Last time we discussed the importance of the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre (AIU Centre) and its collections, touching on some of the realities of archives and archival research, and looking at the kinds of questions we need to ask ourselves before engaging with an archive collection. This time we’ll be moving on to begin checking out the ways relevant Centre resources can be identified and accessed.
There are three ways into the collection:
Databases (including subject area resource lists)
Human interface (speaking to the librarian and/or Collections Access Officer) [coming soon]
Serendipity (just going in and browsing) [coming soon]
Which one you start with is very much up to you and your preferred style. This time I’ll be introducing the different database options at your disposal. I’ll be looking at the human interface and serendipity in future posts.
So you’ll be able to dip into this post to find information that’s particularly interesting to you, I’ll be covering these subjects under the following headings:
The Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre (AIU Centre) is the premier resource centre in the country devoted to making available materials to facilitate the study of race relations. As such, it’s consulted by researchers from across the world. We at the University of Manchester are fortunate that it’s situated down the road from us in Manchester Central Library. The AIU Centre is the University’s flagship representative in the regional archive umbrella group Archives+. That we have such easy access to it is a rare privilege we should all appreciate and take advantage of.
That’s if we know the relevance of race relations-related resources to our studies, and if we understand how to make the most of the collections. A couple of big ‘ifs’.
The blog posts I’ll be contributing are designed to help us think through these issues. I’ll be taking a look at the kinds of resources held by the Centre, and what they have to offer to various subject areas. Hopefully it will become easier for us to use those resources more efficiently and optimally to enrich our studies.
I’m going to start by trying to get to grips with understanding how to make the most of the collections. In this post, we’ll touch on:
some of the realities of archives and archival research that we need to bear in mind
questions to ask ourselves that will help our preparations to engage an archive collection
With the stage set, in three posts we’ll look at each of the three ways into the AIU Centre’s collections:
We’re excited to be hosting a new exhibition here in Manchester Central Library: Family Ties – The Adamah Papers Project. Last Thursday was the exhibition launch; a large audience, delicious African cuisine, thought-provoking speakers and lively conversation.
For the month of March, my placement duties have shifted focus, from collections to project work. I am assisting with the documentation of ‘Coming in from the Cold‘, the latest project of the Centre’s sister organisation, the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Education Trust. I get to do photography, which I always enjoy, and practise blogging, my current interest.
The project team had the idea of using a blog to provide updates and insights into the ‘Coming in from the Cold’ project. I was given creative liberties to revitalise an existing blog for the project. In coming up with a concept, I explored the archives at the Centre for visual content and inspiration. The Senior Library Assistant, Ruth Tait, at one point became an impromptu model while I photographed the Ann Adeyemi collection (more on the blog about Ann Adeyemi here). Listening to Ruth talk about the people and history within the collection, showed her knowledge but also her working relationship with the archives.
You might think there is something contradictory about a refugee archive: archives are the permanent repositories of physical history, whilst refugees are transitory and homeless – those who have lost their history.
But the archive of the Manchester Refugee Support Network (MRSN), recently deposited with us following completion of a major heritage project, challenges this assumption. Not least in the sheer amount of material; 12 boxes of physical material and more than 30,000 digital files, charting the 20 year history of this remarkable organisation. From governance, services and partnerships to cultural programmes (such as the Refugee World Cup and Manchester Refugee Cultural Festival), campaigning activities and the many community organisations that made up the network.
Building this archive and depositing it with us, here at Central Library, creates permanence and acceptance, carving out a place in history for Manchester’s many refugee communities. Continue reading →
We’ve recently done a little conservation and access work on our Institute of Race Relations (IRR) Newspaper Clippings collection. It really is one of the gems of our archive – a vast collection of race-related stories from provincial UK newspapers, covering the short but intense period of September 1977 to April 1984.
The collection has been in need of some TLC for a while. It takes up 49 lever arch files, in varying states of dilapidation. We’ve only been able to replace the ones that were most severely falling apart, but we’ve also relocated a whole box of orphaned pages and moved the more fragile sheets to separate storage. With the detailed content summaries we now have for each folder, this is starting to feel like a much more accessible collection, ready to have its hidden depths explored by intrepid researchers….
We all have our dreams. But what if they turn into nightmares?
Take the Hugh Wilson and Lewis Womersley firm of chartered architects and town planners. In the 1960s they dreamt of solving the problems of twentieth-century living by providing quality design and housing to a level reached in the eighteenth century for Bloomsbury and Bath. By using similar shapes and proportions, large scale building groups and open spaces, plus skilful landscaping and extensive tree planting, they hoped to make their dream reality. Where? Don’t laugh when I tell you. Hulme in Manchester.
Yes, Hulme was to be the setting for pioneering brave new town planning. The slums were to be cleared and in their place would arise beauty. There was just one problem. The designers’ dream became the Hulme residents’ nightmare scenario. Leafing through the Centre’s Hulme Study Collection, I came across Wilson and Womersley’s hopeful musings on the cover of Manchester City Council’s Survey Report Hulme. A Position Statement September, 1987.
The Southern Voices (SV) archive collection relates to the establishment and development of the Manchester based organisation Southern Voices, founded in 1990 and originally named the Southern Voices Project. Southern Voices is still running; however, the AIU Centre archive holding runs up until the year 2009.
This is the second post in the two-part series which aims to give an overview of the contents of the Stephen Lawrence Newspaper Cuttings archive collection, gathered together over the decades by AIUC founding director, Louis Kushnick, and now being made available for reference by researchers and members of the public.
The first post looked at the first three of six themes running through the collection (The Metropolitan Police, the Lawrence family and the Macpherson Report). This second post looks at the community reaction, the perpetrators and the criminal justice system.