Feed aggregator

Teaching & Learning with Artists’ Books

The Devil's Tale - Thu, 02/07/2019 - 06:03

Post contributed by Kelly Wooten, Librarian for the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture

In the fall 2018 semester, I worked with students in two sections of Dr. Amanda Wetsel’s Writing 101 course, Photography and Anthropology to introduce them to the Rubenstein Library’s collection of artists’ books.

As context, Dr. Wetsel shared that students in Photography and Anthropology consider how anthropologists have treated photographs both as an object of inquiry and a means of communicating their findings.  She writes, “As they read both early and contemporary anthropological texts, students think about multiple ways words and images interact. They then conduct ethnographic research on a photographic genre here at Duke, such as lock screen photographs, Instagram accounts, and displays of photos in dorm rooms.”  As a final project, several students used the format of an artists’ book to convey their findings with words and photographs.

After their research visit, Dr. Wetsel reflected on how the works the students explored during their session inspired them to think creatively about their own projects:

Viewing artists’ books at the Rubenstein prompted students to think about how the form of a book can reflect its content, how to create powerful texts and format those texts creatively, and ways of making books engaging.  As they unfolded the game board of Julie Chen’s A Guide to Higher Learning, stretched Ed Ruscha’s Every Building on the Sunset Strip across the table, tugged down the staircase-like accordion folds of text on Clarissa Sligh’s What’s Happening with Momma and unrolled the delicate, cigarette-shaped scrolls of Amy Pirkle’s Smoke, students thought about how they could adapt the forms to communicate their own research.  We’re fortunate to have a range of creative and beautiful artists’ books at the Rubenstein for students to touch, read, and use as inspiration.   The form of the artists’ book allowed the students to combine text and photos in powerful and unexpected ways.

Kim’s “A View into the Wallpaper”

Joanne Kim, ’22, created a book entitled A View into the Wallpaper. The book itself resembles a cell phone, a box which opens to reveal four smaller icon-shaped boxes. She writes:

Detail from “A View into the Wallpaper”

The transition from home to college life is a daunting change which necessitates adaptation and the reconciliation of homesickness, and in some cases, existentialism. At Duke University, freshmen female and male students handle change differently. Female students respond by physically displaying the change in spaces such as their cellphone lock and home screen wallpaper. Male students seek some consistency in a major time of change, and therefore, keep their lock and home screen wallpapers the same through the transition. All the while, both genders utilize the space as a means of protecting and discovering their core identities throughout their freshman year and beyond.

Joshua Li, ’22, describes his piece Lily as having “six long and blue trapezoidal flaps with a Rubik’s cube at the center.” Each flap as an image of a meme which he presents as a form of community building, and the cube can be removed and played with separately. He shared a quote from the text in the book:

Memes function like a societal adhesive, a catalyst for unity in the ultra-diverse Duke community, as these witty photographs have for many years brought people together through shared laughter and warmth. Similar to how creating and looking at memes promote harmony, solving a Rubik’s cube enables one to achieve that same sense of harmony by restoring order to the scrambled and disorganized faces of the cube.

“Lily,” opened “Lily,” closed

He titled his book Lily “not only because the end product looked like the flower, but also because in Chinese culture lilies symbolize harmony and unity, which was the main conclusion from my research.” He continues, “The fact that the meme cube is at the center of a display made up of Duke colors (or close to Duke colors – the 3D printers here don’t bleed Duke Blue and white apparently) emphasizes the theme of memes being at the center of Duke University.”

The post Teaching & Learning with Artists’ Books appeared first on The Devil's Tale.

Women’s Work in the Woods: Women Loggers During World War I

The Devil's Tale - Mon, 02/04/2019 - 11:13

Post contributed by Jessica Janecki, Rare Materials Cataloger

Today’s blog post features a photograph album of 20 gelatin silver prints that depict women loggers at work in England during World War I. This item is from the  Lisa Unger Baskin Collection which documents women’s work across the centuries, from the 13th to the 20th. We chose to highlight this photograph album because it unites two of the Rubenstein’s collecting areas, women’s history and documentary photography.

The Great War: Glimpses of Women’s Work in the Woods.

Although the title, Glimpses of Women’s Work in the Woods, verges on the whimsical, these photographs show young women hard at work doing the grueling manual labor that, until the Great War, had been done almost exclusively by men.

Timber felling near Petworth. A typical feller using her axe on a small fir tree.

The women depicted in the photographs were members of the Timber Corps. During World War I, forestry, like many male-dominated industries, was left critically under-staffed and the British government encouraged women to do their part for the war effort by taking on these vital jobs. The images show women loggers felling trees with hand-axes and saws, trimming and “barking” felled trees, carrying logs, and driving horses. These photographs were taken in the summer of 1918 around the towns of Petworth and Heathfield in Sussex, England.

The tree falling. Heathfield. “Barking.” Heathfield. Carrying the poles out of the wood. Timber felling near Petworth. Horse girls bringing logs down to railroad.

These images were captured by Horace Nicholls, a British documentary photographer and photojournalist. He had been a war correspondent during the Second Boer War and later returned to England to work as a photojournalist. Prevented from serving in World War I due to his age, in 1917 he became an official photographer for the Ministry of Information and the Imperial War Museum, documenting life on the home front.

The series was not issued commercially and the album in the Baskin Collection appears to be a unique production. The 20 gelatin silver prints are carefully mounted on cream card stock with gilt edges. The binding is full red leather with the title in gold on the front cover and spine. Each print has a hand lettered caption. Click this link to view the full catalog record.

The post Women’s Work in the Woods: Women Loggers During World War I appeared first on The Devil's Tale.

Project to explore political role of Archbishops of York from 1304–1405

National Archives - Mon, 02/04/2019 - 07:29

Today we launch ‘The Northern Way’, an innovative research project investigating the political role of the Archbishops of York from 1304–1405.

With funding of almost £1 million from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the 33-month project will be managed in collaboration with the University of York, with the support of the Chapter of York Minster. A true project of discovery, historians and archivists will explore records generated by and from the Archbishops of York to investigate their role in one of the most turbulent periods in British history.

The project has two complementary strands. The principle aim is to make the key records of spiritual governance more digitally accessible, searchable and free. This will be achieved through the digital indexing of archbishops registers held at the Borthwick Institute for Archives, the University of York, and at regional and national archives. These registers will also be linked to new evidence taken from the many ecclesiastical records held at The National Archives.

Another ambition is to explore the tension between the archbishops’ spiritual and political leadership during a century of instability, warfare and famine. This includes focusing on the individual roles of northern archbishops as confidants of English royals and senior officials.

Co-Investigator of the project, Dr Paul Dryburgh, Principal Records Specialist at The National Archives, said:

‘The records held at The National Archives are an important piece of the puzzle in understanding this tension. Throughout the fourteenth century successive archbishops of York held key roles within royal government. They worked closely alongside individual kings and were supported by their clerks, many of whom came to Westminster from across the northern diocese. In many ways they can be described as a true northern powerhouse.’

To find out more and to see how you can get involved, visit the project website and Twitter feed (@tnorthernway), the Borthwick Institute for Archives website and look out for posts on The National Archives’ blog.

The post Project to explore political role of Archbishops of York from 1304–1405 appeared first on The National Archives.

Book your place at our pre-modern Ireland symposium, 21–23 March

National Archives - Tue, 01/29/2019 - 05:52

On 21–23 March this year, The National Archives will host Dominus Hibernie/Rex Hiberniae: pre-modern Ireland, 1200–1801. Over three days at this major, international symposium eminent historians will discuss their research on six centuries of Irish history.

During this period, institutions, policies and attitudes developed to enable the crown to tackle the challenges of governing Ireland and its inhabitants. The records which such processes generated are voluminous and afford rich, multi-faceted insights into the administration of pre-modern Ireland, its political and legal culture, its geography, environment, society, economy and trade.

Conference organiser Dr Neil Johnston, Early Modern Records Specialist at The National Archives said:

‘In bringing together historians of medieval and early modern Ireland, this symposium aims to facilitate discussion of continuity and change across six centuries of Irish history by putting into sharper focus the collections with relevance to pre-modern Ireland at The National Archives. This is an opportunity not to be missed.’

The symposium will be opened by Jeff James, CEO and Keeper of The National Archives and Adrian O’Neill, Ambassador of Ireland to the United Kingdom with keynote addresses given by:

  • Professor Robin Frame (Durham University)
  • Professor Patricia Palmer (National University of Ireland, Maynooth)
  • Professor David Hayton (Queen’s University Belfast)

Full conference and day tickets are available. Prices start at £30.

View the programme and book your place

The post Book your place at our pre-modern Ireland symposium, 21–23 March appeared first on The National Archives.

Book now for Gerald Aylmer Seminar 2019: Digital and the Archive

National Archives - Fri, 01/18/2019 - 05:46

We are pleased to announce that registration is now open for this year’s Gerald Aylmer Seminar, which will be hosted at The National Archives.

Jointly convened by the Institute of Historical Research, the Royal Historical Society and The National Archives, the event will take place on 22 February 2019.

This year’s seminar will focus on the theme of ‘Digital and the Archive’. Speakers will consider the impact of digital technology on archives and historical research. The event will be a chance to raise and debate digital problems, and discuss how the academic and archive sectors can address these issues together.

The event will bring together speakers from both the archives and higher education sectors. The keynote conversation will be led by Alice Prochaska (former head librarian at Yale University and Principal of Somerville College, Oxford), Jane Winters (School of Advanced Studies, University of London) and John Sheridan (The National Archives).

The event is free to attend but registration in advance is required. Book your place.

Follow the conversation on social media #Aylmer19

The post Book now for Gerald Aylmer Seminar 2019: Digital and the Archive appeared first on The National Archives.

Records of Births and Deaths in a 19th Century Small Town

The Devil's Tale - Mon, 01/14/2019 - 07:00

Post contributed by Taylor de Klerk, Josiah Charles Trent Intern for the History of Medicine Collections

A pair of books, nearly identical in appearance, live on the shelves of the Rubenstein Library. Both are beautifully bound and were clearly well-maintained by their original owner, Dr. Charles Brayton, who used them throughout his 19th century career. Despite their outward similarities, these books are almost exact opposites. Brayton kept one volume to document the births he attended and the other to record deaths in the same community: Stonington, Connecticut.

As a practicing physician from the 1870s to the early 1900s, Brayton provided care for many members of this community, which numbered around 6,000 to 8,000 at various points in his career. These books give us a sense of what life in 19th century New England was like, thanks to Brayton’s thorough records.

Each volume documents different types of information. The “List of Births” included the date (and sometimes time) of each birth, the child’s name and gender, the parents’ names and ages, and the baby’s surname. Dr. Brayton also sometimes described the parents’ race, where they were originally from, and any significant details about the birth. The timeline for this volume extends so far that it includes some instances where the babies Dr. Brayton had delivered later grew up and he delivered their children as well.

Entry for birth of Theodora “Dora” Sylvia, July 3, 1877

Tracing new mothers back to their own births happens on several occasions, including for Theodora “Dora” Sylvia Holland. Dr. Brayton delivered Dora at 10:15pm on July 3rd, 1877. His notes indicate that this is Theodora A. Daveny Sylvia’s fifth labor, but there are no anecdotes or records of complications. Reading through his notes from the decades that followed, Dora’s name reoccurs several times. Dr. Brayton delivered six of her children! Dora’s first adult occurrence in this book (after her own birth of course) was in 1896 for her second labor. Mrs. Dora Sylvia Holland gave birth to a baby boy at 5:50pm on May 11, 1896.

Entry for birth of John T. Holland, Jr., May 11, 1896 Entry for death of William Hyde, M.D., September 25, 1873

Conversely, Brayton’s “Record of Deaths” lists the date of each individual’s death, their name, approximate age (if he knew), and reason of death. For some individuals, he also included their relation to other community members and their place of birth. On some occasions Brayton included even more information, such as a narrative of the events leading up to the death.

This is the case for Dr. William Hyde, who died of consumption at 64 years old after spending nearly half of his life with the disease. Dr. Brayton describes Hyde as “a good friend to me and my preceptor in the study of medicine.” Brayton undoubtedly experienced a strong reaction to the passing of his teacher. Brayton’s record goes on to eulogize Hyde by listing his family and accomplishments, though unfortunately none of his five children lived longer than Hyde himself.

Records like these shed light into the practices of those that lived centuries ago. We use these books and others to help Duke medical students and undergraduates understand the historical context of the practices that they learn about in their coursework. Dr. Brayton’s records help us see the ways of life in 19th century small-town Connecticut, even if just through the lens of one man’s professional career.

Dr. Brayton’s List of Births and Record of Deaths are available to view in the Rubenstein Library’s reading room. Click here for more information about using our collections.

The post Records of Births and Deaths in a 19th Century Small Town appeared first on The Devil's Tale.

Locus Archives Document the History of Sci-Fi

The Devil's Tale - Fri, 01/11/2019 - 11:13

Post contributed by Laurin Penland, Library Assistant for Manuscript Processing in Technical Services

Locus, the Magazine of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Field, was started in 1968 by Charles N. Brown, Ed Meskys, and Dave Vanderwerf as a science-fiction news and fan zine, and it’s still going! For all of the years that the staff have been creating the magazine, they’ve also been saving and collecting correspondence, clippings, and books by and about science-fiction, fantasy, and horror writers.  In 2018 the Rubenstein Library acquired this massive collection (almost 1,000 boxes).  It will be a while before we finish processing and cataloging all the books and papers, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t share a sneak peek of the project mid-process.

A Few Highlights Correspondence

I recently finished processing the manuscript portion of the collection, which includes seven boxes files relating to more than 800 authors. My favorite part of these files is the correspondence, the bulk of which was written between 1960 and 2009. Many writers wrote to Locus to share news that could be included in the magazine or to quibble about inaccuracies and to suggest corrections. Overall, the correspondence creates a sense of community among a very diverse and spread-out group of writers; people wanted to know who was publishing what, who changed agents, who was involved with such-and-such scandal or lawsuit, who died, who got re-married, etc. Fans may swoon over the signatures of Octavia E. Butler, Arthur C. Clarke, Issac Asimov, and Ursula K. Le Guin (to name a few).  Many of the letters are amicable, some are irate, and some are sassy and humorous. Here, one of my favorite writers, Octavia E. Butler, writes to make an important and sErious correction:

Postcard from Octavia E. Butler

Researchers will find evidence in these letters of a thriving community of writers, publishers, and editors all working to create relatively new and modern genres of fiction.

International Connections

Perhaps of special interest to fans and scholars will be the international ties of the collection, especially to Eastern Europe, the U.S.S.R., China, and Japan. Below, Alexander Korzhenevski provides a report about a science-fiction conference in Sverdlovsk (U.S.S.R.). He writes that the 1989 convention “was the biggest (so far) SF convention in the Soviet Union.” Later in the report he alludes to publishing organizations in the U.S.S.R. by describing how two books arrived at the convention: “Both books were published through (not by, because cooperative organizations here still have no publishing rights) new publishing cooperative organizations (one of them “Text” is headed by Vitaly Babenko), and both of them were delivered to the convention by fans by train (no help from state book-trading organizations).” Korzhenevski’s file also includes a flyer for his business, which is described as “the very first independent literary agency in Russia, operating since 1991.”

Report on the Aelita-89 Science Fiction convention in the U.S.S.R., written by Alexander Korzhenevski. Check out those stamps! Stationery

This collection has the best stationery by far of any manuscript collection that I have processed. I wonder what researchers in the distant future will think about these creative designs? Here are 14 of my favorites:

 

Stay tuned (and stay wicked!) for more updates about the Locus Science Fiction Foundation Collection. You can view the collection guide for the manuscript collection online and request to see the papers soon in the reading room (open to the public). To search for books from the collection that are being individually cataloged, visit the library catalog and search “Locus Science Foundation Collection” as a keyword or author.

You can learn more about the history of Locus and read current articles at their website.

The post Locus Archives Document the History of Sci-Fi appeared first on The Devil's Tale.

Public Domain Showcase 2019!

The Devil's Tale - Wed, 01/09/2019 - 15:11

Guest Post by Arnetta Girardeau, Duke University Libraries, Copyright & Information Policy Consultant

As you may have already heard, January 1, 2019 marked a very, very special “Public Domain Day.” When Congress extended the term of copyright in 1998 through the Copyright Term Extension Act, it set off a long, cold public-domain winter. For twenty years, no work first published in the United States entered the public domain. But now, spring is here! On January 1, 2019, works first published in 1923 became free to use. And in 2020, works first published in 1924 will enter the public domain, and so on and so on! It’s exciting stuff.  What does that mean to us as creators, makers, teachers, or writers?  It means that we suddenly have access to more materials to rework, reuse, and remix!  Works such as Charlie Chaplain’s The Pilgrim, Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Links, and “The Charleston.”

At Duke, we’re celebrating this introduction of new materials into the Public Domain with a competition to showcase what our community can do with the public domain.  We want to see how Duke faculty, staff, and students can use items from 1923 and earlier, all of which are now in the Public Domain!   We have provided a few images below, but feel free to create with any works that you find that are in the public domain (if you have questions about what is and isn’t in the public domain, you can contact us and we’d be happy to talk!) Looking for some more inspiration? Browse our digitized collections for thousands of works published before 1923.

What can you do?

  • Write new lyrics to a song
  • Create a wallpaper for your mobile phone
  • Make a work of art
  • Create a score for a silent movie made in 1923.

What else do you need to know?

  • Any member of the Duke community may enter.  Faculty, staff, students, and retirees are all welcome. Selected entries will be posted on the blog and on Library social media. We have a small number of giveaways to thank you for participating.
  • Multiple entries are allowed;
  • Send in entries between January 9 and January 31 at midnight;
  • Use public domain content;
  • Submit your entries here 

You can read more about the Public Domain in this article by the Duke Law Center for the Study of the Public Domain.

If you have any questions about entering the showcase, or how to incorporate other people’s work into your own, consult the Arnetta Girardeau, Copyright and Information Policy Consultant, at arnetta.girardeau@duke.edu.

From Edward Topsell, The History of Four-Footed Beasts and Serpents. 1658.

 

Trinity College Basketball Team, 1920-1921. University Archives Photograph Collection. Duke University Archives.

 

Cover of pamphlet advertising The Bryant and Stratton Commercial School. John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History

 

Chas. Johnson, “A New Rag, Dill Pickles.” 1906-07.

The post Public Domain Showcase 2019! appeared first on The Devil's Tale.

Allocation of papers accepted in lieu of tax

National Archives - Mon, 01/07/2019 - 08:53

Part of the archive of the Northamptonshire estates of the Dukes of Grafton has been accepted in lieu of tax by the government.

Notable material includes accounts, correspondence, deeds, estate maps, architectural drawings, and manorial records from the 17th to the 20th centuries.

Any library, record office or institution in the United Kingdom interested in acquiring the papers should contact Philip Gale, Head of Standards and Improvement, Archives Sector Development, The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU (email asd@nationalarchives.gsi.gov.uk) for further particulars in the first instance.

Applications for allocation of this material must be received in writing at the same address by Friday, 22 February 2019.

The post Allocation of papers accepted in lieu of tax appeared first on The National Archives.

Prime Minister’s office files (PREM) – 1994

National Archives - Thu, 12/27/2018 - 20:00
Pakistan Internal situation: military aid to Pakistan; death of President Zia; part 1

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4335

Date range: 17 October 1979 – 15 July 1993

This file covers the political situation in Pakistan. It contains correspondence relating to the 1979 riots in Islamabad and the sack of the American Embassy; military aid to Pakistan in 1980; the sale of frigates to Pakistan in 1982 (including letters exchanged between Margaret Thatcher and President Zia); the Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir in 1985 and the explosion of an ammunition depot near Islamabad in 1988.

It also contains correspondence relating to the death of President Zia in a plane crash in August 1988, the inquiry investigating the cause of the crash and Geoffrey Howe’s assessment of the situation after attending the funeral; the election of Benazir Bhutto in 1988; the election of Nawaz Sharif in 1990 and his fall and reinstatement in 1993; the rapidly deteriorating situation in Kashmir.

Poland UK/Polish relations: internal situation; economic assistance; part 13

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4346

Date range: 7 June 1991 – 29 November 1993

This file begins with the resignation of the Polish Prime Minister Jan Bielecki and the appointment of his successor Jan Olszewski. Later parts of the file cover the appointment of subsequent Prime Ministers Hanna Suchocka and Waldemar Pawlak. The main body of the file deals with concerns over the deteriorating health situation in Poland with reported shortages of drugs and medical supplies and the creation of a Stabilisation Fund to assist the Polish economy. The file closes with an exchange of letters between President Lech Walesa and Prime Minister John Major detailing the repatriation of General Sikorski’s body to Poland.

Prime Minister Prime Minister’s meetings with the Board of Deputies of British Jews

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4361

Date range: 12 October 1979 – 25 March 1993

This file contains a record of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s various meetings with the Board of Deputies of British Jews and associated individuals. The file discusses the Prime Minister’s visit to Moscow with concern expressed about Jewish emigration from Russia to Israel and the fate of Soviet ‘refuseniks’. Other issues discussed include government relations with the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, the role of religious schools and the rise of extreme right-wing organisations.

Prime Minister’s meeting with Bill Walker MP to discuss the Potato Marketing Board and Scheme, 21 January 1993

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4369

Date range: 11 January 1992 – 22 January 1993

This file relates to the Prime Minister meeting Bill Walker, MP for Tayside North, regarding the possibility of the winding up of the Potato Marketing Board and Scheme which supported UK potato producers. Walker was concerned that the closing of the board would impact potato producers in his constituency, a large part of its economy. Included are briefings for the Prime Minister as to the positive impact on the UK potato industry the closing of the Board might have.

Prime Minister’s Meeting with Rupert Murdoch

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4389 (PDF, 9.8 MB)

Date range: 17 August 1993 – 03 September 1993

This file details the briefings and thoughts behind a meeting between Prime Minister John Major and Rupert Murdoch on 19 August 1993. It was felt the editorial lines taken by News International’s UK news were unfavourable to the PM; however, there was no clear indication that Rupert Murdoch was aware of what the papers were publishing. Murdoch held a celebration at the Banqueting House, London on 1 September 1993 to announce the launch of new SKY TV channels.

Policy Unit Seminar, 3 November 1993: includes correspondence for Chequers Day, 21 January 1994

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4405

Date range: 4 August 1993 – 21 January 1994

This file relates to an away day for the Number 10 Policy Unit on 21 January 1994 and the preliminary discussions and arrangements for its schedule and content. The away day included a ‘stocktaking’ discussion of current policies, with a particular focus on the ‘Back to Basics’ initiative; a presentation and discussion on policy gaps; discussions on ‘unfinished business’, including the welfare state and reform of the public sector; and ‘delivering the message’. Included in the file are summaries of the day including the discussions and the Prime Minister’s input. Also included are action points from an earlier away day in August 1993, and a letter from William Chapman, Private Secretary Home Affairs, criticising the policy unit’s ‘vacuum’ of ideas and suggesting it might pursue a libertarian agenda.

Former Prime Ministers Lady Thatcher: part 1

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4408 (PDF, 33.3 MB)

Date range: 9 April 1991 – 20 April 1993

This file mainly consists of reports from diplomats and other officials concerning Lady Thatcher’s visits abroad – accounts of meetings with national leaders, and drafts of speeches. On 30 July 1992 Lady Thatcher writes a very powerful handwritten letter to Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd about the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina, covering a typed letter on the same subject; she also writes on this matter to Prime Minister John Major.

Qatar UK/Qatar relations: internal situation; part 1

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4409

Date range: 15 February 1982 – 14 December 1993

This file contains correspondence relating to Geoffrey Howe’s visit to Qatar in April 1989; the Prime Minister’s meeting with the Amir in October 1989; the gas fields of Qatar and trade opportunities in 1993; the visit to Qatar by the Minister for Energy Tim Eggar in May 1993.

Royal Family Prime Minister’s Audiences of The Queen: part 5

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4411

Date range: 10 September 1993 – 14 December 1993

This file begins with notes on upcoming visits of the Australian Prime Minister and the Japanese Emperor. Also within the file is correspondence on proposed dates for the Prime Minister’s audiences with the Queen and audience briefs for meetings into December.

40th Anniversary of The Queen’s Accession to the Throne: includes 30th Anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4412 (PDF, 23.3 MB)

Date range: 10 February 1983 – 4 August 1993

This file begins with a note from 1983 about whether the Prime Minister should take part in a BBC documentary about the Queen’s constitutional role. The file then moves to 1990 and correspondence about arrangements to mark the 40th anniversary of the Queen’s accession to the throne. Included in the file are publications created to mark the occasion and publicise events. Correspondence from January 1992 concerns civic honours to celebrate the anniversary including the possible candidates for city status and a Lord Mayorship. Later the file moves to discuss arrangements for the Prime Minister’s dinner for the Queen and a prizes scheme for Higher and Further Education.

Regional policy Review of regional policy: Enterprise Zones; part 11

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4413

Date range: 10 January 1993 – 30 April 1993

This file begins in early 1993 with correspondence about the acquisition of land owned by central government particularly in relation to the South East and the East Thames Corridor. Within the file there is also correspondence and briefing notes about regional offices and a single urban budget, the Cardiff Bay area re-development and a proposed City Pride scheme.

Review of regional policy: Enterprise Zones; part 12

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4414

Date range: 6 May 1993 – 16 September 1993

This file picks up on regional and urban policy in May 1993 in particular the Assisted Areas Map Review including correspondence and associated maps on the topic. Within the file there are also discussions around City Ministers, a paper on the value for money of regional and urban policies, and press statements. From July 1993 the Rural Challenge, and proposals to aid rural areas, are discussed in addition to the other projects and policy areas.

Russia UK/Russian relations: internal situation; policy towards the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS); part 5. Part 1 of 2.

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4420/1

Date range: 6 January 1993 – 29 March 1993

This file covers UK/Russian relations and the internal situation in Russia as well as the policy to be adopted towards the CIS. It contains correspondence relating to the constitutional crisis in Russia and the IX Congress, including a brief note on electoral legitimacy and the text (in Russian) of the conclusions of the Russian Constitutional Court; the organisation of an early G7 Summit in April; American views on structural reform in and macro-economic help to Russia; the possibility of creating a restructuring fund; the use of NATO infrastructure to re-house Russian military.

It also contains a happy birthday message from Yeltsin to John Major and a technical note on the Direct Speech Line, a secure speech line for telephone conversations between the British Prime Minister and the President of the Russian Federation.

UK/Russian relations: internal situation; policy towards the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS); part 5. Part 2 of 2.

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4420/2

Date range: 6 January 1993 – 29 March 1993

This file contains correspondence relating to the reintroduction of price controls; humanitarian crises in the former Soviet Union; aid for Russia, including exchanges of correspondence between John Major and Bill Clinton; the January 1993 CIS summit; the Extraordinary VIII Congress; the meeting in Hong Kong between G7 Sherpas/deputies and Fyodorov, the Russian Prime Minister and Finance Minister on 14 March 1993, including the whole of Fyodorov’s presentation. It also contains a note on ‘economic transformation in Russia after the fall of Gaidar’; a note by Douglas Hurd on the policy to be adopted towards Russia.

UK/Russian relations: internal situation; policy towards the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS); part 6

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4421

Date range: 1 April 1993 – 27 July 1993

This file contains correspondence relating to the political situation and constitutional crisis in Russia, and notably the April referendum on confidence in Boris Yeltsin, socio-economic policies and early elections. It also contains correspondence relating to economic assistance to Russia, including: G7 meetings, free trade, the EC/Russia partnership and cooperation agreement, and the American proposal for a privatisation and restructuring Fund for Russia.

UK/Russian relations: internal situation; policy towards the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS); part 7

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4422

Date range: 2 August 1993 – 29 October 1993

This file contains correspondence relating to the political situation and constitutional crisis in Russia, including Yeltsin’s call for parliamentary elections, a preliminary survey of likely contenders, and Yeltsin’s appeal to the citizens of Russia as well as the text of the Presidential Decree on the State of Emergency in Moscow. This file also covers cooperation with Russia in Space; a verbal attack on Lady Thatcher by Khasbulatov, the Speaker of the Supreme Soviet; the Secure Speech Link between the Kremlin and No 10; military resettlement assistance; and the dismissal of the Russian Ambassador to London.

Scotland Allegations of Conspiracy to Pervert the Course of Justice. Report by William Nimmo-Smith and James Friel

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4423

Date range: 14 January 1993 – 22 January 1993

On 26 January 1993 a report by William Nimmo-Smith QC and James Friel was published as a Return to an Address of the House. The report was of an inquiry which examined allegations contained in a leaked police document that decisions in certain criminal cases in Scotland had been taken for improper reasons. Namely, to prevent disclosure of information which would identify certain individuals as homosexuals who were in senior legal positions. The report found no evidence to uphold these allegations. The file contains correspondence between the Lord Advocate’s Chambers and Number 10 regarding when and how the report would be published.

Seychelles UK/Seychelles relations: internal situation; part 1

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4439

Date range: 28 June 1979 – 9 September 1993

This file relates to the UK’s diplomatic relationship with the Republic of the Seychelles under the Thatcher and Major ministries. The file opens with France-Albert René’s election as president of Seychelles in 1979. He had come to power in a coup in 1977, but was subsequently elected under a one-party system where he was the only candidate. Also included in the file are discussions about the Soviet influence in the Seychelles, the conviction and death sentencing of British mercenaries for their involvement in a 1981 coup against René’s regime, and a letter from exiled former president James Mancham to the Prime Minister in 1984 requesting assistance for exiled opposition groups. Further papers and correspondence in the file relate to the details of René’s 1985 visit to the UK and his meeting with Thatcher; the 1985 assassination of Seychelles opposition figure Gérard Hoarau in his home in London and the tapping of his telephones by Seychellois elements; René’s 1986 claim that the UK, French and US governments had colluded in plots to overthrow his government; and details of the Seychelles’ transition to multi-party democracy in 1992-1993, including Mancham’s return to the islands and his requests to Major for political support in his bid for election.

South Africa Visits of South African President, F W de Klerk: part 2

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4452

Date range: 28 February 1990 – 30 September 1993

This file records the meetings of President F W de Klerk with the British Prime Ministers, Margaret Thatcher and John Major. It covers the period following the release of Nelson Mandela in February 1990 to the period before the first fully democratic election in South Africa in April 1994. Included are notes on the annual meetings (May 1990, April 1991, February 1992, November 1992, September 1993). There are regular reports from the British High Commission in Pretoria which reveal concerns about escalating violence in South Africa, and de Klerk’s view of Mandela and his status with South Africans. The file shows de Klerk’s opinion that Mandela was losing authority to other African leaders, such as the Zulu leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi. Major and de Klerk appear to have established a rapport over their shared interest in cricket and rugby.

UK/South Africa relations: internal situation; part 28

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4453

Date range: 5 March 1990 – 15 October 1993

The file covers the period leading up to the South African general election of 1994. It begins with notes on a telephone conversation between Nelson Mandela and Prime Minister John Major in November 1992, during which they discussed problems posed by Buthelezi’s Inkatha, bilateral talks between the ANC and the South African government, the formation of an interim government and the possibility of lifting international sanctions. It includes a report of the Commonwealth Observer Mission to South Africa on political violence during 1992 and notes on the assassination of the South African Communist Party Secretary General Chris Hani on 10 April 1993 and consequent rioting. Other topics covered include the troubled relations between Buthelezi’s Inkatha and the ANC, the trial of Winnie Mandela for kidnapping and assault, and the possible sales of ships to the South African navy. It includes the South African government’s proposals on a Charter of Fundamental Rights, draft constitution, letters from Mandela and de Klerk and a note of congratulation from John Major to Mandela on his 75th birthday.

Visits to UK by Nelson Mandela: meetings and conversations with Prime Minister and other politicians

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4454 (PDF, 54.0 MB)

Date range: 5 March 1990 – 15 October 1993

Begins with notes of meetings of the British Ambassador to South Africa, Robin Renwick, with Nelson Mandela prior to his meeting with Margaret Thatcher in July 1990 and following his release from prison in February. These outline British concerns with the ANC’s commitment to armed struggle. The file includes a speech by Mandela to the Confederation of British Industry, in which he outlined the need for the redistribution of wealth and economic problems in South Africa. It continues with detailed notes of meetings with Margaret Thatcher (July 1990) and John Major (April 1991, May 1993 and October 1993). Topics covered include continuing political violence, investment and the lifting of sanctions and the problems posed by regionalism and the formation of the Freedom Alliance by Mangosuthu Buthelezi and other regional leaders.

Sport Britain’s sporting achievements: review of sport 1987-1988: review of sports policy

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4458 (PDF, 28.9 MB)

Date range: 11 February 1987 – 25 March 1993

This file highlights the government’s sports policy and its relationship with various governing bodies. It contains the text of telegrams from the Prime Minister to the England cricket team following their victory in the World Series Cup and the England rugby team to mark their 1991 Grand Slam in the Five Nations Championship. The file also contains details of the reception given to the England football team at Downing Street following the 1990 World Cup including speaking notes and profiles of the players and officials. Plans to re-organise the Sports Council of Great Britain and the failed attempt to increase business sponsorship of sporting events due to the Treasury’s refusal to fund the scheme, known as ‘Sportsmatch,’ are also covered.

Transport East London river crossing

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4477

Date range: 1 May 1984 – 7 July 1993

The bulk of this file concerns the need to build additional capacity into east London river crossings, particularly the tunnels and bridge at Dartford. It includes details of the discussion over private finance for new infrastructure, and the transfer of responsibility for the Dartford crossings into private hands. Part of the file deals with proposals by seven private sector groups to build and run a new crossing at Dartford, while a report breaks down the individual benefits and shortfalls of these schemes. Highlights include the call to provide ‘additional work for the construction industry particularly the hard pressed civil engineering side – at no cost to public funds’, and the argument forwarded by the Department of Trade and Industry, which favoured a bridge scheme as it would support British steel interests and preserve specialist skills in the country. In much less detail the file also discusses the east London River Crossing plans, and their ultimate abandonment due to the need to preserve Oxleas Wood.

Treasury Private Finance Initiative: part 1

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4483

Date range: 1 November 1992 – 28 October 1993

This file begins with correspondence regarding measures to encourage private finance in the upcoming Autumn Statement. Proposed joint ventures are discussed within the file as well as the wording in relevant passages of the statement. The file continues into 1993 with regular progress reports by the Secretary of State for Transport and the Chancellor on the Private Finance Initiative and specific projects including Crossrail.

Turkey Internal situation: European aid to Turkey; part 1

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4490

Date range: 10 May 1979 – 28 August 1993

This file covers UK/Turkey relations and EEC aid to Turkey. It contains correspondence relating to an interdepartmental paper on aid to Turkey dated May 1979; the 1980 military coup; the 1983 parliamentary election; the 1988 PKK attack; the 1989 and 1993 presidential election; the 1991 general election; arms sales to Turkey; and the growing position of Turkey as a regional Power.

It also contains correspondence relating to natural disasters in Turkey in 1983, 1988, 1991 and 1992.

USA United States foreign policy: USA/European relations; part 4

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4495

Date range: 25 April 1990 – 24 May 1993

This file covers a variety of issues affecting the US-European relationship including policy towards South Africa, China, Bosnia, the Middle East and the visit to Washington of the Russian President, Boris Yeltsin.

Internal political situation: 1992 Presidential election campaign; part 4

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4496 (PDF, 170.6 MB)

Date range: 7 March 1991 – 28 May 1993

This file concerns the 1992 US Presidential election race and contains various despatches from the UK Ambassador to Washington Sir Robin Renwick on the conduct of the election and the main candidates. The Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton is described by Renwick as the most impressive of the Democratic Party’s candidates but was considered vulnerable to questions about his private life. The file contains the text of a congratulatory message from the Prime Minister to President elect Clinton following his victory and Clinton’s response. The file also covers press speculation that Clinton had previously applied for British citizenship and the subsequent search of Home Office files.

Prime Minister’s visits to USA: part 12

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4497

Date range: 4 February 1992 – 19 February 1993

This file covers Prime Minister John Major’s visit to the United States and his meeting with President George H W Bush in December 1992. The agenda for the meeting covers topics including Somalia, Hong Kong, trade, Russia and Yugoslavia. In relation to Russia, there was concern that hard line figures would soon take power from Yeltsin and that economic support was in western interests. The discussions on Yugoslavia covered the implementation of a ‘no fly’ zone and western preparations should the crisis escalate.

Prime Minister’s visit to USA, 23-25 February 1993: part 13.

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4498

Date range: 19 February 1993 – 04 March 1993

This file covers Prime Minister John Major’s visit to the United States and his meeting with President Bill Clinton in February 1993. The agenda for the meeting includes trade relations (GATT, Airbus and Land Rover), Northern Ireland including the possible appointment of a peace envoy and a fact-finding mission to the province. Events in Russia, Iraq and Yugoslavia are also covered. The file contains the President’s verbal confirmation to renew the nuclear agreements in operation between the two countries. The stated aim of the visit was to establish a good personal relationship with the new President and be seen by others to have done so.

UK/US relations: part 10

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4499 (PDF, 102.3 MB)

Date range: 3 September 1992 – 24 May 1993

This file covers Anglo-American relations. It begins with an account of the visit to the UK of General Colin Powell, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, in September 1992. The discussions centre on Yugoslavia and fears that over one million deaths could occur over winter. The file also includes an exchange of letters between Major and Clinton with the Prime Minister apologising to the President for reports that the Home Office had conducted enquiries into Clinton’s past during his student days at Oxford. The file contains a record of telephone conversations between the Prime Minister and the President on 19 January and 10 February and their determination to establish a War Crimes Tribunal to investigate alleged atrocities in Yugoslavia. The file concludes with details of a possible assassination attempted against former President George H W Bush following the capture and interrogation of a terrorist cell in Kuwait. The US responded by launching a cruise missile attack on an Iraqi intelligence building in Baghdad.

Yugoslavia Internal situation: UK/Yugoslavia relations: part 20

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4510 (PDF, 136.4 MB)

Date range: 1 May 1993 – 18 May 1993

This file contains correspondence between the UK and US on the Bosnian conflict and a discussion of various objectives for the region. Also included are FCO telegrams to various embassies and also reports of the Prime Minister’s bilateral meetings with the French Prime Minister. There is a discussion of the implementation of the Vance/Owen Plan.

Internal situation: UK/Yugoslavia relations: part 23

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4513 (PDF, 69.3 MB)

1 July 1993 – 31 July 1993

This file contains the FCO’s views on US proposals to call a North Atlantic Council meeting to reach common ground within NATO to support air strikes in Bosnia to reign back the Serb forces.

Zimbabwe Internal situation: UK/Zimbabwe relations; Prime Minister’s meetings with Mr Mugabe; part 5

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4518

Date range: 24 March 1987 – 28 September 1993

This file deals with the British government’s relations with Robert Mugabe. It includes notes of Mugabe’s meetings with John Major (November 1991, May 1992, November 1992). Topics include land redistribution, British aid, drought in southern Africa during 1992, Mandela, war in Angola and Mozambique and Zimbabwe’s relations with Libya following the Lockerbie bombing. The file includes correspondence from Mugabe as Chairman of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries on the burden of foreign debt, congratulations on his election as President in 1987, and independence celebrations. There are condolences from the Prime Minister on the death of Sally Mugabe in 1991. There is some discussion of the perceived movement towards a one-party state. There is a brief report on Leader of the Opposition Neil Kinnock’s visit. He and his assistants were diverted to the wrong airport and briefly held under armed guard.

Agriculture Quarantine for pets: rabies control; part 1

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4525

Date range: 4 August 1992 – 2 August 1994

This file begins with correspondence about regulations surrounding the quarantine of pets and the possibility of EU guidance on the matter. Within the file there are briefing notes on the threat of rabies, UK controls compared with the rest of Europe and the implications of the UK reducing quarantine periods. Other correspondence within the file relates to the practicalities of introducing vaccinations if quarantine arrangements were to alter.

Aerospace Westland Helicopters: part 8

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4560 (PDF, 28.3 MB)

Date range: 22 January 1990 – 4 February 1994

This file includes discussion on the RAF need for additional support helicopters and correspondence with the Westland Group. Also included are letters to the Prime Minister from various MPs on the subject.

Afghanistan UK/Afghanistan relations: internal situation; part 8

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4561

Date range: 6 April 1988 – 15 June 1994

This file contains correspondence relating to the 1988 Proximity Talks and Geneva Agreement; Soviet withdrawal and the issue of positive symmetry; Soviet policy options regarding Afghanistan; the British aims regarding Afghanistan and an FCO note dated 16 June 1988; Soviet prisoners of war; direct talks between the Mujahedeen and the Soviets; a synopsis of the Soviet proposals on the Afghan settlement dated 20 February 1990;  elections in 1992; help towards the reconstruction of Afghanistan; and peace negotiations in 1993.

It also covers contingency plans for improving the security of the British Embassy in Kabul in 1989. It also contains a note dated 28 August 1990, highlighting the growing extremism and Islamic fanaticism of some resistance groups.

Baltic States UK relations with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania: Baltic gold; part 1

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4571

Date range: 10 January 1992 – 25 March 1994

This file details the return of gold to the Baltic States that had been deposited in the UK in the 1930s. The gold was held in trust by the Bank of England following annexation of the Baltic States by the Soviet Union under the terms of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and subsequent occupation by Nazi Germany. In 1951, to prevent the Soviet Union claiming ownership of the gold, the Board of Trade vested the gold to the Custodian of Enemy Property. The gold, valued at £90 million, was returned to the Baltic States following the UK’s recognition of their independence in 1991. The remainder of the file discusses economic and military assistance to the Baltic States.

Bahrain UK/Bahraini relations: part 2

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4573

Date range: 11 September 1987 – 19 December 1994

This file contains correspondence relating to UK-Bahraini relations. It covers: the visit of the Crown Prince of Bahrain in 1987; defence relations with Bahrain; the Secretary of State’s visit to Bahrain in 1989; the Alba Power station in 1990; and the Defence Cooperation Office in 1991. It also contains correspondence relating to private visits to London by Shaikh Khalifa, the Prime Minister of Bahrain, and to the health of the Amir of Bahrain, including contingency condolences messages from the Prime Minister.

Cambodia UK/Cambodian relations: internal situation; part 2

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4585

Date range: 19 December 1988 – 31 October 1994

This file concerns British relations with Cambodia and contains a letter from Neil Kinnock, Leader of the Opposition, to Margaret Thatcher expressing his concern over allegations that British soldiers were providing military training to members of the Khmer Rouge. The file details the evolution of government policy that did not rule out working with elements of the Khmer Rouge providing Pol Pot and his immediate circle were removed from power following a comprehensive political settlement in Cambodia. The file details the involvement of Her Majesty’s Government in providing military training to the armed forces of the Cambodian non-communist resistance. It also provides details of British involvement in UN peacekeeping operations and a number of reports on the kidnapping and murder of British and other western hostages by the Khmer Rouge.

Cars Use of official cars: part 1

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4587 (PDF, 33.2 MB)

Date range: 10 May 1979 – 23 December 1994

This file relates to the provision of cars made available through the Government Car Service (GCS) to ministers and non-ministers. It opens in 1979 with the Prime Minister approving the use of GCS cars by former prime ministers and the leader of the opposition. Also included are letters between Marcia Falkender and the Prime Minister regarding the provision of GCS vehicles to Harold Wilson, the extension of the GCS provision to Lord Home in 1987 after he sprained his knee, Neil Kinnock’s request for a bigger engine Rover due to his frequent motorway travel; and 1994 discussions over proposals to tax the ‘non-official’ use of GCS cars by officials (including the Prime Minister) and how this cost could be defrayed without political embarrassment.

Chile UK/Chilean relations: internal situation; policy on arms sales; part 2

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4588

Date range: 13 March 1986 – 25 May 1994

This file concerns UK relations with Chile between 1986 and 1994. Up until Chile’s transition to democracy with the election of Patricio Aylwin as President in 1991, the file principally concerns successive statements made by the UK and US government and the European Community regarding human rights abuses conducted by the Pinochet regime, as well as discussions between the Foreign and Prime Minister’s offices regarding UK support for UN General Assembly motions censuring Chile. Also included are details of visits to Chile by Garel-Jones MP (Government Whip, 1986) and Alan Clark MP (Minister for Trade, 1987). After Aylwin’s election the file mainly consists of briefings regarding the President’s visit to the UK in 1991, including discussions on trade and the reopening of arms sales. Also included are details of Alan Clark, Minister for Defence Procurement, visiting Chile in 1992, and papers relating to the government’s official response to Eduardo Frei’s election to the Presidency in 1993.

China UK/Chinese relations: part 7

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4589

Date range: 2 March 1993 – 24 October 1994

This file contains discussion on Lord Howe’s report on human rights in China, the future status of Hong Kong, Chinese nuclear testing and reports covering the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. The file also contains the text of the diplomatic credentials provided to the UK’s new Ambassador to China, Sir Leonard Appleyard.

Commonwealth of Independent States Policy towards the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS): part 2

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4590 (PDF, 39.0 MB)

Date range: 26 June 1992 – 28 January 1994

This file mostly contains correspondence relating to the political crisis in Azerbaijan, visits to the UK by politicians from CIS countries, background notes on CIS countries, and the Aral Sea environmental situation. It also contains the Third Secretary in Moscow’s account of the arrival in Russia of the horse presented to John Major by the President of Turkmenistan and the subsequent difficulties to send the horse to Britain.

Policy towards the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS): part 3

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4591 (PDF, 82.3 MB)

Date range: 1 February 1992 – 25 May 1994

This file includes trade and economic aspects of the relationship between the UK and the CIS countries, including the provision of Export Credit Guarantee Department cover and licencing steel imports. Arrangements for a trade delegation to the region led by the UK Minister for Energy and visits to the UK by the presidents of Kazakhstan, Armenia and Azerbaijan are covered in detail. There are also accounts of the situation in Crimea and the attitudes of Ukraine and Russia towards this region. Also included is the Prime Minister’s letter of thanks to the President of Turkmenistan for the gift of a stallion (see also PREM 19/4590).

Policy towards the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS): part 4

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4592

Date range: 1 June 1994 – 28 November 1994

This file focuses on international economic assistance and security assurances to Ukraine following the election of President Kuchma.  Nuclear safety and Ukraine’s accession to the Non-Proliferation Treaty are covered in detail. There is also correspondence about the agreement between Azerbaijan and a consortium of western oil companies led by BP. Opposition to President Aliev and peace-keeping initiatives in Nagorno-Karabakh and Georgia/Abkhazia are touched on and there is also reaction to the election of President Lukashenko in Belarus.

Policy towards the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS): part 5

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4593 (PDF, 27.8 MB)

Date range: 1 December 1994 – 30 December 1994

This file opens with a letter to Number 10 from the Ministry of Defence about the horse gifted to the Prime Minister by the President of Turkmenistan including consideration of commercial arrangements in relation to any offspring. The rest of the file mainly relates to Ukraine, including international economic assistance; security assurances; and accession to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Papers relating to the meeting between the Prime Minister and President Kuchma in Budapest are also included.

Cuba UK/Cuban relations: part 1

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4598 (PDF, 41.1 MB)

Date range: 25 January 1980 – 22 August 1994

This file contains correspondence relating to UK-Cuban relations and reports on Fidel Castro’s speeches. It also includes papers to the Prime Minister regarding a private visit to Cuba by Edward Heath in 1985.

Defence Allegations against Mark Thatcher

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4603 (PDF, 15.1 MB)

Date range: 30 September 1994 – 10 November 1994

This file contains allegations against Mark Thatcher, son of former Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, which first surfaced in May 1989 in an anonymous letter to Jeff Rooker MP, of the Public Accounts Committee. The letter detailed Mark Thatcher’s alleged involvement in an arms procurement deal with Saudi Arabia. Documents in the file state that these allegations were investigated by the appropriate authorities at that time and lacked credibility. This file covers the re-surfacing of the same issues in October 1994 by Tam Dalyell MP who passed two documents appearing to be from the same source to Ministry of Defence officials. The documents alleged that Mark Thatcher was somehow connected to and profited from a delayed decision on the supply of engines for Black Hawk helicopters – a contract for which UK and US companies were in keen competition. A letter from the MoD to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office outlining the allegations dismisses them as wild and unsubstantiated and a robust response is made in Parliament by the Minister of Defence Procurement, Roger Freeman, stating that no commissions were paid and no middlemen were involved. In further correspondence on the matter John Major adheres to the same government line taken in 1989. Margaret Thatcher issued a statement on 10 October 1984 to say she was absolutely satisfied that the contract was properly negotiated.

US bases in the UK: part 1

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4613 (PDF, 32.5 MB)

Date range: 18 June 1980 – 20 December 1994

This file concerns proposals for the wartime basing of B52 bombers at RAF Fairford and arrangements for the use of US bases in an emergency. The file discusses the alleged refusal of Prime Minister Edward Heath to allow US forces to use bases in the United Kingdom in support of Israeli forces during the Yom Kippur War in 1973.  The remainder of the file deals with the repercussions following the US attack against Libya in April 1986 led by a strike force of F-111 bombers based in the United Kingdom. The file ends with the announcement of the closure of US bases in Europe. Particular concern was expressed at the potential closure of RAF Alconbury that was located in the Prime Minister’s own constituency of Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire.

Downing Street Information technology: part 4

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4621

Date range: 18 July 1986 – 8 November 1994

This file primarily concerns the development of a new IT system for Number 10 Downing Street. There is discussion of the importance of keeping up with technological advances by embracing the growing popularity of the internet, following the lead of the Clinton/Gore administration in the US which had made use of it as a tool to engage with the public. The file also covers the controversy generated by the Inland Revenue contracting out their IT services to the commercial sector; the two companies shortlisted were both American-owned and there was public concern over the possibility of taxpayers’ personal information being handled overseas.

Environmental affairs Environmental policy: climate change programme; part 29

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4632

Date range: 2 December 1993 – 31 January 1994

At the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, in June 1992, the UK signed up to the Framework Convention of Climate Change. This file deals with the programme on the environment and climate change under John Gummer as Secretary of State for the Environment. It includes discussion and comments on the draft UK Strategy for Sustainable Development and the decision to ratify the Climate Change Convention and Biodiversity Convention. It includes discussion of targets for the reduction of emissions and the likely effect of this on the economy, as well as measures for controlling contaminated land. The file continues with details of the OECD Environmental Performance Review of the United Kingdom, merging Countryside Commission with English Nature and policy on dumping of radioactive waste at sea. A further policy paper on an approach to trade and environment in multilateral negotiations and the launch of UK post-Rio documents on sustainable development, biodiversity, climate change and forestry is also included.

European policy Enlargement of European Community: applications of Portugal and Spain; possible application from Turkey; accession of Greece; part 4. Part 1 of 2.

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4649/1 (PDF, 68.7 MB)

Date range: 7 June 1993 – 23 March 1994

This file relates to the European enlargement. It mostly contains correspondence relating to Britain’s position towards the enlargement and the Qualified Majority Voting (QMV) issue, including official discussions with the Germans, the possibility of dividing up the Treaty with different blocking minorities applying in different areas, and the possibility of delaying the decision on QMV. It also covers cod fishing in Norwegian waters, and foreign press coverage of the British position.

Enlargement of European Community: applications of Portugal and Spain; possible application from Turkey; accession of Greece; part 4. Part 2 of 2.

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4649/2 (PDF, 76.2 MB)

Date range: 7 June 1993 – 23 March 1994

This file contains correspondence relating to the relations between the European Community and Hungary and Turkey; the negotiations with Austria; meetings on the enlargement; public opinion in Norway; and the QMV issue. It also covers the institutional aspects of the Enlargement and the possibility of setting up a ‘Committee of wise men’ to consider institutional change.

Aligning of summertime dates in the Community: part 2

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4666

Date range: 29 October 1992 – 21 December 1994

This file concerns the Single/Double Summer Time (SDST) debate and opens with a letter to Michael Heseltine from Peter Levene of the Efficiency Unit expressing the advantages in trade and competitiveness of a standard time with Europe. Of particular importance was the alignment of lunch and the timing of flights on the continent. The effect the move would have on Scotland was a sticking point where, in Stornoway, the sun would not rise until after 10am on 1 January. Other potential issues raised included detrimental effects on the agricultural and construction sectors, road accident figures, the establishment of an even greater time gap with the US, and the prospect of the initiative being blamed on the EU (and therefore fuelling scepticism). Despite the agreement for a full economic study of the potential impact of SDST, there remained considerable division within government over its perceived merits.

Foreign policy United Nations Law of the Sea Convention [UNCLOS]

Catalogue reference: PREM19/4676

Date range: 21 January 1985 – 12 July 1994

In June 1981, the UK announced its intention to extend the territorial sea to 12 miles. By 1985, the government was looking to implement that decision. There was correspondence between various government departments regarding the possible impact of this extension of territorial waters to the Isle of Man and fisheries jurisdiction. By 1990, the extension to the Isle of Man’s territorial waters was agreed with the wording agreed in 1991. Also in 1990, there was discussion about the issues relating to the deep seabed mining provisions of the convention which were preventing the UK from signing. The file has various pieces of correspondence between the Prime Minister, the United Nations Secretary General and leaders from Germany and the USA.

Government machinery Government Machinery: Standards of Conduct in Public Life

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4701 (PDF, 70.1 MB)

Date range: 21 October 1994 – 23 December 1994

This file covers the three month period when Prime Minister John Major was establishing an independent body to advise him on standards in public life. Its task was to examine general concerns about standards of conduct of public office holders including their appointment, financial and commercial arrangements. The file includes the announcement of the Standing Committee, the appointment of the Chair, Lord Nolan, as well as deliberations on members drawn from the main opposition parties, civil service, business, academia and trade unions. Appointments were then made by the Prime Minister. The general scope of the committee’s work was considered and a paper produced examining initial issues and questions. The committee was responsible for looking at general standards and safeguards.

Histories Policy on commemorations of World War One and Two: part 2

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4708

Date range: 5 January 1994 – 13 April 1994

This file contains correspondence relating to the 50th anniversary of D-Day. It covers: the work of the D-Day Steering Group and the apparent fragmentation of the planning effort for the Commemoration; various ideas to mark the anniversary; the relations between the two responsible Ministers, Lord Cranborne and Mr Sproat; security arrangements; the possible representation of the Russian government; the VIP guest list. It also contains correspondence relating to a farewell ceremony for Allied Forces in Germany.

Policy on commemorations of World War One and Two: part 3

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4709

Date range: 5 April 1994 – 27 May 1994

This file contains correspondence relating to marking the 50th anniversary of D-Day. It covers: the meeting of the European Parliament to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Second World War; sponsorship by political parties; briefings on the commemoration; adverse press coverage; the planned civilian events and the objections of the veterans; the Hyde Park D-Day event; and the question of the Russian participation in the D-Day commemorations. It also contains the full programme of events, and the menu for the dinner to be held at the Guildhall, Portsmouth, on 4 June 1994.

Policy on commemorations of World War One and Two: part 4. Part 1 of 2

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4710/1

Date range: 1 June 1994 – 31 December 1994

This file concerns the arrangements for events to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of World War Two. Correspondence towards the beginning of the file suggests that the Prime Minister was not keen to participate in a VE/VJ Day launch event planned for January 1995, following widespread public criticism of the proposed programme of events for the D-Day 50th anniversary for being insufficiently solemn in tone. The later part of the file turns to discussion over which heads of state should be invited to VE/VJ Day events, and correspondence between the Ministry of Defence and the Prime Minister’s Office including a ‘post-mortem’ of the D-Day anniversary events.

Policy on commemorations of World War One and Two: part 4. Part 2 of 2

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4710/2

Date range: 1 June 1994 – 31 December 1994

This file is made up of briefing documents for the Prime Minister for several events taking place in June 1994 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the D-Day landings, including a service of remembrance at Bayeux War Cemetery and an international ceremony at Omaha beach. As well as itineraries and seating plans for each event there are comprehensive conversation points and personality notes for the various attendees; the Prime Minister is advised to avoid asking President Mitterrand about his health, as he had an operation for prostate cancer.

Home affairs

Obscenity legislation (video nasties): includes meetings with Mary Whitehouse; part 3

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4713

Date range: 11 October 1993 – 24 June 1994

This file begins with continued correspondence about child pornography, obscenity and criticisms of the test of obscenity within the Obscene Publications Act, 1959. The file also contains discussion of violence on television as well as video controls and classifications. Towards the end of the file there are comments on the press coverage of a Home Office announcement regarding video nasties.

Obscenity legislation: censorship; part 4

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4714

Date range: 11 July 1994 – 23 December 1994

This file begins with correspondence related to violence on television in the summer of 1994. Also included in the file is a defensive briefing for the Prime Minister in advance of his meeting with Mary Whitehouse as well as correspondence with legal experts about proposed legislation. The file then moves to discuss the government’s position on blasphemy laws and a case brought before the European Commission of Human Rights. The file also contains a Home Office paper on curbing obscenity and a report on violence on independent television.

Behaviour of British football fans abroad: football hooliganism; Football Spectators Bill; Taylor Report on the Hillsborough Stadium Disaster; part 9

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4732 (PDF, 22.7 MB)

Date range: 1 February 1990 – 23 June 1994

This file contains correspondence on the Taylor report into the Hillsborough disaster. There are reports of hooliganism at matches during a May Bank Holiday and also correspondence relating to the reintegration of English clubs into European competitions after their ban. There is also discussion on re-examining the requirement for all-seater stadia in the Football League.

Gypsy site policy: new age travellers; reform of the Caravan Sites Act 1968

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4733 (PDF, 41.4 MB)

Date range: 10 January 1992 – 8 November 1994

This file contains correspondence between ministers, policy papers and memos regarding the government’s policy and proposed legislative program relating to Gypsies, travellers, New Age Travellers (NATs) and ravers. There is a large amount of correspondence and policy papers concerning the Department of the Environment’s 1992 proposals to remove the obligation of local authorities to provide caravan sites for Travellers and how to make this work politically and logistically. Also included are papers relating to proposals for cracking down on ‘illegal camping’ by the reform of the 1968 Caravan Sites Act. The file also contains papers from August 1992 onwards concerning government policy towards NATs and ravers, including how the government might ‘crack down’ on benefit payments to NATs, and enhance police powers to deal with raves after the large-scale gathering at Castlemorton Common. Particular reference is made to a gathering of c.5-7,000 NATs and ravers in Newton, Powys in August 1992.

Homosexual rights in Great Britain and Europe; part 1

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4734 (PDF, 50.9 MB)

Date range: 21 May 1984 – 15 December 1994

The file begins with some papers relating to a Private Peer’s Bill in the House of Lords tabled by Lord Halsbury in 1986 ‘for the purpose of restraining local authorities from promoting homosexuality’. Although this bill failed, a similar measure – Clause 28, an amendment to the 1988 Local Government Bill, became law in May 1988. The file then moves on to 1991: the context is John Major’s announcement in July that the ban on gay men and lesbians working for the British Diplomatic Service would be lifted. The file contains correspondence between the actor Sir Ian McKellen and John Major leading up to a meeting between them on 24 September, at which McKellen, on behalf of the Stonewall Group, outlined the main areas of discrimination and inequality in relation to lesbians and gay men. Major promises to carefully consider McKellen’s points and to discuss further with colleagues. Further papers are focused on the issue of reducing the age of consent for homosexuals which had been fixed at 21 since 1967.

Identity cards

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4735 (PDF, 90.2 MB)

Date range: 15 June 1993 – 31 December 1994

This file concerns discussions over the potential introduction of identity cards. The Home Office was asked to look into the subject but was warned not to allow details to leak. John Major intended to justify the proposal in support of fighting crime and cracking down on social security fraud, rather than tackling illegal immigration. The smart card research included consultations on the new photocard driving licences, which it was thought might present a useful pilot for the technology. The file includes a Home Office report, The Case for National Identity Cards, which although highlighted various positive outcomes, also warned that their introduction might be seen as over-regulatory and potentially unpopular. Other criticisms included their potential to encourage racial discrimination and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s fear they might weaken the UK’s position on frontier controls (at that time being debated in the European Court).

Race relations: part 3

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4745

Date range: 14 July 1993 – 23 December 1994

The file begins with a policy paper on ethnic minorities, outlining the need for inclusion. It continues with the Commission for Racial Equality’s (CRE) second review of the Race Relations Act 1976, with recommendations and government responses. Much of the file concerns government views on racial equality and market testing in response to the Commission for Racial Equality’s recommendation that private contractors should abide by the CRE Code of Practice. Also included is a letter outlining the use of deception by the National Front in booking Hatfield House for its annual general meeting. Further correspondence concerns a private members bill to enable the Commission for Racial Equality to accept legally binding undertakings from private companies. The file ends with a note on the Consultative Commission on Racism and Xenophobia and proposals for amendments to the EU Treaty.

Women: part 5

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4750

Date range: 8 October 1993 – 7 December 1994

The first part of the file is concerned with setting targets for women and ethnic minorities to hold public appointments and the various views across government departments. The latter part of the file holds correspondence related to the launch of the Fair Play for Women: Regional Initiative which was a joint project between government and the Equal Opportunities Commission aiming to boost opportunities for women. Throughout the file, there are quarterly returns to the ministerial sub-committee on women’s issues which detail progress.

Iraq Imprisonment of British citizens in Iraq: part 3

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4764

Date range: 4 February 1993 – 3 January 1994

This file contains correspondence relating to the detention of Paul Ride, Michael Wainwright and Simon Dunn, all charged with illegal entry into Iraq. It covers: arrangements for the Director-General of the British Red Cross to accompany their families to Iraq and a report on the visit; the procedures to provide the prisoners with basic provisions; discussions between Boutros-Ghali and the Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister in Geneva in June 1993; the diplomatic help received from Russia; Stephen Howarth’s visit to Iraq; and Sir Edward Heath’s mission to Baghdad to secure the prisoners’ release.

Ireland Situation in Northern Ireland; part 39

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4773

Date range: 16 December 1993 – 25 January 1994

This two-part file provides details of Sinn Féin’s exchanges with the British government including a full record of exchanges between October 1990 and November 1993. These were later published and a copy placed in the House of Commons Library. The file contains discussions concerning a visa application to the United States by Gerry Adams and the possibility of lifting the broadcast ban covering members of Sinn Féin. The file incudes the Irish reaction to the Downing Street Declaration and contains a series of open letters from Adams to John Major and an exchange of letters between John Major and the Irish Prime Minister Albert Reynolds. The file ends with a report on the Prime Minister’s meeting with John Hume, leader of the SDLP, and his concern over a potential split in the IRA between urban Provisionals who wanted an end to violence and rural areas where the ‘defender’ tradition still held sway.

Situation in Northern Ireland; part 40

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4774

Date range: 24 January 1994 – 31 January 1994

This file concerns the application for a US visa by Gerry Adams to attend a conference in New York in January 1994. The US authorities were prepared to grant a visa on the understanding that Adams gave a statement renouncing violence and his willingness to work for peace on the basis of the Joint Declaration issued on 15 December 1993 by John Major and his Irish counterpart Albert Reynolds. Adams rejected these conditions on the basis that his position in the republican movement would be untenable if he complied with the US request. A limited entry visa was eventually granted resulting in a draft letter from the Prime Minister to President Bill Clinton strongly disagreeing with the decision that was widely seen as a victory for the republican movement. The file ends with a letter from Major to Reynolds drawing attention to the fact that there had been two car bombs in London since the US decision to admit Adams and that Sinn Féin could only be treated as a democratic party when it started acting like a democratic party.

Situation in Northern Ireland; part 41

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4775

Date range: 1 February 1994 – 11 February 1994

This file contains press reaction following Adams’ visit to the United States which was greeted with dismay in Downing Street. It also contains an account of a telephone conversation between John Major and President Clinton in which the President took full responsibility for the decision. The file ends with reports that Adams was considering a future visit to Australia.

Situation in Northern Ireland; part 42

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4776

Date range: 14 February 1994 – 28 February 1994

This file provides an account of the Prime Minister’s informal meeting with the Irish Taoiseach Albert Reynolds during the course of a rugby international at Twickenham.  The file contains briefing notes and the text of the Prime Minister’s article in The Irish Times. The file ends with reports of the arrest of David Adams, a first cousin of Gerry Adams, who was arrested as part of a gang planning to murder a RUC superintendent on his way to work and the suggestion that the Prime Minister should inform President Clinton of the incident.

Situation in Northern Ireland; part 44

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4778 (PDF, 37.7 MB)

Date range: 5 April 1994 – 29 April 1994

This file contains a letter from Roderic Lyne, Number 10 Private Secretary, to Gerry Adams in response to his two letters of 30 March and 6 April to the Prime Minister calling for direct dialogue with the British government following the announcement of a three-day ceasefire by the IRA. The file also includes a letter from Sinn Féin passed to the British government via the Irish government containing a list of 22 questions that required clarification by the British government. There are also reports on the visit to Washington by the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, Jim Molyneaux and his meetings with Vice President Al Gore and Senator Edward Kennedy. The file ends with the announcement by Hualon, a Taiwanese textile company, that it wished to build a large factory in Northern Ireland and reservations expressed by HM Treasury concerning the cost of government subsidies and the need to secure the consent of the European Commission.

Situation in Northern Ireland; parts 45-50

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4779-4784

Date range: 3 May 1994 – 23 September 1994

These files concern the British government’s stewardship of the Northern Ireland peace process under John Major, largely through materials circulated by his Private Secretary, Roderic Lyne, and briefings provided by the Northern Ireland Office. Much of what is documented comes from discussions between Major and the Irish Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds. Highlights from the files include:

  • 4779, part two: Much of this file concerns the British and Irish government responses to a series of questions allegedly posed by Sinn Féin, seeking clarification on the position and commitments made in the Joint Declaration. The British government refused to engage in any negotiation on the terms agreed with the Irish government, and would not enter into questions about future arrangements in Ireland – something it argued could only be decided through negotiations with democratically mandated parties dedicated exclusively to peaceful political means.
  • 4780: An early item of interest in this file concerns the June 1994 Mull of Kintyre helicopter crash that killed 29 high-ranking RUC and intelligence staff travelling to Scotland for a counter-terrorism conference. Another item of note is a copy of the Report of the Sinn Féin Peace Commission.
  • 4781: Early material touches on paramilitary reactions to the peace process. Towards the front of the file is the reaction to Sinn Féin’s perceived rejection of the Joint Declaration in July 1994 and notes from Major’s meetings with Ian Paisley following the DUP’s submission of their Breaking the Logjam report.
  • 4783: Includes details of the August 1994 Sinn Féin/Provisional IRA ceasefire announcement followed by messages exchanged by John Major and President Clinton, and international reactions to the news forwarded by the FCO. These events were taking place against a background of continued loyalist violence and accusations by Unionists – particularly Ian Paisley – that the British government had made concessions to Sinn Féin.
  • 4784: This file details the continuation of Unionist violence, the potential for a referendum on the future position of Northern Ireland as part of the UK, the European Union Assistance package for Northern Ireland, visits to the US by key Irish figures in the peace process, and the programme of the Belfast Cathedral service of thanksgiving and remembrance for those involved in the Mull of Kintyre helicopter crash.
Situation in Northern Ireland; part 51

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4785

Date range: 24 September 1994 – 12 October 1994

This file covers several issues pertaining to the situation and peace negotiations in Northern Ireland in September and October 1994. Included are papers, correspondence, and other material relating to: the visit of Gerry Adams to the United States, including papers relating to US National Security Advisor Tony Lake’s inclination to provide Adams with meetings with high ranking officials and the government’s disquiet with this, and the subsequent fallout of Adams having a phone conversation with the Vice President. Also included are: discussions around the developing Joint Framework Document, including consultations with the Irish government, Unionist and the Alliance Party; a meeting between John Major and John Alderdice (Alliance Leader); discussions of economic assistance packages for Northern Ireland from the European Union, the US, and HM Treasury; contact between the government and Unionist parties, including details of access to Loyalist prisoners and moves towards a Loyalist ceasefire; discussions of the IRA’s move towards a permanent ceasefire and questions over handing in munitions.

Situation in Northern Ireland; part 52

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4786

Date range: 13 October 1994 – 22 October 1994

This file covers the situation in Northern Ireland for part of October 1994. Included are policy documents, correspondence and other papers relating to: discussions with the US government regarding another visit to the US by Gerry Adams, and the UK government’s desire that Adams will not be able to raise funds while overseas for fear these will be utilised by the IRA; the announcement of the Loyalist ceasefire on 13 October 1994 and the UK government’s move to presume the permanence of the IRA’s ceasefire; ending exclusion orders for Adams, McGuinness and others associated with the conflict; discussions of European Union economic aid packages to Northern Ireland; and details and discussion of the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation hosted by the Republic of Ireland.

Situation in Northern Ireland; part 56. 2 parts

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4790/1

Date range: 7 December 1994 – 30 December 1994

These files cover the situation in Northern Ireland for part of December 1994. Included are policy documents, correspondence and other papers relating to: the possibility of Taiwanese textile firm Hualon opening a factory in Northern Ireland, possible government aid for this and the opposition of the British textile industry; conversations and meetings between the Prime Minister and the Taoiseach regarding the Northern Irish peace process, changes in the Irish government and the Irish government’s meeting with Sinn Féin; report on exploratory dialogues held between the British government and loyalist groups and Sinn Féin, respectively; reaction to the explosive device found in Enniskillen, 18 December, and Sinn Féin and Unionist reaction; the Prime Minister’s meetings with James Molyneaux, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party; concerns about Gerry Adams prospective January 1995 visit to the US; discussions over the Joint Framework Document and its development; and papers regarding the possibility of Sinn Féin achieving parity of esteem with other parties in the peace process and being able to directly engage with UK ministers.

North Korea UK/North Korea relations: internal situation; part 1

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4801 (PDF, 20.4 MB)

Date range: 27 August 1981 – 5 September 1994

This file contains discussion of North Korea’s application to join the United Nations and what that means for the UK as London did not recognise the country. There is also correspondence relating to the death of Kim Il Sung and rise of Kim Jong Il along with a report on other leading personalities in the North Korean leadership.

Labour Party The Labour Party’s strategy and policy: record of taxation; defence policy

Catalogue reference: PREM 19/4803

Date range: 21 November 1983 – 6 October 1994

Among other things this files contains Number 10 Policy Unit observations of the policies of the Labour Party between 1983 and 1994, with reference to Defence policy, public spending commitments, and environmental policy, as well as documents produced by the Conservative governments of this period intended to develop lines to rebut criticisms. Also included are papers relating to Labour’s assumption of the Presidency of the European Council in 1992.

The post Prime Minister’s office files (PREM) – 1994 appeared first on The National Archives.

Prime Minister’s Papers from 1994 released

National Archives - Thu, 12/27/2018 - 19:03

Today we have released files from the Prime Minister’s Office and Cabinet Office, predominantly covering the year of 1994.

The newly released Cabinet Office files (CAB and PREM) shed light on a range of subjects both at home and abroad under John Major’s leadership. In addition to 1994, this release includes some files from the last years of Margaret Thatcher’s government and the transition to Major’s premiership.

The files are available to view in the public reading rooms at The National Archives, Kew. A selection of files have been digitised and can be viewed and downloaded using our catalogue, Discovery.

Domestically, the files cover issues as diverse as the emergence of the Internet as a government communications tool (PREM 19/4621), the Prime Minister’s audiences with the Queen (PREM 19/4411), homosexual rights in Britain (PREM 19/4734), football hooliganism (PREM 19/4732 – PDF, 22.7 MB), sporting achievements (PREM 19/4458 – PDF, 28.9 MB), the use of government cars (PREM 19/4587 – PDF, 33.2 MB), American air bases in the UK (PREM 19/4613 – PDF, 32.5 MB), and the situation in Northern Ireland (PREM 19/4774-4790).

Internationally, there are various files relating to John Major’s work with US President Bill Clinton and wider UK-US relations (PREM 19/4495-4501), UK-Russian relations (PREM 19/4420-4422), Nelson Mandela’s visits to the UK (PREM 19/4454 – PDF, 54.0 MB), the continuing conflict in Yugoslavia (PREM 19/4510 – PDF, 136.4 MB and PREM 19/4513 – PDF, 69.3 MB), and UK government policy towards Europe (PREM 19/4640-4666).

Read a blog post from our Media Manager on this release.

You can also find out more about our previous file releases.

The post Prime Minister’s Papers from 1994 released appeared first on The National Archives.

Changes to our fees

National Archives - Thu, 12/20/2018 - 08:40

From 1 February 2019, there will be changes to some of the fees we charge.

As a government department providing a public service, we are able to charge for some statutory services (as defined by the Public Records Act ) on a cost recovery basis. The Fees Order, which regulates our fees, has been refreshed from the last calculation which came into effect 1 April 2017. We are maintaining the standard approach in line with the HM Treasury publication, Managing Public Money, to set charges at a level that will recover full costs, ensuring that The National Archives neither profits at the expense of consumers nor makes a loss for taxpayers to subsidise.

There are both price increases and decreases, for example a digital copy up to A3 size goes up by 10p to £1.20. Currently, our research service cost £23.35 per 15 minutes, this will go up by £1.00 however, the charge for a copy of a naturalisation certificate will go down by 25p to £27.15.

As there is no legal requirement for The National Archives to digitise physical public records these services are by definition discretionary. We have therefore removed the following digital surrogate related lines:
• The creation of digital surrogates funded by others (for a commercial return, or to widen access)
• Reprographic charges (Production and Estimation)
• Image Library (Serviced Copies – Colour Photograph)
• Digital Downloads
• Conservation for Digitisation

In addition to, but separate from, the Fees Order changes, we are introducing a  fee for the provision of letters of no evidence of naturalisation, in the same way that we charge for certified copies of naturalisation certificates. They will incur a fee of £27.15 which is regulated to be the cost recovery price (i.e. the cost to The National Archives doing the work).

A full list of fees can be found here

The post Changes to our fees appeared first on The National Archives.

Blue Devils’ Blue Light

The Devil's Tale - Wed, 12/19/2018 - 08:00

Post contributed by Josh Larkin Rowley, Reference Archivist for the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, and Marketing History

Spend a moment chatting with me and there’s one thing you’ll likely learn: I really like beer. Since my arrival in Durham nearly a decade ago, I’ve spent an uncomfortable amount of my income at Sam’s Quik Shop. It’s changed a lot since my time here—expanded indoor space, the addition of outdoor seating, a less surly staff. However, it has always been a hub for me, a family-owned bottle shop that still feels like the Durham I met years ago. In an evolving cityscape featuring more new high-rise condominiums than personality these days, Sam’s is iconic. Like many local beer drinkers, I was stunned but not altogether surprised by the news that the bottle shop will close at the end of the month and the property sold. As a beer-loving member of the Duke community I started thinking about what Sam’s, in all its historical iterations, has meant to generations of Duke students. Taking advantage of resources available in the Duke University Archives we catch a glimpse of the evolution of Sam’s and a feeling for what the institution meant to generations of Duke students.

Sam’s Quik Shop ad from July 12, 1976 Chronicle

In the 1950s, when the Woman’s College was still active, codes of conduct choreographed interactions between men and women on campus. Consequently, students sought friendly establishments off campus where they could socialize freely. One of these was Sam’s Blue Light Basement, named after the hit song “The House of the Blue Lights,” which opened its doors in 1954 to students eager for a new nightlife spot in the city. Modeled on the German Rathskeller, students could dance to juke box tunes, drink beer, and mingle in proximity to the opposite sex, all without the heavy hand of administrative oversight. In a 1981 profile of Sam’s Quik Shop in The Chronicle, owner Sam Boy spoke fondly of current Duke students who tell him that their parents “came a courtin’” to the Blue Light years earlier.

While the basement boomed, the ground floor Blue Light Cafe thrived as well, with locals and students alike lining up for the drive-up food delivery. During the annual Joe College celebration, a mainstay of every Duke students’ social calendar in the 1950s, students found the time between scheduled events for a trip to the Cafe. “At 5 the lawn concert breaks up . . . a quick stop at the Blue Light for an in-car supper,” reads a poetic homage to Joe College weekend in the 1955 Chanticleer. The in-car service was so popular that by the 1960s local police were required to direct traffic on busy weekends. “Cars were lined up outside looking for a place to park,” Sam Boy remembered. In 1974, Sam and his wife Gerry converted part of the business into a convenience store, changing the name to Sam’s Quik Shop, while retaining the neon Blue Light sign that adorned the facade.

The Quik Shop became a one-stop establishment for anything one might need. From convenience store staples to automotive supplies, the Quik Shop had it all. However, alongside the self-serve carwash, books and newspapers, and VHS rentals (over 3,400 titles!), beer was the most prominent feature of their offerings. Sharing shelf space with standard brands like Miller, Budweiser, and for those with an aversion to beer, Bartles and Jaymes and a large selection of wines, the Quik shop also stocked less familiar names and imports like Old Peculiar, Glacier Bay, Chihuahua, and Sol. “That’s our drawing card as opposed to the supermarkets,” noted a prescient Sam Boy in 1981. Sam’s found its niche.

By 1984, a legal drinking age of 21 put beer drinking by law-abiding college students out of reach. However, thanks to advances in home computing technology and photo editing software, a surfeit of fake IDs hit the nightlife scene in the late 1990s. During this scourge of lawlessness, many Durham drinking establishments reported an increase in fake ID confiscation—IDs most easily identified by their atrocious quality. Sam’s on the other hand reported a decline in the number of fake IDs. “Usually we have a whole wall full by the end of the semester,” exclaimed Robert Clark, a Sam’s clerk in 1999. “Right now, we only have four or five.” (If you were one of those lucky students publicly shamed on the walls of Sam’s circa 1999, let us know!).

Sam’s Quik Shop ad from the November 11, 1988 Chronicle

“It has been said that one cannot stand in the way of progress,” began an editorial by student Marc Weinstein in the October 5, 1990 issue of The Chronicle. The extension of the 147 Expressway to the west turned the area around Sam’s Quik Shop into a construction and traffic nightmare that affected the livelihood of the family-owned business. While approving of necessary infrastructure improvements, Weinstein went on to say that he equally liked Sam’s Quik Shop. “I like being able to snatch a 6-pack of Colt 45 . . . rent Breakin’ II: Electric Boogaloo, and grab some hot pork rinds at 10 on a Friday night,” said the Trinity senior. Weinstein vowed to contribute in some small way to ensuring the survival of this “shoppers paradise” by making extra trips to the Quik Shop each week. His fear, surely shared by many, was that the institution would go the way of Pete Rinaldi’s Chicken Palace, a beloved eatery on 9th Street.

Alas, progress has finally caught up to Sam’s Quik Shop. As another Durham landmark is swapped for clean, commodious living, let us—Durhamites and Duke students alike—mourn the loss of one of the city’s most enduring locales . . . over a beer, of course.

The post Blue Devils’ Blue Light appeared first on The Devil's Tale.

Green Book Provides Guide to a Bygone Era

The Devil's Tale - Mon, 12/17/2018 - 07:58

Post contributed by Bennett Carpenter, PhD Candidate in Literature and African and African American Studies Intern 

The movie Green Book, in theaters now, has garnered both acclaim and criticism for its depiction of the African American pianist Don Shirley’s 1962 tour through the Jim Crow South. But it has also engendered newfound interest in the original Green Book, a vital resource for African American travelers in the early- to mid-twentieth century.

Car travel appealed to many African Americans in the Jim Crow era, both for the sense of freedom it engendered and as a means to escape the segregation and discrimination experienced in public transportation. But travelling by car presented its own difficulties. In addition to the pervasive threat of police harassment on the road, many hotels, restaurants and even gas stations refused to cater to Black customers—not only in the overtly segregated South but also in the nominally integrated North. As a result, Black travelers had to plan ahead.

1962 Green Book Cover

First published in 1936, the Negro Motorist Green Book provided African Americans with an invaluable guide to relatively safe stopping points along the road, along with a list of local businesses that would provide food, gas, a place to sleep and a warm welcome. The book was created and published by New York City mailman Victor Green, who tapped into a network of Black postal workers across the country to provide him with information about local conditions.

Here at the John Hope Franklin Research Center, we hold a copy of the Green Book from the same year that the film takes place—1962. A glance through its pages grants many insights into African American life in the mid-20th century. The entry for Durham, North Carolina, for instance, lists two restaurants, a hostelry and a hotel—all located in the historic Black neighborhood of Hayti.

1962 Green Book, pp. 74-75

Founded by freedmen in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, Hayti was an important center of Black life for the better part of a century. It attracted such famous visitors as Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois, who called it “the Negro business mecca of the South,” recommending it as a model for other African American communities to follow.

By the time the 1962 Green Book appeared, however, the community was on the verge of precipitous decline. That same year, the city voted to build Highway 147 through the middle of the neighborhood, dividing the community and destroying hundreds of homes and businesses. Federal money promised for rebuilding failed to materialize. The community would be further torn apart by additional attempts at so-called “urban renewal”—famously dubbed “Negro removal” by James Baldwin for its disastrous impact on Black communities.

Today, none of the four Durham businesses listed in the 1962 Green Book remain. Two—the Bull City Restaurant and the Biltmore Hotel, both on Pettigrew Street—have been torn down, the once bustling businesses replaced by parking lots. DeShazor’s Hostelry has also been demolished; a strip mall now occupies the spot where it once stood. At 1306 Fayetteville Street, the former College Inn Restaurant has been replaced by the New Visions of Africa Community Restaurant. Opened in 2004, it provides free daily snacks to children and sells low-cost, healthy meals, with an emphasis on community self-sufficiency.

Left: 1956 Travelguide cover, Right: Travelguide, p. 5

The Green Book was not the only such travel guide available to African American motorists. A 1956 booklet in our holdings, simply titled Travelguide, also promised to help Black travelers experience “Vacation & Recreation Without Humiliation,” as a caption on the cover put it. Inside the booklet, an inset note predicted that “the time is rapidly approaching when TRAVELGUIDE will cease to be a ‘specialized’ publication,” envisioning “the day when all established directories will serve EVERYONE.”

That day was not far off. In 1964, the passage of the Civil Rights Act ended legal racial discrimination in hotels, restaurants and all other public accommodations, muting the need for specialized travel guides. Within a few years, publication of the Green Book and other Black travel guidebooks would cease. The Travelguide’s optimistic proclamation had thus proved prophetic.

On the top of the same page from the 1956 Travelguide, however, another inset sounded a different note. “Many of the N.A.A.C.P. Presidents in southern states have been removed from this issue,” it announced, “due to the danger of increased violence by those individuals who are opposing the Supreme Court and the Interstate Commerce Commission in respect to segregation in travel.”

In the gap between these two insets—the one prophesizing an end to racial discrimination, the other warning of increasing racist violence—can be read both the triumphs and tribulations of the Black freedom struggle across the twentieth century.

The post Green Book Provides Guide to a Bygone Era appeared first on The Devil's Tale.

Percy and Ella Sykes: A Photographic Journey Through Chinese Turkestan

The Devil's Tale - Fri, 12/14/2018 - 10:08

Post contributed by Paula Jeannet, Visual Materials Processing Archivist

This post is part of “An Instant Out of Time: Photography at the Rubenstein Library” blog series

A recently acquired photograph album offers a study of the landscape, culture, and the realities of travel in a remote region in the steppes of Central Asia, through the camera of British Army officer Sir Percy Molesworth Sykes.  Charged as acting Consul-General in Chinese Turkestan, now Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China, Sykes had to travel from England to the capital city of Kashgar.  In an unusual turn of events for the time, he was accompanied on this arduous overland journey by his sister, Ella Constance Sykes, also a Fellow of the Geographical Society and a well-regarded writer on Iran.

In March 1915, when the two set off for their arduous nine-month journey, World War I was in full tilt, thus their northerly route through Norway.  Meanwhile, in Central Asia, after decades of conflict which included the Crimean War, Russians, Turks, English, Chinese, and British Empire troops from India, were still grappling to extend their control over these strategically important regions.  Lieutenant Colonel Sykes’ camera recorded the presence of these nationalities.

 

In researching this collection of photographs, I discovered that brother and sister also recorded their experiences in a co-authored travel memoir, Through deserts and oases of Central Asia (1920, available online); it includes many of the photographs found in the album.  To find a written companion piece to a photograph album is a stroke of luck, as with its help I could confirm dates, locations, and a historical context for the photographs found in the album.

Ella Sykes wrote Part I of the memoir, which describes the journey in vivid detail, and her brother, Part II, which focuses on the region’s geography, history, and culture.  In her narrative, Ella occasionally recounts taking photographs of various scenes, such as the image on page 92 of women at a female saint’s shrine.  A note in the image index states that “The illustrations, with one exception, are from reproductions of photographs taken by the authors” (emphasis mine); clearly, some of the book’s illustrations are her work.  The question arises, did she take any of the images found in the album?

Of the photographs in the album that also appear in the Sykes’ book, several are found in the section written by Ella, leading one to think perhaps she took them, including a different version of this group, found in the album:

However, the title of the photograph album, handwritten in beautiful calligraphic script, states: “Photographs taken by Lt. Col. Sir Percy Sykes to illustrate Chinese Turkestan, the Russian Pamirs and Osh, April-November, 1915.”

With this title in hand and my cataloging hat on, and without firm evidence of Ella’s hand in the album’s images, I officially record Sir Percy Sykes as the album’s sole creator.

Through researching the context for Percy Sykes’ photograph album (a copy of which is also held by the British Library), I learned a bit about the history of the region and of his role in the administration of British affairs.  I was also serendipitously introduced to Ella Sykes.  Even though in her fifties when she traveled, she clearly had great stamina as a horsewoman and adventurer, and was a keen observer of the people, landscapes, and animals she encountered.  Sir Percy writes in the book’s preface: “To my sister belongs the honour of being the first Englishwoman to cross the dangerous passes leading to and from the Pamirs, and, with the exception of Mrs. Littledale, to visit Khotan.” (p. vi)  Ella Sykes was a founding member of the Royal Central Asian Society and a member of the Royal Geographical Society as well.  She died in 1939 in London, while her brother Percy died in 1945, also in London.

For more information about the photograph album, see the collection guide.  The album is non-circulating but is available to view in the Rubenstein Library reading room.  It joins other Rubenstein photography collections documenting the history of adjacent regions in the Middle East, Central Asia, Russia, India, and China.

Additional links:

Photograph portrait, reportedly of Ella Sykes, from the Long Riders Guild of travel narratives.

Some biographical information was taken courtesy of:  Denis Wright, “SYKES, Ella Constance,” Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2008, viewed December 10, 2018, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/sykes-ella-constance

The post Percy and Ella Sykes: A Photographic Journey Through Chinese Turkestan appeared first on The Devil's Tale.

The National Archives announces Cold War season launching April 2019

National Archives - Thu, 12/06/2018 - 09:00

The National Archives today announces its 2019 Cold War season, comprising a new exhibition ‘Protect and Survive: Britain’s Cold War Revealed’ and a season of events that will offer a fascinating insight into life in Britain during the turbulent Cold War era.

INF 13/293/10 Keep Our Secrets Secret, Somebody Isn’t Using His Intelligence, 1960s

Opening on 4 April 2019, exactly 70 years since NATO was formed, the programme will mark a series of Cold War milestones and will run until the end of November 2019, the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Mark Dunton, Contemporary Records Specialist at The National Archives and Curator of the exhibition, said: ‘People will have the opportunity to explore our Cold War documents and learn more about this period of secrets and paranoia. The pervasive threat of nuclear war impacted everyday life for millions of people and this thought-provoking exhibition will offer a unique look into political and ideological tensions between the East and West.’

An array of original documents will be on display, including political memos, spy confessions, civil defence posters and even a letter from Winston Churchill to the Queen. These documents will provide visitors with a rare glimpse into the complexities of government operations during this time of infiltration and betrayal.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a programme of high-profile events exploring the Cold War from a multitude of perspectives. Speakers will include Dame Stella Rimington, former Director General of MI5, who will discuss her extraordinary career in government and subsequent success as a writer.

To secure priority booking and be the first to obtain details of the Cold War season, sign up to The National Archives’ mailing list at nationalarchives.gov.uk/coldwar.

The post The National Archives announces Cold War season launching April 2019 appeared first on The National Archives.

Newly accredited archive services announced

National Archives - Wed, 12/05/2018 - 04:33

The UK Archive Service Accreditation Partnership today announces that three archive services have been awarded accredited status at a recent Archive Service Accreditation Panel.

HSBC Archives, National Arts Education Archives and Oxford Brookes University Special Collections have achieved the UK national standard for archive services, demonstrating a commitment to management and resourcing, the care of unique collections and the service offer to their entire range of users. The three archive services are the first to achieve Archive Service Accreditation since the refresh of the standard and documentation in June 2018.

Archive Sector Accreditation is supported by a partnership of the Archives and Records Association (UK), Archives and Records Council Wales, National Records of Scotland, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, Scottish Council on Archives, The National Archives and the Welsh Government through its Museums, Archives and Libraries Wales division.

See the full list of accredited archive services.

Find out more about Archive Service Accreditation.

The post Newly accredited archive services announced appeared first on The National Archives.

Applications Now Accepted for the 2019-2020 Travel Grant Program

The Devil's Tale - Tue, 12/04/2018 - 07:32

The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library is now accepting applications for our 2019-2020 travel grants. If you are a researcher, artist, or activist who would like to use sources from the Rubenstein Library’s research centers for your work, this means you!

The Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture, the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture, the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History, the History of Medicine Collections, the Human Rights Archive, and the Archive of Documentary Arts, will each award up to $1,500 per recipient ($2,000 for international applicants to the Human Rights Archive) to fund travel and other expenses related to visiting the Rubenstein Library. The Rubenstein Library also awards up to $1,500 for individuals who would benefit from access to our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender history collections through the Harry H. Harkins, Jr. T’73 Travel Grant.

The grants are open to undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, independent scholars, artists, and activists who live more than 100 miles from Durham, North Carolina, and whose research projects would benefit from access to collections held by one of the centers listed above.

More details—and the grant application—may be found on our grants website. Applications must be submitted no later than 5:00 PM EST on January 31, 2019. Recipients will be announced in March 2019.

The post Applications Now Accepted for the 2019-2020 Travel Grant Program appeared first on The Devil's Tale.

126 Years of Fascination with Lizzie Borden

The Devil's Tale - Mon, 12/03/2018 - 15:24

Post Contributed by Michelle Runyon, Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture Graduate Intern.

On August 4, 1892, Andrew and Abby Borden were found after being murdered with an ax. Andrew’s daughter Lizzie was immediately suspected and she was subsequently tried for the couple’s murders. The public was entranced with the grisly crime and Lizzie Borden’s trial. Many were unpleasantly surprised when she was acquitted of her father’s and stepmother’s murders. Lizzie Borden continued to live in her hometown of Fall River, Massachusetts, until her death even though she was ostracized by the community.

Even since her death in 1927, Lizzie Borden has continued to catch the public imagination. In the 126 years since Bordens’ murders, there have been books, podcast episodes (for example, Unsolved Murders Episode 23), movies, and even an opera which tells the gruesome story of the the Bordens’ murders. The Duke Libraries holds dozens of works inspired by the story of Lizzie Borden.

Here at the Rubenstein Library, we have a few different items related to Lizzie Borden and her trial, including a two-volume scrapbook that details Lizzie Borden’s trial through contemporary newspaper clippings. Although we are not certain who compiled the scrapbooks, their existence is evidence of the public’s fascination with the Borden murders from the beginning and the attention that was paid to Lizzie’s trial.

Clippings in the Lizzie Borden scrapbooks, Rubenstein Library

The Lisa Unger Baskin Collection includes a brief manuscript relaying events in Fall River surrounding the two murders  and an autograph album collected by Jennie Nuttall, a resident of Fall River, MA, which includes a verse and signature by Borden from before the murders took place. This volume will be included in 500 Years of Women’s Work: the Lisa Unger Baskin Collection exhibit opening at the Rubenstein on February 27, 2019.

We also have an album in the Bobbye S. Ortiz Papers featuring a song about Lizzie Borden, as sung by the Chad Mitchell Trio!

Front and back cover “The Best of Chad Mitchell Trio,” from the Bobbye Ortiz collection

As evidenced by the release this year of film entitled Lizzie inspired by her story, Lizzie Borden continues to be a figure of macabre fascination to many. Her story and the stories of the murders are retold time and time again.

The post 126 Years of Fascination with Lizzie Borden appeared first on The Devil's Tale.

Movember Adventures in the Archive

The Devil's Tale - Fri, 11/30/2018 - 09:46

Post contributed by Zoë Eckman, PhD Candidate in English and Research Services Intern.

At the beginning of this month, I became intrigued by the event called “Movember” or “no-shave November.”  It’s an awareness-raising charitable event in which mustaches are grown over the month to spark conversations about men’s health and encourage donations.  Inspired by this event, I decided to delve into the resources of the Rubenstein to research the simple topic of facial hair.  What I discovered spanned centuries, genres, materials, and occasionally conflicting opinions about beard and mustaches.

Because the Rubenstein’s collections are so expansive, it may seem intimidating to begin a research project – but experience in libraries will hone your research skills and introduce you to new tools which are advantageous no matter what subjects you’re fascinated by.  The most important thing to bring with you are questions – what could I discover about the way facial hair has been viewed over time?  What importance (if any) did facial hair have in the past?  There was a lot of material to wade through, but I chose things which seemed interesting to me and might help me answer my questions.

The first was a play written in 1707, Colley Cibber’s “The Double Gallant”. While the play itself isn’t about facial hair, it contains the brilliant quote:  “Modesty’s a starving virtue, madam, an old threadbare fashion of the last age, and would sit as oddly upon a lover now as a picked beard and mustachios” (p. 30).  Clearly, in the eighteenth-century in Britain, growing facial hair was not the route to choose when attempting to choose a paramour.

Not so in France in 1842, when Eugène Dulac’s “Physiologie et Hygiène de la Barbe et des Moustaches” [image 2] encouraged young men to grow beards and mustaches because they were a visual symbol of male dominance – something women, in the author’s opinion at least, found extremely attractive.

After this, I discovered a comedic song from 1931 called “Put Away the Moustache Cup” in a book of music called “Soft boiled ballads : a collection of heart-wrecking songs.”

Wanting to know what a “mustache cup” was, I searched the library and found a physical example of one in the Richard Pollay ACME Advertising Collection  which advertised hair dye (so if you think branded giveaways like coffee mugs or water bottles are a modern trend, think again).

Also not a modern trend, I discovered, was the removal of beards and mustaches considered unattractive.  A book from 1906 encourages the removal of “unwanted facial hair” on women through the hot, new medical procedure of electrolysis!  One hundred years later, the feminist magazine “Bitch” included an article in their essay collection titled, “Beyond the Bearded Lady:  Outgrowing the Shame of Female Facial Hair.”

Perhaps one of the most famous mustaches in the world belonged to the artist Salvador Dalí, whose facial hair was so iconic that it was given its own book, “Dalí’s Mustache.”  The book is a “photographic interview” in which short questions are posed to the artist, he responds in his iconoclastic style, and a picture is featured in which his mustache is styled to match his answer.  When the question, “What do you see when you look at Mona Lisa?” is asked, he responds like this:

Facial hair also has local historical significance:  in 1953, to celebrate Durham’s centennial, a group of 3,093 men paid a $1 membership fee, got a button, and pledged to maintain facial hair of some sort (you can learn more about that here, in a previous intern’s blog post).  “Grow a ‘Mo, Save a Bro” is one of Movember’s mottos – the Durham men called themselves “The Brothers of the Brush.”  On the opposite end of the spectrum, a Winston-Salem man was, in 1974, required by his employer to shave off his mustache and remain clean-shaven.  He filed a lawsuit with the North Carolina chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and we have the records of his struggle to maintain his personal facial hair and insure the rights of others to do the same (he was going to lose his case, unfortunately, so settled out of court).

So, researching something as simple as facial hair has lead us from the 18th century through the 19th, 20th, and into the 21st.  We’ve encountered fictional texts, medical treatises, musical ballads, advertisements, surreal art, historical events and lawsuits, and feminist journalism.  The Rubenstein is a research tool which contains a wealth of items touching diverse and seemingly disparate subjects.  All you have to do, no matter what you’re interested in, is dive in.

 

The post Movember Adventures in the Archive appeared first on The Devil's Tale.

Pages