Unique items from McMaster's archives explore perspectives on peace

Submitted by libbalche on
Filed under Library News:  Mills

December 9th, 1961: Renowned peace activist Bertrand Russell addressing a crowd in Trafalgar Square on behalf of the Committee of 100, a leading British anti-war group. This photo is just one of the many items on display as part of the Perspectives on Peace exhibit in the William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections.

Did you know the peace symbol, now a globally recognized icon, was first created in the 1950s as the symbol of the British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, a movement in which internationally renowned peace advocate Bertrand Russell was deeply involved?

The Perspectives on Peace exhibit, on display until the end of April in McMaster’s William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections located in Mills Library, features materials from this campaign and other selections from Russell’s vast archives, as well as materials from many other notable peace activists.

Part of the campus-wide Perspectives of Peace campaign, the exhibit showcases a variety of items from influential peacemakers of the 20th and 21st centuries including musicians, writers, activists and performers, providing a unique look at the evolution of peace movements and human rights.

The exhibit includes selections from:

The Bertrand Russell ArchiveThe most complete collection of Russell materials in the world, the archive contains photographs, manuscripts, medals, and other personal items belonging to Russell, one of the most influential social thinkers and peace activists of his time. The exhibit includes material on Russell’s opposition to nuclear weapons and the Vietnam War, including the Russell-Einstein manifesto, photographs of the first use of the peace symbol, and letters from Albert Einstein andboxing legend Muhammad Ali, as well as a Christmas card from John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

The Vera Brittain ArchiveConsisting of nearly 300 boxes, this archive contains diaries, manuscripts, lectures, books and many other materials documenting Vera Brittain’s remarkable life as a peace activist. Brittain first witnessed the horrors of war while serving as a Voluntary Aid Detachment Nurse in the First World War, losing both her brother and her fiancé in the conflict. The exhibit features Brittain’s diary in which she details her tragic personal losses and also contains a manuscript of Testament of Youth, Brittain’s best-selling memoir that captured the impact of the war on her generation.

The Perspectives on Peace exhibit also features a number of other materials including; letters describing the WWI Christmas truce of 1915 from the Gerald Blake archive, lyrics of songs about human rights from the Bruce Cockburn archive, and handwritten poems and letters by McMaster alumnus and acclaimed poet Bernard Trotter that describe the plight of soldiers in World War One.