A big thank you to everyone who attended the screenings of Mustard Podcast 3: The Background Readings E.P., in Colchester and London over the past couple of weeks. Thanks especially to Jess at Art Exchange in Wivenhoe Park, and to Antiuniversity Now, Shiri Shalmy, and the staff at Conway Hall for the ‘Knowledge for What?’ event on June 10th. It was great to see so many people and share thoughts and insights on the past, present, and future of universities and student protest in light of the events at Essex and much more broadly in 1968.
It was a complete pleasure to have a number of the Essex 1968 generation joining the discussion at the London event, and to have been invited to their reunion gathering the previous evening as well. That was a great event too, very smoothly organised by Julian Harber and Chris Ratcliffe at Essex May ’68 web site, and a brilliant opportunity to catch up with friends of the project and participants in the oral history interviews making up the film. There were lively, thought-provoking speeches and interventions, with full details of the planning and personnel behind the Inch demonstration finally revealed following five decades of collective silence.
In the middle of the chaos of the archive launch and the many events going on to commemorate May 1968, there was a wonderful and very welcome oasis of calm at the end of the weekend, when we were treated to some fantastic home cooking courtesy of Peter Archard’s partner Ayesha; an extra special thank you really is in order here for these exceptional hosts, and the afternoon rounded off an incredible weekend that I simply won’t ever forget.
Meanwhile, back in the archives, all 47 submissions in response to Committee of Enquiry Chair Keith Trace’s memorandum on freedom of speech are now published, along with the last timeline for the summer term of 1968; the Committee report will appear on 24th June, and term ended in 1968 on Friday 28th. The last week of term is marked by a renewal of Free University discussions which are sadly undocumented.
The documents on freedom of speech make up the last of the collections relating to the May 1968 events at Essex gathered under the auspices of the Administration; the other three are the written and oral evidence from the Tribunal of Enquiry into the events of May 7th (in Boxes 9 & 17), and the Internal Documents collection (Box 14).
Throughout the launch a further major collection has been drawn on to fill in gaps – the materials collected by Ernest Rudd of the Sociology Department and gathered in the May 1968 folder in Box 17. A number of the remaining documents in this collection will be added to the online archive in the weeks and months following the launch event, and the archive will see further additions to do with the level of detail and information about each box and any specific collections they contain.
Ultimately, the aim is for visitors to be able to navigate by date, using the calendar and/or an amalgamated and hyperlinked timeline, or through the guides to the boxes and collections, as well as by using the search and categories options, and the tags.
Eagle-eyed readers of the latest timeline will have noted that there is one item that didn’t make it up to the archive on the anniversary date, which is the tape recording of a fragment of the Tribunal Hearings featuring Peter Archard and John Tillett. I do have this digitised, and you can expect to see it up there soon (in Box 10) I promise….!
Finally just to return to thank-yous, by the end of May the site hit 700 visits and over 6,200 pages viewed, with hits from 26 countries on all continents except the Arctic and Antarctic – it was just staggering, and a huge and heartfelt thank you to everyone who supported, shared and spread the word, and gave such positive feedback on the archive itself as well. The response has been just overwhelming – I’m amazed and delighted it’s been getting so well used, and I hope there’s more or less enough material here by now to keep visitors cheerfully occupied over the summer vacation. In October, Vietnam comes to Colchester…….
Previous latest news…
The web archive now features a calendar of posts to make it a bit easier to navigate if you’re looking for something from a specific date, or following a timeline; you may already have seen it’s located at the top of the right hand sidebar on computers and tablets, although on mobile phones you’ll still have to do a lot of scrolling, sadly, as it’s no easy task to make it shift from the very bottom of the blog posts. The ‘Categories’ are now also in a more compact format on the sidebar too, which should help to keep things tidy with a bit of luck.
You can now follow us on twitter if you want to keep in touch with the project – the handle is @Mustardweb1968
A huge great thank you to everybody who has been checking in over the course of the past weeks to relive May 1968 at Essex in real time with us – so far already this month the site has had over 5,500 views, which is quite overwhelming! We really appreciate the interest, and don’t forget to stay tuned for the transcripts of the Tribunal hearings, 27th-31st May – will the Tribunal ever get to the bottom of what happened at Wivenhoe House on 7th May…?