Beat the queue and book your place in our reading rooms.

We are delighted that, from 6th October, we are able to welcome researchers back to Churchill Archives Centre. The ongoing public health situation has required changes in our on-site procedures but we are still able to offer you a friendly and tailored service.

Please visit this page to prepare for your visit to the Archives Centre, and do have a look at the video made by our Audio-visual department. It will show you all the precautions taken to protect you and our staff.

A black and white photo of Winston Churchill with George VI, Elizabeth, and a team of work men outside a heavily bomb-damaged section of Buckingham Palace

Churchill with George VI and Queen Elizabeth in the bomb damaged Buckingham Palace, September 1940.  Churchill Press Photographs, CHPH 12/F1/47.

Working from home

In mid-March we were forced to close our reading rooms to researchers, and to work from home. Though we now have limited staff back on site and our reading rooms will soon reopen (with reduced hours) we will continue to work at least partly from home for the foreseeable future.

During the last six months we have had time to reflect on our services and think about improving the accessibility of our collections to the public. We will soon offer an online booking system to make reserving your space in the reading room easier, and an online order form to make ordering copies from our collections easier. We have also been working on a series of online exhibitions and online events (more below).

Before lockdown, we were on the verge of ordering high quality photographic equipment to enable us to make preservation copies in-house. This project was on hold for a few months but we have now ordered the equipment and are ready to be trained by a photographer specialising in preservation copies.

Since our last newsletter our catalogue data has been moved to the ArchivesSpace archive management system. This was an essential future-proofing task for the detailed information about our collections.

Online Exhibitions

Repaired album from the Esher Papers

Repaired album from the Esher Papers.

The health crisis encouraged us to rethink our online services. It may be some before researchers have access to our collections as easily as before, and therefore it was clear that we had to increase our online content.

Creating new and dynamic online exhibitions was identified as one of our priorities, especially since our plans for future physical exhibitions were put on hold for an indefinite period of time. We already published blog posts on our website but wanted a platform that would offer more flexibility and the ability to upload good quality images. After assessing the different software options available, we decided to use the SquareSpace platform for its low price, ease of use and lean aesthetics.

The first exhibition was written by our conservation department. It takes you step-by-step through the conservation treatment of a series of scrapbooks from the First World War by the Viscountess Esher. View the exhibition here.

Black and white photo of Rosalind Franklin leaning on a table inside a French hotel or restaurant

Rosalind Franklin in the Alps.

Our second online exhibition was dedicated to Rosalind Franklin as a celebration of the 100th anniversary of her birth. Rosalind Franklin is probably best known for her research on the structure of DNA, but this exhibition aims to highlight her investigations into virus structures from 1953 onwards. This work in many ways was a continuation of Franklin’s earlier studies of DNA and the structure of carbons, as she used and pioneered techniques in X-ray crystallography in all three areas of research. Find out more about her work here .

Our next online exhibition will be dedicated to Peggy Jay, a politician and campaigner, particularly influential in the areas of healthcare, child welfare, and disability rights.

More exhibitions will come as we are working at increasing our content everyday in order to make our collections accessible to a wider audience.

The Life and Legacy of Admiral Lord ‘Jacky’ Fisher (1841-1920) 20th October 2020, 15:00-17:00

Black and white portrait photograph of Admiral Fisher in dress uniform

Admiral Fisher. Fisher Papers, FISR 12/1.

All welcome to our free online event to commemorate and debate the life and legacy of Admiral Lord ‘Jacky’ Fisher (1841-1920). The event is being held to mark the centenary of Fisher’s death and to celebrate the transfer of new material to the Churchill Archives Centre.

The event will be on 20 Oct, exactly 116 years after Fisher became First Sea Lord for the first time on 20 October 1904.

Ticket available on Eventbrite.

HMS Dreadnought going to sea for the first time

HMS Dreadnought going to sea for the first time. Fisher Papers, FISR 15/6/3.

New virtual By-Fellow: Tom Kelsey, King’s College London

Profile photo of Tom Kelsey. He is holding a newborn baby who is wrapped in a pink blanket, and they are standing in front of a bookcase

Welcome to our new virtual By-Fellow Tom Kelsey!

I am both disappointed and slightly relieved to be the first virtual Churchill Archives Centre By-Fellow. While I am sad that I will miss out on life in college, it is also true to say that working from home suits me at the moment. This is of course for pandemic-related reasons, but it is also because my daughter was born only a few weeks ago. I am grateful to the Archive Centre for being so flexible in a time of such instability, difficulty and personal joy.

There are two strands to the research I am conducting while a virtual By-Fellow. The first builds on my recently submitted thesis, as I still want to know more about defence procurement under Mrs. Thatcher, specifically the extent to which a ‘Buy British’ approach continued to reign supreme. The second strand of research is part of a new project about ‘Bennism’, the ideas and political thinking inspired by Tony Benn, aimed at understanding what it meant and why it was so contested.

I would also like to express my thanks to the John Antcliffe Memorial Grant for giving me the opportunity to conduct this research.

Find out more about the Archives Centre here.

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