Archive News

Happenings and goings on in the Archive and Study Centre: Events, researchers, discoveries, additions. For latest articles added to the Archive and Study Centre section of the website, click here.

A huge thankyou to members of the Caldecott Association who have given us another inspiring Archive Week of work and learning!

 

2016 022 01 02 01Gill liberated countless archive boxes for purposeful re-purposing, and helped Jen in packaging and repackaging existing Caldecott accessions.

Eileen delivered another transcribed James King manuscript, and made significant inroads into transcribing an oral history interview.

Jean shared her paintings, and broke significant ground in transcribing another oral history interview.

Gerald and Robert individually shared important insights into the Caldecott Community and its role in their lives, in their extensive oral history interviews.

Barry reviewed hundreds of photographs, negatives and contact sheets, and scanned (115 scans were made over the four days of this Weekend!).

And, along with enjoying meals and good unrecorded conversations with one another, everyone helped in identifying the who, what and where in hundreds of photographs, and for cataloguing. Craig helped.

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We were told some years ago that members of one community would not contribute to the general work of the Archive or to the life and memories of other communities.

It is important to note that - although people obviously and understandably concentrate on the materials and memories of their own communities, especially during Archive Weekends - this is not the case.

The interest and generosity of community members overflows for the benefit of the Trust, and of the Archive and Study Centre, and for those others whose memories are held here. That generosity is part of the inspiration that continues to make what we do so exciting for us, and proud to work with and for Archive users and Stakeholders.

Thank you.

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Turn the volume up and sit back for half a minute. Listen at the end, for the steam train, way at the far end of the village, a twenty minute walk away. The Kaki Tree sculpture in its environment, with the first Caldecott daffodils blooming. For the story of the kaki tree, click here. 

 

 

three objects 2018 03 051. High Speed Audio Cassette Tape Duplicator

Purchased through Audio Visual Services of Gloucester in 1994, the high speed audio-cassette tape duplicator cost a bundle in relation to the size of the budget, but revolutionised life in the Archive overnight.

Imagine the task.

From 1989 to 1996, and leaving aside a few reel to reels, all of the confererence and oral history recordings made by the Archive and Study Centre were recorded on audio cassettes,  over 750 of them: Maxwell Jones, Harry Wilmer, Harold Bridger, the ATC Windsor and Arbours Crisis Centre conferences...hundreds of individuals and events recorded on 90 minute (45 minute a side) audio cassettes.

Each of these recordings had to be backed-up for preservation purposes, and every interviewee was given at least one copy of their recording: for groups and conference break-out sessions these numbers could multiply! Leaving aside back-up and donor copies of tapes which had been made and given to the Archive by others (not an inconsiderable number), we're talking a mimimum of 1,500 to 2,200 hours of duplication. 

Moving from the tape-to-tape system which copied one side at a time in real time, to a high speed duplicator which copied both sides of the master tape simultaneously, was therefore genuinely revolutionary. An hour and a half of monitoring and duplicating time was reduced to minutes. We could offer researchers our support service - providing back-up, interviewer and interviewee copies of their recordings in return for deposit of the master in the oral history collection - without blanching. It became quicker and less onerous to get copies to transcribers, and speeded up the turn-around time for getting copies of their recordings and transcripts to interviewees. We could even, as we did, venture into small-scale audio-tape publication. It was wonderful.

 

2. Printed letterhead

A more or less immediate investment on initiation of the Archive and Study Centre, professionally-printed letterhead on high-quality paper was not only a labour-saving device, but set out the stall of the new Archive and Study Centre in the pre-Internet, pre-email world of letter-writing and snail-mail. It was printed for us a ream at a time by Rapid Print of Cheltenham, then in two premises on the Upper High Street (shop-front with commercial photocopiers on one side of the road, printing and binding plant on the other). It used the Garamond type face which PETT had adopted in the years when it too had professionally-printed letterhead, thereby grounding the new Archive and Study Centre in the past and carrying forward a tradition, while looking to the future: it said "We are here to stay, we are serious and professional about what we do and how we go about it, and presentation and attention to detail are important."

Among the details was the job title for the new archivist - "Research Archivist". This was a research archive. The implications of that were and are immense. The title changed in later versions; but the nature and purpose of the Archive and Study Centre itself have remained the same: not simply a repository; not simply a place to receive.

 

3. Address Stamp

We got our self-inking stamp from a specialist corner shop, run by a young couple in an old residential part of Cheltenham, which we found through the yellow pages - the real yellow pages, which used to come as part of the massive telephone directory which strong-men tested and sometimes broke themselves on, trying to tear in half. A quarter of a century on and the stamp is still going strong, imprinting "Planned Environment Therapy Trust Archive and Study Centre, Church Lane, Toddington, Glos. GL54 5DQ" on countless envelopes and labels. It is almost impossible to convey how many hours and cramped fingers this stamp has saved, and what an immediate relief its purchase was. It is a small thing, but has had a disproprotionate effect on efficiency and job satisfaction. In an improbable office fire, it would be one of the first things we'd rush to save.

We subsequently bought library and a few other self-inking stamps from the shop. The fact that the stamps have survived intact and working so very many years after purchase may help to explain why the shop itself is no long there. The couple would no longer be young; but if you come across this, and if you know who you are, thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Craig Fees (CF)
Interviewed by Bettina Schnurman (BS)
1.3.2018

[An ongoing piece of self-reflection in the form of an interview]

 

BS: I am Bettina Schnurman. It is the 1st of March 2018, almost fourteen years to the day since I was last here and last interviewed Craig Fees ["Do ut possis dare: Before the PhD and after"]. Craig, at the end of that interview, back in 2004, you were speaking about the difference between 'do ut des' and 'do ut possis dare', and the nature of archives and oral history as 'sacrifice', in the terms of the old Indo-European understanding of sacrifice.

CF: Yes.

BS: Do you mind if I just read what you said then, and ask whether and how you might have changed your mind?

CF: Not at all.

BS: Okay. So back in 2004 you said:

"Do the right thing, do the kind thing, do the generous thing, and in its own mysterious way, the system will conduce to the good and growing. Not directly, or in the short term, through do ut des – although that has a part to play – but to the fundamentally deeper do ut possis dare: difficult because it tends to be slower, and the relationship between act and consequence can get lost. It’s subtle in other ways as well: easy to take for granted, impossible to control – growth necessarily happens in ways we don’t expect and can’t predict -, and the return is often indirect and impersonal: you may well benefit in some way from the ‘sacrifice’, the right act; but it is more likely to be the benefit that comes from living among people who are themselves growing as a consequence of the 'gift'. The direct benefits are often months, or years or even generations down the line, and without records – in archives or oral history, for example – the cause/effect link is often a matter of faith and belief."

Would you still agree with that?

CF: Yes. If we were starting again I would try to take more time and express it more clearly. It came at the end of the interview, and my memory is that I noticed you glancing at your watch, and began to rush. So it is a bit compressed. But I think the experience of the Archive and Study Centre bears it out.

BS: Even though the Archive and Study Centre is closing.

CF: Well, the first thirty years are coming to an end -

BS: Twenty-nine. It began in 1989.

CF: You're right. My report, and the formal decision to establish a comprehensive Archive and Study Centre, are 1989. But they asked me...when do things actually begin?... it was 1988 when they asked me to do the background research for the project, so they must have had an archive of some kind in mind then. Could we say it was conceived in '88 and born in '89? Whatever we decide, I began work on it in 1988, so this is 2018 and my first thirty years are coming to an end.

BS: Does that mean you are expecting to do another thirty years?

CF: [Laughs]. No, it means I've over-identified with the Archive and Study Centre. My time is coming to an end, and someone else's time is about to begin.

BS: And is that a good thing?

CF: Yes. I'm still learning, and the work and the potential of the Archive is still deepening, but thirty years is a long time for something to depend primarily on one person. If you look back, you'll see that the golden ages in the Archive have corresponded to times when there was another archivist, or a brilliant volunteer, or a team, like we had in the Other People's Children project. I say "brilliant volunteer", but then you have to immediately think of Archive Weekends,  which are made up of teams of brilliant volunteers.

BS: Golden ages?

CF: Times of productivity and innovation. It's no coincidence that our two national awards came from the brilliant two years of the Therapeutic Living With Other People's Children project, when we had the whole thing - an employed team, brilliant volunteers, Archive Weekends, and adequate funding. And if you tease it out, and trace the multiple threads of its history/ontogeny, the Therapeutic Living With Other People's Children project is itself an illustration of do ut possis dare in action: an 'impossible' outcome nevertheless achieved through layers and layers (and years and years!) of 'giving'. I say 'impossible' because we were told that getting a grant of that scale without a track record in managing smaller grants, and without having proven the administrative bona fides of the organisation, was impossible. But it is possible. Not if you don't believe it's possible, and not if you expect it to simply happen without all the Indo-European 'sacrifices' - and not if you expect it to happen quickly. But otherwise, if you believe, and trust, and do the work necessary, that kind of impossible is possible. 

BS: Is that a bit of advice you'd offer to your successor?

CF: [Laughs] What, to work insanely hard, believe in the impossible, get used to delayed gratification, and see returns when and where you least expect them? Of course.

BS: No, but seriously, what advice would you offer to your successor?

CF: Seriously? More seriously? To take their time. Fall in love. Get to know the collections. Listen to as many oral history recordings as you can. Enjoy the company of the people who come to use and value the collections. Immerse yourself as fully as you can, before the daily business becomes too intense, so you can hear the direction the future is calling you to take the Archive in. The more fully immersed you become in the Archive and the people and field it serves, and its own history, the clearer and more distinct that call will be.

BS: Is that from experience?

CF: When I was approached by the Planned Environment Therapy Trust to initiate the work which led to their decision to establish an Archive and Study Centre I had been a full-time researcher for over ten years. I had explored the holdings of archives and libraries all over the Los Angeles basin for my MA, and then all over this country for my PhD. Let me roll out the names from the PhD, the ones I remember: The Modern Archives at Kings College, Cambridge; the BBC Written Archives Centre; the Evesham Public Library's local history and newspaper collection; Collindale - the British Library's Newspaper Library as it was then; the Ashmolean; the Muniment Room at St. James' Church in Chipping Campden; the V&A; the Public Record Office; the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society Library; the local history collection in the basement of Gloucester City Library; the local history collection in the main reading room of Cheltenham Library; the Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum; the Worcestershire Record Office as it was then, in downtown Worcester; the Hereford and Worcester Record Office as it became, outside of town, in new state of the art facilities; the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust; the Gloucestershire Regiment Museum; the Folklore Society Library; the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library; the British Library; Somerset House; the archives of University College London; the University of Leeds and its Institute of Dialect and Folklife Studies Collection. And over in the States, the Harry Ransom Research Center in Texas - Graham Greene lived in Chipping Campden for a while, and his diaries of Campden are detailed and fascinating. And then, back to this country, the Gloucestershire Record Office, as it was then - Gloucestershire Archives now: The GRO was immensely important, both the Shire Hall records side, and the public reading rooms down the road and on the other side of the railroad tracks.

So, over a very rich period, and before taking on the challenge of establishing the Archive and Study Centre, I had been exposed as a researcher to many different types of settings and systems and atmospheres; and, indeed, had worked behind the scenes in some of them:  I could contrast the subtle feeling of 'out-of-placeness' I'd experienced at the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library in Los Angeles with the depth of welcome and freedom to settle into the materials and learn that I was given by Dr. Michael Halls, the Modern Archivist at Kings College, Cambridge; and with the generosity, warmth and guidance of the Gloucestershire Records Office team.  I had seen a wide range of different handling and management procedures, different approaches to packaging and storage, and experienced the consequences, the implications.

Then I was asked by the Trust to research what they would need to consider if they were going to set up an archive.  I got to make more discoveries - the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, the Bethlem and Maudsley Museum...I had fantastic help and guidance from my brother, a museum curator in the United States, and from others,  professionals like Michael Halls at Cambridge, Julia Sheppard at the Wellcome, Patricia Allderidge at Bethlem...I read widely. And ultimately - the Society of Archivists was a closed shop in those very early days, but I was able to join the British Records Association, and the Society of American Archivists, and draw on their resources. Conference tapes from the SAA, for example.

And Another Then - Well, look, the Archive began. 1989.  I began recording oral history after oral history with people in the therapeutic community world - people who had genuinely created the field - , learning volumes from them about the research needs for a comprehensive understanding of therapeutic community theory, history and practice.   And then in 1996 I had the amazing opportunity, as the co-ordinator of the Society of Archivists' 50th anniversary oral history project, to sit at the feet of senior professionals all over the country - men and women who had created archive services and helped to create the post-war archives profession as we know it - and learn of and from their experience. I had ten solid years before the tragedy of 9/11 triggered the long shadow of austerity which settled onto the Trust and began to constrict its resources and opportunities. I had time - time and resources to immerse myself in therapeutic community and archives, and to build the collections and the work accordingly. Austerity - I don't think it was called 'austerity' in those days, but we can recognise now what it means - made life increasingly difficult; but then came the miracle of Archive Weekends, and our mutual discovery with members of former schools and therapeutic communities of how much we had to learn and give to one another. Again, we are back to do ut possis dare - the counter to austerity, and even to do ut des. You don't create wealth through constriction, but through generosity, and patience. But the point I would want to make, to whoever gets to be my successor, is to take as much time as you can. Meet, love, learn.

BS: That seems reasonably straightforward.

CF: If they are given resources and time to work with. The conditions from which the PETT Archive and Study Centre was born can not be re-created, and it will not be handed over running and in situ; so it will necessarily become an entirely new thing. A lot will inevitably be lost. But I hope, whoever they are, that they are given and find the time and the resources to explore the collections and the field in depth before the practicals hit too hard. I hope they are given the opportunity I had to meet and enjoy the people; because in the end they are the real culture carriers, and they are the ones who know best the value and the meaning that are invested in the collections. In a deep and funny way they are the future.

BS: Which strikes me as counterintuitive.

CF: Archives are counterintuitive. That's why they're so magical, creative and threatening.

BS: Okay.

CF: But why do you think it's counter-intuitive?

BS: Do you mind if we pause? I think I need to get my bearings.

CF: Okay.

 

maindraw enla
This image, by my daughter Enla, graced the home page of the Archive's web-site from its beginnnings in 1996 until I merged the Archive website with the PETT main website about five yeras ago. I love it, because it expresses all my feelings about archives - about this whole archive thing.

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The hint of adventure in this image, as Jeremy Harvey handed research materials to the archivist on a flying Winter visit.
A biscuit tin, containing recorded voices. Inside - imagine the excitement: seven audio cassette recordings. Voices of those who had known and been influenced by George Lyward, and Finchden Manor.

 

Jeremy's PhD thesis, "A Study of George Lyward: His Ideas and Their Application to Contemporary Education" (University of Exeter 1991) led to the book "Valuing and Educating Young People: Stern Love the Lyward Way", published by Jessica Kingsley in 2006. Here, in this accession, some of the raw materials: documents, photographs, scrapbooks, recordings, publications.

 

Jeremy is a former Trustee of the Planned Environment Therapy Trust. When he retired from the Trust he looked back over his years with us: "Thank you PETT".

And see an earlier post: "Long Live Our Creativity", Jeremy's meditation on the Archive, and on creativity in education.