Introducing the Churchill Archive

Statue of Sir Winston Churchill with walking cane, giving his familiar 'V for victory' salute.
Statue of Sir Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill still stands as one of Britain’s most controversial figures. A man of unparalleled drive and ambition, poet, artist, and master of rhetoric, he embodied the last throws of British imperialistic colonialism. Now you can discover the man, his work, his influence, and his conflicts through expert introductions and structured introductions to primary source documents and further reading in our newest database acquisition: the Churchill Archive.

Comprising separate collections of introductory articles introducing key aspects of Churchill’s life and influence that give overviews of key topics written by leading historians with links to rich selections of files and documents from the Archive and expert-written in-depth guides that make use of slides, primary sources and further reading selections that provide structured introductions to topics in more depth.

This archive is no sanitised or rose-tinted retrospective of Churchill: it houses all the evidence to cut his prejudices and extremes into sharp relief. Another introductory article uses primary sources from the time to illustrate and explain Churchill’s famous disdain for, and deep suspicion of, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Through press clippings, House of Commons speeches, personal telegrams and correspondence, we can better understand why and how Churchill so distrusted this figure of Indian Independence and gain insight into the relationship between two powerful characters with diametrically opposed views and ambitions.

Another case that highlights Churchill’s energy and drive to create change arose after he took an interest in a newspaper clipping from November 1941 reporting on the first fine issued to an unmarried woman for refusing to comply with a Ministry of Labour war work directive. A curious Churchill sought further details from Ernest Bevin, Minister of Labour and National Service, and on 18 December of the same year, Parliament was passing a second National Service Act drafting all unmarried women and childless widows between the ages of 20 and 30 into the auxiliary forces, as ambulance drivers, bus drivers or workers in munitions factories, the postal service, the railways and elsewhere. By mid-1943, more than 7 million British women were in work, more than ever before, in a sea change to British employment that would have implications for the workforce and eventually give rise to the women’s equality movement.

Assistant Librarian (Promotions) at the University Library. An enthusiastic advocate of libraries, diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice for all, inside and outside the workplace.

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