Posted by: helenrobertsbradford | January 26, 2010

The case of the burnt document

Committee of 100 document

These notes date from the Committee of 100 sit-down in Trafalgar Square, 17 September 1961

Piecing together history from its archival remains can often present unexpected practical problems.  Take a look at these handwritten notes on the left.   The paper is extremely thin and poor quality, as well as being badly burnt around the edges.  The notes describe preparations for a court case involving leading members of the Committee of 100.  Pat Pottle, Bruce Reid, Michael Ashburner, Andrew Murray, Des Lock and Len Smith were charged with obstruction and incitement to others to take part in a demonstration.

Many of the documents in this collection, a small archive of the Committee of 100 given to the Commonweal Collection by Derry Hannam, are in a similar condition.  This makes the documents difficult to handle without causing further damage and some files need to be closed for this reason.  As yet, I don’t know how this damage occurred, except that it happened before the archive arrived in Bradford of course!

The collection overlaps with the papers of Mary Ringsleben and Michael Randle, who were both original members of the Committee.  There are also connections with the Peace News archive, which I have recently begun to catalogue.  The main Committee of 100 archive is held in Amsterdam at the International Institute of Social History and the list is available to view online.

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Responses

  1. I have an anecdotal explanation for the condition of the documents that I gave to the collection. There had been an unexplained fire at the committee of 100 offices which was believed by staff to have been caused by or on the iniative of special branch/security services to justify the fire brigade raking through the premises followed by special branch. I arrived to meet an acquaintance who worked there as the fire service departed and at her request we salvaged as much documentation as we could which I was asked to secure and store. I did so for a number of years realising that one day this would be valuable historical data (I have a history degree) The committee of 100 wound up so I had no legal entity to return them to and it seemed appropriate to give them to a centre that would be likely to involve researchers to whom they would be of interest. ie the Peace Studies dept at Bradford university from which my son gained a PhD.

    I am so pleased that this has proved to be the case.

    Derry Hannam (derry.hannam@yahoo.com)

  2. Well, that brought back memories. Rose Heilbron did
    indeed represent us and, after about 3 months of coming and going from the Bow Street Magistrates Court we were found not guilty, Something of a relief, I must say as I was in my first term at Cambridge.

    By the way, I also had a large archive of C100 material, including a large collection of posters. I deposited these in the Churchill College Archives, see
    http://janus.lib.cam.ac.uk/db/node.xsp?id=EAD%2FGBR%2F0014%2FASHB
    over 20 yrs ago, where they can be consulted.

  3. […] to the blog, so we learned the story for the first time and it is recorded for the future.  The original blog and the comments can be found on the PaxCat Project site.  Find out more about the Hannam Archive, the Committee and related collections on the Archives […]


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