ARCHIVES: Spring 2017 issue: ToC and Abstracts

CONTENTS

Dean A. Irwin, From Archae to Archives

Mark Dunton, Public relations and the price commission, 1973-74

Paul Rock, ‘The dreadful flood of documents’:  The 1958 Public Record Act and its aftermath: Part 2:  After-effects

Michael Moss and David Thomas, Overlapping temporalities – the judge, the historian and the citizen

Obituary: Freddie Emery Wallis, 1927-2017

ABSTRACTS

Dean A. Irwin, From Archae to Archives

Acknowledgments of debt, made to the Jews of England between 1194 and 1290, have long been known to historians. The two largest collections of acknowledgements, stored in the Westminster Abbey Muniments and The National Archives, have been utilised in very different ways. There is no substantive difference in the nature of the records themselves and, as such, it is to the archival history of these documents that one must look in order to account for that discrepancy. Thus, this paper is concerned with establishing the custodial history of the acknowledgements and determining the impact that this has had upon their use. Equally, it uses this later history in order to cast new light upon the origins of the documents.

Mark Dunton, Public relations and the price commission, 1973-74

In the early 1970s, rising prices were a particularly sensitive issue, as pay rises were being limited. This article focuses on the work of the government body established to implement and maintain price controls. Drawing on governmental files held by The National Archives, and the British Library newspaper archive, it evaluates the public relations work of the price commission: judging its performance with regard to the business community and the general public. The role of the chairman, Sir Arthur Cockfield, is also explored in some depth. This study shows how a detailed investigation of the public records can enable the historian to understand how Britain was governed in the early 1970s; the extent to which inflation dominated national discourse at that time; and more specifically, how the strictest price controls since war time operated in a free, western society in peacetime, and the effect of these measures on public opinion.

Paul Rock, ‘The dreadful flood of documents’: The 1958 Public Record Act and its aftermath: Part 2: After-effects

Part 1 of this double-barrelled article described the genealogy of the 1958 Public Records Act, which was enacted at the very opening of the history of criminal justice upon which David Downes, Tim Newburn and I had embarked and which was still in force whilst we worked. It related how a concatenation of events – a prodigiously increasing accumulation of official papers generated by the swelling bureaucracy of an ever more busy state; the need for effecting economies at a time of austerity; and the application of policies driven by a new organisation and methods team at the Treasury – made it seem imperative radically to control the flow of records and restrict the numbers that were retained. Part 2 describes the implementation of the Act, the reorganisation of the Public Record Office (PRO)and the manner in which concern about what was called a ‘dreadful flood of documents’ continued to press hard on record retention policies.

Michael Moss and David Thomas, Overlapping temporalities – the judge, the historian and the citizen

This article, discusses an issue of increasing relevance to archivists – the temporality of archives. It describes the breakdown of the traditional model in which records are first used for current (often legal) purposes and are then transferred to the archives where they are no longer used for current purposes but for purely historical ones. This neat process is rapidly breaking down, partly because of changes in legal processes – the end of the ban on double jeopardy and cold case reviews but also because many more recent records are being made available in archives, while Freedom of Information legislation is also having an impact. More importantly, there has been an increase in the number of public inquiries which are investigating large scale and horrendous tragedies which occurred in or near contemporary time. These developments are dragging records back from the archives and into the realm of the courts of law in unprecedented numbers. At the same time, the internet has had the effect of creating a wholly new form of archive which operates simultaneous in both current and historical time. The changing nature of the archive presents radical challenges both to archivists and to governments. It cries out for engagement by the archival profession, whose territory is being colonised by other disciplines.

Rosemary Dunhill, Freddie Emery Wallis (1927-2017)