This week Sarah Mills, Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at Loughborough University, discusses her use of the special collections as part of a research project on the Jewish Lads’ Brigade in post-war Britain.
“This research project aimed to explore attitudes and approaches to religious youth and youth work in post-war Britain and was funded by the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG). To address these research aims, the project drew upon the case-study of one uniformed youth organisation – the Jewish Lads’ Brigade founded in 1895 and their activities between 1945-1969. The general papers of the Jewish Lads’ and Girls’ Brigade at Southampton (MS244) and related collections in Manchester provided important context into the wider post-war reconstruction efforts of the youth organisation as it embarked on an ambitious ‘advance again’ to attract the modern Jewish teenager.
During fieldwork, I became increasingly interested in the unique work of the Jewish Lads’ Brigade & Club in Manchester, led by dynamic (non-Jewish) professional youth worker Stanley Rowe from 1954 onwards. This rich material at Southampton (MS223) allowed me to trace some of the wider geographies of youth work and the politics of paid/unpaid labour within youth organisations. Indeed, national debates about the role of youth and community work, and faith-based volunteering, were played out at the local scale at the JLB & C. A range of material including annual reports, correspondence, scrapbooks, newspaper cuttings, photographs, and youth magazines represented the Club as a vibrant and popular space in the city for Jewish youth and their non-Jewish friends.
Overall, the example of the JLB & C has provided a useful lens through which to view wider social and political changes in youth culture and Anglo-Jewry at this time, as well as uncovering some of the wider politics of youth work, volunteering and employment. I’d like to thank Karen Robson and all the staff at the Library & Archives for their assistance with this project.”
Sarah has recently published a journal article based on this fieldwork. This is available online for free until October 2015 or via most University library subscriptions.