Power and Politics Mean War – ‘ephemera’ in the archives

On Friday I started on cataloguing four boxes of files from the National Peace Council (NPC) – these contained correspondence between the NUWT and the NPC and reports and publications by the NPC.  In addition to this I’ve also been happy to find that there are plenty examples of leaflets and posters produced by the NPC in their campaigns to promote peace and campaign for disarmament.  I have come across a tendency in some places to class this type of material as ‘ephemera’ in rather a derogatory way, however to me, it’s equally as important as the reports, publications and correspondence as it shows us how the organisation worked, how they got their message across. 

NPC poster 1945, Collection ref UWT/D/231/22 ©Institute of Education Archive

These folders have been really interesting to catalogue (I’m almost at the end now – folder 29 of 37) but what has really struck me, sadly, is how little things have changed. Government spending on defence is still, in my view, obscene in comparison with spending on health, education and culture, and Governments continue to equate armaments and defence with keeping the peace. That’s the problem with archives sometimes, you get to see how little some things change!

NPC leaflet calling for support for a 'Peace & Social Justice Charter', 1937 Collection ref UWT/D/231/29 ©Institute of Education Archives

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