Monthly Archives: June 2014

100 years ago today

the First World War was sparked off by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, on 28th June 1914.

These are some of the range of resources about the First World War that you can find in Special Collections:


 Between 1914 and 1919 John Hammerton and Herbert Wrigley Wilson edited a periodical entitled The Great War: the standard history of the all-Europe conflict. Hammerton would later be responsible for popularising the V for Victory sign in the Second World War, but in the First World War he  worked on the periodical.

Published during the war, it’s an interesting example of British propaganda, for example, the first volume justifies Britain’s entry into the war, and acts as an encouragement to men to sign up to fight.  



You can find out more about First World War resources in Special Collections by reading our blog posts tagged First World War. Over the next few months we’ll be highlighting a range of our sources in more detail.











Newly catalogued collections

Over the last year a lot of work has been done cataloguing the South Asian Diaspora Arts Archive (SADAA) collection, and we’ve already featured various blog posts about it.

Three of the most recently catalogued collections are Attia Hosain, Autograph ABP and the Pushpalata Dance Company.

Attia Hosain was born into an upper-class feudal land owning family in Lucknow, India in 1913. She gained a degree at Isabella Thoburn College, one of only a few women of her background to do so and the first in her family. She married and in 1947 moved with her husband and two children to England. In England she took up broadcast journalism, joining the BBC Eastern Service in 1949 where she worked on a variety of regional services. She was also involved in a number of popular shows for women and read for several plays. While continuing to work for the BBC she also acted in the West End, and was an active part of the social scene and friend to many theatrical stars. Hosain is best known for her writing. She first published a collection of short stories, Phoenix Fled in 1953 and then a novel, Sunlight on a Broken Column with Chatto & Windus in 1961. Both draw on experiences from her upbringing and afford insights into the society of India’s landed classes. Her work has influenced many writers of the younger generation. Her collection at Brunel includes original material on the creation of the archive and copies of her BBC broadcasts.

Autograph ABP (formerly Association of Black Photographers) was founded in London in 1988 by Sunil Gupta, Monika Baker, Roshini Kempadoo and Rotimi Fani-Kayode with the aim of supporting and sponsoring black artists and photographers in Britain and around the world. Employing several high profile directors, including cultural theorist Professor Stuart Hall, they wanted to create a forum “to make black photography a central issue of photographic practice”. The organisation achieved this through exhibitions, commissions, residencies, awards and publications. Major exhibitors include Ghanaian photojournalist James Barnor and Nigerian/British fine-art photographer Rotimi Fani-Kayode. The collection at Brunel includes original promotional material.

The Pushpalata (Pushpalata translates as “clusters of flowers”) Dance Company was founded in 1992 by Priya Pawar. Pawar is an Indian classical dancer, who had previously danced around the world and had formed the Triveni dance company with her then husband Pratap Pawar. Launching her solo career Pawar became Artistic Director of Pushpalata and was the driving force, and chief performer, for many of their productions. The company focuses on Odissi and Kathak dance practices, but also performs in a number of collaborations with Western dance forms, most notably investigating the point at which Flamenco and Kathak dance meet. As well as performing, Pawar has set up a Pushpalata Dance School, which holds workshops and classes, and also founded schools in India and Madrid. The collection contains information on the history of Priya Pawar as well as the dance company.

You will find descriptions of these collections on Archives Hub. Details of how to make an appointment to see these collections on on our Access guide.

On tunnels and female freedom fighters: archives inspire local writers

Guest post by Emma Filtness, Creative Writing Tutor

Over the course of this academic year, I have run two more writing workshops with Brunel’s Special Collections. The first involved a session with the Creative Writing class from the Brunel Arts Centre – a mix of staff, students and members of the public – the second with the London Borough of Hillingdon’s Creative Writing group based at Uxbridge Library.

The participants spent an evening browsing a selection of materials from across the collections. The materials were introduced by Katie Flanagan, Special Collections Librarian, who provided the writers with some information on the specific item and the archive or collection it was from, including entries from The Burnett Archive of Working-Class Autobiogrpahies, editions of the Ladies’ Home Journal from the 1940s and 1950s, items from the South Asian Diaspora Arts Archive (SADAA) and books and memorabilia from the Channel Tunnel Association collection. Participants then picked an item that particularly appealed to them and used it as a springboard for creativity, producing poems, short stories and articles in response to the item they chose.

All our own workA poem and a short story inspired by materials in the collections were recently in an anthology on display as part of the All Our Own Work exhibition at Brunel’s Beldam Gallery.

Memory is a poem by Viraj Chouhan, an Anthropology Master’s student, inspired by an article in issue 18 of Outwrite, a feminist newspaperfrom the South Asian Diaspora Arts Archive. “It described the plight of Zimbabwe’s female freedom fighters who had participated in the guerrilla struggle for independence from white colonial rule,” said Viraj, speaking about the article that inspired his poem. “Soon after achieving an independent state, they were somewhat spurned by society, particularly older women who were loathe to let their sons marry these strong-willed girls.”

TunnelsOubliette is a short story by Joseph Norman, an English PhD student and Brunel staff member. His story was inspired by The History of Tunnels by Patrick Beaver in the Channel Tunnel Association archive. “If I’m honest,” said Joseph, “I judged the book initially by its cover: for this edition, a wonderfully gloomy photograph of workers down a coal-mine. This image spoke to me of hardship and toil in an environment largely unfamiliar to myself, and – allowing my imagination to stray somewhat – with connotations of mystery and buried secrets. Flicking through, I isolated key words and phrases that caught my attention. I was struck by the variety of uses that tunnels have had throughout history, but more by the small details of life underground. Most important of the phrases that I chose was “an underground global system to connect the major cities of the Earth,” which forms the premise of my story. During the workshop I wrote a very loose and rambling first-person account of one man’s time working underground. Later I used this as a basis for a dystopian narrative of a man enticed into working underground, seeing the work as an escape from a suggested traumatic past. This gave me plenty of scope to play with metaphors linking tunnels and digging with remembrance and forgetting.”