Monday, 12 March 2012

Happy Commonwealth Day: Commonwealth NGO archives

Being Commonwealth Day, today we wish to highlight some archive collections reflecting what is now generally known as the 'informal' Commonwealth, that is the role of Commonwealth non-government organisations.
The Institute of Commonwealth Studies Archives holds a number of collections from Commonwealth NGOs.

Theses include:

The records of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) reflect the history of Commonwealth co-operation in the field of international telecommunications and comprise the surviving records of the bodies that administered Commonwealth telecommunications relations from 1928 onwards. The CTO promotes, through collaborative projects, the growth of international telecommunications throughout the Commonwealth. The organisation endeavours to link its commitment to development and training to the benefits attached to the creation and extension of commercial opportunities. It was established following the 1966 Commonwealth Telecommunications Conference and has since witnessed radical technological and commercial changes, most notably the introduction and widespread use of digital technology.  The records also include material from the Imperial Communications Advisory Committee, 1928-1945; 2. Commonwealth Communications Council, 1944-1949; 3. Commonwealth Telecommunications Board, 1949-1969; Commonwealth Telecommunications Council (CTC), and Commonwealth Telecommunications Bureau, 1966-1987; Commonwealth Telecommunications Bureau and the Commonwealth Telecommunications Council (CTC) after 1987.

The Commonwealth Press Union (CPU) was an association composed of 750 members in 49 countries, including newspaper groups, individual newspapers, and news agencies throughout the Commonwealth, represented within the CPU by their proprietors, publishers or senior executives. The aims and objectives of the organisation were to uphold the ideas and values of the Commonwealth; to promote, through the press, understanding and goodwill among members of the Commonwealth; and to advance the freedom, interests and welfare of the Commonwealth press and those working within it by i) monitoring and opposing all measures and proposals likely to affect the freedom of the press in any part of the Commonwealth, ii) working for improved facilities for reporting and transmitting news, and iii) promoting the training of all involved in the Commonwealth’s press. The CPU also offered some of the Commonwealth's most prestigious awards, including the Commonwealth Press Union Fellowship in International Journalism and the Harry Brittain Fellowships. The origin of the organisation went back to 1909 with the staging of the first Imperial Press Conference. This led to the creation of the Empire Press Union, which later became the Commonwealth Press Union. The CPU was wound up on 31 December 2008. The records held include a number of official records relating to the administration of the organisation (reports, financial statements, rules, correspondence etc., several items being mounted in a volume entitled 'The Empire Press Union Guard Book') 1909-1998; circulars and bulletins covering the periods 1911-1924, 1929-1939 and 1964-1986; a good series of Conference papers and reports, together with associated albums of news cuttings, and photographs, c1950-1985; publications; and papers relating to Sir Harry Brittain (the founder of the Empire Press Union). A further donation of material is not yet catalogued, but box lists can be consulted. The Library is curently seeking funding to catalogue this collection.

The Commonwealth Trade Union Council (CTUC) was established in Mar 1980. Thhe CTUC aimed to strengthen links between trade unions in the Commonwealth and to provide practical assistance to trade unions in developing countries. It also undertook a programme of Development Education with Trade Unionists in developed countries, aiming to raise awareness of international issues. After a number of years of operation, funding from members was withdrawn and a decision was taken in June 2004 to wind up the CTUC at end of 2004. The collection icnludes the papers of the Commonwealth Trade Union Council from 1979-2004, including papers relating to the setting up of the CTUC from the Commonwealth Trade Union Conference Jun 1979 agendas, minutes and associated documents relating to meetings; subject files arranged alphabetically on related organisations and Commonwealth nations, 1980-2004; project files containing photographs and papers relating to projects undertaken by the CTUC including in the Caribbean, Southern Africa, India, Bangladesh, Sierra Leone; East Africa and West Africa, [1981]-2003; circulars and attachments,and papers relating to CTUC conferences. The Library is currently seeking funding to catalogue this collection, though boxlists are available for interested researchers.
The Commonwealth Journalists Association is a professional association for working journalists throughout the Commonwealth. It was founded by a group of journalists in 1978 following a conference of Commonwealth non-government organisations, in Nova Scotia. The CJA aims to raise journalistic standards by providing training courses, to promote awareness of Commonwealth affairs and to defend the independence of journalists where this is perceived to be threatened.
The records comprise the papers of the Commonwealth Journalists Association (CJA), from 1979-2003, including papers relating to training in: Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Brunei, the Caribbean, Cyprus, the Gambia, Ghana, HongKong, India, Kenya, Lesotho, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia,  Nigeria, Pacific, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Southern Africa, Sri Lanka, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe; correspondence files; and papers relating to the Annual Conference of Commonwealth Journalists, and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings; minutes and meeting papers;  applications and correspondence on the Commonwealth Relations Trust travel bursary award, 1991-1996, papers on CJA branches including in Nigeria, Delhi and Canada; press cuttings, notably concerning freedom of the press violations in Commonwealth countries and papers on the creation and funding of the CJA. The collection is currently being catalogued thanks to the support of the Scott Trust Charitable Foundation and SHeLF, the Friends of Senate House Library.

At our sister institute, the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies is held another collection of interest:

The Commonwealth Legal Education Association (CLEA) was founded during the Fourth Commonwealth Law Conference in New Delhi in 1971. The Association's objects were to foster high standards of legal education and research in Commonwealth countries, to build up contacts between interested individuals and organizations, and to disseminate information and literature concerning legal education and research.
The Archive of the Commonwealth Legal Education Association (CLEA) consists of correspondence and official papers of officers of the Association and miscellaneous publications produced by the Assocation. Minutes, agenda and papers relating to Executive Committee and Advisory Council meetings and meetings of special committees etc will be found among the secretary's files

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