ac.uk/50th-anniversary-of-the-archives-centre/