Conserving the Bedales Archive

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Last week Jane Kirby (Old Bedalian and Volunteer Archivist) and Ian Douglas (Librarian) attended a conservation workshop arranged by the School Archivists Group. This organisation brings together staff and volunteers working in over 250 independent schools, who between them share responsibility for looking after a vital part of the national heritage.

Top of the bill on this occasion was expert advice on preserving photographs, film and textiles. Jane and Ian can now confidently distinguish an albumen print from a silver gelatin print, and understand their different preservation needs. We have also been cautiously sniffing our film collection for signs of the dreaded ‘vinegar syndrome’.

In our own recent conservation work, Jane has been making bespoke light-proof boxes, to protect some early Bedalians’ photo albums. Ian has conserved and rebound this 1930s diary written by Dunhurst pupils.

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Remembering Bedales co-founder Oswald Powell

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By Matilda McMorrow, Librarian

“It is never good for the governed or for the government that injustice should be tolerated without protest,” began Oswald Powell in his letter to the Hants & Sussex News in 1913. At the time he was fighting alongside Winifred Powell in solidarity with all women, in a society that took women’s work, money and lives whilst refusing them the right to be seen as people. The Powells would protest this injustice for five more years before any UK women had voting rights. They confronted the tax authorities, took local action in Petersfield and international action at a Budapest conference, and of course, tried to model social change in their work at Bedales. This collaborative, action-driven spirit seems to have been at the heart of the man who co-founded Bedales, and certainly put life into the ideas of John Badley, whose name we might be more familiar with.

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