British Diplomatic Oral History Centre

 

The Churchill Archives Centre hosts the British Diplomatic Oral History Programme (BDOHP). Established in 1995 by Malcolm McBain, a retired Diplomatic Service Officer with the approval of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The BDOHP interviews former diplomats or other officials who have played a significant role in events bearing on international relations.

This really is a fantastic resource. Researchers can scan through an alphabetical list of contributors (scroll down the page or click on the Janus web server link), attached to each is a very useful resume of the diplomat’s career,  see image below. You can then view the transcript by clicking on the diplomats name, for example,  ‘BYATT, Ronald Archer Campbell (b.1930)‘. Once in the transcript you are presented with a contents page which very clearly lists the posts held by the diplomat with relevant page numbers where the post is discussed in the transcript.

byatt

The transcripts of the interviews make fascinating reading, they are not only a rich resource for historians but also a window into the machinery of government of the time. Just dipping in to Byatt’s recollections when working for the Foreign Service in Havana,  there is a fascinating personal insight into the Cuban Missile Crisis, with gems such as:

‘Our Glaswegian archivist, Rob Cappie, was held up to wait for a huge missile on a low-loader to lumber out of the Havana dockyard on to the main road. This, we were told subsequently, was the first definite confirmation that the Soviets had intercontinental missiles in Cuba.’

Purpose-built in 1973 to house Sir Winston Churchill’s Papers, the Churchill Archives Centre is home to the papers of almost 600 important political, military and scientific figures from the Churchill era and after. Contemporaries of Winston Churchill sit alongside major political, military and scientific figures such as: Margaret Thatcher, Ernest Bevin, John Major, Neil Kinnock, Admiral Ramsay, Field Marshal Slim, Frank Whittle and Rosalind Franklin.

Researchers can access the collections by an alphabetical list of contributors or subject guide. You can keep up to date with their news at their twitter account @ChuArchives

 

Hannah Chandler, Official Papers Librarian, Bodleian Libraries

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EPPI and BOPCRIS*: What happened next?

The Hartley Library at the University of Southampton has an extensive collection of printed British official publications, known as the Ford Collection.  The collection is named after the late Professor Percy Ford and his wife Dr Grace Ford who brought the initial collection, which we continue to build, to the University of Southampton in the 1950s.  The Fords compiled ‘breviates’ or ‘select lists’ of official publications, in seven volumes covering the years 1833 – 1983.   Their work was the impetus behind our later activities when technology and external funding enabled us to work collaboratively with other libraries  in order to provide a selection of full-text digitised British official publications, free for all to use.  Sadly, storage and delivery of such an immense amount of data is not without costs and we had to abandon our web services, EPPI and BOPCRIS, but we have worked to find ways to continue free access to the documents.

We are now moving the materials to Internet Archive.  We have established two subsets,  ‘British Parliamentary Publications’  and ‘British non-Parliamentary Publications’ .  These hold previously digitised EPPI and BOPCRIS papers, with some additional non-Parliamentary publications which have been scanned by the in-house Hartley Library Digitisation Unit (LDU).  In total, there are about 16,000 documents, including the full EPPI collection which comprises 13,700 documents.  Other highlights include some very hard-to-find older departmental publications, e.g. a 1991 consultation on aircraft noise, https://archive.org/details/op1278555-1001 .  Our current hope is to continue adding more non-Parliamentary materials from our collection, as we are aware that this is the area of least on-line provision.

We chose Internet Archive for many reasons, but here are just two.  For researchers, it is now a well-known source and is free for all to use.  For libraries wishing to share their open access digital collections, it offers a free and sustainable delivery mechanism.

An article with more detail has been submitted to Refer, the journal of the Information Services Group of CILIP.  If you have any questions or comments, please contact the University of Southampton Library Digitisation Unit by e-mail, digitise@soton.ac.uk 

* EPPI: Enhanced Parliamentary Papers on Ireland, 1801 – 1922  and BOPCRIS: British Official Publications Collaborative Reader Information Service

Joy Caisley
Law and Politics Librarian, Hartley Library, University of Southampton

Legal Information Management

Two articles on official publications have been published in the spring edition of Legal Information Management, Journal of the British and Irish Association of Law Librarians. Please note this is a subscription based journal.

UK Official Publications: Managing the Transition to Electronic Deposit at the British Library
Official Papers at the Bodleian Libraries, Oxford
Hannah Chandler March 2016
Legal Information Management, ,Volume16, Issue01, March 2016, pp 9-13
http://journals.cambridge.org/abstract_S1472669616000049

Vellum has a place in the 21st century…

An article posted on the BBC magazine site ‘Why is the UK still printing its laws on vellum?   raises the interesting point that archiving digital material is still at its infancy. Four Copies of the 800 year old Magna Carta still survive.  Of the digital records created today what will be accessible in 800 years time one wonders?

 

 

 

 

Northern Ireland Official Publications

For many years the Library at Queen’s University Belfast has collected paper copies of Northern Ireland official publications under legal deposit legislation. As Northern Ireland does not have a designated legal deposit library the National Archives guidance is that the Library should be ‘treated as an official deposit library for Northern Ireland official publications’.

However, print publication of Northern Ireland official publications largely ceased in 2015, raising concerns about the long-term availability of the documents as websites change over time. The Library at Queen’s is already working with the British Library to assist them in gathering and storing official publications under obligations the British Library now has under the Legal Deposit Libraries (Non-Print Works) Regulations 2013.

Our view though is that we can better support the long-term archive availability of Northern Ireland official publications by establishing an on-line archive at Queen’s which can be used to support researchers specifically interested in using Northern Ireland official publications.

This archive will also enable the generation of catalogue records for supply to the British Library and upload to the Queen’s library catalogue, significantly improving the visibility of Northern Ireland official publications.

Northern Ireland publications published in 2015 have already been uploaded to a DSpace archive at Queen’s and current plans envisage making the archive available to the public summer 2016.

John Knowles, The Library, Queen’s University Belfast

Parliament’s Web Archive

Parliament’s Web Archive provides access to previous versions of the parliamentary website dating back to 2009.

The page has a very useful list of archives held on external websites, such as YouTube, Flickr, Twitter and Facebook.

You can also browse an archive for the ‘legacy websites‘ which are websites that are no longer available on the live web, for example, ‘Parliament and the British Slave Trade 1600-1807’

An A-Z index is also available, where you can search by type of publication as well as by provider of the archive.

Hannah Chandler, Official Papers Librarian, Bodleian Libraries

 

Tweets and videos in the UK Government Web Archive

Did you know from May 2014  The National Archives began to archive tweets and You Tube videos published by UK central government departments from their official Twitter and YouTube social media platforms. There is already a substantial archive of material dating from 2006 captured during a two year pilot project.

Videos can be filtered by year of creation and there is a search facility, as for example, videos from HM Treasury

Tweets are arranged in a date span but cannot be searched, as for example, tweets from the Home Office

Where tweets contain web links these should be operational as long as they are within the UK Government Web Archive. Retweets are not archived as are tweets for non-government organisations that form a conversation. Web links within tweets that are not part of the UK Government Web Archive will receive a 404 or 410 error message that will allow users to see the destination of a link. This may then enable users to search for that link elsewhere.

For more information see the ‘Using the social media archive‘ section on the National Archives ‘Information on web archiving‘ page.

Hannah Chandler, Official Papers Librarian, Bodleian Libraries