2017 offers a very rare chance to see the original sketches of the ‘peace symbol’. Special Collections and the Trustees of the Commonweal Collection are lending them to a major exhibition at the IWM, People Power: Fighting for Peace.
Sketch of nuclear disarmament symbol,by Gerald Holtom. Copyright: Commonweal Collection.
Artist Gerald Holtom created the symbol in 1958 for the first Aldermaston March (organised by the Direct Action Committee); it was later adopted by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and many other groups and campaigns working for peace, making it one of the most recognisable and powerful designs ever created. Holtom’s original sketches are very fragile and so can rarely be shown to the public. This exhibition is a wonderful opportunity for us to display them to great numbers of people for the first time.
People Power explores 100 years of anti-war campaigning in Britain through 300 objects: banners, posters, flyers, leaflets, paintings, letters … Many have never been exhibited before. In addition to the sketches, we are lending a pencil drawing of Peace Pledge Union founder Dick Sheppard by activist and artist Peggy Smith and a range of letters and ephemera relating to the anti-nuclear campaigns of the late 1950s and early 1960s.
People Power is on show at the IWM London, 23 March-28 August 2017. Find out more on the IWM’s website.
What has a 1970s guide to Bolton Abbey
in common with a scrapbook of 1980s press cuttings about anti-nuclear activities in Cambridge?
They are part of our new collections of ephemera. Such items can be fascinating and important primary historical sources and link us directly to the ideas and opinions of their creators in a way that more formal documents may not do. This is particularly true of pressure groups such as those campaigning for nuclear disarmament, who use leaflets, posters and other informal sources to reach out and spread their message.
Some of our ephemera belongs to individual archives, for instance, the J.B. Priestley Archive is rich in programmes, playbills and posters for performances of Priestley plays. But much of it does not fit into a particular archive, so we have decided to create distinct ephemera collections for key subject areas:
PEACE. Organised using the Commonweal classification (ref: Eph PAC). Mainly relating to nuclear disarmament campaigning in the UK, 1980s camps at Molesworth and Greenham, but all sorts of other interesting items are appearing. Supplementing our extensive peace-related collections of books and archives.
YORKSHIRE, particularly our special interests, the Dales and the West Riding. (ref: Eph YOR). Organised by Dale or town. Guides to towns, walks or caves, the story of a holiday cottage in Dentdale, mini maps. Supplementing our Yorkshire collections.
Former YUGOSLAVIA and the Balkans (ref: Eph YUG). Historically, the University has had close links with this region, and the Library specialises in its social and economic history. Hence interesting materials will come our way! The first chunk is a collection of manifestos and other papers relating to elections in former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
Posted in Bradford, Collection of the Month, Images, Peace, Yorkshire, Yorkshire Dales, Yugoslavia and region
Tagged Archives, Balkans, Bradford, Collections, Dales, Ephemera, Leaflets, Nuclear Disarmament, West Riding, Yorkshire, Yugoslavia
PaxCat Project e-newsletter no. 2 is now available online. News and discoveries in the amazing Commonweal peace archives. Meet a wild woman of India, learn more about Commonweal’s history, and say no to the H-bomb! Lots more news, reflections and information on the Project blog.
Yorkshire CND and Special Collections present an exhibition and several workshops reflecting on the history of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament: for full details see the entry on PaxCat Blog.
J.B. Priestley’s World War One service changed his life. He lost all his friends and felt compelled to leave Bradford which would never be the same again without them. He never talked about his war, and wrote about it directly only 50 years later in “Margin Released”. Great Northern Books, who have already reprinted several Priestley novels, are publishing a new book, “Priestley’s Wars”, by Neil Hanson, which follows Priestley’s journey through war and peace, from enthusiastic WW1 volunteer, to inspiring WW2 broadcaster, to his essential role in the founding of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. The book uses many of Priestley’s writings, most exciting of which are his vivid and moving letters home from the trenches, never before in print. This book is a unique chance to see Priestley’s political and social views form, set in historic context by an expert author. The book is being launched at several events, featuring Tom Priestley and Neil Hanson: Cheltenham Literature Festival is next on 19 October.
More details about book, launches and press coverage on the Great Northern books web site.
Posted in Peace, Priestley, J.B.
Tagged Books, Broadcasts, CND, Nuclear Disarmament, Postscripts, Priestley, Publishers, World War I, World War II
“From Fear to Sanity: CND and the art of protest 1958-1963” is an exhibition on show at the Horse Hospital, an arts venue in London. The exhibition looks at the powerful visual language of the early years of mass anti-nuclear campaigning in Britain, including Gerald Holtom’s iconic nuclear disarmament symbol, the way it was adapted by campaigners, and photographs and film about protest. The exhibition is on until 30 August 2008. Special Collections and Commonweal Library have helped source images for this display: Commonweal holds Holtom’s original sketches, and the Commonweal Archives in Special Collections include many important archives from this period, notably Peace News and the Direct Action Committee against Nuclear War.
February 2008 saw the 50th anniversary of the launch of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, which developed as a result of overwhelming public response to an article by J.B. Priestley condemning British nuclear testing. He and Jacquetta Hawkes were to play key roles in the early years of the Campaign. For more detail, see this short article on p.16 of Peace Studies News issue 38 (Summer 2005):