Introduction to the Archive

Materials/What’s inside?

The Mustard Project digital archive consists of materials drawn from a range of the numbered archival boxes making up the University of Essex’s ‘University Collection’, all located at the Albert Sloman Library on the Wivenhoe Park campus near Colchester, UK.

Documents include official University papers relating to the events and demonstrations of May 1968 – notices, memoranda, records, transcripts of meetings, etc. – as well as a large number of student-authored materials including leaflets, bulletins, letters, statements and appeals circulating around the campus at the time, and transcripts of news reports and current affairs programming from local and national radio and television.

The establishment of a Committee of Enquiry to investigate the disturbances also generated a significant volume of testimonies of one sort or another. The Committee set up a Tribunal of Enquiry, which solicited written witness statements from those present at a crucial flashpoint, the disrupted May 7th Chemical Society lecture by Dr Thomas Inch from the government’s Chemical Defence laboratories at Porton Down.

Once this written evidence had been reviewed, the Tribunal conducted a series of oral hearings before formalising and publishing its account of the events. Finally, the Committee of Enquiry then canvassed opinion on the question of freedom of speech in universities across the whole campus, issuing its own report on June 24th.

Sources/Where to find what

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, including several transcripts of media reports); and Box 17 (transcripts of Tribunal hearings and materials relating to the May events and ‘Free University’, deposited by Dr Ernest Rudd of the Sociology Department).

Response to Committee of Enquiry on freedom of speech: "Let all students refuse to accept the authority of an administration which has been castrated of social conscience. Let all students resolutely oppose any attempt by the corrupt administration to discipline students who act in a justified way. Let all enemies of democracy, and all racists, know that they are not welcome at the University. Let the University be known as a centre for the democratisation of society. Signed N.A. Swingler, 14th June 1968"
Student response to Committee of Enquiry request for opinion on freedom of speech in universities.

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 web archive’s best sources for materials about wider 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.

Finding Aids/Getting around

Visitors to the web archive will find outlines of the contents of each of the boxes, from 8-18a, on the drop-down ‘Archive’ menu above. These outlines all include introductory descriptions of the box’s digitised materials, and of any actual folders holding specific documents on the outskirts of Colchester. The introductory paragraphs are followed by more detailed lists of holdings that include all of the box’s digitised contents, whether or not these have been published online to date.

All list entries for documents published so far include hyperlinks enabling users to navigate directly to the document’s web page so that, as further documents are published online, more hyperlinks should begin to appear on these lists.

Clicking ‘Show all contents‘ for any box listed on the ‘Archive’ menu will display everything from that box that has been published online to date. More narrow searches for the published contents of specific folders within boxes may be conducted using the ‘Categories‘ menu on the right of the screen.

Limitations/Notes of caution

In certain cases there is a substantial amount of material, either within folders or loose in the physical boxes, that has been organised or grouped together specifically 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 paragraphs will always mention any actual folders in the physical archive box, and any further folders or headings in the detailed outline lists that follow have been created and added in the process of constructing this web archive.

As well as additions there are missing pieces, and 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 list of archive boxes on the menu 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.


Finally, it cannot go unmentioned that this web archive simply would not exist without the support of a very 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.

All documents are reproduced by kind permission of the University of Essex.