Special Collections, data protection, and you

The GDPR is coming – to help you!

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GDPR rubik’s cube, CC0 licence, via pixabay

The mis-management and mis-use of individuals’ personal data by companies and other organisations is a massive and growing concern. What do we mean by personal data?  Email addresses and other contact details, bank account and credit card information, details of medical conditions … all at risk of loss or theft if organisations don’t take proper care.  Data breaches can result in serious financial or other consequences for people affected.

On 25 May 2018, the law is changing to give you more control over organisations holding and using your data.  The European GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) will be enshrined in UK legislation via the Data Protection Bill.  Companies will have to obtain your consent to keep and use your data, and take proper care of it – or face huge financial penalties.

Special Collections and your data

We in Special Collections are already managing data as required by the law currently in place, the Data Protection Act of 1998.  So GDPR does not mean a radical change in our working practices or relationships with our users.  Along with all our colleagues at the University, we are however taking the opportunity to review the personal data we hold to make sure we are keeping only what is necessary and legal.

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Letterhead from the JB Priestley Archive showing names, addresses and telephone numbers.  This is no longer personal data as JBP is deceased, so we are able to share the image with you.  (PRI 16/3).

Special Collections manages personal data in two contexts:

  1. Records relating to the services we offer.  Data about collection donors, users, partners, and other people who use our services or work with us: mostly email addresses, occasionally postal addresses and phone numbers.  If this applies to you, we will be contacting you to seek your consent to our storage and use of your data.
  2. Our archives.  Archives are about people!  Thus they contain personal data relating to those people.  As our archives are mostly modern (20th and 21st century) many of those people are probably still alive.  We have all kinds of data in all kinds of formats, though we most commonly see addresses and telephone numbers in correspondence – as in the Priestley example above.  We keep the data in line with the provision for ‘archiving in the public interest’.  We keep only what is archivally appropriate and legal, and access is restricted or closed.

Further help

I’ve written this as a summary to assist our users and to help raise public awareness of this important new legislation.  Please do contact me if you have any queries about our management of personal data (you also have the right to submit a Subject Access Request).

For general GDPR/data protection queries, here are some resources that you may find useful:

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Meet our new Project Conservator

We are delighted to welcome a new colleague to Special Collections.  Vanessa Santos Torres joins us as Project Conservator for the Putting Flesh on the Bones Project.  Here’s her story, in her own words:

“I am delighted to be part of this fascinating project funded by the Wellcome Trust and having the chance to work in a multidisciplinary team between the University of Bradford’s Special Collections and the Department of Archaeological Sciences.

VT

Vanessa Santos Torres, conservator

I have a degree on Conservation and Restoration and I am specialised in Paper Conservation. Upon conclusion of my degrees, I had the chance to work on a range of different environments and countries which contributed to the consolidation of my knowledge on remedial conservation skills and preventive conservation. Since 2013 I have been the Conservator of the National Science and Media Museum, Bradford. It is with great satisfaction that I am now able to work on these two celebrated Bradford institutions.

With my expertise on paper and photographs conservation I am responsible for ensuring the long-term care of the Calvin Wells Archive is considered at all times – from suitable handling and packing to appropriate storage conditions. I will be performing conservation treatments on the archive to increase their stability and lifespan. I am delighted to being able to contribute towards its preservation to future generations of researchers and enthusiasts.

I am passionate about photography and printing techniques. During my free time I enjoy reading and experimenting with traditional printing.”

Ban the Bomb! CND at Sixty

Sixty years ago, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) was founded. The organisation grew out of widespread public concern about a frightening new twist in the Cold War arms race: Britain had built and was testing its own hydrogen bomb.  Such H-bombs are thousands of times more destructive than the original atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945.  How were the tests affecting the environment?  Would the existence of such bombs mean the British government would feel compelled to use them?

Deeply worried by these developments, celebrated author J.B. Priestley wrote possibly his most influential article: “Britain and the Nuclear Bombs”, published in the New Statesman of 2 November 1957.

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Section of Britain and the Nuclear Bombs, article by JB Priestley, New Statesman 2 November 1957. (ref HAW 13/4).

Priestley drew on his own experience of war to argue that if weapons were there, they would be used, and called for the country to take a moral lead in renouncing them:   “Alone we defied Hitler; and alone we can defy this nuclear madness”.

Many readers agreed, and wrote to the magazine, overwhelming it with sackfuls of mail.  Something had to be done.  Priestley and his wife Jacquetta Hawkes met  peace campaigners at the flat of Kingsley Martin, the magazine’s editor, to discuss a national anti-nuclear campaign. The result was the creation of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.  It was chaired by Earl Russell, Priestley was Vice-President and Canon L. John Collins chairman. Priestley was one of the speakers at the public launch of CND in the Central Hall Westminster, on 17 February 1958.

CND acted as an umbrella group, bringing together people with a wide range of political and religious views and differing ideas about how to achieve their goals (or even what those goals were).  Priestley and Jacquetta and their circle were not necessarily pacifists, and campaigned using traditional lobbying methods, using their connections in political and cultural life.   Other campaigners were veterans of the Peace Pledge Union era, while others were influenced by Gandhian ideas of nonviolent direct action.  The latter included the Direct Action Committee (DAC), whose members had explored the potential of such techniques as long ago as the early 1950s.

The DAC organised a march from London to the Aldermaston weapons research centre for Easter 1958. Graphic designer Gerald Holtom created the Nuclear Disarmament Symbol for use on the march.  CND later adopted both the design and the Aldermaston march.

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Detail from sketch by Gerald Holtom, showing the nuclear disarmament symbol in use on a march.  Courtesy of Commonweal Trustees.  (ref: Cwl ND).

The Symbol was based on the semaphore signs for ‘N’ and ‘D’ but in its simplicity it echoed many other ideas: a human figure in despair, a tree, a cross, a missile.  Endlessly applicable to creative re-imaginings, and adopted by Americans protesting against the Vietnam War, the Symbol  became synonymous with peace and counter-cultural ideas.

CND in its early years grew a mass membership and was strongly influential on culture.  Members moved increasingly towards direct action methods as traditional campaigning did not have the desired result.  In 1960 Russell resigned as President to take up a role in the new Committee of 100.  This aimed to create a mass movement of civil disobedience against British government policy on nuclear weapons.  The Priestleys became less involved as the group became more radical.

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Front cover of pamphlet advertising Aldermaston film (ref Cwl HBP)

The organisation, and its many regional and themed sub-groups, has remained active ever since its foundation, with a notable rise in membership and influence once again during the early 1980s.  Protest centred on the peace camps at air bases: bearing witness, symbolic protest, and carrying out acts of disobedience such as cutting the wires.

The 60th anniversary will be marked by many events (and no doubt much press coverage).  Here are two in Bradford:

Yorkshire CND exhibition at the Peace Museum from 12 January 2018.

CND 60th Anniversary event 17 February 2018 (includes the chance to meet objects from our collections!).

Want to know more?  The Commonweal Library and our peace campaign collections contain thousands of resources for the history of CND and nuclear disarmament campaigns.

Season’s Greetings from Special Collections

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Special Collections staff (Alison, Martin and James) would like to wish all our users, colleagues, and other friends a Merry Christmas and all the very best for 2018.  Our seasonal image highlights our Putting Flesh on the Bones project, which will make a wonderful archive available to researchers and the public.  If this intrigues you, check out the project blog.

Please note that we are closed for the Christmas break from 22 December to 2 January.  We look forward to sharing more archive adventures with you in 2018!

Town Major of Miraucourt: Priestley’s 1918

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Front cover of The Town Major of Miraucourt, Turnpike Books, 2017

This little pamphlet made a welcome appearance in our post-tray today.  The Town Major of Miraucourt is a short story by J.B. Priestley, reprinted by Turnpike Books, and on sale from 1 December 2017.  Nicely timed for Christmas present-giving!

The pamphlet is now part of the J.B. Priestley book collection at the University of Bradford, where it and copies of all the other titles mentioned in this piece are preserved and made available to the public.

I’d like to reflect a little on The Town Major of Miraucourt and its unique place in Priestley’s immense output.  It is the only fictional work based on the author’s experiences during the First World War.

Why was this Priestley’s only fictional account of the War?  Surely the five years Priestley spent in the Army were rich in potential incidents and characters and ideas for a novelist or playwright to explore?  Yes, but he decided not to pursue this approach.  As he later explained in his memoir Margin Released, first of all, he wanted to forget about the War and get on with the life so shockingly interrupted.  Then he came to realise that as a writer he was not drawn to war: it did not inspire him.  He found it impossible to reconcile the two faces of war, the grotesque mixture of murderous slaughter with the “slapstick, so much gigantically solemn, dressed-up, bemedalled custard pie work” of Army life.

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Detail from cover of The Lost Generation, by J.B. Priestley

Yet he did (I think) manage to reconcile these elements in ‘Carry On, Carry On’, the unforgettable middle section of Margin Released.  Priestley tore into the folly and ignorance that sent his generation to its mechanised death, while documenting the fun, silliness, quirks and everyday humanity going on at the same time.

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Priestley with officers and men of the 2nd Devonshires.  Archive reference: PRI 21/2/8

In Town Major, written over thirty years before Margin Released, Priestley also captured the humour and reflected on the meaning and implications of war.  The story is set in 1918, beginning with a barely fictionalised account of Priestley’s life at that time.  He, like his surviving contemporaries, had been through so much by then: trench warfare, serious injury, brutal training camps, the loss of his friends and comrades.  In 1918 Priestley had returned briefly to the Front, been gassed, rated B2 by the medical board (fit but not fully fit), and sent to work with the Labour Corps depot.  His protagonist has the same experiences, which then however take a weird turn.  En route to Rouen, he finds himself in Miraucourt, a mysterious French village seemingly untouched by war.  There he meets a group of soldiers who echo Shakespeare’s own larger-than-life creations: are they Falstaff and his company …?

Town Major shares the woozy, dreamy quality of ‘Carry On, Carry On’: Priestley and his fictional counterpart are traumatised and weary, adrift in a chaotic, devastated and disconnected landscape where anything might happen and time has little meaning.  “There was perhaps always a suspicion in one’s mind that the whole thing might be slipping out of any kind of control, even that of roaring death.  Sanity, one concluded, might easily be bombed away for good and all.”

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Title page of The Town Major of Miraucourt, Heinemann, 1930

This evocative story has been relatively inaccessible until now.  It was first published in the London Mercury of October 1929 and reprinted as a limited edition in vellum with slipcase by Heinemann in 1930.  Its only later appearance in full was in the compilation Four-in-Hand (Heinemann, 1934), although parts were included in Priestley’s Wars (Great Northern, 2008).  So the reprint is most welcome and will (we hope) bring this glimpse of Priestley’s war to new audiences almost 100 years on.

 

The Calliphon Mystery …

Between 1953 and 1969 Calvin Wells wrote numerous columns for the Eastern Daily Press under the nom de plume ‘Calliphon’. Wells was a well-known physician of high social standing in East Anglia and it is possible he found greater freedom of expression writing through a pseudonym. Although many readers wrote letters of enquiry, Calliphon never […]

via Calliphon. — Putting Flesh on the Bones

Work with us!: Vacancy for a Project Conservator

STOP PRESS – CLOSING DATE NOW 11 NOVEMBER

We’re looking for a Conservator to join the Putting Flesh on the Bones Project Team.

The post of Project Conservator is central to the delivery of the project, which aims to make the hidden and scattered Calvin Wells Archive fully available to the public.  Funded by a Wellcome Trust Research Resources grant, PFOTB is a collaboration between Special Collections and the Biological Anthropology Research Centre (BARC) at the University of Bradford.

Discover more about Dr Wells and his work via the Putting Flesh on the Bones project blog.

The Conservator will take the lead on all aspects of collections care within the project, including repairs, remedial conservation, secondary packaging and digitisation preparation activities.  There will also be the opportunity to help improve collections care throughout the Special Collections service.

We are looking for a qualified conservator with specialist knowledge and work-based experience relevant to the project.  They will also need excellent communication skills and be able to manage their own workload.  More about the role and our requirements on the University’s job website.

Post reference: HR0048513.

The post is part-time for 12 months.

Closing date: 1 November 2017.