Raphael Samuel Cataloguing Project Update: February 2011

The cataloguing of the Raphael Samuel Archive began in February 2010 and around 700 files of his working notes and papers have so far been catalogued. The papers fully exemplify Raphael's idiosyncratic style of note-taking as described by his widow Alison Light in 'A Biographical Note on the Text' (Island Stories, Verso, 1998) and cover the huge range of topics that fascinated Samuel during his research, from Puritanism to trades in nineteenth century East London.

Raphael's own personal touch can also be found throughout the files with coffee ring marks imprinted on many of the documents and mistaken photocopies of his fingers tips and shirt cuffs between handwritten notes and press cuttings. Even strands of his hair have been found in the files. It is clear that when Samuel has an idea he just must put it down no matter what he writes on and items such as tissue paper to the back of a cereal packet have been used to make emergency notes when an idea came into his mind.

History, Nation and the Schools: Letter from Historians to the Department of Education (SAMUEL/200)

Letter to Ministry of Education, 1990The first item to feature in the update is a letter from Samuel and other prominent historians, such as Professor Eric Hobsbawm, Professor Robert Skidelsky, Gareth Stedman Jones and Professor F.M.L Thompson,  to the Secretary of State for Education, John MacGregor, on 18 June 1990. The letter expresses great concern at the Government's attitudes towards the teaching of history and the plan to drop history as a foundation subject in schools.



Lost World of British Communism: Advertisement for Oxford Left (SAMUEL/608)

Oxford Left flyerSamuel won a scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford and studied there from 1952. He was the Editor of the Oxford University magazine ‘Oxford Left’. This advert for the mgazine from 1954 features articles such as 'America over Britain' by Balliol colleague and academic Peter Sedgwick and 'The Mind of British Imperialism' by Samuel.




History Workshop (SAMUEL/514)

History Workshop flyerSamuel played a leading role in establishing the History Workshop movement at Ruskin College in the mid 1960s and the History Workshop Journal.. This programme from History Workshop 25, People's Histories, National Histories, held at Ruskin College in November 1991 illustrates the wide range of activities at the conference and how while looking back (a retrospective of the 1967 conference) contemporary issues were also not ignored (the collapse of communism).



University Notes, Biography: miscellaneous notes and letters (SAMUEL/498)

Partisan Cafe menuAfter the famous secret speech of Khrushchev denouncing Stalin in February 1956, and then the bloody suppression of the Hungarian uprising by the Soviet army, the Communist Party went through a major crisis, and many people left. A large number of Jews left because of the revelations concerning violent anti-Semitism against Jewish cultural workers and writers. Raphael and his mother left also. Raphael threw himself in with great fervour to launch a Left movement outside the Communist Party. Along with sociologist Stuart Hall and others, he founded the journal New Left Review, and also founded a meeting place, a cafe, The Partisan where left-wing intellectuals met, debated and argued about the future and present of the left. This menu illustrates the kind of catering you could expect if you visited the Partisan.

Lost World of British Communism: Communism and Theatres of the Left (SAMUEL/612)

Funeral Programme for Harry PollittHarry Pollitt was the head of the Trade Union Department of the Communist Party of Great Britain and the its General Secretary for more than 20 years. This funeral programme, found among Samuel’s archives, lists the Order Of Service and speakers, including other important Communist names such as Willie Gallacher and John Gollan, alongside actor Paul Robeson.






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