A Wellcome Trust Research Resources Project
On first walking into the archive store and seeing the rows of shelves lined with fascinating objects, books, folders and boxes of different shapes and sizes, it is hard not to compare them with larder shelves, especially knowing that the archive collections are from cookery schools and a college of domestic science. Each shelf holds an assortment of coloured packages which when opened reveal the ingredients that provide the different flavours of life that went on within those institutions. These are the archives of three of Glasgow Caledonian University’s predecessor institutions and The Wellcome Trust has funded a 12 month project, “Poverty, Health, Diet and Education in Glasgow: from Domestic Science to the Allied Health Professions, 1875-1993”, to sort, catalogue, preserve and share the collections.
On the menu we have two starters, the Glasgow School of Cookery (1875) and the West End School of Cookery (1878), rival cookery schools Continue reading
The theory of Eternalism was first posited by the metaphysician J.M.E.McTaggart. As I would assume with metaphysics in general, it’s rather a dense notion to get one’s head around. It suggests that the past, present and future are all equally ‘real’ – that events are not only happening now, but both have been and will be simultaneously as well.
At least I think that’s the crux of it.
I bring this up because it chimes with my experience of working in Archives and Special Collections. Since starting I’ve Continue reading
Image 1 ~ © Larry Herman; image 2 ~ Hernando Fernandez papers; image 3 ~ Scottish Anti-Apartheid Movement papers; image 4 ~ © Bob Starrett; image 5 ~ Robert Climie papers
Michael Chaiken, Archivist and Curator of the Bob Dylan Archive in Tulsa, Oklahoma, recently wrote that the “archivist’s impulse…affirms that what has come before can be made eternally alive and present, provided, as Nietzsche reminds us, that what we are celebrating in our own history is not an end in itself, but a means of serving life through a fundamental continuity with the strengths of our past.”
To this end, as a neat visual rendering of this impulse, our Archivist, at the tail end of a year in which some posited that we needed to be reminded of our collective past in the light of certain re-emergent nihilistic tendencies, decided that our shiny, new (but very stark, white) Reading Room required a frieze to adorn it’s walls. A series of images, illustrating the depth and breadth of GCU’s Archives & Special Collections, were then carefully selected, and in the week before Christmas the stars at our Print Design Services worked their magic on our walls.
In 2016 Sandy Hobbs added a large cartoon/comic related deposit to his existing collection at GCU. Our debut exhibition of 2017 is ‘Free to Draw: Cartoonists and their Politics’, which draws from both Sandy’s material and from Bob Starrett’s papers. As an introduction Sandy has kindly penned a blog for us ~
In the 1990s, when I moved material from my home to GCU to form what became the Sandy Hobbs Collection, the basic loose principles of selection were that what was included would be POLITICAL and from my PAST. Some of what I retained at home might well have gone, but other considerations were at work. Some correspondence with my still living friend Jean McCrindle seemed more personal than political. Writings by E. P. Thompson I kept by me because I still felt the need to consult it regularly. Continue reading
Eight months ago when I first began working on the Scottish Committee of the Anti-Apartheid Movement Archive I thought that I would largely be working on papers that had either a focus on South Africa, or Scotland and the UK’s efforts to draw attention to and end the apartheid regime. Naturally, these papers did form an extensive part of the collection, however I found a significant amount of files and papers related to Namibia and a group of countries that formed the Frontline States which bordered, or were in close proximity, to South Africa, these included Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. These countries all played their part in helping to support the global anti-apartheid movement and bring an end to the terrible regime.
This October will see Glasgow Caledonian University take part in the UK wide Black History Month. During this month organisations across Britain will remember and celebrate important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. It has been running yearly in the UK since 1987 where it was first celebrated in London, but has now spread across the country with a huge range of fascinating events taking place. It is also celebrated annually in the United States and Canada but during the month of February.
Sport is something that I have always enjoyed, but with a passing, casual interest. Some people would probably struggle to see the activities that I enjoy participating in, or watching, as sport, especially the manner in which I do them. To me being outside enjoying the scenery in a leisurely manner, in woods, on lochs, and up hills and mountains, is the closest I get to keeping active.
The intense competition and fandom that is often prevalent in sport is something that I have often struggled to comprehend. Coming from an English/Scottish background, and spending most of my adult life in Glasgow, the rivalries I have observed between nations and religions has often left me disenchanted. The excuse that certain behaviors, whether words, or actions, are acceptable when committed due to the passionate love of a sports team leave me cold.
However, over the past few years I have begun to understand the value of sport as an incredible social currency. A love of sport, whether playing or watching, can break down barriers put up by differences in gender, age, background, race, nationality and religion. It has an amazing power to unite and create opportunity. GCU hosting The Homeless World Cup earlier this year was a perfect example of the positive effect that sport can have on many people’s lives.
‘Money makes the world go round’ Cabaret (1972)
While far from being the sole truth, we live in a capitalist world where money acts as a great facilitator.
The way funds are raised for global causes has changed dramatically in the past twenty years with large charities using direct debits, carefully coordinated teams of street funders and call centres full of staff members, working for multiple charities, to try and convince you that their cause will benefit the most from your money.
Grassroots organisations and individuals have benefited from the advent of online campaigning and donating, slashing the costs and time that is needed to raise awareness. We live in an age which makes fundraising something anyone and everyone can take part in.
Most collections first arrive at an archive as a mixed up assortment of boxes and plastic bags, filled with all kinds of papers, books and objects. At first glance one could be mistaken for thinking that this was just a pile of rubbish on a journey to its final resting place at the bottom of a bin.
However, what is contained within is important precisely because it has been saved from this fate. These items form a collection made up of records of transactions carried out by an individual or organisations, and through their place in the archive will go on to shape history and form collective memory for many years to come.
‘One culture is that which, while recognising the historical differences of national groups, seeks to build a nation which will bestow on people such knowledge, understanding – a civilisation of co-existence which will result in the eradication of all forms of deprivation and discrimination on whatever basis; the other culture…based on discrimination, oppression, exploitation and divide and rule, by exploiting the differences of national groups in that country and by building a nation dominated by whites.’
Resistance Culture, Transformation and the Expression of Freedom, paper delivered in Glasgow at the Sechaba Festival in 1990, Mongane Wally Serote
The success of the Anti-Apartheid Movement was based on the tireless activities of individuals, groups and nations, uniting across the world because they believed in equality for all, regardless of race, religion, gender or class. Culture acted as the great unifier, with events spanning the arts, showcasing South African/African talent alongside the more familiar and home-grown, proving that awareness raising and activism could be at once enjoyable, exhilarating and hard-hitting.