Introduction to the Archive

The Mustard Project digital archive consists of materials drawn from the University Collection, held at the Albert Sloman University Library at Essex’s Wivenhoe Park campus. These documents include official University papers relating to the events of May 1968 – notices, memoranda, records and transcripts of meetings, etc. – as well as a large number of student-authored leaflets, bulletins, letters, statements and appeals that appeared around the campus at the time.

The establishment of a Committee of Enquiry into the disturbances also generated a significant volume of witness testimonies of one sort or another. The Committee set up a Tribunal of Enquiry, which solicited statements from those present at the original flashpoint of the disturbances – a disrupted Chemical Society lecture on May 7th, featuring a government research scientist from Porton Down. Once the written evidence had been reviewed, the Tribunal conducted a series of oral hearings before formalising and publishing its account of the events. The Committee of Enquiry then canvassed opinion across the campus on the question of freedom of speech in universities, issuing its own report on June 24th.

The principle sources for the digitisation project so far have been Box 8 (Committee of Enquiry freedom of speech submissions); Box 9 (Tribunal of Enquiry written evidence on the ‘Inch incident’ of May 7th); Box 14 (Information Officer Walter Evans’ Internal Documents collection); and Box 17 (transcripts of Tribunal of Enquiry hearings, and a collection relating to the May events deposited by Dr Ernest Rudd of the Department of Sociology).

Two further Boxes containing largely identical material have been drawn on occasionally to supplement the above: one is Box 15, containing materials gathered and deposited by physicist T.P. Hughes; the other is Box 16, which holds further materials deposited by Rudd. Both of these boxes also include a substantial amount of material on subsequent developments to do with campus politics and unrest at Essex, and these are the archives’ best sources for materials about student politics and campaigns at the national and global levels as well. One final collection, deposited by Keith Ives of the Students’ Council and located in Box 18a, holds materials relating to the Inch protest and the ‘Free University’ specifically; this box also includes some contextualising documents relating to struggles over reform of the Students’ Council in the Spring and Summer of 1968.

Internally, two key strands of action on the University’s part emerged from the events of May 1968 at Wivenhoe Park. The first of these involved attempts to increase student participation in University decision making processes, while the other sought to establish a set of more appropriate and effective disciplinary structures for the institution and its residential accommodation. There are holdings in Box 15 and Box 16 relating to both of these strands; materials digitised from Box 13 focus in particular on the work of the Senate Group on Student Representation and the Working Party on a Code of Conduct; and there is an incomplete set of written submissions to the Working Party located in Box 12.

Not all of the boxes from the University Collection relating to the May 1968 events have been exhaustively digitised and uploaded. For example, Box 10 and Box 11 are more or less identical, with both holding duplicates of the Tribunal hearings transcripts digitised here from the better copies in Box 17. Box 10 is included in the drop down menu of archive boxes above simply because it also holds an audio tape from the hearings, but Box 11 has been omitted entirely. There are almost certainly some quite relevant documents that never made it through the digitisation process, especially to do with Students’ Council reform and the protest against MP Enoch Powell in the Spring of 1968, and this web archive will of course never be a full substitute for a visit to Wivenhoe Park.

Users of the web archive will find an outline of the contents of each of the boxes, from 8-18a, which can be accessed from the drop-down menu above; these pages all include introductory descriptions of the box’s digitised materials, and of any actual folders holding specific documents on the outskirts of Colchester. In certain cases there is a substantial amount of material, either within folders or loose in the physical boxes, that has been organised for the web archive. This has been done on the basis of theme (e.g. sections on Students’ Council politics or national and global campaigns), or by document type (primarily for bulletins and publications from students and student societies). The introductory paragraph will always mention any folders in the physical archive box, and any further folders or headings in the detailed outline lists (below) have been added in the process of constructing this web archive.

The introductory remarks for each box are followed by a more detailed list of holdings, which includes all of the digitised contents from that box, whether or not they have been published online. All entries for documents published online so far include hyperlinks enabling users to navigate directly to the document’s web page, so as further documents are published online, more hyperlinks should appear in the appropriate entries on these lists. Clicking ‘Show all contents’ for a box will take users to a page displaying everything from that box that has been published online to date; contents of specific folders published to date may be similarly displayed by using the ‘Categories’ menu on the right of the screen. All documents are reproduced by kind permission of the University of Essex.

Finally, this web archive simply would not exist without the support of a large number of colleagues and friends. In terms of the mechanics of the production process, an immense debt of gratitude is owed specifically to Ana Ferrand, Mitch Goodrum, and James Tague for their invaluable help with preparing the documents and the web archive; also to Nigel Cochrane and all the staff at the Albert Sloman University Library, for their continued support and enthusiasm over a period of many years.