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Fred Singleton Archive

Archive reference: SIN

This large archive documents the writing, teaching, travel and public engagement of Fred Singleton, a geographer and historian who transformed British understanding of Yugoslavia. A key figure in the story of the University of Bradford, Fred Singleton was also deeply interested in Yorkshire heritage, the industry and economy of Finland, and political campaigns.

Fred Singleton

Frederick Bernard Singleton was born in Hull in 1926 and educated at Hull Grammar School. His military service with the Royal Navy included a period on the cruiser HMS Aurora.  He studied Geography at Leeds University (1947-1952), receiving a B.A (Hons), Dip. Ed and M.A., with a thesis entitled “Kalevala and the Historical Geography of Finland”. Fred Singleton was active in student politics, becoming Vice-President of the Leeds University Students’ Union and of the National Union of Students (1951-1953). 

His teaching career began at Carlton Grammar School in Bradford (history and geography, 1953-1955), then the Workers Educational Association, firstly teaching national servicemen at Catterick Camp (1955-1958) later as organising tutor for the West Riding (1958-1962). In 1962, he was appointed Lecturer at the Bradford Institute of Technology, which became the University of Bradford in 1966. With major research interests in Finland, Yugoslavia, and Yorkshire history, he became Chairman of the newly-established Research Unit in Yugoslav Studies in 1965, Senior Lecturer in Geography in 1968, and Reader in Yugoslav Studies in 1977. He retired in 1981, and served as Honorary Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the University until his death in 1988. He was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Letters by the University in 1987 and his colleagues John B. Allcock, John H. Horton and Marko Milivojevic published a volume of essays in his honour: "Yugoslavia in Transition" (Berg, 1992).

Souvenirs of Student Engagement: the Skopje photograph albums. Number 57 of our 100 Objects exhibition shows how Dr Singleton organised student helpers for Bradford's twin town, devastated by an earthquake.

Dr. Singleton combined his teaching and research with work as author, editor and public speaker. His many books included works on Yorkshire history, Yugoslavia, Eastern Europe, environmental issues, Finland, and socialism, including "Saddleworth Story" (1964), "Twentieth Century Yugoslavia" (1976), "The Just Society" (with Ken Coates, 1977), "A History of Yorkshire" (with Stuart Rawnsley, 1986), A Short History of Finland (1987), plus a school geography textbook published in 1966. He contributed many chapters and articles on these topics to reference works, newspapers and journals, such as the Annual Register of World Events, The World Today, and Osteuropa.

Dr Singleton was involved in academic societies, in particular the National Association for Soviet and East European Studies (NASEES), serving on the committee in various capacities from 1967-1978. He was active in peace campaigns and politics, including standing as Labour Party candidate for Harrogate in the 1959 parliamentary election and for the European Assembly in 1979. Other roles included Vice-President of the British Yugoslav Society and membership of the Labour Party’s East-West Committee.  Fred Singleton was married, with four children.

The Archive

This large collection spans Dr Singleton’s life and career: his writings, teaching and public speaking; University of Bradford activities; visits and field trips to Yugoslavia and Finland; the Workers Educational Association; and his work with academic and campaigning groups.

The Archive has been catalogued at collection and series level using our First Sort method to enable us to offer basic access. We will produce more detailed finding aids for public use in response to researcher demand, so please let us know if this collection is of interest to you.

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