Social Science blog

Exploring Social Science at the British Library

Introduction

Find out about social sciences at the British Library including collections, events and research. This blog includes contributions from curators and guest posts by academics, students and practitioners. Read more

16 December 2021

‘You Cannae Eat Ships’: 7 Days and industrial news.

In 2020 the British Library acquired the papers of Anthony Barnett, best known as the founder of the campaigning organisation Charter 88 and the website openDemocracy. This series of six posts highlights a discrete part of the archive, consisting of published and unpublished material, editorial documents and ephemera from Barnett’s time as a member of the editorial collective of the revolutionary weekly newspaper '7 Days'.

In this third guest post, Graham Burchell recalls his role as industrial correspondent for '7 Days' and reflects on the industrial relations landscape of the early 1970s. (The second post in the series is here.)

 

Looking back on my experience on 7 Days, I find I am very surprised that I was ever invited to become the full time “industrial correspondent” for this New Left, revolutionary, but hopefully commercially viable, photo-news weekly. It now seems to me extraordinary.

You Cannae Eat Ships

‘You Cannae Eat Ships’, 3 November 1971. Credit: CC BY-NC 4.0 by 7 Days, Image courtesy of Amiel Melburn Trust Archive.

Apart from a brief experience of trade union activity, through involvement in an unsuccessful attempt to form a “breakaway” union of telecommunication workers, separating from the large postal workers union (UPW), I had no experience and little knowledge of the world of industry or trade unionism.  It was a brief experience-experiment:  the national postal strike of 1971 put an abrupt end to the plans of the new union, forcing its handful of members to choose either to join the UPW strike or become strike-breakers, “scabs”.  It also put an end to my trade union experience.

My involvement came about as a result of my decision to ‘boycott’ my final exams at university, abandon academic life, and philosophy, and throw in my lot – irrevocably, I imagined – with the working class and its struggle.  I became a trainee overseas telegraphist in the Post Office.  Anthony Barnett’s approach to me came after I had reconsidered this decision, left the Post Office, sat my finals, and rediscovered my interest in philosophy.

As well as my lack of experience and knowledge of industrial matters, of economic policy or trade unionism, I had no experience of journalism and the kind of investigative activity and writing it involved.  Moreover, I was temperamentally unsuited for the job:  24 years old, I was too self-conscious and too intimidated by the people I needed to interview to be able to approach them with any confidence or authority.  I was frequently in the office, not knowing what to do, and I recall Peter Fuller, in charge of Home news, and a real journalist, impatiently telling me that I should be “out there” getting stories. But I had very little idea of how to go about this. 

Indeed, the high points of my experience on the paper – a visit to Glasgow to report on the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders’ “work-in”, to Coventry to interview engineering workers facing the prospect of unemployment and striking for the first time since the war, an eye-opening trip down a coal mine, an interview with the miners’ leader Lawrence Daly, and a journey to Kirby and Liverpool with the playwright John McGrath to report on a factory occupation – were all initiated and arranged for me by others.  On the trip to Liverpool, I was little more than John McGrath’s awestruck passenger observing how all the people we met in Liverpool – union organisers, shop stewards in the occupied plant, and everyone in the bar of the Everyman Theatre – seemed to know and greet him as a friend.

From Militant Miners

‘From Militant Miners the News ‘It’s All or F**k All’, 15 December 1971. Credit: CC BY-NC 4.0 by 7 Days, Image courtesy of Amiel Melburn Trust Archive.

The term “industrial correspondent” is not used much today.  The social, political and economic landscape in which journalists with this title once operated – a world of major national industries, large national trade unions, and the quasi-corporatist “industrial relations” and economic management set ups which had governed the relations between employers, workers and national governments since the Second World War – has disappeared.

 

The Miners Week One

The Miners: Week One, 19 January 1972. Credit: CC BY-NC 4.0 by 7 Days, Image courtesy of Amiel Melburn Trust Archive.

7 Days was launched in what we can perhaps now see was an important moment in the early stages of this transformation.  It was an imaginative venture, an attempt to get free from old models of a militant Left journalism tied to the policies and positions of a political organisation, to create something radical and independent that would speak to the new forces and movements we felt ourselves to be part of, even possibly to represent. But, despite our aspirations, perhaps we failed to identify what was in fact new in what was happening.  In 1970, Edward Heath’s Conservatives were elected on a radical ‘free market’ manifesto.  Harold Wilson derided the Conservative programme as the work of “Selsdon Man” (after the hotel in which the manifesto had been drafted).  He depicted it as the product of a kind of paleo-conservatism.  This set the tone for what became a persistent critical theme:  that the Conservative programme came from, and would take us back to, the past.  But maybe “Selsdon Man” was not a paleo-conservative relic, but something new, albeit perhaps still inchoate, foreshadowing the neoliberalism that would come to dominate the future?

In 1971, a record number of people were involved in “industrial disputes” and more days were “lost” through strikes than in any year since 1926.  The reform of “industrial relations” was at the heart of the Conservative government’s agenda. A new Industrial Relations Act, introduced quickly and coming into force in 1971, sought to shift the balance of power between employers and trade unions in favour of the former, on the one hand, and in favour of the power of official trade union leadership over shop-floor organisation and their ‘unofficial’ actions on the other.  At the same time it gave greater powers of intervention and sanction to the State.

Forcing Unions

‘Forcing Unions to Break the Law’, 23 February 1972. Credit: CC BY-NC 4.0 by 7 Days, Image courtesy of Amiel Melburn Trust Archive.

The first steps in the government’s attempt to dismantle the post-war tri-partite consultative arrangements inaugurated a long period of bitter and intense struggles.  When the first issue of 7 Days  appeared, the Upper Clyde work-in had been underway for a number of weeks, other kinds of factory occupations followed elsewhere, a battle between engineering workers and employers was brewing in Coventry, the first national miners’ strike since 1926 seemed likely, and the trade unions were gearing up their opposition to the provisions of the Industrial Relations Act. I had a great deal to learn, and it had to be learned ‘on the job’.  7 Days gave me the opportunity to meet and talk with some of the people engaged in these struggles – shipbuilders on the Clyde, engineering workers in Coventry, manufacturing workers in Kirby, miners in Kent – even if I may not have known how best to learn from them and remedy my ignorance.

In January 1972, under the headline “A Great Year for The Thirties”, I summed up 1971 as a “year of revivals”: “The traditions that hang like a fog around the British labour movement had their moment in a nostalgic resurrection of the Thirties”, I wrote.  While it was true that some trade union and Labour leaders, as well as many on the far Left, frequently evoked the past when describing Conservative policies – referring to a “class struggle” being “resurrected” by the Tories, for example – both headline and article failed to do justice to the reality of the struggles I reported on.  Moreover, they did not accurately represent what I myself had found and written about, which could not be reduced to this summary judgement. 

 

Great Year for The Thirties

‘A Great Year for The Thirties’, 5 January 1972. Credit: CC BY-NC 4.0 by 7 Days, Image courtesy of Amiel Melburn Trust Archive.

In my brief experience as a journalist, in the rapid background research I had to undertake and in meetings with those directly involved, I inevitably had to get to grips with the always specific features of the different struggles I had to describe and the ways in which the past was present and active within them.  Behind the grand historical references, the images and narratives evoking a deep continuity between past and present struggles, I quickly encountered a more messy history present in the form of agreements struck in the past, court judgements, laws, constitutions and rule books, traditional forms of working practices, divisions between different groups of workers, and so on, which shaped the various struggles and which I had to try to understand.

My article alluded to the familiar Marxist trope of experiencing the present through models, characters and images borrowed from the past:  the famous quotation from the opening lines of Marx’s The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.  But I was, of course, oblivious to the fact that my criticism applied equally, indeed with greater justification, to myself.  In an ‘Ideas’ piece, written a few weeks later, I summed up my strictures on the inevitable limits of the workers’ “economic struggle” by looking back to the Russian Revolution and invoking – resurrecting – the thoughts of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin as my authority!

“Industry” was, of course, only a small part of 7 Days, and it was far from central to the concerns and interests of the paper’s contributors and readership. My impression is that we thought we were living in an exciting and optimistic historical moment in which it was not unrealistic to think of ourselves as protagonists of a process of revolutionary change.  It may be that in looking for signs of the possible existence of a “revolutionary situation”, we failed to detect other powers knocking on the door. 

I think it unlikely that the kind of politics 7 Days  wanted to promote and represent would have survived subsequent political-economic developments – the collapse of the Soviet empire and the inexorable rise of neoliberalism in particular – but it still seems to me a great shame that the ambitious project of a commercially viable independent, radical photo-news and ‘ideas’ weekly paper did not survive longer and have a chance to develop and change.

02 December 2021

Reflecting on activism and protest around the Disability Discrimination Act

This Disability History Month, staff from across the British Library have collaborated on a series of blog posts to highlight stories of disability and disabled people in the Library’s collections. Each week a curator will showcase an item from the collections and present it alongside commentary from a member of the British Library’s Disability Support Network. These selections are a snapshot insight into the Library’s holdings of disability stories, and we invite readers to use these as a starting point to explore the collections further and share your findings with us. 

This selection has been made by Eleanor Dickens, Curator, Contemporary Archives and Manuscripts.

In November 1995 the Disability Discrimination Act was passed into law in Britain, after years of campaigning. Now repealed and replaced by the Equality Act 2010, the act was the first piece of legislation to attempt to address the needs of people with disabilities in the UK since the end of the Second World War.

The focus of the act was on anti-discrimination and, for the first time, placed responsibility on service providers and employers to make reasonable adjustments for people with impairments and disabilities.

The Act was not perfect. It was even described by Rachel Hurst, the activist and former director of Disability Awareness in Action (DAA), as ‘The Train spotters Charter’ because ‘[…] you could now stand on the platform but you couldn’t get on the train.’ However, the implementation of this legislation, and the campaigns around it, were a turning point in the history of disability activism and did reflect the beginning of changing attitudes in terms of where the responsibility lies for social change.

ADP Add MS 89385 1994

“Join Our Protest” Call to protest for the implementation of the Disability Discrimination Act, March 1994. The rest of this flyer discusses the initial bill being talked out of the House of Commons and lists MPs to write to, demanding their support of the bill. (Add MS 89385)

The act made discrimination a societal issue and not just the responsibility of people with impairments or disabilities.

But, more than anything else, one of the momentous parts of the act was the story behind it. The act was fiercely campaigned and fought for by civil rights campaigners and disability rights activists. And it was these protests and these people that made the passing of the act such a remarkable moment in disability history.

More than 100,000 thousand people took to the streets to protest for the bill and it was a highly publicised campaign.

For a lot of people it felt shocking to see people with disabilities protesting and being arrested and for many it therefore challenged false preconceptions they held about the independence and vulnerability of people living with impairments.

This is reflected in some of the popular slogans of the campaign:

“KEEP FIGHTING FOR RIGHTS NOT CHARITY”

“PISS ON PITY”

(– Popular slogans from the 1994 protests.)

ADP Add MS 89385 1994 ii

“Keep fighting for rights not charity!” Call to protest for the implementation of the Disability Discrimination Act, March 1994. (Add MS 89385)

The story of these protests is recorded, in part, in the archive of the Association of Disabled Professionals held at the British Library.

The ADP is a charitable organisation, founded in 1971, to support and advocate for disabled people in employment and education. It was one of the first organisations managed entirely by disabled people and sought to challenge and change age-old perceptions of disability. The organisation and its members were part of the campaign and protest around the bill.

The founding of the ADP is written about in more detail in our blog by a founding member, Diana Twitchin, here.

ADP Add MS 89385 Letter

“Surely progress can be made, I simply cannot believe that in an age where men are sent to outer space it can’t be possible to let disabled youngsters make their way to better chances. So much talent is allowed to wilt.” Letter to the Association of Disabled Professionals, April 1994. (Add MS 89385)

 

Reflection from staff Disability Support Network member:

Despite the Disability Discrimination Act, and latterly the Equality Act, 2010, the disability community are still fighting for equality and equity in day to day life.  Having reasonable / workplace adjustments enshrined in law is a start, but it isn’t enough. 

Elements of society still view the disability community through the medical model of disability where it is seen that the individual is disabled by their impairment or difference, and that these impairments or differences should be ‘fixed’ or changed by medical and other treatments. 

The Social Model of Disability, however, explains that there are multiple barriers including physical, intellectual, attitudinal, social, and policy which society puts in the way of people with disabilities. The Social Model of Disability sees that people with impairments and differences are disabled by the world around them, not by their impairment or difference. The more of these barriers are removed, or not created in the first place, the less need there will be for adjustments to be made. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the ongoing inequalities faced by people with disabilities.  “Worldwide, disasters and emergencies often disproportionately impact the disability community, and this pandemic is no exception”. [2]

In response to this, this year’s theme for International Day of People with Disabilities (3rd December) is “Fighting for rights in the post-COVID era”.  “People with disabilities have been differentially affected by COVID-19 because of three factors: the increased risk of poor outcomes from the disease itself, reduced access to routine health care and rehabilitation, and the adverse social impacts of efforts to mitigate the pandemic.” [3]

Emily

 

Further reading:

The Association of Disabled Professionals Archive: http://searcharchives.bl.uk/IAMS_VU2:LSCOP_BL:IAMS032-003453637

Practical and Reasonable – A history of the Association of Disabled Professionals - Untold lives blog

[1]The Disability Discrimination Act 1995: The campaign for civil rights - YouTube 2:02 – 2:10

[2]https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(21)00625-5/fulltext  Accessed 01/12/2021

[3]https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(21)00625-5/fulltext Accessed 01/12/2021

25 November 2021

Six months that launched the Seventies

In the second part of this series, Anthony Barnett's guest post recalls his time as a member of the editorial collective of a little-known revolutionary weekly newspaper entitled '7 Days'. In 2020 the British Library acquired the papers of Anthony Barnett, best known as the founder of the campaigning organisation Charter 88 and the website openDemocracy.

Looking back half a century to 7 Days makes me realise the pain of its failure which is still buried within me - it was such a glorious achievement and had such promise. I’ve been asked to say something about how I became involved, what I saw as being at stake, the experience of producing it, and how it influenced me. To start to answer them I want to signal why it was so good and why something so good failed.

What 7 Days expressed in its range, radicalism, intense seriousness and dramatic layouts was the radical spirit and global intelligence of the young English left of ‘the Sixties’. It was the anti-Vietnam war movement turned into stunning photojournalism. It was the best revolutionary radicalism, shorn of its Trotskyism. It was a pioneering engagement with feminism and anti-racism. It was fresh and fearless.

Miss World Protest

The attack on Miss World. Credit: CC BY-NC 4.0 by 7 Days, Image courtesy of Amiel Melburn Trust Archive.

One person orchestrated the outcome across the pages of 7 Days, edited the layouts and presentation: Alexander Cockburn. I dislike the term ‘flair’, as I associate it with superficiality. But Alex’s flair was breath-taking in its audacity. Thanks to him, 7 Days focussed a tabloid energy on the British class system and its snobbery as well as world capitalism and its proto-fascism.

I’ll take a closer look at the first issue to show its range which was crucial to the paper’s qualities, building on Madeleine Davis’s analysis in her opening post. Page 2 reports the trial of the Mangrove 9 (recently brought back to life by Steve McQueen). The portraits of all nine were to fill a page when the historic 55 day trial ended. Rage against racism, in the UK and around the world, was a 7 Days theme from the start.

Mangrove Nine

The Mangrove Nine. Credit: CC BY-NC 4.0 by 7 Days, Image courtesy of Amiel Melburn Trust Archive.

Page 3 has reports on the European “Common Market”, the role of the City of London and a financial scandal in Italy. They initiated coverage of capitalism rather than ‘the economy (at the back, launching a weekly essay on concepts, Gareth Stedman Jones asks ‘What is Capitalism?’).

Two photo-stories give the paper its hard-hitting edge. One exposed a reunion of ex-SS Nazis in Bavaria and got the cover splash. The second is a dramatic account of how a British army unit provoked a riot in Northern Ireland. It is by the photographer, Tom Picton, who became a regular. It proved a harbinger of Bloody Sunday, which 7 Days covered like no other mainland paper.

Derry Jan 30

Bloody Sunday. Credit: CC BY-NC 4.0 by 7 Days, Image courtesy of Amiel Melburn Trust Archive.

A striking report on a ‘Day at the Dogs’ by Peter Fuller, who was the indefatigable home affairs editor, launched coverage of sport with a strong working-class angle.

7 Days pioneered discussion of mental illness as a form of control and repression. In her cool, invaluable overview in the digitised archive, Rosalind Delmar, the paper’s production manager, captures the radical imperative to break the silence about this issue. A story on ‘Madness in Two Minds’ and one on ‘Inside Britain’s Psychiatric Prisons’ launched the coverage along with a provocation (by one of the editorial collective, John Hoyland under a pseudonym) about whether parents should make love in the presence of young children (answer, not if they sit on top of you).

The Labour Party features in a short article by Tom Nairn, ‘Has the Labour Party any new ideas?’ Tony Benn had published a Fabian Pamphlet that called on Labour to adopt workers control of production, referendums (there had yet to be one in the UK), direct action against the media and democratic education to replace elite rule. Nairn says it is absurd  to think Labour could just adopt such a “staggering” vision. He points out that in a subsequent Fabian Tract, Tony Crosland’s responded to Benn with a call for what Nairn saw as right wing-populism - a warning of what was to come. Nairn’s conclusion: “totally new” thinking would have to come from outside Labour. No one thought its source would be a Conservative of whom we had barely heard, Margaret Thatcher.

Turn the page and the nature of pop music and the role of musical charts is looked at by Dave Laing, while Stuart Hood (once the BBC Director of Programmes) writes on TV as an industry. Next there is Peter Wollen on the “Real, Surreal and Mundane”. In part he discusses how we mostly see paintings reproduced in a small format in books and this changes their nature. Opposite, a review of the ‘Advertisement of the Week’ is by John Mathews. Across all such coverage the new weekly focussed on the production of what is experienced and refused to take the output of capitalist society at face value.

In addition, Geoffrey Nowell-Smith contributed a superb review of Bertolucci’s The Conformist. He sets out how it resolved failures in his earlier films and shows how a bourgeois husband “is more fascist by his emptiness than anyone who is fascist by conviction”.  

If this wasn’t enough, a four-page feature follows on gambling, its nature, scale and addictiveness and the role of the state by Jon Halliday, the brother of Fred Halliday, who was in charge of 7 Days' ‘Foreign News’, and Peter Fuller.

British Army at work

The British Army at work. Credit: CC BY-NC 4.0 by 7 Days, Image courtesy of Amiel Melburn Trust Archive.

Later, Fred Halliday was to write a multi-page spread on why Nixon was going to China - one of the world-turning events that coincided with the six-month life of 7 Days. These included Bloody Sunday in Northern Ireland, when the paper ran the photographs others would not; the first miners’ strike that humiliated the Heath government; the trial of the Mangrove nine; the women’s liberation attack on the Miss World contest at the Albert Hall; the liberation of Bangladesh, and the huge, penultimate Vietnamese attack on the American regime in the South. It was the six months that launched the Seventies.

7 Days could have been an English language version of Libération, launched just over 18 months later in July 1973, or the Tageszeitung launched in 1978 - both  also started with egalitarian editorial collectives – and survived, even if, like them, it would have undergone the traumas of a triumphant market fundamentalism. A print publication needs in some way to be a ‘home’ for a core readership. 7 Days never had the time to build one. But the potential readership was there, later expressed by Rock against Racism and, in the early Eighties, with Ken Livingston’s inventive and effective Greater London Council (1981-86).

7 Days closed because it had no serious start-up funding. It was without capital in a capitalist world and lacked any core backers. But this itself needs explanation. I was the prime mover and fund-raiser, using a dummy we’d created as well as a business case. At the heart of it, all of us were attempting to by-pass the sectarian divisions of the English far-left by seeking to demonstrate what could be done by looking outwards. But this also meant there was no initial network of organised support in a highly sectarian situation.

Daly NUM

The Miners’ Strike. Credit: CC BY-NC 4.0 by 7 Days, Image courtesy of Amiel Melburn Trust Archive.

Specifically, it was an effort to recover from the wounding split in the Black Dwarf . 7 Days was what the Black Dwarf should have become. This sounds like an odd thing to say, I know! Black Dwarf was a revolutionary paper conjured into existence by the theatrical agent Clive Goodwin and the poet Christopher Logue and others, edited initially (after a false start) by Tariq Ali. I joined the Dwarf later. Among its other editors and contributors who were to work full-time on 7 Days were Fred Halliday (who delighted in the Dwarf’s  memorable front page banner: “We shall fight, we shall win, Paris, London, Rome, Berlin”), Peter Fuller, who wrote pseudonymously the Dwarf’s ‘City’ column and John Hoyland.

Tariq Ali became a committed Trotskyist and decided to help create the International Marxist Group (IMG), as a British branch of the Fourth International. Backed by like-minded Black Dwarfers (none of whom were writers), he urged Goodwin to make it the paper of the IMG and Goodwin refused. Ali had recruited a wealthy supporter and they split off to launch the Red Mole. I took over editing the Black Dwarf  but Goodwin had no funds and it died.

As it did so, some of us determined to start a new paper out of the ashes of the debacle, convinced that a committed non-sectarian paper of the left was needed. An example of the linkage: a key contributor to 7 Days was the great critic Peter Wollen, who wrote the Xmas cover story ‘Was Christ a Collaborator?’ I asked him why he wanted to become involved with us and not Red Mole. He said that it was when he saw one of the later Black Dwarf’s that I edited, where I’d put FOOTBALL FOOTBALL on the cover. Here is a characteristic picture from the time, with Margarita Jiménez.

Image_06

Margarita Jiménez. Copyright © 1970 Howard Naish.

7 Days became a message in a bottle. One that recorded what the left’s culture and spirit should have been like. I’m very happy that Madeleine Davis’s eagle eye spotted the bottle and has opened it up half a century later.

Looking back I realise that for me personally it was a moment of uninhibited revolutionary expression. Much later I enjoyed bringing some radical energy into constitutional reform with Charter 88 – but it was consciously preconditional: a call to democratise the state sufficiently to make socialist strategy a credible option. Twelve years after that, the aim of openDemocracy was to create a space to prevent suffocation by Blairite globalisation. But 7 Days was an uninhibited ‘weapon’ of revolutionary advocacy, advance and learning, or so we thought!

How did it influence me? I felt vindicated as well as defeated. It meant my experience of that period was different from many of those who joined organisations like the IMG, the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), or even became Bennites. It was defeated but it deserved to have survived. I was greatly helped overcome the loss by gaining the friendship and mentorship of John Berger, whom we’d asked to become a ‘Trustee’ of 7 Days. He was a wonderful example of how to retain voice and principle even when times are dire.

I’d like to add one codicil. We were not helped by the state of England. In his article, Nairn quotes Tony Crosland, once the most interesting of Labour intellectuals. Now he denounced ‘participation’ and ‘liberation’. The British people, Crosland claimed, “prefer to lead a full family life and cultivate their gardens. And a good thing too … we do not want a busy bustling society in which everyone is politically active and fussing around in an interfering or responsible manner”. This still shocks. It expressed the deep conservatism of the political class and the revulsion shared by the Labour leadership of democracy itself. Unfortunately, at the time, far too many voters agreed. They had still to vomit up the loathsome elixir of fatalism, deference and belief in British superiority and this effected everyone. This helps explain why 7 Days was also like an oasis in a desert.   

Dance layout

The spirit of 7 Days in this stunning layout. Credit: CC BY-NC 4.0 by 7 Days, Image courtesy of Amiel Melburn Trust Archive.

17 November 2021

Football fanzines from print to the digital age: call for academic partners

The British Library is pleased to invite academics at UK universities and Higher Education Institutions to collaborate with us on two jointly-supervised doctoral research projects. One research topic is entitled Football fanzines and fan communities in the digital age, and the other is Investigating the origins and development of the Cotton collection. You can read more about them on the Library's website.

Both studentships will be funded for up to four years through the AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships scheme. The research projects draw on the Library's collections, expertise and resources, and are aligned with our vision statement, programmes and purpose as a national library. Prospective HEI partners are invited in an open competition to submit proposals to bring their own expertise and perspective to our research themes.

We would welcome applications from academics of postgraduate status currently employed at UK universities/Higher Education Institutions, who would be interested in joint supervision of a collaborative doctoral project that draws on the Library’s extensive holdings of printed football fanzines and fanzine websites in the UK Web Archive. The project would begin in October 2022.

Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships at the British Library

The Library’s curators can offer guidance on how to locate and access items in its printed collections and on ways to undertake research using the web archive.  We would be keen to collaborate with academics with experience of researching fanzines and/or football fandom and with research interests in digital communications and fan websites. This project will also offer significant opportunities for wider outreach and engagement, ranging from blogposts for more general audiences and content creation on the Library’s website, to the creation and development of collections in the web archive of fanzine and fan websites.

Heathen and Brian Moores Head

Copies of the Gillingham fanzine Brian Moore’s Head and Birmingham City fanzine The Heathen.

The main purpose of the research will be to investigate the way football fanzines and fan websites communicate with their readers, and how they contribute to building fan communities and giving voice to the concerns of fans, in a forum separate from, and often critical of, clubs and organisational structures.

The Library holds an impressive, but under-exploited, collection of the football fanzines that emerged as an offshoot of punk culture, and it continues to build on those collections. While the late 1980s represent a high point when many new fanzines were established, their transition into the era of digital publishing has been uneven. Some print editions have been replaced by websites and e-zines with fan input, others use their online communities to add to the content of the print edition and extend its reach.

OLAS last issue

The final print issue of long-running fanzine OLAS / Over Land and Sea as West Ham moved from the Boleyn Ground at Upton Park.

This doctoral project will investigate the extent and impact of digital publishing for football fanzines and consider how fanzines and fan forums can be archived, preserved and made accessible where they transition from print to digital formats or exist in dual formats.

Beesotted April 2013

April 2013 capture of Beesotted, a Brentford fan’s network in the UK Web Archive.

As well as extensive collections of printed football fanzines received through legal deposit from the 1970s onwards, the Library holds a wide range of football-related websites collected from 2005 onwards (with a majority 2013-present). Much of the existing research on football fanzines pre-dates the move towards digital publishing, although there has been some more recent research on fan forums linked to fanzines.

This project offers an opportunity for new research that encompasses both print and digital materials, but it does not seek to prescribe a particular set of research questions, whether approached thematically or in relation to a single club or group of clubs. Depending on the interests of the academic partner, it would be possible to look at the portrayal of gender and the representation of women both in the game and fan communities, or to consider the representation of sexual identity through fanzines from a critical perspective, both to highlight progressive elements and to understand the challenges to change within the game.

There is scope too to examine racism in football and efforts to challenge and stand against racism within fanzine communities. It is possible that the extension of online fan forums has opened up fanzine websites to the expression of racial hatred or nativism similar to that found on social media more widely, in a way that runs counter to the fanzines’ origins in punk and alternative culture. It would be possible to pose questions about editorial control and codes of conduct within fan forums and fanzine websites.

The research could also investigate the way changes in football ownership and ticket pricing have impacted on the social class background and economic status of matchday fans. It may further explore the degree to which fanzine websites and online forums have extended the reach of fanzines and enabled those who follow a team but are unable to attend matches to be part of an online fan community.

Dial M for Merthyr 2019

March 2019 capture of Merthyr Town fanzine Dial M for Merthyrin the UK Web Archive.

More information on the call for academic partners can be found on the Library's website.

Completed application forms and brief CVs must be submitted to Research.Development@bl.uk by 5pm on Friday, 10 December 2021. Late applications cannot be accepted.

Before submitting your application, please ensure you have read the Information for HEI Applicants and are aware of the specific characteristics of the AHRC CDP scheme, the selection criteria and the envisaged timetable.

 

Contested ground

Contested Ground fanzine.

What can we learn from legal deposit data? A PhD placement at the British Library

By Lottie Hazell

 

I joined the British Library over the summer to discover what can be learned from the data that is generated by the Library from the acquisition of legal deposit books. Specifically, I was interested in the data available on publications submitted using the Publisher Submission Portal (PSP). The PSP is used by publishers who produce fewer than 50 items per year, to deposit publications which exist only as digital copies. The Library was keen to explore this topic further as the UK has a very large number of publishers who fit this description, but it can be hard to find out about them.

Whilst I joined the library under the PhD placement scheme – I am currently researching a Creative Writing PhD at Loughborough University – it was my experience as a marketer in the publishing industry that drew me to the placement. The aim of this placement is to better understand the current behaviour and engagement of publishers using the PSP, examine the British Library’s current outreach strategies for Portal-eligible publishers, and inform recommendations to further support publisher engagement.

But who are the publishers that exist in the PSP? How representative are they of the small publishing landscape in the UK? And how can the British Library continue to grow the numbers of small publishers using the Portal? By the end of December – which is when my placement comes to an end – I hope to have answered these questions. To do this, I am gathering two primary forms of information: data about works deposited using the PSP and survey responses from publishers currently using the Portal.

By examining data from the PSP I will be able to determine publisher behaviour patterns, including frequency, quantity, and type of deposit. The decision to gather and process data that is readily available in British Library systems ensures that any analysis undertaken in this placement can be built upon in future library work.

The survey of publishers using the Portal will provide a fuller picture of how the Portal is serving its current users. Additionally, publishers will be also be asked where else they congregate with other publishers or peers in their industry so the British Library can ensure strong connections are fostered with as many small publishers as possible. The intended outcome of the survey is to inform a series of recommendations that will suggest how the British Library can engage new publishers, encourage frequent deposit, and ensure that small publishers are included and represented within the collection.

You can read more about Legal Deposit and the Publisher Submission Portal on our website. To learn more about the Publisher Submission Portal you can watch the video at the start of this blog post.

27 October 2021

Introducing '7 Days': a revolutionary weekly newspaper in the Anthony Barnett archive

In 2020 the British Library acquired the papers of Anthony Barnett, best known as the founder of the campaigning organisation Charter 88 and the website openDemocracy. The openDemocracy archive and the Papers of Anthony Barnett were both acquired by the British Library on the 6th February 2020.

This series of six posts highlights a discrete part of the archive, consisting of published and unpublished material, editorial documents and ephemera from Barnett’s time as a member of the editorial collective of a little-known revolutionary weekly newspaper titled 7 Days. In this first post, historian of the British New Left Dr Madeleine Davis introduces the newspaper and the series.

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Fifty years ago this month a very unusual newspaper appeared on UK newsstands. Titled ‘7 Days’ and with a bold red and black design, it might have caught the eye both for its deliberate revival of Picture Post-style ‘photo-journalism’ and for the selection of topics trailed above the title-piece. Gambling/Capitalism/Sex and Children/Arms Deal Exposure appeared above an image headlined SS Reunion in Bavaria, one of two ‘photo-features’. The other feature was a photo-record of an army action against ‘rioters’ in Derry, in a packed issue that evoked yet subverted standard newspaper fare.

A ‘Life’ section detailed conditions in psychiatric prison; ‘Ideas’ featured a primer on Marxism from Gareth Stedman Jones; ‘Sports’ delved into the economics of dog racing; ‘Arts’ featured Stuart Hood on the TV industry, as well as film and book reviews (Bertolucci; realism) and an ‘ad of the week’ dissected (in this issue) a pro-feminist critique of a gas cooker ad campaign. On top of this there were foreign and home news sections and a special feature on the gambling industry.

But if the paper’s radical socialist credentials were not in doubt, it differed from other left organs in having no party allegiance nor editorial sermonising, nor even an editor in chief. 

7 Days no.1 27 Oct 1971 cover

7 Days, no.1  27 October 1971 Credit: CC BY-NC 4.0 by 7 Days, Image courtesy of Amiel Melburn Trust Archive

The new venture’s launch was preceded by a publicity and funding drive, for the aim was to secure commercial distribution and a circulation of up to 40–50,000.  Dummy issues had been sent to sympathetic contacts in the press, and funds, with an initial target of £25,000, were raised through donations and loans from a network of left-leaning contacts. Ex-Communist Party names figured prominently in lists of potential donors, as did artists David Hockney and Sylvia Guirey, as well as Sonia Orwell and playwright John McGrath. 

As W.L. Webb noted in a perceptive pre-launch write up in The Guardian in September 1971, the names of the Trustees of the magazine – respected journalist Claud Cockburn, artist John Berger and former BBC Controller Stuart Hood, were designed to reassure: ‘if the kids must have revolutionism, then this might be the brand for the station bookstalls’.[i]  Yet Webb was cautiously optimistic, noting with approval that 7 Days, ‘the new hope of the New Left’ appeared to be taking both its journalism and its Marxism seriously, seemed more ‘above board than underground’, and in its determination to ‘break out of the ghetto readership’ of the far left was certainly doing something new.

One of Webb’s chief sources must have been the fold out flyer distributed in advance, which set out the paper’s ambition and appeal to commercial distributors. ‘It will look good, it will read well, and it will explode onto a market that has never been touched before’.[ii] The market figured was professional and semi-professionals working in education, medicine, architecture, technology, media and the creative arts, as well as student radicals; even ‘housewives and mothers who have themselves been through further education’. As Webb noted, this was the ‘68 generation who’d ridden a revolutionary wave then been beached on the shores of Conservative election victory. Whether it was a big enough constituency to justify the planned print run of 50,000 copies would remain to be seen.

The press and 7 Days

Credit: CC BY-NC 4.0 by 7 Days, Image courtesy of Madeleine Davis.

7 Days was launched just over a year after an earlier paper, Black Dwarf, folded. Black Dwarf  had been founded in 1968 by a group including Tariq Ali, Sheila Rowbotham and well-connected literary agent Clive Goodwin. Goodwin, described by John  McGrath as an ‘entrepreneur of the left’ [iii] conceived the paper, and it was named, by poet Christopher Logue, after a satirical paper published by radical reformer Thomas Wooler between 1817-24. Beginning as a self-styled non-sectarian paper of the radical left, and conceived, in the heady atmosphere of 1968 as a ‘political action’ not just a means of communication, it adopted a bold and confrontational style while also maintaining strong links with the more austerely intellectual radicalism of the New Left Review, with whom it shared offices and several personnel.

Amid the ferment after 1968, the Dwarf’s editorial board split between a group increasingly influenced by Fourth International (FI) Trotskyism and a group wanting to maintain an independent stance. [iv] There were also tensions over the paper’s stance on feminism, vividly recalled by Sheila Rowbotham in her memoir Promise of a Dream. When in early 1970 Clive Goodwin, who owned the title, refused to allow Black Dwarf to become the official paper of the Trotskyist International Marxist Group (IMG), the FI contingent around Tariq Ali left, founding Red Mole and then Red Weekly, which was formally affiliated with the IMG.

From March 1970, Black Dwarf was edited from Clive Goodwin’s flat on Cromwell Road, and then from new premises in Soho, by Anthony Barnett, with a group including Rowbotham, John Hoyland and Fred Halliday.  Eight issues were produced in this way between March and September, the style changing in a way that in some senses prefigured 7 Days. The paper’s final issue appeared on 5 September 1970, late. It contained no formal announcement of suspension, though a statement reflected a little on its record while also speaking of money problems. A ‘Black Dwarf benefit painting sale and exhibition’ was advertised with work by artists including David Hockney, Joe Tilson, Richard Hamilton and Ralph Steadman, but the paper did not reappear.

Some months later, however, some of those involved set up a new working group to discuss a new paper. This group included activists of the Women’s Liberation Movement, which held its first conference in the same year, and contacts from New Left Review, the student and independent left.[v]

Though there was some continuity from Black Dwarf in terms of personnel and in the insistence on political independence, the new publication was intended to be of a quality and seriousness sufficient to break out of the ‘underground’, with all the precariousness and minimalist production values this had implied.  Pre-publicity made much of the seasoned journalistic talent involved, as Alex Cockburn, who had worked on the TLS and New Statesman, was a key figure and de-facto editor.  It also claimed a gap left by the rightward shift of the New Statesman under Richard Crossman’s editorship.

As Rosalind Delmar has pointed out, 7 Days was emphatically not part of the counterculture – ‘Bauhaus rather than Aubrey Beardsley was being channelled’. Rather it was more representative of an independent and intellectually-oriented New Left tradition that developed from the late 1950s ‘between communism and social democracy’, and which underwent significant radicalisation, as well as some fragmentation, in the late 1960s. 7 Days was in part – at least for some of those involved - an attempt to broaden the reach and scope of this tradition, as well as to take seriously (as much of the rest of the radical left seemed unable to do) the emergent politics of women’s liberation.

The moment must also have seemed both urgent and propitious, for the cusp of the 70s was, as this series will remind us, an intensely eventful and conflictual period in British politics. Social and protest movements (industrial militancy, women’s and gay liberation, black power) asserted themselves against an establishment which itself was regrouping ideologically and politically in ways that would crystalise more clearly toward the end of the decade.  In the six months of its existence 7 Days covered the wave of industrial action against the imposition of the 1971 Industrial Relations Act; the Mangrove trial, the IRA, UVF and Angry Brigade bombing campaigns and the Bloody Sunday massacre in Derry.

Simply as a contemporaneous record of these events, 7 Days is fascinating and important. For historians of the left, it is the more so because its political perspectives had continually to be negotiated amongst a journalistic and production team which recognised no party discipline, avoided the simplistic revolutionary sloganeering characteristic of the far left, yet saw itself as supporting all those ‘who are making the foundations of revolutionary change’.

A pre-publication document set out the strategic perspective hammered out thus: ‘7 Days recognises that with the significant exception of Northern Ireland, British capitalism wields its power not through violence or terror (though these weapons are in the cupboard) but with the consent of the mass of the people. People tolerate the intolerable because of the inherited weight of ideology …. That’s why 7 Days takes its starting point from people’s daily lives’. That was also why 7 Days covered, sometimes in groundbreaking ways, issues of mental health, abortion, children, the mass media and ‘popular arts’. Taken together, this social and cultural coverage amounts to a unique record and a considerable achievement.

7 Days 5-11 Jan 1972

Credit: CC BY-NC 4.0 by 7 Days, Image courtesy of Amiel Melburn Trust Archive

Independence fostered innovation, but also tension and frustration. While the published contents of the paper usually contained little direct editorial content, internal papers are replete with memos and counter-memos criticising its record and disagreeing over its direction, both political and editorial. ‘Left papers are real heartbreakers and money –burners’, remarked Rowbotham of her time at Black Dwarf.[vi] In the event, it was financial crisis that brought the career of 7 Days to an abrupt end.  Optimistic projections for readership were not borne out in sales figures, and by February 1972 losses were reported to be running at £500 per week, while two thirds of the £16000 launch capital raised was spent.

In March 1972, after twenty one issues, 7 Days went into ‘suspended animation’ while funds were sought for a relaunch.  The relaunch never happened, and apart from one final Vietnam-themed issue in May 1972, which commemorated the evacuation of American troops from Saigon with the doubly-apt headline ‘Who’s for the chopper?’  the paper disappeared.

7 Days special issue May 1972

Credit: CC BY-NC 4.0 by 7 Days, Image courtesy of Amiel Melburn Trust Archive

Few people, even among historians of the radical left, have ever heard of 7 Days. It is far less well known than International Times (IT), usually regarded as the first paper of the London underground and alternative press, than Oz, made famous by the trial for obscenity of Richard Neville and others, or even than the Black Dwarf which it in some sense replaced.  I first came across it when researching the history of the New Left Review, interest piqued by a reference in some unpublished editorial documents to a spin-off publication in which several NLR editors were involved.

Years later, acquiring material for an exhibition on the activist histories of the British New Left, its striking visuals and neglected history made me keen to include it, so I got in touch with Anthony to see if he would let me use some of his originals. Fascinated anew, I proposed its addition to the Amiel Melburn Trust’s online archive of radical periodicals. From Anthony’s collection, the whole run was digitised and made available in 2017, funded by the Trust, and with an introductory essay by Rosalind Delmar, the paper’s production editor.

This series of posts over the next few months, will give a space to some of those who produced it to tell the story of the paper and of their own involvement. In doing so we hope to recover not just the history of 7 Days, but the feel and significance of a moment. 

 

[i] The Seven Days left: W. L. Webb on a new radical magazine The Guardian (1959-2003); Jun 26, 1971;

[ii] Unpublished document ‘Add 7 Days to your week’, papers of Anthony Barnett, BL, not yet catalogued.

[iii] McGrath, J., ‘Clive Goodwin 1932-1977’ History Workshop, Spring 1978, No.5 p.236. https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/4288183.pdf

[iv] https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/opendemocracyuk/rebirth-of-small-dark-stranger-black-dwarf-british-new-left-and-19/

[v] The working party consisted of Barnett, Hugh Brodie, Alex Cockburn, Rosalind Delmar, Judith Furguson, David Fernbach, Peter Fuller, Clive Goodwin, Fred Halliday, John Hoyland, Phil Kelly, Ros Linnell,  John Mathews, Maxine Molyneux, Christine Moore, John McGrath, Jenny Moss, Gareth Stedman Jones, David Triesman, Peter Wollen , Alan Hayling, Stephen Ginsburg. (source, pre-publication leaflet, File 120, papers of F Halliday, BLPES, LSE)

[vi] Rowbotham, S., Promise of a Dream, Remembering the Sixties (Verso; 2001 p.250)

21 October 2021

Seven of the best Open Access titles to read for Black History Month

This post picks out a selection of cultural studies and postcolonial studies books relevant to Black history that can be accessed freely online.

Black History Month is a good time to track down some of the lesser known books that bring Black history and creativity to life.  I’ve seen some great booklists such as this from members of the Black Writers Guild. The Library's own Black British literature timeline  is full of inspiration. Some of us will be able to browse the shelves of a good bookshop or settle down with a paperback. Others may be inspired to visit their local public library or come into the British Library.

There's also a small but growing number of books available free, online, on Open Access platforms, where anyone who has an internet connection and a suitable digital device can read them.  It can be a challenge to find what is out there, but hopefully this post can act as a way in.

One of the British Library’s aims is to connect people with knowledge, wherever they are, not just in the Library’s reading rooms. That’s why the Library works in partnerships to support Open Access initiatives where appropriate. I was inspired to put together this brief listing because, as part of my regular library work, I am preparing for our annual meeting with Knowledge Unlatched. In its own words, “Knowledge Unlatched (KU) makes scholarly content freely available to everyone and contributes to the further development of the Open Access infrastructure.”  That means KU works with libraries and publishers to make some books and journals available to read or download free, online.

The phrase ‘scholarly content’ probably isn’t the best advertisement for some of the books that are available through the Open Research Library  or the OAPEN Library. I spent a morning looking for open access books that come within the broad heading of Black history, and this blog post picks out what I found to be some of the most engaging and readable books. They all fall broadly within the area of cultural studies, and either take a biographical approach or a historical approach focused on a single city. All are relevant to the social sciences.

 

West Indian intellectuals cover

West Indian intellectuals in Britain, Bill Schwarz (2003)

In eleven readable chapters by different contributors, West Indian intellectuals in Britain, edited by Bill Schwarz, explores the new ways of thinking and ideas which West Indian migrants brought with them to Britain. “For more than a century West Indians living in Britain developed a dazzling intellectual critique of the codes of Imperial Britain.”  The chapters give an insight into the lives and work of major Caribbean thinkers who came to live in twentieth-century Britain including Harold Moody, Claude McKay, Jean Rhys, Una Marson, George Padmore, C. L. R. James, George Lamming and V. S. Naipaul, as well as the Caribbean Artists Movement and the BBC’s Caribbean Voices.

Having worked on the Library’s Unfinished Business exhibition, I found the chapter on the poet and journalist Claude McKay fascinating because his journalism and connection with Sylvia Pankhurst featured in the books I read about her work. It’s also good to see the focus here on Una Marson’s journalism and the different audiences she addressed. Taken as a whole the book creates a sense of the connections between key individuals and movements from the 1920s to the 1960s.

Mongrel Nation cover

Mongrel Nation: diasporic culture and the making of postcolonial Britain, by Ashley Dawson (2010) looks at postcolonial literature in Britain. Chapters available online include one on the novelist Sam Selvon, the relationship between the Caribbean Artists Movement and the British black power movement and on the writing of novelist Buchi Emecheta.  Other chapters of the book are not available in the open access version.

 

Invoking Flora Nwapa
 

Invoking Flora Nwapa, by Paula Uimonen (2020).  This study of Nigerian author Flora Nwapa will appeal to anyone interested in postcolonial and literary studies. “Honoured  as the  ‘Mother  of African  Women’s  Writing’, Flora  Nwapa  has been  described  as a  ‘trail-blazer’  in the  ‘world  literary canon’”  (p.42).  Born in 1931, her novel Efuru made her the first African woman writer to have her work published in English when it appeared in the Heinemann African Writers Series in 1966. She continued to write, publish and teach in Nigeria and in the United States until her death in 1993.

 

Martin Delany

 

In the Service of God and Humanity: conscience, reason, and the mind of Martin R. Delany, by Tunde Adeleke (2021)  Martin R. Delany (1812–1885) was one of the most influential Black activists and nationalists in American history. His ideas have inspired generations of activists and movements, including Marcus Garvey in the early 1920s, Malcolm X and Black Power in 1960s, and even today's Black Lives Matter. Tunde Adeleke argues that there is more to Delany to appreciate beyond his contribution to Black nationalism and Pan-Africanism. 

 

Black Cosmopolitans

Black Cosmopolitans: Race, Religion, and Republicanism in an Age of Revolution

This study by Christine Levecq, published in 2019, focuses on the lives and thought of three extraordinary men—Jacobus Capitein, Jean-Baptiste Belley, and John Marrant—who traveled extensively throughout the eighteenth-century Atlantic world. Unlike millions of uprooted Africans and their descendants at the time, these men had freedom to travel and contribute to writing and publishing in their day. As public intellectuals, Capitein, Belley, and Marrant were inspired by the ideas of the French Revolution and developed a cosmopolitan vision of the world based in the republican ideals of civic virtue and communal life.  By exploring these men’s connections to their black communities, Levecq shows how these eighteenth-century black thinkers took advantage of surrounding ideas to spread a message of inclusion and egalitarianism.

 

Black musician in the white city

 

Amy Absher’s The Black Musician and the White City (2014) tells the story of African American musicians in Chicago during the mid-twentieth century. While depicting the segregated city before World War II, Absher traces the migration of black musicians, both men and women and both classical and vernacular performers, from the American South to Chicago during the 1930s to 1950s. Absher takes the history beyond the study of jazz and blues by examining the significant role that classically trained black musicians played in building the Chicago South Side community. Absher argues that black migrants in Chicago had diverse education and economic backgrounds but found common cause in the city’s music community.

 

From Slavery to Civil Rights cover

 

From Slavery to Civil Rights, by Hilary McLaughlin-Stonham (2020) traces the history of segregation on New Orleans streetcars. It traces the formation of stereotypes that were used to justify segregation and looks at the way white supremacy came to be played out daily, in public.  Streetcars became the 'theatres' for black resistance throughout the era and this survey considers the symbolic part they played in civil rights up to the present day.

This post has dipped into just a few of the titles that have been made available through Open Access initiatives. As I noted at the foot of an earlier blog post there are many more Open Access titles relevant to Black history as well as a wide range of subjects across all disciplines.  The books listed here are available to readers under a Creative Commons (4) licence, and while they are free to access, download or share, appropriate credit must be given.

 

25 August 2021

Important information for email subscribers

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Unfortunately, the third-party platform that the British Library uses for email notifications for our Blogs is making changes to its infrastructure. This means that, from August 2021, we anticipate that email notifications will no longer be sent to subscribers (although the provider has been unable to specify when exactly these will cease).

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