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Special Collections awarded Archive Service Accreditation for second time

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Old black and white pic of J B Priestley

Special Collections includes thousands of objects, including books, pictures and even smoking pipes

Special Collections at the University of Bradford has achieved the national Archive Service Accreditation award for a second time. 

The award is significant because it means the Special Collections - which is held within the J B Priestley Library - has been recognised for good performance in all aspects of service delivery.

The library is home to over 150 collections of rare books and archives including pamphlets, maps, photographs, letters and objects including J B Priestley’s smoking pipes.

Archivist Julie Parry explains: “The University was the first service in an English university to achieve accreditation status in 2014. Full accredited Archive Service status is granted for up to six years, so we recently reapplied and are thrilled to have been re-accredited.”

The collection is spread across a number of rooms within the library, each home to carefully catalogued boxes, folders, drawers and shelves that reach into the distance, all laden with historical curiosities.

Pic of book from 1639 in library

Walk among those shelves and you can feel the weight of history - there’s a copy of The Essays on Counsels, Civil and Morall (sic) of Francis Lo. Verulam, Viscount St Alban, published in 1639, there are copies of old students union newspapers, affectionately named the Fleece (1981-88), the Shep (1988-90) and Scrapie (1990-2005). There are drawers full of black and white photographs, some of people, including former Prime Minister and first Chancellor at Bradford Harold Wilson, and others of places, including aerial shots of Bradford before much of the University was built, showing rows of Victorian terraces, some partially cleared, jostling for space with more modern angular structures.

In addition to J.B. Priestley’s remarkable archive, there is the archive of the highly respected archaeologist (and Priestley’s third wife) Jacquetta Hawkes (1910-1996), incidentally the first woman to study archaeology and anthropology at Cambridge; plus sizable collections from the likes of paleopathologist Calvin Wells (1908-1978), archaeologist, geologist and academic Arthur Raistrick (1896-1991) and  Yugoslav philosopher Dimitrije Mitrinovic (1887-1953), who developed something of a cult following.

Perhaps the largest part of the collection is taken up with the University’s own records, which extends to thousands of documents, from the minutes of meetings to the letters written by Dr Harry Richardson, Principal of the Bradford Technical College, who petitioned Parliament in the early 1940s in a bid to secure University status.

Old black and white pic showing Harold Wilson

Julie, who has been with the University for the last three years, stresses the importance of Special Collections remaining both accessible and relevant.

“We’re delighted to have received Archive Accreditation again and the award represents the hard work of Library and University colleagues to enable our important collections to be cared for and made available for use by both our own students and staff, as well as by national and international researchers.”

An accredited archive service delivers within a framework of professionally recognised standards, supported by effective resourcing and management structures.

Melinda Haunton, Programme Manager for the Archive Service Accreditation at The National Archives, notes: “It is a real achievement by those managing the service to have achieved this national award for a second time.”

Further information about Special Collections can be found on the website  https://www.bradford.ac.uk/library/special-collections/

Email special-collections@bradford.ac.uk for more information.

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