IWM Periodical collection

Discussion in 'Historiography' started by Phaethon, May 25, 2011.

  1. Phaethon

    Phaethon Historian

    Every museum or archive, from time to time, finds itself with a collection which, to put it frankly, isn't quite as well used as some of its others. For the IWM, this is its periodical collection.

    To fill you in, for over five years now I have been collecting every piece of information possibly available (from books photos and maps to personal letters, and as many connected units diaries then I would care to mention) on the Coldstream; researching the 2nd Bn (1942-1945) in a rigourous manor to build up what I like to think is a fairly comprehensive collection on the subject.

    A big part of my research has been a unit newspaper: The Medjez Mail, a newspaper which proudly boasted that it was the first battalion newsletter in North Africa/Tunisia. Understandably, given that it contained small excerpts of the days happenings, jokes, as well as battalion and local and international news, you can see that it represents a fairly unique primary source, if not an intreaguing sociological study on the brittish tommy.

    Unfortunately the collection at RHQ was donated to the IWM by one of its progenitors and as a result the only copy left is in the IWM. The war diaries have a few sheets, mainly from italy and these are from the two page issue where the first page, the page kept, contains mostly international news only.

    I am guessing this shift occurs because guards RHQs have a nasty habit of putting material in their cellar, and a few years later disposing of it as confidential waste when it cant work out what it is. Basically this includes any information submitted to the guards that isn't published (bound: i.e. capable of being put in its small library) or that does not relate to an officer and fit in an a4 storage box under his name. Ordinary ranks don't usually have their stuff kept. That 200 page diary uncle joey left the guards in 1967? I'm affraid they burnt it with hundreds of pages of administration and vacciniation records.

    A year and a half ago I read a few pages of the mail and booked to come in the week after with my laptop to transcribe them.

    Anyway, the IWM recently is apparently undergoing archive renovations to turn it 'multi-media'. A good part of this was converting their old reading rooms in the dome to a super new peridical section... but having had a recount of its finances it appears to have done a u-turn and put all the books in the periodical section. The musuem no longer has any plans to re-open the periodical section and has left the collection in deep storage elsewhere in the country. When you ask about it the staff are told to say no to any peridocial requests.

    As you may have gathered from this post, the IWM started this renovation the week after I first went in. Its been 1 1/2 years later now and after not getting any replies to my emails, I went in to see them personally to no avail. Thus the unit newspaper is now presumably sitting in the same warehouse as the lost ark of the covenant and unlikely to see the light of day for any foressable future. When I asked if it would take another year I was told that they had "No plans" to bring them back.
  2. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    Very sad to hear this. I was hoping their rebuilding and digitisation projects would result in the IWM collections being more accessible rather than less.

    So are all the periodicals buried away at Duxford now then?

  3. Jedburgh22

    Jedburgh22 Very Senior Member

    I would suggest a letter to one of the Trustees - that might get some action
  4. Phaethon

    Phaethon Historian

    Yep its all in duxford. A lot of the books have started coming back slowly, but about (im told) half are still at the warehouse.

    Its a shame but the newspaper could very easily have been in the collections, which were retained. The tag as a regular magazine didn't help, its status as original primary scourc documents.. they should really be seen as a diary.

    Im draughting a letter now, I hadn't thought about trying one of the trustees at this stage, but its a good idea.
  5. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    I have had mixed success at the IWM in regard to magazines and periodicals.

    I was there in February and was very pleased to lay my hands on copies of the 'Rangoon Ramblings', which was a newsletter concerning the life and times of former Rangoon Jail inmates. One of our forum members was heavily involved in getting these papers over to the museum from the USA.

    I then enquired about the Burma Star magazine 'Dekho!'. This was not available at the time, although I was informed that it would be making the journey to London soon!

    These journals are a fantastic historical source for our research whatever the unit or group involved. In some ways such periodicals give an even greater insight into the history and doings of soldiers, RAF and Naval types, than official diaries and even books.

    Jedburgh is totally correct a letter to the Trustees is probably in order.
  6. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    I was most interested to hear what others had to say about certain facilities/lack of facilities at the IWM following on my own limited experiece of dealing with the authorities there.

    I'm hoping that I will still be around to see my own Album available to view online but I am not holding my breath !

  7. Alan Allport

    Alan Allport Senior Member

    Im draughting a letter now, I hadn't thought about trying one of the trustees at this stage, but its a good idea.

    That's a shame. I've used some periodicals at the IWM myself and they're a valuable, and in some cases unique, resource.

    I'm sure you were going to do this anyway, but ... I'd phrase any letter in a magnanimous rather than full-on 'outraged Daily Mail reader' voice. I think it's important to remember that an organization like the IWM is working with good-faith intentions, but also limited funds and resources. A friendly approach is probably more likely to yield a positive response - though even then, don't assume it will lead to anything. We live in an imperfect world.

    Best, Alan

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