Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Ephemera from the Anti-Apartheid Movement archive: Guest post by Lucy McCann

The Bodleian has rich collections of ephemera, apart from the John Johnson Collection, among its printed books and archives. I am very grateful to my archivist colleague, Lucy McCann, of the Bodleian Library of Commonwealth & African Studies, for this guest post about the ephemera which form part of the Anti-Apartheid Movement Archive.

Display box made of card for the badge produced for the ‘Nelson Mandela Freedom at 70’ campaign. The AAM aimed to get 1,000,000 people in Britain wearing the badge on Mandela’s 70th birthday, 18 July 1988. (C) AAM Archives Committee 
A website recording the history of the Anti-Apartheid Movement in Britain was formally launched on 20 March 2014. Funded by the Amiel & Melburn Trust and the Heritage Lottery Fund, 'Forward to Freedom: The History of the British Anti-Apartheid Movement, 1959-1994' (  summarises the history of the Movement and makes freely available a selection of documents and other items held in the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM) Archive in the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford.  The website gives a sample of the rich collection of printed ephemera within the archive dating from the Movement's origins in 1959 to the holding of the first democratic elections in South Africa in 1994, after which the AAM disbanded. 

Poster publicising an AAM demonstration on 
13 February 1972 against the Conservative 
government’s proposals for a settlement on 
Rhodesia which fell far short of majority rule.
 The Rhodesia Emergency Campaign 
Committee was a coalition of groups set up 
by the AAM.
(C) AAM Archives Committee 
Printed ephemera were key to the AAM's operations and effectiveness. Posters and leaflets rallied supporters to demonstrations and marches and raised awareness among the general public of campaigns such as the consumer boycott of South African goods and support for political prisoners. Much of the ephemera in the archive was produced by the AAM's head office in London (located from the mid-1980s at 13 Mandela Street) but the archive also includes leaflets and posters created by local groups around the country and others who gave support such as trade unionists, students, churches and professional groups ('Lawyers Against Apartheid', 'Architects Against Apartheid').  Leaflets, posters, postcards, greetings cards, catalogues and wrapping paper can be seen on the website.

The material on the website forms only a small proportion of the whole archive, the catalogue for which can be seen at .

Poster to mobilise opposition to the all-white South African cricket tour planned for 1970. Along with Stop the Seventy Tour (STST) and the Fair Cricket Campaign, the AAM succeeded in forcing the Cricket Council to cancel the tour.
(C) AAM Archives Committee


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