Each summer, Churchill Archives Centre hosts a visit from students following the Arts and Humanities stream of the University’s Insight programme. We arrange a display of archives from our collections- aiming to whet the students’ appetite for using primary sources to gain new (and sometimes unexpected) perspectives on history. We also hope to help them to develop skills and to gain confidence in interpreting primary sources.

This year, Rosie Poser, who was at the Archives Centre for a couple of days’ work experience, made the selection of facsimile documents to show the Insight group. Rosie explained:

“Knowing that all the visitors had just taken their GCSEs, I decided to choose documents that were related to topics they might have covered in GCSE History. For example, I chose several documents relating to appeasement. These were interesting because they presented different opinions to the ones often studied.

“I also chose documents that helped to show less well known aspects of the lives of Churchill and Thatcher. For example, I chose the letters Churchill wrote to his mother as a child and later to his wife to illustrate parts of his personal life and character, not just his political career.

“I found the process of selecting documents very interesting — I got to look at many fascinating historical documents that brought to life the topics I had just studied for History GCSE. I also had to review all the material and think about which documents would be most interesting and informative. This was a new and somewhat challenging skill.

“Overall, I very much enjoyed helping with preparations for the visit.”

The large table in the centre of the Archives Centre reading room, laid out with a display for the Insight Schools visit. At the end of the table closest to the camera, Margaret Thatcher's black handbag is on show in a display box.
Display for the visit

The visit by 25 Insight students was great fun to host and the feedback from the students was that they enjoyed the visit. In working with the Insight Programme and also with the Sutton Trust, Churchill Archives Centre supports Churchill College and the University of Cambridge in encouraging applications to higher education from students from a wide range of backgrounds.

— Natalie Adams and Rosie Poser, July 2018

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