New Ruskin Archives

Although I never attended courses at Ruskin College in Oxford, the Public History conferences organised there by Hilda Kean before she retired have been a major influence in the way I think about history and practice it for myself. Those conferences were in some respects a continuation of the earlier events organised by Raphael Samuel under the auspices of the History Workshop. Several of my friends and acquaintances participated in those with great enthusiasm and have remained deeply influenced. Ruskin had a massive influence on succeeding generations of working-class students and their future lives.

No wonder then, that there was such a furore when the current Ruskin leadership with the tacit support of the board, pursued a policy of destruction of the college’s records, including much of the work of past students, both academically and in terms of the culture of the College. It was an act of cultural vandalism of the worst kind, perhaps not too different from mass book burnings, even if born of stupidity and ignorance rather than ideology.

Fortunately there has now been a concerted attempt to try to, at least partially, reconstitute a virtual archive. You can read more about it here: http://newruskinarchives.org.uk/

If you know anyone who was a former student, who has kept material from their student days, they will be interested to hear from you.

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