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Ruskin Archive – lobby of governors

2012 December 1



On November 30 many people braved the elements to lobby the governing executive of Ruskin College reiterating the demand to stop shredding historical student records.The supporters were representative of the 7,800 people who had signed the petition, and written to governors and the principal, Audrey Mullender. Banners and placards included those from Unite the union, Kensington and Chelsea trades council, and one saying Save Ruskin from Clare Audrey in the Community.

Unite demo

Speakers included Oxford university historian Jane Caplan, Professor of Modern European History and Director of the European Studies Centre at St Antony’s College; Dr Anna Davin, one of the founders of the History Workshop Movement; Dr Toby Butler, former student and editor of History Workshop Online; Dr Annie Skinner, former student and president of the Ruskin Students’ Union, the records of which have been destroyed; Stefan Dickers, library and archives manager at the Bishopsgate Institute. Although the Bishopsgate had offered to take any unwanted material this had been turned down.



Toby Butler speaking at lobby

Toby Butler presented the petition to governors and urged them to stop further destruction and to establish a committee including external archival experts and historians to establish policy on archive retention. He explained that authority to save the archives had been received from a leading  expert in Britain, Nick Kingsley , Head of Archives Sector Development & Secretary of the Historical Manuscripts Commission at the National Archive. Last week Nick had confirmed ‘it would have been acceptable to retain these records indefinitely for historical purpose’. This advice had been rejected by principal Audrey Mullender, ‘Nick Kingsley is not a lawyer and, sadly, he is wrong.’


Supporters – former students – laid a wreath in memory of the achievements of Ruskin students whose records have been shredded.

The governors agreed to establish a committee. Whether they agreed to stop further destruction and to go along with experts in the field, former students, staff, historians, archivists, novelists, family, local historians, trade unions etc remains to be seen.

Updates to follow.

One Response Post a comment
  1. Allie Dawe permalink
    January 3, 2013

    Is this wonton destruction just the exercise of raw power with a justification that none of the records are complete. If this were a valid reason, or a just one, then large swathes of primary sources could be trashed.

    History students thrive on “incomplete records”, snippets of information which can be linked to other resources to change the historical record and how we understand the past.

    I thought that Ruskin students had thrived on incomplete records and their importance. Neither Ruskin nor the justification for the destruction of its records must be allowed to die.

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