Archive News

Happenings and goings on in the Archive and Study Centre: Events, researchers, discoveries, additions. For latest articles added to the Archive and Study Centre section of the website, click here.

Wennington Archive Week 2016: May 9 -13

wenn2016 rowsatworkFormer students from Wennington School began the tradition of Archive Weeks back in 2004, and continue to press the horizons of a special way of gathering together and making use of the Archive: Over the years they welcomed others to join them in their Archive Weeks - former children from other school communities; then interested academics; then the wider public, in the Common Roots Events first held in 2014. This year's Common Roots Event was a corker, and deserves a page on its own.

wenn2016 sam-stuart320This year Wennington welcomed two new researchers, who are working on very different but fundamentally - existentially? -  related areas. Mike Phillips of the University of Leeds is developing his Master's degree theme on urban alternative schools and education from the 1960s to the 1990s, and consulted the LibEd and David Gribble collections, as well as diving into the library. Annabella Pollen of the University of Brighton began a survey of our collections to extend her current research on Kibbo Kift and its related organisations, looking into the Little Commonwealth established in Dorset in 1914 (led by Homer Lane, and a direct influence on A.S. Neill and his Summerhill School), and into the Q Camps - which grew out of Grith Fyrd, the self-governing/self-sufficiency self-help organisation for long-term unemployed men, and with direct relations in Braziers Park, Forest School, and Northfield Military Psychiatric Hospital, as well as Otto Shaw and Red Hill School.

2015 072 01 02 01 01Apart from that, Wennington's Archive Week 2016 resulted in 203 scanned images of documents and photographs, not counting the scans of the 279 pages of Kenneth Barnes' first, unshortened version of his story of Wennington School, Energy Unbound - a typescript which Kenneth Barnes gave to education academic Michael Fielding in 1977, and which Michael gave to the Archive last year (In his letter to Michael Fielding, Kenneth said the "unshortened manuscript" was "massive", "and contains some matter that will be of less interest to the general reader than to those who knew the school". We shall find out). The typescript was OCRed, and is being corrected and prepared for future research by Wenningtonians. Two manuscript Sunday talks given by Kenneth Barnes to students of Bedales in the late 1930s were transcribed, and the horizons of the Archive Week were pushed even further as several Wenningtonians asked to see their files; and of course on May 10th Wennington co-hosted a third very special annual Common Roots Event on Community and Re-Creation/Re-creation through community.



"I may have told you that a lot of my papers pre-1940 were destroyed by a fire in a room at the school shortly after that date."

This virtually throw-away line in Kenneth Barnes' 1977 letter to Michael Fielding tells us a huge amount which is not -as far as we know - recorded anywhere else. It tells us about an incident in the early life of Wennington School (anyone recall this?), which must have been extremely frightening in the context of a new boarding school trying to find its feet in the early stages of the War; it tells us about the absolute loss of documents which would be essential in a full biography of Kenneth and Frances in the years leading up to the founding of the school - what is lost is always important information; and it gives context and an added sense of their value to the Bedales talks and other surviving pre-1940 materials which are in the surviving Kenneth Barnes Collection. We know all of this only thanks to Michael Fielding's interest forty years ago, the fact that he has saved this correspondence all these years, and through his generosity in identifying the Archive and placing this material here. Thankyou!


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A tangle of cables in boxes: Colours, lengths, types.

Television cables, video cables, audio cables, microphone cables, headphone cables and speaker cables, telephone cables, electrical cables,
three pin, two pin, round pin,
splitters, joiners, random adapters,
scart and XLR and RCA connectors, HDMI and DVI Connectors, ethernet connectors, male connectors, female connectors,
2.5mm, 3.5mm, 1/4"; strange and weird and undefined connectors,
yellowed plastic 50s earphones,
reel to reel and audio-cassette, mini-disc, DAT and dictaphone pieces,
extension tubes and darkroom equipment...

A mixed and fallen pile of leaves from 25 years of gathering and activity.

The world of archives in a nutshell.


When volunteers come into the Archive, it's like rain on the desert. So much happens that can't happen in any other way.

When someone chooses to use their two weeks holiday to come regularly in, it is amazing. Many thanks to Thomas Fees (inset), and to all our volunteers.


dennie-briggs 20160413Weighing in at just over three new-born baby elephants, 44 cartons and one mailing tube containing books, papers, tape recordings, and memorabilia relating to the life and work of teacher, clinical/research psychologist and therapeutic community pioneer Dennie Briggs are shaking off the California sunshine and making their way by sea to the Planned Environment Therapy Trust's Archive and Study Centre in Gloucestershire.


Dennie entered the therapeutic community world as America cranked up for the Korean War.  Having served in the Navy during World War II, in 1950 Dennie was called back in,  and by a circuitous route which took in the mental and emotional screening of recruits at the Newport (Rhode Island) Naval Training Station, by way of psychological research for the launching of the first atomic-powered submarine, and a locked ward in California where he was suddenly asked by the psychiatrist in charge - called away on an emergency - to take responsibility for a group meeting that he was simply sitting in on ("At one point a patient confronted me and asked if I was scared. I said I was...") - found himself working with the great American psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Harry Wilmer in the admissions ward of the Oakland, California, Naval Hospital, then met and worked for a month with "father of the therapeutic community" Maxwell Jones at Belmont Hospital in the Spring of 1956, before heading off to Japan to develop military therapeutic communities there. And then...


But have a look at the interview archivist Craig Fees recorded with Dennie in 1991, in which the reality and richness of the story outstrips imagination - read that here; and you can also read Dennie's own written accounts of his work in Japan, in the California prison system, and more, in a special series commissioned by the Archive and Study Centre - read them here.

After Japan, his therapeutic community adventure eventually took Dennie to Dingleton Hospital, in Scotland, where he worked again with Maxwell Jones, and to the Henderson Hospital in London, where charge nurse Ian Milne met him, as Ian recalled in Issue 8 of the late Joint Newsletter in July 2003. It was during 'the revolutionary days' of 1966-69, with plenty of characteristic anecdotes of Henderson and Dennie's role there -

"Also, there was some work Dennie was doing with Hell's Angels, off site, in which he invited me to assist. Me, with my long hippy-like hair and pink tie-dyed T shirt. One of the Angels told me that I was just like them, as I was "make love not war‟ and they were "make war not love‟. It was certainly hairy at times, but it is a tribute to Dennie that nothing ever got out of hand. I certainly learnt a lot about the structure of Hell‟s Angel‟s gangs, and how to work in an ethnographic way (although, I confess, we did not not describe it that way then."

"Dennie - Not a Forgotten Hero!" (pp. 43-44)


An acute observer of the current social and psychological world, Dennie maintains an interactive website at, with an online Living Archive, and ongoing discussion and commentary. He is an active moderator and contributor to the Therapeutic Community Open Forum email discussion list; and authored  A Life Well Lived: Maxwell Jones, a memoir, published by Jessica Kingsley.

With a third of a ton of unique documentation on its way to England, it is an exciting time in Toddington.


Thursday, March 24, 2016: The end of a fascinating Caldecott Association Archive Week. Barry and Eileen, the last of the group, off after lunch, into the light rain. New catalogues completed. Three new accessions. Scans....

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Things emerge

end-of-term 1930s-style


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daffs and kaki tree


toru umezakiThree days was not enough, even with extended opening hours, and we look forward to seeing Dr. Toru Umezaki here again in future.

Toru is Professor in the Faculty of Letters at Ferris University, in Yokohama, Japan, where he teaches American history.  Inspired by work as a Fulbright Scholar at Columbia University, he is now working on an historical project on trans-Atlantic activism of the New Left in the 1960s -  and has spent the last three days with the Institute of Phenomenological Studies/Dialectics of Liberation Congress/Anti-University of London records held in the Planned Environment Therapy Trust Archive, searching for Alan Krebs, Joseph Berke, Leon Redler and other Americans who came over to Britain from the States bringing radical ideas and gathering radical ideas to send home.

Researchers enliven the place in so many ways. Who would have thought Stokeley Carmichael's signature would be so beautiful (see below)? Who would expect correspondence from Simone de Beauvoir? Who would have thought the quiet we take so for granted could have given such good nights' sleeps? Researchers are wonderful.


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