Tag Archives: 1960s

90. Whither Archaeology? Jacquetta Hawkes versus the statniks

In 1968, Jacquetta Hawkes considered the future of archaeology in one of her most famous and controversial pieces of writing: “The Proper Study of Mankind”, published in the journal Antiquity.

Jacquetta Hawkes in a garden, 1969 (ref HAW 18/6/43).

Jacquetta Hawkes, 1969 (reference HAW 18/6/43).

In this article, Jacquetta warned against the dangers of scientific reductionism in archaeology.  She certainly was not against the use of technological aids, but she felt that these had taken over along with pseudo-scientific aims and methods:   archaeologists had become “statniks”, looking only at what could be quantified.

Too much archaeological writing was “swamped by a vast accumulation of insignificant facts, like a terrible tide of mud”.  In another geological simile, the “extreme precision of detail” combined with “endless uncertainty of interpretation” in archaeological reports was like “walking across coarse scree”.  Instead, archaeologists should be economical in presenting their data and “extract the essential historical meaning … set this out in clear, firm and humane language”.

Archaeologists were also paying less attention to human attainment, consciousness and individuality: “art and religion receive very little of the serious attention that is available in our world of archaeology”.  More could be learned from art historians, psychologists and folklore experts as well as natural scientists.

An editorial in the next issue of the journal observed that the article had “aroused widespread comment”, mainly from archaeologists over 40!  Antiquity therefore announced an essay competition for the under-40s: “Professors,  archaeological correspondents, Druids, moonrakers – anyone may put in”.   The essay title would be “Whither Archaeology?”  (the original holding title for Jacquetta’s piece).  The two prize winners were published in the journal in 1971.  One, by Glynn Isaac, is an interesting response to the points made by Jacquetta by an author who did not agree with her view of archaeology or its relationship to the humanities.

Further responses can be found in letters to Jacquetta in her Archive.  Whole-hearted praise:  “Three cheers … the statniks needed taking down a peg or two”.    A couple of writers observed that the archaeological research she criticised was bad science anyway: “many of the people would not be very good at any sort of research … you underrate the creative and selective role that a competent natural scientist plays.”

Over the next few years, Jacquetta became “an established champion of old-time humanist values in archaeology” as the debate continued.  Eloquent in writing and in person, and “a free-range individual with no academic eggs to break”, she wrote, lectured and appeared in discussions on radio and television.   In one television programme, she opposed Professor Lewis Binford, a founder of the “new” or “processual” archaeology.  “To me his long abstractions were almost without meaning, while to him I must have appeared as something out of the rotting woodwork”.

Jacquetta Hawkes outside Kissing Tree House, 1973 (reference HAW 18/7/8).

Jacquetta Hawkes outside the Priestleys’ home Kissing Tree House, 1973 (reference HAW 18/7/8).

This concern that she is “suffering from the sense of universal decay that so often invades the passing generation” appears in Jacquetta’s article.  To some younger archaeologists excited by the potential of the new models, Jacquetta’s ideas did indeed seem “desperately out of date” (Clive Gamble in his Guardian obituary of Binford).   However her approach appealed at least to some budding archaeologists: one letterwriter exclaimed, “Why couldn’t you have written the article two years ago?  You would have inspired at least a handful of originally enthusiastic undergraduates who are now reduced to a state of cowed apathy by the hot wind of turgid technological detail …”

Sources.  The articles in Antiquity can be read online by staff and students of the University of Bradford and other organisations which subscribe to the title.  Jacquetta quotations are from “Proper Study” or the preface to Nothing But or Something More, her John Danz lecture against reductionism.  Letters quoted are in HAW 3/14.

76. Sabbath, Swarbrick and Status Quo: 1960s Rock and Folk at Bradford University

Update: 1970s list now available!

During the 1960s Bradford University’s Students’ Union played host to a cornucopia of bands, including plenty of rock, folk, blues and jazz groups.  We’ve often been asked if well-known groups played so back in 2004 I asked our then Special Collections Assistant John Brooker to compile a definitive list from Javelin magazine.  Now available online: Music at the University of Bradford Students’ Union 1965-1970.   And here’s a selection of photographs to give you a flavour of the music the Union was offering to students:

Black Sabbath, due to play the Bradford University Union, from Javelin 7 May 1970 p. 1

Black Sabbath, from Javelin 7 May 1970

Black Sabbath, who played in May 1970, a “future super group”.  Already popular in Bradford (apparently very well received when they played St George’s Hall with Blodwyn Pig), the band were tipped by reviewer Ron Yaxley for the top: “See them whilst you can!”.

Status Quo on stage at Bradford University Union, Javelin 24 October 1968 p.10

Status Quo, from Javelin 24 October 1968 p.10

Another super group in the making did not impress “Bryan” at the 1968 Freshers’ Ball:  Status Quo have “so little talent and even less personality.  They were not worth the £175 that Ents paid for them”.

Stan Webb of Chicken Shack at the Bradford University Union Freshers' Ball 1968, from Javelin 24 October 1968 p.10

Stan Webb of Chicken Shack, from Javelin 24 October 1968 p.10

However Bryan was very impressed by legendary blues group Chicken Shack.  At a later concert (in February 1970 – unfortunately couldn’t get the images to reproduce well) Chicken Shack thrilled Terry Carroll: “This just had to be the greatest show seen at Bradford Union for a long time … the ecstatic fans got to their feet and rocked … dance ends with scenes reminiscent of Hair”.

Javelin1968_12DecCarthy cr

Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick, from Javelin 12 December 1968

The Union also hosted many folk artists.  Here’s Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick, “two of the most original and talented singers on the British folk song scene”, guests at the University’s folk club in December 1968.  They were well received: “During their act there was certainly no need to ask for quiet, as is so often necessary”.

Woman playing banjo-ukulele, described as "member of the Travellers, a Chesterfield folk-singing group" due to play Bradford University Union 1968.

Member of the Travellers (from Chesterfield?) playing a banjo-ukulele

“Get with it with a banjo-uke!”.  This image from 19 October 1967 shows a woman playing a banjo-ukulele.  Her name isn’t given, but she is “one of the Travellers – a folk-singing group from Chesterfield”.   I couldn’t find out anything about this band though there is a well-known Canadian folk group of this name …

Do you remember these or other concerts at the University?  Do let us know!  Interested in gigs after 1970?  We’re hoping to do some research on these soon (expect something about Nirvana, Motorhead and Infest …).

73. My Life on the Variety Stage: J.B. Priestley’s Lost Empires

The novel Lost Empires (1965) is J.B. Priestley’s late masterpiece.  Like so many of his finest works, it is set in the long-lost Bradford of his teens, a vivid world of larger-than-life characters, proud provincial cultures – and music-hall.

Priestley loved music-hall.  It was part of what he called his “broad-brow” appreciation of any cultural experience that was life-affirming, from classical music to football.  However, as with his other explorations of pre-war Bradford, he could see the dark side of what might otherwise be cosy nostalgia.

Priestley’s naive young hero, aspiring artist Richard Herncastle, joins his uncle Nick Ollanton’s astonishing Indian Magician illusionist act.  Richard finds romance and glamour, but also betrayal and unhappiness, though, in keeping with the picaresque comic English tradition which strongly influenced Priestley’s novels, he eventually gains wisdom and love with the right woman.

Lost Empires front cover, Popular Library 1965.

Lost Empires front cover, Popular Library 1965.  The “major motion picture” did not happen though readers may remember the 1986 Granada TV series, starring Colin Firth as Richard.

Lost Empires shares with The Good Companions Priestley’s relish for describing the day to day experiences of travelling artists.  It is a less sunny reading experience however, partly because 1960s freedoms enabled Priestley to write more candidly about relationships, but above all because of the reader’s sense of the shadow of the Great War.

Priestley had recently, almost fifty years on, written directly for the first time about his painful Great War experiences, in Margin Released.   He now addressed and re-used this in fiction.  When the War breaks out, Nick decides to take the magic act to the United States; Richard tells Uncle Nick that he won’t come along:  like Priestley himself, he has joined the Army.  Uncle Nick’s bitter response feels like the older, wiser Priestley directly addressing his younger self, who could not possibly know what he was blithely walking into.  Nick has visited Germany, has seen their military might, and he understands that,

“The war isn’t going to last months, it’s going to last years and years – and every year it’ll get worse.  You’re asking to be put into a bloody mincing machine … We’re in for the biggest bloody massacre of all time.  And you can’t even wait for them to fetch you”.

But just so we aren’t too tempted to see Richard and young Jack Priestley as one, Priestley used a literary device to distance himself from this character who shared so much of his own story: framing the book with a prologue and epilogue in which he as JBP the well-known writer prepares Herncastle’s recorded stories for publication as this book …

45. In t’Back Streets, Behind Tech: the Main Building of Bradford Institute of Technology

These images show the construction of the Main Building, part of Bradford Institute of Technology (BIT), which later became the University of Bradford.

Main Building of Bradford Institute of Technology under construction, February 1962

Main Building of Bradford Institute of Technology under construction, February 1962 (archive ref UNI B01)

BIT was created in 1956 as a College of Advanced Technology, hiving off higher education from the College; in 1966 the Royal Charter made it a University. BIT’s short life was dominated by the need to find space for expansion: growing numbers of staff and students and better facilities for research and teaching at this higher level.  The Main Building was part of the solution.  Eventually the Institute and the local council decided to expand the campus into the surrounding back streets, rather than move to a greenfield site as had been suggested.

Empty houses awaiting demolition, Main Building of Bradford Institute of Technology in background, February 1963

Empty houses awaiting demolition, Main Building of Bradford Institute of Technology in background, February 1963 (archive ref UNI B02)

As we see here, this required the demolition of many houses, with painful impact on the many people who had to move.

Main Building completed, September 1964

Main Building completed, September 1964 (archive ref UNI B10)

Main Building took four years to complete, beginning in May 1960, and was formally opened by Prime Minister and first Chancellor of the University Harold Wilson on 11 June 1965.  Now known as Richmond Building, it has housed University administration, many academic departments and student facilities, and is probably the most visible and recognisable University building even today.

Chancellor Harold Wilson at the microphone during opening of Main Building, June 1965

Chancellor Harold Wilson at the microphone during opening of Main Building, June 1965 (archive ref UNI PHW4)

(The title is taken from a quotation in Robert McKinlay’s The University of Bradford: origins and development).

44. The Case of the Burnt Document: Committee of 100 Papers

This week, a document that tells the story of a campaign, illustrates the physical risks to archives, and shows the power of social media. Impressive for such a small and fragile object.

Burnt document from the Hannam Committee of 100 Archive (Cwl HC)

Burnt document from the Hannam Committee of 100 Archive (Cwl HC)

As this image I hope shows, the paper of which this document is made is extremely thin and poor quality, as well as being badly burnt around the edges.  Many of the documents in this collection, a small archive of the Committee of 100 given to the Commonweal Collection by Derry Hannam, are in a similar condition.  This makes the documents difficult to handle without causing further damage; some files are closed for this reason.

The Committee of 100, founded on the initiative of Ralph Schoenman and Bertrand Russell in October 1960, called for a mass movement of civil disobedience against British government policy on nuclear weapons.  It can be seen as a successor to the Direct Action Committee, which applied nonviolent direct action techniques to this issue though never on such a scale.  The notes on this paper describe preparations for a court case involving leading members:  Pat Pottle, Bruce Reid, Michael Ashburner, Andrew Murray, Des Lock and Len Smith were charged with obstruction and incitement to others to take part in a demonstration.

Detail of a Committee of 100 promotional leaflet (Cwl AS3)

Detail of a Committee of 100 promotional leaflet (Cwl AS3)

This archive was catalogued as part of the Paxcat Project which used a grant from the National Cataloguing Grants Scheme to bring our peace campaign archives to life.  Project Archivist Helen Roberts blogged about the burnt documents, showing how the project had to take account of the physical nature of the objects concerned.  When Helen wrote her piece, we did not know the story of the fire damage.  To our delight, both Derry Hannam and Michael Ashburner added comments to the blog, so we learned the story for the first time and it is recorded for the future.  The original blog and the comments can be found on the PaxCat Project site.  Find out more about the Hannam Archive, the Committee and related collections on the Archives Hub entry, also written by Helen.

(Thanks to the Scheme, the commenters, and Helen herself, whose writings I have re-used heavily in this post).

11. Banning Britain’s H-bomb: the Direct Action Committee flyers

15 minutes to annihilation flyerThese powerful images show campaign flyers from the Direct Action Committee Archive (DAC).  Like the much better-known Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, the DAC originated in the storm of protest against Britain’s decision to test a hydrogen bomb, at Christmas Island in 1957.   CND’s leaders worked via traditional methods, such as public meetings, education work and parliamentary lobbying.  However, the DAC sought to use Gandhi’s techniques of non-violent direct action to demonstrate their personal opposition to nuclear weapons and to raise awareness of the issue.  They were willing to risk arrest and imprisonment.  Members included Michael Randle, Hugh Brock, April Carter, and Pat Arrowsmith.

Are nuclear weapons a defence? flyerTheir first big success was the Easter 1958  Aldermaston March (see Object 2); CND later took over the organisation of these annual marches.  The Committee carried out direct actions at military bases and research establishments, and tried to influence workers in the arms industry.  In 1961 the group, in financial difficulties, was wound up.  The Committee of 100, which aimed for mass civil disobedience, can be seen as its successor in many ways (more in Object 44).

A matter of life and death flyerThe DAC had an impact way beyond its size.  Many later protests, notably the civil rights movement in the USA, adopted the Gandhian techniques pioneered by the DAC.  Individual members took part in many other campaigns, including the Committee of 100, and some took their expertise into building the study of peace and conflict resolution in the academic world.

Special Collections includes the large and detailed archive of the Committee, one of the Archives collected by independent peace library, Commonweal.  Until very recently, these archives were “hidden collections”, uncatalogued and unknown.  Helen Roberts, the PaxCat Project Archivist, funded by the National Cataloguing Grants Scheme, catalogued them in detail and brought them to life in her blog.  Now they form a major resource for the study of history, protest and design.

8. Singing Sixties: Potential Graduates at Bradford University

This week’s Object is the Bradford University film, “Potential Graduate”.  It is one of the best-loved items in Special Collections, and one that has found fresh life and popularity online.  See it for yourself on the YFA online project website.

Potential Graduate

Potential Graduate - the film title screen

“Potential Graduate” was made by Bradford University’s Audio-Visual Unit between 1968 and 1970.  The University was then very new, having received its Charter in 1966, and eager to attract potential students.  The film, made in colour,  showed the new city campus,  the sporting and social activities available to students (choral singing,  pot-holing), teaching methods, and exams.

Students arriving at Bradford's Exchange Station

Students arriving at Bradford's Exchange Station

It finishes with a 1970 graduation ceremony, in which students receive their degrees from then Chancellor Sir Harold Wilson.

The film is popular because it gives a wonderful and rare insight into student life at Bradford.  On one level it is full of enjoyable period detail (car-free roads, mums in retro spectacles and hats, mini-skirts, beer in dimpled glasses, ash-trays everywhere, and the wonderful videotronic machine).

Student using the Videotronic machine

Student using the Videotronic machine

But if you look beyond this, the modern University is recognisable: the graduation ceremony could be now if not for the hats; and even then we emphasised links with industry, community engagement, and care for student well-being.

Graduation ceremony

Graduation ceremony

Film is a difficult medium to manage: it needs particular care and special equipment to view it.  A decision was taken in the 1990s to house some of our University Archive film at the specialist Yorkshire Film Archive, who have much better facilities for caring for film than we could offer.  We were delighted when more recently the Archive decided to make the film available online as part of a Heritage Lottery funded project.