Thursday, 6 September 2012

Queen Mary University of London Archives

As well as rummaging around at The National Archives and other record repositories in London, I have a part-time job working with the Queen Mary University of London Academic Services team at Mile End Library. The job is varied, and involves some work in the archives section of the Library. The archives at Queen Mary are burgeoning under the energetic leadership of my colleague Lorraine Screene, and there are a number of very significant collections (for example the recently digitized diaries of Constance Maynard, mistress of Westfield College, and the records of the National Union of Tailors and Garment Workers), among which must surely be counted the extensive personal papers of Lord Hennessy, Attlee Professor of Contemporary British History at Queen Mary. I have been working on this collection under Lorraine’s direction for the past couple of months, the ultimate aim being to produce a box list of the papers that will facilitate access (the collection is currently unsorted which makes that difficult) and assist in the complicated process of full cataloguing.

The collection includes material from Lord Hennessy’s previous career as a journalist, as well more recent papers he has created as an historian and broadcaster, and in fact it can be difficult to spot the boundary between the two careers, the one having emerged so naturally from the other. What is abundantly clear though is just how rich the papers are: so far I have come across correspondence with politicians, civil servants and government insiders; working notes and memos; draft newspaper articles; and historical research notes and lecture papers. Even the necessarily cursory analysis involved in producing a box list has confirmed that future historians of, for example, Suez and the evolution – many would say the decay – of cabinet government will find much of value here.

No comments:

Post a Comment