Katie – a 2nd year History student worked on part of the Colin Challen Archive.
As part of a student work experience placement scheme, I have been looking at and cataloguing part of the Colin Challen collection for Heritage Quay. This contains material regarding Yorkshire Constituency Labour Parties, a particular focus being the Labour Party in Leeds from 1960 to 2006, and you can view the listings here.
Initially, the sheer amount of material appeared overwhelming, but once I had conducted a closer inspection of the material, I was able to start to file the items accordingly into appropriate categories and folders. I also had to conduct some research into Leeds’ constituencies so that I could understand their Municipal Election process.
The collection is interesting as through correspondence from notable local Councillors D.B. Matthews and Colin Challen, an insight can be gained regarding the inner-workings of the Labour Party Council in Leeds, as well as exploring how Municipal Elections were run and organised. The collection also contains material relating to controversial events and decisions within the local party reacting to national policies and leadership, which pits local vs national politics in an interesting way.
The material that particularly caught my attention was the campaign material for local elections in Leeds. It was interesting to see what policies the different parties had used to try to encourage people to vote for them, and also to see how the images that the party wanted to present of candidates has changed over the years. Whilst the public only get to see the glossy, final version of these leaflets and posters, the draft versions of these campaign posters and leaflets also showed the thought process behind why something was presented or written in a certain way on the end product.
Overall, I have found working on this collection an enjoyable experience. Not only has it allowed me to explore some fascinating material, but has also helped me understand and appreciate the amount of effort required to correctly sort through material, organise it and then categorise it to the high standard that archives require.