Our first fully catalogued Legacy themed collection: War

The Legacy Collection contains over 20000 printed documents, pamphlets, magazines and ephemeral items there are defined themes of War, Post WW2 World Order, Popular and Counter Cultures, Social Movements, Social Welfare, Trade unions, Gender Studies and Feminism and Political Movements and Parties.

We chose the War collection of 943 items as the first theme to be fully catalogued by our team of expert cataloguers.  Around 30% of the collection had no previous catalogue record, meaning the team worked hard to create new high quality records as well as upgrading the older records.

Each item has been retrieved from our Store, fully catalogued and classified to Library of Congress/Sussex in house system with a new shelfmark, given a fresh barcode and then stored in Melinex where necessary and arranged by shelfmark in archival box ready to be used.

The section has been classified with shelfmarks ranging from A-Z representing the breadth of subject areas covered within the topic of War. There are documents on art, education, gender, religious attitudes, the press, trade, politics, arms and philosophical questions to name a few.

The earliest item dates from 1913 and the latest 1980. Both World Wars along with conflict around the World are covered.

The format can be essays, information booklets, instructional guides and periodicals, some with wonderful illustrations, diagrams and even photographs in later publications.

We would love our enthusiasm for the Legacy War items to be carried around the University and are very keen for the items to be used for teaching and research wherever possible.

Everything can requested at the Information Hub and then used within the Library. All items can be found on Library Search but please do get in touch with Collection Development to find out more about what is in the Legacy War and other Legacy themed areas as we have extensive spreadsheets detailing all content and help to find items that might be of interest to you.

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Christmas in the Legacy Collection: Food, Festivals and Seasonal Satire

Christmas in the Legacy Collection

Today, let’s take a look at some of the Christmas-related material held within the Legacy Collection…well, we think it’s Christmassy – let us know if you agree 😀

(Christmas) Recipes during World War Two

Winthewar cookbook

We’ve been working on listing official government publications recently from various Ministries, including a  few from the Ministry of Food. During the Second World War, the Ministry of Food was responsible for overseeing rationing in Britain to ensure the country didn’t run out of edible supplies.

Although not technically Christmassy, we couldn’t resist showing you this wartime cookbook. The recipes were written for the middle classes who had more income to spend on  food than others. The idea suggested in this publication seems to be that  if they ate less bread, there would be enough remaining to feed the working classes who couldn’t afford much else. As a result, the cookbook has messages along the footer of each page encouraging readers to give up their daily loaf! There are also a multitude of recipes for less-loved food; cheese herrings, anyone?

Winthewar2 Winthewar1










For more information about rationing, the Mass Observation Archive is your (local) place to go; it has an entire Topic Collection about food, and Sussex students and staff can search Mass Observation Online to find out more.

Satirical (Christmas) Cartoons

Low December

As much of the Legacy Collection’s material focuses on 20th Century events, it’s not surprising that commentators couldn’t resist using Christmas as a way of mocking political leaders. We hold a couple of books by David Low (1891 – 1963), a New Zealand born cartoonist who was based in the UK for many years. From 1927 –  1950, he worked for the Evening Standard newspaper. Low was particularly critical of Hitler and Goering (even before the war broke out), as you can see from the cartoons shown here. [1]

Low November


Song Book for Labour (Christmas) Festivals

You may have spied the Labour Song Book on this blog before, but it also fits surprisingly well into this month’s post. Alongside scores for a ‘Song To Labour’ and that well-known Labour classic ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’, the Christmas song ‘Jingle Bells’ also makes an appearance! We’re not entirely sure why this was considered such a staple of Labour politics, but it’d certainly be fun to find out…

'Jingle Bells' from 'Songs For Labour Festivals', 1927

'Swing low, sweet chariot' from 'Songs For Labour Festivals', 1927










(Christmas) Toys at the Victoria and Albert Museumvanda1

It wouldn’t be Christmas without presents! This collection of pamphlets is from the Victoria & Albert Museum ‘Small Colour Book’ series published in the 1970s; they describe items found in the museum’s collections.

The five books pictured here showcase toys, playing cards, puppets and dolls all held at the V&A Museum of Childhood (formerly Bethnal Green Museum). Each publication contains a brief history of the objects, which are from all over the world. It’s really interesting to see how toys have changed over time – but also how some items are relatively timeless, particularly the playing cards.

If you’d like to view any of the material discussed here, or want to ask us anything else, do get in touch. We hope you have a very merry Christmas and a happy new year!


[1] Mel Calman (01/01/1993) ‘David Low – Timeless Cartoonist’. British Journalism Review, Vol. 4 (4), pp. 31 – 33.


Originally written and published December 2015 by Jo Baines.

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Posted in What's in the Legacy Collection?

Our Documents in the Legacy Collection

The largest part of the Legacy Collection will be the 20237 documents we have accumulated since the opening of the University.

Official Publications used to have its own dedicated area in the University Library, with a counter service to help users retrieve and discover new items and dedicated staff to develop and manage the collections.

The Documents Librarian, who had a responsibility for the Social Sciences and Parliamentary materials was keen to fill the shelves with pamphlets, reports, ephemora and papers relating to current issues at the time as well as reflecting the research interests of the new University. The  building had no space limits and a healthy budget for acquisitions, so many donations were accepted, standing orders established and staff would even travel around collecting new materials.

“I wanted our Library collections to reflect the mood of the times, and this directed me to the ephemeral publications of the interest groups and pressure groups that were active in those decades. We aimed to collect together the output of such organisations,  that represented the current  social and political views of the decades. Some publications were standing orders from “regular” sources, political parties, research organisations, etc.  Many of the pamphlets we collected were the result of scanning the press and being alert to media reports. Those four little words, “a report out today” were sufficient to raise an order for that report.  We also went on regular foraging trips to “known” venues in London, such as 9 Poland Street, where pressure group publications were available for sale.”

David Kennelly, former Assistant Librarian.

There was a focus on events such as general elections, strikes, changes to infrastructure and following political and social movements locally and across the UK.

The Documents collection was a strong feature of the Library at the time. Monthly acquisition lists would be sent out to academics and researchers to ensure that all parts of the University used the collections. The then Librarian Adrian Peasgood recalls an external examiner commenting  very favourably on the quality and quantity of the material to which candidates had clearly been exposed.

As the section had its own area and was shelved away from the other collections, much of it was uncatalogued, as staff knew the contents very well and could help students directly, often using lists and indexes rather than a card catalogue.

We the Collection Development Librarians and the Special Collections Archivist are now working through the extensive spreadsheet that our teams have produced, detailing all of these items of which 40% are uncatalogued.

We have identified the following themes running through the collection and have been examining each item to give it a category:

Gender Studies and Feminism

Popular and Counter Cultures

Post WW2 World Order

Political Movements and Parties

Trade Unions

Social Movements

Social Welfare


We hope that this will help with discoverability, as one or more themes will be added to the MARC record when it is recatalogued. Researchers using the collections should be able to easily identify items of interest to them and this will help us with promotion and use in teaching if we can easily identify items by topic.

As the cataloguing will be an extensive part of the project, having smaller collections within collections can help us to break it down into manageable chunks.

We have just completed the review of all items and can reveal that the sections will look like this:

Political Parties and Movements                                      10658
Yet to be decided  2677
Social Movements 1887
Social Welfare 1717
Trade Unions 1342
War 943
Popular and Counter Cultures 402
Post WW2 Order 393
Gender Studies and Feminism 218


Here are some examples of our documents

Social Movements

Trade Unions


Popular and Counter Cultures

Gender Studies and Feminism


This task has had tricky moments as we grapple with crossover publications covering Socialism in wartime or areas such as airport expansion and the market economy which we struggled to fit into our categories. We now feel the next step is to add Infrastructure and Trade to our list to cover these gaps satisfactorily.

We are almost ready to start cataloguing and the War section is looking good to start with, as the items in there are without any doubt in their right place.

In the meantime if you would like to view any of our Documents, which can form rich primary resources for your research or teaching, please don’t hesitate to get in touch to see how we can help you.



Chloe Dobson

Collection Development Librarian

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7 Things I learned as an Archival Volunteer

Before reading through the points, I should say that these are my personal and scattered experiences. I am sure everyone has their own different experience or others that they wish to add to the list, which makes me think, it would be nice to have a trending hashtag like #experiencesfromworkinginarchive or #archivistsshare or #secretsfromthearchives where archivists could share their stories and notes about what it is like working in archives, and libraries. However, for now let me tell you about some of my favorite moments, information I acquired and experiences of being an archival volunteer:


  1. Being precious and careful: Given that archival documents and materials are rare and often old objects, it is a MUST that they are handled delicately. This is the most obvious and commonly known fact, therefore, going into further detail may not be necessary. However, if I were to expand further I would simply say it is like holding a new born baby. So I cannot stress enough the CARE element of the job.


  1. Making lists and cool spreadsheets: When working in any field the best way to stay organized is to make lists, for example in my work I made lists that were about the work I was required to do, the boxes that need attending to, the realistic number of boxes that I could examine in the day and so forth. After creating such lists and I have many (which are colorful) the next best part of my cataloguing work was making spreadsheets. Now I have in the past worked with Excel but this was an entirely different experience that I enjoyed a lot. Filling out the spreadsheet with information about the documents I was cataloguing was in one-word COOL! To see my interpretation of the documents, for example, the date, condition, form, issue and so forth translated into a detailed digital database that could help others in the future find their way through the collection made me feel like the archival navigator of this particular collection! In many ways, and this is crazy but through the process, lists and spreadsheets found an even more valuable spot within my world.


  1. Ask when you do not know: This one is another general advice and note that is fitting of most life situations, which was also helpful in my work as I was unfamiliar with the British postal system. Therefore, as a “me to you” kind of advice, remember whenever you find yourself lost, unfamiliar and confused, the best solution is to ask for help or Google it! Researching unfamiliar material to gain a better understanding of the material you are working with is ok and necessary. Do not be afraid of not knowing, because, and you can quote me, the way to become the best at anything in life is by observing, reading, listening and learning from others.


  1. Be prepared to discover: Embracing the moments of finding rare documents and objects in the archival material – this one, in addition to making spreadsheets, I enjoyed doing a lot! If you ask what is one thing I am good at, without hesitation I will say research and finding materials others have given up on—you name it and I will find it. However, with archival work, the experience of finding was a whole different scavenger hunt. Instead of knowing what I need to find, I got to experience the joy of stumbling across things, like a handwritten note on a stamp, a company with the weirdest slogan or the discovery of how a travel agency in the 1930s advertised a return ticket to New York for only £35!!! (I know it was probably expensive back then but for a second my heart skipped a beat out of excitement). I have heard and read how several archivists and scholars found the unpublished manuscript of an author or an important letter or person within their work and I thought how amazing it must be, to be the first to discover hidden gems. You do not always have to be a scientist to discover the cure for something, although they do important work and I do not want to undermine them in any way, but all I am saying is that archivists are also contributing to the world with their discoveries, and preservations of rare documents. While I have not discovered anything yet, I did tell everyone about the £35 return ticket to New York. In many ways I felt like I had found GOLD, I cannot imagine what I would do if I actually discovered a rare object, ever!!!


  1. Taking breaks: Dividing your time, and giving yourself breaks to be more productive is mandatory (Coffee or tea, along with a cake or cookie). I was blessed to be working with generous and sweet-toothed librarians and archivists who always brought a delicious treat to brighten the working atmosphere – chocolate turns any frown into a smile! (this is not just me saying it, scientist have proven this fact to be true!).


  1. Talking to archivists: One thing I did in my breaks was talking to other librarians and archivists and learning from their experiences. Hearing their stories, for instance when they first started in the field and the collections they have worked and helped to preserve and what they enjoy about working with rare documents and books and so forth added a new layer to my experience as a volunteer. It felt like I was part of a community. So take advantage of the opportunities to talk to archivists, because most of the time their stories are as fascinating as the many archival collections and manuscripts they take care of.


  1. Embrace the joy of the work: I was exploring documents that once belonged to a different time, held a different value and were used for a different purpose, but were now collected and preserved under one roof. They are in many ways a time capsule of what the past used to be like, how people communicated (letters), how businesses advertised their products, what legal documents looked like in comparison to those used today, how magazines or newspapers have evolved; and also a treasure trove of the cultural productions of prominent writers and artists. I will say this, while sometimes the work becomes repetitive, it is never dull.


In these past few months working as an archival volunteer, I think I have found my true calling in this world. I have always been a devoted collector, from movie tickets (starting with the first film I saw in a cinema when I was 8) to keeping receipts (yep if it’s a special occasion) and postcards from places I have visited and places I want to visit. These are just a snippet of my collections, you never know maybe one day they will be in an archive somewhere! In any case, when I say that the opportunity to be part of the archival community has been an experience that has changed my life, I am not being dramatic. I hope to continue being part of this community and maybe inspire others to also follow my lead.


p.s. Let’s work on making the hashtag a thing, don’t you agree?


Shima Jalal Kamali

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Volunteering at the University of Sussex Library

Hello, my name is Shima and this February I started volunteering at the Legacy Collection here at the University of Sussex. I am a current PhD student, who is aiming vigorously to submit my thesis soon, fingers crossed! For the past few couple of years, I have found myself becoming interested in archives and archival work.

During my PhD I got the opportunity to do a major part of my research in various archival libraries in America and here in the UK. Working with old manuscripts and deciphering old hand written letters became my favourite aspect of doing research. Almost to the point that decoding handwritten letters has become like a hobby of mine, you can even say a skill!

Towards the end of my second year, I became more serious about the idea of a career in archives and began pursuing options and opportunities through which I could gain some insight into this amazing world of recording and maintaining history, memories, stories, voices and get some experience, which brings us to now and my volunteer position at the Legacy Collection at Sussex University Library.

Beginning this February, I began my volunteering position at the University of Sussex Library, which incidentally was the first archive collection I visited in my first year to look at the Rosey Pool collection and her correspondence with Langston Hughes, the African American poet I am doing my research on. As nervous as I was about the unknown and how it will be, I was more excited. So far I have discussed and searched the world of archives and special collections as a future but to get the opportunity to work and learn about the process and details, requirements and methods of collecting, managing and maintaining special manuscripts and books, is on its own a whole new and exciting experience. I am so honoured to be working with an amazing and friendly team such as Chloe, Julie and Sian who I hope to learn so much from.

However, for now, I just wanted to introduce myself and tell you to look forward to some interesting and informative posts about archival work and snippets of the material that I am helping to catalogue, which is some cool documents.

So stay tuned!

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Hidden Treasures of Ordinary Life

Hello, I’m Julie and I’ll be writing future blog posts as Jo Baines has left Sussex for pastures new.

One of the major tasks with the items in the Legacy Collection and the other material in our Documents Collection is to look at and itemise every single piece of paper, booklet, pamphlet and government publication to make sure we know exactly what we have in this marvellous collection.

It’s interesting work, although sometimes a bit repetitive if you get a run of government papers or magazines. And this is just what was happening one morning as one of our team, Lisa, was itemising a run of magazines called The News-Letter, the National Labour Fortnightly which ran from 1932 to approximately 1938.

As she picked up an edition dated 1935 a small envelope fell out from between the pages, unstamped and addressed to a Mr R. Bassett, Balliol College, Oxford. It had obviously been tucked in there for safe keeping or to be used as a bookmark. On the back of the flap of the envelope was written “send back dirty things”.

Intrigued and amused we open up the envelope (it had already been opened by R.Bassett many years ago), and inside was a letter:reg-barrett-letter-007


My dear Reg

I am sending your clean undies , did not know if there was anything else you needed.

Hope your cold is better? Fine but chill here today with very cold east wind. Have not heard from Col(d?)stock yet today. I think Toby was out most of yestr:

Love from all



Nothing earth shattering, nothing life changing, just an ordinary letter from a mother to her son while he was away at university. But fascinating all the same, this little glimpse into ordinary lives, just another ordinary day, 30th July 1937.

The address at the top of the letter was Church View, Frant and with this bit of information we became a private detective agency. Who lived there in 1937? Did the house still exist? What became of Reg and did he ever learn how to do his own washing?

We found Mrs Bassett mentioned in the Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser in 1934 and the name Reg Bassett was definitely associated with the village of Frant from about 1901 onwards, but it wasn’t easy to find out very much about the Bassetts in the 1930s.

We did a bit more digging about on the internet, searching for Reg in connection with Balliol College and the Labour Party and we finally found out who he was. This Reg Bassett was none other than the historian and political scientist Reginald Bassett from the London School of Economics. When his mother wrote him the letter he wasn’t a student at Bailliol but a lecturer with the Extra-Mural Studies Delegacy of the University of Oxford, mainly working in Sussex (which is possibly how his copy of the magazine came to be at the University of Sussex all those years later). He became a professor at the LSE in 1961. He was a supporter of the Independent Labour Party and supported Ramsay MacDonald’s design to a form the National Government with the Conservatives and Liberals.


The London School of Economics holds Professor Bassett’s papers in their archive, so we’ve offered the letter to them to add to their collection.

Of course a letter like the one we found has no national significance and is not as important or maybe even as interesting as the magazine it was found in or the rich material that makes up the Legacy Collection. But it has importance none the less, life is made up of little moments like this letter.

If you would like to look at The News-Letter, the National Labour Fortnightly or any of the other material mentioned in the blog posts or on our catalogue, please get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to help.

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False Witness: The Harvey Matusow Library in the Legacy Collection



Following on from our last post about Rosey Pool’s library, today we’re going to take a look at another sequence of books in the Legacy Collection: Harvey Matusow’s library.

Harvey Marshall Matusow (1926 – 2002) is one of those characters. He’s both brilliant fun and incredibly frustrating to research, because so much of his life is surrounded by stories that it’s really hard to distinguish between truth and fact!

Matusow is most famous for his activities in America during the McCarthy era. Matusow worked for the FBI as a paid informer, giving evidence in court to convict individuals of communist related activities. In 1955 he published a book, False Witness, where he asserted that he had lied during his work with the FBI in order to convict people – and that he had been paid to do so. In return, the FBI found Matusow guilty of perjury and put him in jail for five years, blacklisting him in the process.

After Matusow was released from prison in 1960, he headed for New York’s art scene having spent much time in jail reading and painting canvases. He became editor and publisher of The New York Arts Calendar by 1963, but began to become more interested in the underground arts movement when he sensed that he would never be truly forgiven of his previous McCarthy-related activities.

Matusow’s life after this time is a brilliant series of ‘you’d never guess this but…!’ tales. Matusow:

  • Developed a deep distrust of computers, viewing them as a threat to individual liberty, and founded the International Society for the Abolition of Data-Processing Machines (late 1960s)
  • Founded a band called the Harvey Matusow’s Jew’s Harp Band
  • Married approximately twelve times
  • Is possibly part of the reason The Beatles broke up – he held the party where John Lennon met Yoko Ono
  • Worked as a children’s TV clown called Cockyboo in Tucson, Arizona
  • Converted to Mormonism and spent his last years known as Job Matusow

As you can imagine, Matusow’s library is as diverse as the man himself. We hold over 220 books of Matusow’s, ranging from his old elementary school yearbook to fairy tales for grown ups. The collection contains a vast amount of books relating to McCarthy-era activity: books about the history of the United States, a ‘who’s who’ in the CIA, and of course many books relating to subversive culture during this time. Matusow’s own interests in data, surveillance and distrust of computers are well represented, alongside publications about other ‘trouble makers’ during this time.

Matusow’s archives are held as part of the University of Sussex Special Collections at The Keep. They are divided into two parts: the first covers Matusow’s activity up until he was imprisoned, the second contains correspondence during Matusow’s time in prison and his involvement with the underground arts scene.

Matusow’s library is a captivating snapshot of a man deeply distrusting of American society in the 1950s – 1970s, including the McCarthy period. I’m fascinated by Matusow’s distrust of computers; the material in the library complements other material held in the Legacy Collection, including some items discussed previously on this blog. To some extent, though, I think the ‘real’ Harvey Matusow will always remain somewhat of a myth; from a man who spent his entire life dealing with multiple truths and fictions, how could you expect anything else?

If you’re interested in viewing any of Harvey books or would like more information, do get in touch. Matusow’s archives are held with Special Collections at The Keep; anyone is welcome to visit and view the material.


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Posted in What's in the Legacy Collection?

Black and Unknown Bards: The Rosey Pool Library in the Legacy Collection


Today we’re going to take a look at one of the other, non-document, areas of the Legacy Collection: Rosey Pool’s library. The Rosey Pool books are, if I’m honest, pretty much my favourite collection in the whole of Sussex Library. They are a real hidden gem amongst our collections and they contain so much history!

Rosey Pool (1905 – 1971) was a Dutch cultural anthropologist and teacher, who was passionate about African-American literature and poetry. She was born in the Jewish quarter of Amsterdam, moving to Berlin to study cultural anthropology with a focus on African-American writing.

Rosey returned to Amsterdam in 1938 following the rise of the Nazi party; however in May 1940 Germany invaded the Netherlands. In May 1943, Rosey and her family were interned in Westerbork transit camp; her parents and  brother died. In September 1943, Rosey managed to escape during a mission in which several inmates were sent to collect books for a library; she spent the rest of the war in hiding.

After the war, Rosey returned to Amsterdam and was one of the first people to see Anne Frank’s diary, as Anne’s father Otto was an old friend. Rosey worked on an English translation of the diary, but it was rejected by publishers.

Rosey moved to London in 1953 and lived with her partner Isa Isenberg. She published several anthologies of African-American poetry which showcased the work of lesser-known writers – notably ‘Black and Unknown Bards’ in 1958 and ‘Beyond the Blues: New Poems by American Negroes’ in 1962. She was in frequent contact with leading poets of the Harlem Renaissance era, including Langston Hughes and Owen Dodson.

Rosey’s archives, which were donated to the University of Sussex in 1971 – 1972 by Isa Isenberg, are held by Special Collections at The Keep. The archives contain a wealth of correspondence and material that documents African-American culture during the mid-20th century. My favourite items in the collection are Rosey’s colourful scrapbooks, particularly those that she created to mark her visits to America – they’re full of photographs and news cuttings and are wonderful to explore, particularly because you get the sense of how widely respected Rosey was in many cultural circles.

Whilst Rosey’s archives are at The Keep, her extensive collection of books is here and is now part of the Legacy Collection! There are over 700 books, spanning a wide variety of topics from anthropology to history, from music to children’s literature, and from poetry to cookery. The books are all related to African-American culture and are a real testimony to how passionate Rosey was about her career. There is a strong focus on literature throughout the collection; many books are signed to Rosey from the author, which shows how well regarded she was.

There is also ample evidence of Rosey’s friendship with Langston Hughes; there are 23 books by Hughes in the collection, many first editions and many signed to her. One of my favourite discoveries when listing the books was an anthology called ‘Freedom School Poetry’: you can see where Langston has written Rosey’s name on the front cover, as his handwriting is so distinctive!

There are 24 publications from the Broadside Press in the collection. The Broadside Press was founded in Detroit, Michigan in 1965 by Dudley Randall; it focused on publishing poetry by black writers, including an anthology in memory of Malcolm X, poems by Margaret Walker and work by Gwendolyn Brooks amongst many others. The Broadside Press aimed to make the poetry emerging from the black Civil Rights movement publicly accessible through producing affordable pamphlets, and it became part of the wider Black Arts Movement. The Broadside Press is still in existence today, having merged with the Lotus Press last year.

Rosey Pool’s library is a wonderfully visual treasure trove – if you’re interested in African American culture in the 20th century, this collection is utterly invaluable. Here are a few of my favourites:

  • Harriet and the Promised Land, a children’s book illustrated by the famous artist Jacob Lawrence
  • The Darker Brother [and other pulp-fiction titles] for their covers alone
  • Rich Heritage by Evelyn LaRue Pittman
  • Miss Williams’ Cookery Book
  • Many of the first editions sent to Rosey by Langston Hughes

The Rosey Pool library helps to shed a little more light on a woman whose brilliant talents and passion for African-American writing have been largely overlooked by history so far. Rosey lived through some of the most important events of the 20th Century, from the Harlem Renaissance, through the Holocaust to the rise of the Civil Rights Movement. The books held by us in the Legacy Collection are a fascinating snapshot of black culture during the last century; long may they continue to be loved by Sussex as much as Rosey did!

I have written more about Rosey Pool’s life as part of International Women’s Day and her relationship with Langston Hughes to celebrate Black History Month. Lonneke Geerlings, who is writing her PhD on Rosey Pool, has a great blog about Rosey here.

As ever, if you’re interested in viewing any of Rosey Pool’s books or would like more information, do get in touch. Rosey’s archives are held with Special Collections at The Keep; anyone is welcome to visit and view the material.

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New perspectives: The Legacy Collection and the Holocaust

A belated Happy New Year from Collection Development! We hope you’ve had a good break and are looking forward to the year ahead.

Wednesday January 27 was Holocaust Memorial Day across the UK; it encourages everyone to remember victims of the holocaust and those of subsequent genocides. January 27 marks the date that the largest Nazi death camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau, was liberated in 1945 by Soviet soldiers. Holocaust Memorial Day is particularly significant at Sussex as the Centre for German-Jewish Studies is based here; there is a day of events each year to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day. The Centre focuses on examining the history, culture and thought of Jews.

As material held within the Legacy Collection spans the 20th century, it’s unsurprising that we’ve found material relating to the Holocaust. What has been a surprise, however, is how many different perspectives on antisemitism are contained within the Legacy Collection – and how early on the material starts discussing events in Germany…

Jewish life in Germany before the Second World War

The Jews in Germany, by Israel Cohen

The Jews in Germany, by Israel Cohen

The Collection Development team are currently listing a large series of monographs which will form part of the Legacy Collection. We recently discovered a monograph from c. 1933 entitled ‘The Jews In Germany’ by Israel Cohen (1879 – 1961), an author who supported the creation of a Jewish settlement in Palestine. The booklet discusses how Germany is suppressing the Jews in “every sphere of national and social life, and in every branch of cultural and economic activity,”. It urges Great Britain, and the League of Nations, to stop this from happening.

The impact of fascism on Jewish life

Jews and Fascism

Around 1935, the Co-Ordinating Committee Against Fascism published a pamphlet entitled Jews and Fascism: An urgent warning on a most important matter. The content of the pamphlet isn’t exactly what you’d initially think! The booklet argues that fascist antisemitism has been “deliberately fostered” (p.2) to distract non-Jewish workers away from the real economic problems facing society: essentially, fascists are being anti-Semitic in order to gain more power. It’s an interesting notion, but the booklet is written by a group who wish to overthrow capitalism; their motives for writing it appear to be to unite everyone in their cause rather than examine antisemitic activity. Incidentally, we’ve struggled to find any information on the Co-Ordinating Committee Against Fascism so if you’ve heard of the group before, do get in touch.

Jewish persecution in Poland

In 1940, the Free Europe publication issued several pamphlets about Nazi activity in Poland.  The Persecution of Jews in German-Occupied Poland examines how Germany treated Jews after Poland was invaded in 1939. The writer notes that Germany viewed Jewish people as being “outside the law” (p.7) and thus officials did anything they liked to and with them. There are descriptions of decrees and crimes against Jews, as well as information about the Lublin reservation which Nazis intended to deport Jews to. However, the author notes that “the Germans do not seem to have any definite plans for solving the Jewish question,” (p.7) which supports contemporary evidence that there was no established strategy for the Holocaust until later in the war. Once again, it’s been very difficult to track down any information on who published material under the name of ‘Free Europe’ so if you know anything do contact us.

After the war: the Nuremburg trials

The Trial of German Major War Criminals by the International Military Tribunal sitting at Nuremberg Germany

The Trial of German Major War Criminals by the International Military Tribunal sitting at Nuremberg Germany

Between 1945 – 1946 , the Nuremberg trials sought to prosecute former Nazi leaders for war crimes, including crimes against humanity relating to the Holocaust. We recently discovered three documents (published by His Majesty’s Stationery Office) that provide the speeches of the chief prosecutors at the opening of the trial, the close of the cases against individuals and the close of the cases against the Nazis as a whole. We were surprised to see that these speeches were made available publicly so quickly (the items are dated from 1946) and they provide a direct insight into some of the most famous ground-breaking legal trials in history.

Documents from the Legacy Collection relating to Jewish life in Europe during the 1930s - 1940s

Documents from the Legacy Collection relating to Jewish life in Europe during the 1930s – 1940s

Holocaust related material in the Legacy Collection spans far and wide, as we’ve seen from the examples listed above. What I’ve found particularly interesting about the material is that no matter how much you learn about Jewish 20th Century history, there’s always more to be found; for example people used events in Germany to discuss their own agendas, which is somewhat unsurprising but still unsettling in hindsight. The Holocaust needs to be continually discussed; by participating in events to support Holocaust Memorial Day and discovering new perspectives on the past, we can ensure those who suffered as a result of the terrible actions across Europe are never truly forgotten.

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From Bonfires to Beaches: The Legacy Collection and Brighton Societies

Last week saw the nearby town of Lewes turn into a fire-filled wonderland to celebrate Bonfire Night. Lewes is really unique in that it’s home to not one, not two but seven Bonfire Societies (this, apparently, is small compared to the twenty five that used to exist). This got us thinking: Lewes may have its bonfire societies, so surely Brighton must have some equally wonderful (if somewhat less gunpowder-filled) organisations? To the Legacy Collection we go!

Karl MushroomBlack Flame Span










Brighton has long been known as a city with strong political affiliations, and the publications within the ‘Anarchism’ box show that revolutionary notions extend far beyond Lewes. The Federation of Sussex Anarchists (SAF) published a broadsheet called ‘Fleabite’ during the 1970s; we hold three issues, all of which are filled with cartoons and poetry satirising left-wing society and communism. Issue three features a hand drawn comic about “The incredible adventures of Karl Mushroom revolutionary”, mocking socialist ideas. The ‘Fleabite’ broadsheet eventually evolved into a smaller publication called ‘Black Flame’, published by Brighton Anarchists, but continued to feature cartoons alongside discussions about anarchy in the South East.

Brighton VoiceThe Legacy Collection also includes well over 100 copies of the alternative local newspaper ‘Brighton Voice’, which was published (roughly) monthly throughout the 1970s and 1980s. It was created by an academic here at the University and soon the team of people working on the paper grew to around 50 in number. Most issues were sold here on campus and in town at Infinity Foods. The paper complements ‘Fleabite’ and ‘Black Flame’; all three opposed state power and were critical of the fashionable radicalism found in Brighton. However, ‘Brighton Voice’ focuses much more on local issues, such as the development of Brighton Marina (which it strongly opposed), the state of the beach (pictured below) and the welfare of Brighton residents. ‘Brighton Voice’ also worked with other local groups such as the Brighton Society: in the 1970s, a plan was proposed to redevelop Brighton station by knocking down the main concourse, moving it underground and putting a hotel in its place. Luckily this never happened, thanks to campaigning by local groups.

On a different note, we’ve also discovered that we hold a couple of copies of a publication called ‘Librarians for Social Change’, which was based in Brighton. Librarians and politics have often gone hand in hand (such as the Radical Librarians Collective) – but this is the first evidence we’ve found of it in the Legacy Collection. Little seems to be known about the ‘Librarians for Social Change’ but judging from the two issues we hold, the magazine seems to be concerned with many of the same topics that concern us now: justice and equality, attracting more people into using libraries, and technology in the workplace. However, the group seems to be much more inherently suspicious of computers than we’ve ever been: issue 20, from 1979, examines how new technology such as computer screens leads to job losses and negatively impacts health.

Librarians For Social Change 2

Librarians For Social Change










We’ve been really surprised by how much local material is held within the Legacy Collection, and are looking forward to discovering more. One thing appears certain, though: Sussex’s reputation for political radicalism and debate is long-established through the incredibly creative publications of its past. Long may it continue!

As ever, if you’d like to view any of the material held within the Legacy Collection or have any queries, do get in touch with us.

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