Dispersed or destroyed: archives, the West Indian Students' Union, and public memory
I wish to address a gap in the recorded history of the Caribbean and the United Kingdom, and describe how information professionals and historians can work together, to reclaim a history before it is lost. The West Indian Students’ Union was formed in 1945 with the expansion in the number of students arriving in London for further and higher education. Acting as a welfare, political and social organisation the union represented students and their interests as students, as (predominantly) ‘coloured’ people in Britain, and as residents of colonial territories that were seeking independence. Many future leaders of Caribbean states and territories would occupy positions of leadership within the West Indian Students’ Union. Others returned to rise within the judiciary, academia or cultural heart of the West Indies. Students in Britain saw and arrived parallel to the Windrush era of migration, and as the children of these migrants were born and grew up, the clashes in race relations in Britain that were evidenced by such events as the Notting Hill riots of 1958, restrictions on Commonwealth immigrations and Enoch Powell’s 1968 “rivers of blood” speech and its aftermath. After the Union ceased to operate (sometime in the late 1970s) its records appear to have been lost.
Clover, David (2005) Dispersed or destroyed: archives, the West Indian Students' Union, and public memory. Society for Caribbean Studies Annual Conference Papers, 6 . ISSN 1471-2024
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Official URL: http://www.caribbeanstudies.org.uk/papers/vol6.htm
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