Jane Speller, Project Archivist for the Guardian Archive foreign correspondence cataloguing project, writes:
Following our visit earlier this year to the Guardian News and Media (GNM) Archive, we were happy to host a return visit by Acting Head of the GNM Archive, Philippa Mole, and Archive Trainee, Helen Swainger.
Philippa and Helen are based at the GNM HQ in London’s King’s Cross. Material in the GNM archive dates largely from 1971, the year that the Guardian newspaper moved the bulk of its operations from Manchester to London. It was also the year that the archive of the newspaper, dating from its inception in 1821 up until 1971, was acquired by John Rylands Library as a gift from the Guardian.
Yesterday’s visit was designed to facilitate knowledge sharing about the two Guardian archive collections and to open up discussions around partnership working. We were interested to hear that plans are already being made for the celebration of the bi-centenary of the Guardian in 2021; and that the Guardian archive in London had recently acquired owner/editor C.P. Scott’s desk which was originally located in the Manchester office.
After taking our visitors on a tour of the Library, we went behind the scenes to show them some treasures from the John Rylands’ collections. These included Elizabeth Gaskell’s original manuscript for her biography of Charlotte Brontë, William Caxton’s English-French dictionary (an aid for merchants travelling abroad) dating from the late fifteenth century, and Queen Victoria’s glove. The glove is one of the curios from the Isabella and Linnaeus Banks Collection (part of the E.L. Burney Collection). Philippa and Helen were fascinated to see the Peterloo relief fund account book which records payments made to the injured and the families of the dead, resulting from the Peterloo Massacre on 16 August 1819. Peterloo was one of the catalysts for the launching of the Manchester Guardian. The paper was intended as a mouthpiece for liberal voices in Manchester.
Treasures from the Manchester Guardian Archive included the 1821 Prospectus which set out the ideals of the newspaper and the 1821 Agreement signed by John Edward Taylor (1791-1844) and the other founders of the paper. The agreement promised that the founders’ investments would be returned should the paper fail.
We also looked at the wonderful Manchester Guardian centenary album which was presented to owner/editor C.P. Scott (1844-1932) in 1921. The photographs in the album were taken by staff photographer Walter Doughty (1876-1958) and each page features a different department of the paper, from editors and sub-editors, to secretaries, porters, stable boys, cooks, and cleaners. Every member of staff is named, and anyone who was absent on the day of the shoot was photographed later and pasted in. The album is a complete record of the 500-odd people who worked for the newspaper at that time.
We look forward to forging closer links with our Guardian archive colleagues in the future.