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.

"Community Voices: Oral History on the Ground", Manchester Metropolitan University, July 18-19, 2014

 


1) William Eiduks and Len Clarke,
Early Pestalozzi Children's Project

The Early Pestalozzi Children Project: Recovering a Lost Community

The Early Pestalozzi Children Project is about using oral history and archives to recover the lost story of a group of deprived European and Tibetan children who were taken into care between 1959 and 1965, and who later became estranged from their care community.

Our project was established in 2013 to recover a lost history and rebuild a community to which we belong, as early Pestalozzi children ourselves.

This presentation describes: how and why we came to create the project; our approach in general and, specifically, how we are encouraging our community's involvement in oral history; what we have experienced and what we have learned in the process so far; and the consequences, issues, and outcomes for ourselves and the wider early Pestalozzi community.

The Pestalozzi Children's Village was opened in 1959 in the village of Sedlescombe, East Sussex, as a surrogate home for children from deprived backgrounds: European refugee children still in German Displaced Persons camps following WW2, and a small number of British children. In 1963, a group of Tibetan children was accepted from northern India.

By 1965, the Pestalozzi Children's Village Trust had made the decision to focus its work exclusively on children and young people from Third World countries, and the existing European children's program was phased out. In some cases these European departures were managed with unseemly haste and insensitivity.

There was very little follow-up to check on their well-being. For many of them this separation meant that they had, in effect, lost their home and surrogate family. Subsequent articles and books mentioning the early years of the Pestalozzi Children's Village compounded this loss through inaccuracies and mistakes, distorting the history.

 


 

2) Craig Fees

'No Foundation All the Way Down the Line' Revisited: Analysis and reflections on 30 years of working with and building community processes through oral history

 

In 1984 I was awarded a grant by the Folklore Society for a project entitled "Folk Memory in a North Cotswold Community", in which I was given licence to discover what it might mean to be a community folklorist in a small market town in rural England. Five years later the Planned Environment Therapy Trust gave me the opportunity to explore the role in greater depth in a different setting, when it asked me to establish from scratch an archive and study centre devoted to therapeutic communities, group therapies, and alternative education communities more generally. The work of that project was crystallised in the 2010-2011 HLF-supported "Therapeutic Living With Other People's Children: An oral history of residential therapeutic child care c. 1930 - c. 1980", which eventuated in two national awards.

 

This paper marks the 25th anniversary of the Planned Environment Therapy Trust Archive and Study Centre by looking at "Therapeutic Living" and examining what it means to be a 'community folklorist' - an archivist and oral historian - for a communities-based field which, by its nature, is defined by traumatic personal and family experience, dispersed and exploded identities, obscured histories and heritage, huge humanities, and the immense possibilities in human being.

 

The reference in the title is to a 1998 paper entitled '"No Foundation All the Way Down the Line" History, memory and ‘milieu therapy’ from the view of a specialist archive in Britain". Written at a time of sweeping closures of residential therapeutic communities for children and young people - which continued, and extended to communities for adults; and which, in fact, has a long history for children in care generally - I remarked there:

 

"What makes the closure of a therapeutic community even more devastating is that a therapeutic community is the locus of more than simple community or belonging for people to whom identity by definition is itself problematic, and for whom belonging is both the start of therapy and sometimes its greatest triumph. The ‘continuity of care’ of a community which survives all that a disturbed child can throw at it, and which a growing young person and adult knows is there and can continue to refer to as needed throughout their life, is one of its greatest therapeutic assets and an incomparable therapeutic tool. When a community is closed this asset and this tool go with it, with consequences which continue to unfold during the lifetimes of all of the people involved and into future generations."

 

In my experience oral history and the doing of oral history has a role it can play. I discuss this, situating the discussion in the context of the history of the Archive and Study Centre.

paul turney tapePaul Turney, Mastering and Archival Engineer at Sirensound Digital UK, at work on the PP/JB/IPS collection of reel to reel audio tapes.

Funded by a Research Resources in Medical History Grant from the Wellcome Trust, the "Opening Locked Sources in the History of Radical Psychiatry" project will see 148 reel to reel recordings not heard for almost fifty years being conserved, digitised, re-catalogued, and re-introduced for contemporary audiences, research, and discovery.

 

paul turney at the bridge

paul turney at work

 

Monday June 9th through Friday June 13th.

The latest in a series of annual and sometimes bi-annual residential "Archive Weekends" in which former students of Wennington School explore and share their history: Reading, scanning, cataloguing, talking, website building...the array of documents on their Wennington website tells a story of what goes on, and the passion with which it is done:

  • This year, on its 30th anniversary, Wenningtonian Richard Pemble serviced and fine-tuned a clock made by Donald Garrod OBE in 1984 in memory of New Barns School co-founding team member Roy Frye, which had been sitting in store unmoving for umpteen years.

  • Over 170 new scans of images and documents were made.

  • Hundreds of photographs were searched and selected for a projected new online edition of Kenneth Barnes' book, Energy Unbound.

  • And more!

And then there was "Common Roots" on June 11th

Mid-week, Wenningtonians hosted a small conference to explore the wider horizons of sibling institutions and cousin organisations; an essay in common and divergent heritage: How are we alike and different? What do we have in common?

22 people took part, from varied backgrounds: free/democratic/progressive schools, children's therapeutic schools and communities, adult therapeutic communities, related organisations - Forest School Camps, Brazier's Park.... Much meeting and talking and the traditional very nice lunch (with beautiful strawberries at the end).

Before lunch Len Clarke and Will Eiduks of the Early Pestalozzi Children Project trialled the presentation they're giving at the Oral History Society annual conference next month. After lunch PhD student Emily Charkin focused on children's participation in building and shaping their environment, building on the presentation she gave at last November's Child Care History Network conference in Dorset (a talk punctuated by Wenningtonians, who recognised their childhood selves in photographs in Emily's slideshow going on behind her - black and white Wenningtonian childhoods of building sewers, wielding shovels, making things grow).

"I feel less tolerant of the status quo than I did a week ago", said one participant. Other reactions: "a brilliant opportunity", "Good day, interesting discussions and nice lunch", "exciting to experience the generosity of the whole group"...

 

Archive Week

 

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 Common Roots

 

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And a surprise

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Recording the Community of Communities Annual Forum on May 1st 2014 has taken the number of audio recordings by P.E.T.T. archivist Craig Fees over the one thousand mark.

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(T) CF1000 captured Community of Communities out-going Chair Steve Pearce, welcoming participants to the day; CofC's Josephine Thorne reporting on CofC's Annual Cycle for 2013-2014; and Chris Nicholson, of the University of Essex, launching The Core Competency Framework for Self-Regulating TCs.

(T) CF1001 caught Dr. Gary Winship of Nottingham University delivering his keynote address on "Recovering Recovery - How TCs invented Recovery, and where it all went right"

(T) CF1002 recorded the Community of Communities Annual Debate, in which the proposition that "There is no evidence that Therapeutic Communities are effective" was supported by Steve Pearce and Marya Hemmings, and opposed by Nick Manning and Vicky Gavin. Voting before and after the debate showed a definitive swing to the opposition, and a recognition that evidence that went beyond the narrow terms of randomised control trials abounded.

Using two video cameras, the (V) CF collection also passed the 120 mark.

 

"Therapeutic Communities: Isn't it obvious?"

(The theme of the 2014 Annual Forum)

Community of Communities (C of C) is an initiative of the Royal College of Psychiatrists' College Centre for Quality Improvement (CCQI), working in partnership with The Consortium of Therapeutic Communities (TCTC) and the Planned Environment Therapy Trust (PETT)  to develop, manage and improve a quality improvement and accreditation programme for Therapeutic Communities (TCs) in the UK and overseas.

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The Community of Communities Annual Forum is the biggest gathering of its kind, enabling people across the Therapeutic Community world to come together to share and reflect on practice, ideas and experiences. Keep an eye on the Community of Communities website for podcasts from the Forum.

Jean Costello and her husband Brian paid a surprise visit to the Archive today, and chatted over tea and biscuits about her latest painting-in-progress: A study of Mersham-le-Hatch, where she grew up as a child in the Caldecott Community. Thanks to its current owners, Jean was able to spend two rainy but productive days sitting under a tree - with canvas and paints, and her sister beside her writing poetry - sketching the Mersham buildings from life.

You can see the gathering snow, and almost feel the plight of the Caldecott boy who climbed out of the kitchen window in 1962 or 1963, when a heavy snowfall had blocked all the doors, and immediately disappeared over his head into the depths of the snow drift outside. Fifteen feet in places.

We'll report progress on her winter painting here. In the meantime, go here to watch Moley's Movie, about an earlier oil painting of Hatch in the summer.

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