Last month LSE Archives held its second ‘Telling the Story of a Peace Movement’ workshop as part of the Their Past Your Future project. The day focused on the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the peace movement as a whole and was packed full of interesting talks and sessions. This time thirty students from Willowfield School in Walthamstow attended accompanied by their teacher Jo Wilson. Joining the students were four peace movement veterans: these were Bruce Kent, a former Catholic priest and Vice-President of CND and Sylvia Boyes, a Quaker peace campaigner who both attended the first workshop back in November 2009 (more information about this workshop can be found here http://lib-1.lse.ac.uk/archivesblog/?p=1464 ) and two new veterans - Alastair Mackie, a former H-Bomber pilot and Air Commodore and Donald Rumsey, a British Nuclear Test Veteran who was stationed on Christmas Island. Once again we were assisted on the day by four LSE student ambassadors provided by the LSE Widening Participation team; these were Mercy Nhamo, Sida Yin, Eu Jin Tan and Andreea Achimescu, who proved to be invaluable on the day.
Mercy, Andreea and Eu Jin
The day was formed of six smaller sessions. In the morning the students broke into four groups, each accompanied by a veteran and a student ambassador and attended four workshops in turn. The first session was led by Anna Liddle, the Peace Education Officer at CND who gave an introduction to the history of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and nuclear weapons. The students then had a tour of the archive with the chance to see behind the scenes and take part in a quiz based on original material from the CND archive including posters and photographs.
Sylvia taking part in the quiz!
The third session was run by the artist Victoria Turnbull and saw the students learning about design and creating their own posters and leaflets based around the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. An unexpected highlight of the session was the student’s fascination with carbon paper!
Thinking about design
The students thought about what makes a successful poster or leaflet, and produced some very eye-catching designs as you can see below
The fourth and final session of the morning was led by Christopher Webb and saw the students learning about oral history and interview techniques and preparing questions to ask the veterans later on in the afternoon.
After a quick lunch the group came back together for another design session led by Victoria. The students had to think of a cause that mattered to them and using the design techniques they learnt in the morning create their own poster or postcard. It was really interesting to see what causes mattered to the students and they produced some amazing artwork. Once finished the pieces were stuck on the wall and the group discussed what had been created. I have included a couple of my favourites below.
During the session, Sylvia tried to teach me how to make an origami peace crane with not much success! Here she is showing Alastair how to make one.
Sylvia making a peace crane with Alastair
The last workshop of the day was a Question and Answer session chaired by Christopher. It kicked off with the students presenting the veteran who had accompanied them in the morning to the rest of the group. The veterans then formed a panel and were quizzed on their experiences and memories by the students. Some really insightful questions were asked and it was fascinating to hear the veterans’ stories, including Don’s tale of sending a coconut home from Christmas Island as a present and Alastair’s account of flying a Vulcan Bomber. The session was recorded and hopefully clips from both workshops will be available online soon. For me it was great to meet the people ‘behind’ the archive, as I have recently finished the cataloguing of the papers of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
The day brought to an end a really interesting project and one I really enjoyed working on. It was great to work with different partners and organisations and to meet such a variety of people. It gave those involved a chance to see what an archive is really like and to learn more about peace campaigning.