The Churchill Archives Centre launches new Access Portal to mark its 50th Anniversary
The Churchill Archives Centre is a world-leading repository of 20th century history, holding a wide range of documents by more than 570 political, military and scientific luminary figures from the Churchill era and beyond. To mark the 50th Anniversary of the Churchill Archives Centre, we are proud to announce the launch of our free Access Portal. The website allows researchers worldwide to explore archival material shared online for the first time.
Material newly available to view online includes Clementine Churchill’s photo albums, plus a selection of her letters to Winston Churchill, such as one hurriedly written in crayon in 1914, where a pregnant Clementine begged Winston not to fly. Like many of her letters, she signed it off with a doodle of a cat (complete with kitten inside)!
“My darling, I hear you want the car. But I do implore you not to fly this morning. There is a high wind & it is a bad day. Quick send me back a reassuring note. Trembling & anxious [cat].”
The Access Portal is open to all, and a useful resource for researchers, teachers and anyone looking to examine British history from mid-twentieth century onward. It can be accessed by visiting https://oa.churchillarchives.libnova.com. It provides a window into the collections of the Archives Centre, which includes digital images of documents, photo albums and correspondence, alongside oral history interviews and video footage.
The Access Portal also shares a lifetime of letters from Sarah Churchill to her mother, Clementine, from childhood and schooldays to her career as a dancer and actress, including a wartime interlude in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force when she accompanied her father, Winston, to the Yalta Conference.
Visitors can also find a selection of private diaries penned by diplomat Alexander Cadogan, dating from the 1930s and 40s, where he wrote about colleagues and foreign policy making in characteristically brisk and candid style.
Recordings of the biennial Roskill Lecture, a lecture series, have also been added to the Portal. The lecture series, covering topics such as international security, foreign policy, war, public policy, and the history of science, was initially created to honour the Senior Research Fellow and historian, Captain Stephen Roskill, who played a vital role in setting up the Archives Centre.
They are joined by over 100 podcast interviews with female MPs, which were originally broadcast on Women’s Parliamentary Radio, covering subjects such as the centenary of women’s suffrage to debates over Brexit. Over the coming months, the team will be adding more material to the Access Portal.
This new Access Portal supplements a range of other freely accessible historical documents, including documents relating to Margaret Thatcher via the Margaret Thatcher Foundation, as well as classroom-ready resources centred on the Churchill era via the Churchill Archives for Schools website.
Professor Dame Athene Donald, Master of Churchill College, said:
“Since joining the College, I have found the Archives Centre to be a special place, offering so much to individuals at every stage of their career. I am grateful to all here at Churchill College who have contributed to its inception, growth and continuing success. It is a truly unique resource for the study of so many aspects of our recent past.”
Allen Packwood, Director of the Churchill Archives Centre said:
“The main challenge of our first half century was to create something sustainable: to gather the collections, to build the Archives Centre and to put in place the funding to secure the operation for the longer term. Going forward, we will need to be imaginative in growing access, widening participation, embracing new technologies and providing more remote services. In that sense, the Access Portal is a very real link between the past and the future, a vital first step in helping to take the raw material of history to a wider audience.”
The Access Portal launch is part of a year of celebrations to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Churchill Archives Centre.
The team have also launched its ‘50 stories for 50 years’ series which spotlights stories told by our researchers, staff, and volunteers about their experiences at the Archives Centre.
The highlight of the Anniversary celebrations will be a free 2-day conference on the 25th and 26th September, open to the public and featuring a range of high-profile speakers and researchers. It will be held in-person and streamed online and will explore the history of the Archives Centre, its impact, and what the future of Archives might look like.
To book a place, see https://churchillc1dev.wpengine.com/event/celebrating-preservation-and-access/
Notes for Editors
Churchill Archives Centre is part of Churchill College, Cambridge and is located on the College campus. For information on the collections and on how to access them, in person or remotely, see https://archives.chu.cam.ac.uk/ or email
To find out more about our 50th Anniversary celebrations, visit: https://archives.chu.cam.ac.uk/50th-anniversary-of-the-archives-centre/
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Allen Packwood, Director of the Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill Archives Centre.
Amy Chapman, Communications Manager, Churchill College