Monthly Archives: February 2019

Highfield Campus 100: 1920s

As we move into the 1920s, we find the University College settling into its new Highfield site.  By 1922, we were home to a grand total of 350 students!  In 1925, 32 of these students secured honours degrees, with 9 placed in the first class. While there were 14 departments in total, the bulk of the student body was made up of trainee teachers, engineers and a large contingent of ex-service men financed by Ministry of Labour; those reading for a degree were in a small minority.  In terms of staff, the University College had 10 professors, 4 readers, 20 lecturers and 4 demonstrators. The administrative staff consisted of the Registrar, David Kiddle, plus two male clerks.  Principal Vickers recounted “what they lacked in numbers […] they made up for by devotion to the interests of their students and their loyalty to the college.”

MS1_Phot_39_ph3112_r

Exterior view of the University College, south wing, with staff and students, c. 1920-5 [MS1/Phot/39 ph3112]

Developing the student accommodation was a key priority for the decade. The first official men’s hall of residence, Stoneham House, was open for the start of the 1921 session and could accommodate 100 residents; it was billed as having “electric light and central heating throughout” – so all the mod-cons! This sixteenth-century mansion house had been the seat of the Barons Swaythling before they moved to Townhill Park House.

MS1-2-5-17-246-e1545054957357.jpg

Staff common room at South Stoneham House [MS1/2/5/17/246]

South Hill House for women “an enlarged private house in beautiful gardens” opened at the same time; this joined Highfield Hall, meaning that there were two residences for female students.  Now part of Glen Eyre in Bassett, South Hill was on loan to the College from the President, Claude Montefiore, and received 30 female “freshers”.

ms 244-12-a919-5southhillhouse 1928-9

Betty Wicks and other residents pictured outside South Hill Hall of Residence, c. 1928-9 [MS224/12 A919]

In 1927, the College bought the freehold of Highfield Hall, with a view to erecting a more modern building. The South wing of the new Highfield Hall was available for occupation by the end of the decade, 1929, although not formally opened by the Duke of York until 1 July 1930.

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Group photograph outside the winter garden of Highfield Hall, c. 1928, with some of the women in fancy dress. [MS1/Phot/39 ph3133]

There were several key individuals who were instrumental in the development of the institution. At the top, throughout the decade, Claude Montefiore gave continuity as President (akin to Chancellor), with his long tenure from 1913-1943.  At the start of the decade, Dr Thomas Loveday replaced Dr Alex Hill as Principal (i.e. Vice Chancellor); his term was fairly short-lived and he was replaced by Kenneth Hotham Vickers in October 1922 who worked to achieve full university status for the institution.

MS1_Photo_39_ph3415_r_0001

Kenneth Hotham Vickers, Principal of the University College 1922-46, seated at his writing table [MS1/Phot/39 ph3415]

Principal Vickers recounts:

The best and most fruitful stage of my education began when I took up residence in Southampton in September 1922 with very little conception of what lay before me […] On my first day in College I was waylaid by the Professor of Physics who was alarmed at the dangerous condition of his first floor lecture room, which was showing signs of subsiding […] On the whole, the accommodation was sufficient for the work then being done, but the huts were an eyesore, and their upkeep and heating a constant worry. [MS113 LF780UNI 2/7/85/101]

Professor John Eustice was Vice Principal throughout the decade.

At the start of the decade, Albert Cock was appointed as Professor of Education and Philosophy.  That same year, the University gained a Chair of Modern Languages with the promotion of Patchett from German lecturer and H.M. Margoliouth as Professor of English Language and Literature.

MS 1 A4108.3 English graduates including Prof Margoliouth

English graduates including Professor Margoliouth [MS1 A4108/3]

In 1921 the University College gained its first Music Professor, George Leake;  he was also organist and choirmaster of St. Marks Church.

MS 101/6 George Leake "Sleep my little one!"

Sheet music for Sleep my little one, set to music by George Leake

The Department of Law was created in 1923. In 1926, Dr W.Rae Sherriffs was appointed first chair of Zoology.  That same year, the University College was joined by Percy Ford who worked towards building a faculty not just of economics but social sciences.

The Engineering Faculty also saw great expansion with a scheme of part time and day and evening training for apprentices of local engineering and shipbuilding firms. The project was supported by Messrs. Thornycrofts and Co. of the Supermarine Aviation Works at Woolston and of the Avro Works at Hamble.

Principal Vickers gives an honest account of the physical condition of the Highfield campus:

Standing in acres of ground lying either side of a public road, it consisted of two wings of the original design joined together by a covered way. As an after thought, three small laboratories and a building for the Engineering Department, all “semi-permanent” structures, had been erected behind these two wings. The Hospital authorities had added a large number of wooden huts of “temporary structure”, which were sold to the College.

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Aerial view of the University College looking east, showing part of University Road and Hartley Avenue, c. 1928-9 [MS1/Phot 39 ph3211]

And Vickers elaborates further on the College accommodation:

The main structure was not very prepossessing and suffered from the addition of certain stone adornments; it was built of unattractive brick. Already it was showing signs of unsteadiness. In front of the College there was an unmown hay field, at the back all the unoccupied space was a wilderness. Across the road, in front of the College were more huts.

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Exterior view of the University College, north wing, c. 1925 [MS1/Phot/39 ph3099b]

The opening of the George Moore Botanical Building by Duke of Connaught in June 1928 was a key achievement. It housed laboratories for the Botany Department and its construction was made possible through a legacy left by George Moore, a former member of the College Council. The driving force behind this project was Professor of Botany, S.Mangham. At the same time, plans were laid for a botanical garden; this now has a second life as Valley Gardens.

ms1_2_5_17 department of botany, the main laboratory showing prof mangham with students

Department of Botany: the main laboratory showing Professor Mangham with students [MS1/2/5/17]

Various new committees established during this decade including for general purposes, grounds, works and halls and refectory.  Alongside this the work of Senate was developed and this also generated several new committees, including Research Committee and Development Committee.

A good social life was as important for students then as it is now.  This dance card from 1921 shows that nights out were somewhat more formal 100 years ago.

ms224 a909.1.3 soiree

Dance card for a soiree at the Royal Pier Pavilion, 24 February 1921 [MS224 A908/1/3]

This decade saw the acquisition of an assembly hall and the Montefiore sports field which greatly aided the student social scene. Football, hockey and netball were some of the sports in which the students could partake and these activities are well reflected in our photographic collections.

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Tennis team, 1921 [MS1/Phot/39 ph3164]

In 1926 Gilbert and Sullivan concerts were held in the Old Assembly Hall, conducted by D.Cecil Williams, Master of Music at University College, Southampton.  The “RAG” (student-run fundraising) events also featured heavily.

ms224_12_a919_5_rag_0002.jpg

Photo the RAG concert, 1928-9 session, taken from the papers of Betty Wicks [MS224/12 A919/5/2]

Towards the end of the decade, in 1928, the Wessex publication was founded as “a record of the movement for a University of Wessex”. That same year the Extra-Mural Department formed with Kenneth Lindsay as secretary; classes of various types opened in close co-operation with the Workers’ Educational Association, Women’s Institutes and other bodies in local area. A four year course in education was also instituted.

By the end of the decade the University College had faced its fair share of challenges, many financial, but was well established at its Highfield home.  We will close with Principal Vickers reflections on the University College, Southampton spirit:

Not many days had gone by before I realized that there was that corporate spirit and devotion to all that the College stood for, which can only be learnt fully by those who have together passed through days of danger and tribulation […] There was in the College something which was intangible, but very real, compounded of a belief in University education, a devotion to the place and their job and their readiness to give the raw young Principal all the backing that he needed. [MS 113 LF 780 UNI 2/7/85/101]

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Francis Cleyn the Elder

We take the opportunity of the new Special Collections exhibition – exploring image-making in relation to the Leonardo da Vinci drawings on display at the City Art Gallery – to look at a collection of drawings held by the Special Collections.

The Librarian of the Hartley Institution was authorised to spend £5 a year (around £313 today) on Old Master drawings and by the late 1870s there was a growing collection. The album of 163 sketches by Francis Cleyn the Elder was one of these acquisitions.

Cover of Cleyn album [MS292]

Cover of Cleyn album [MS292]

Unprepossessing in appearance, with its limp paper and parchment binding of the first half of the seventeenth century and sheets of a stained and dirty rag paper, the album represents one of the largest collections of Cleyn’s drawings and designs. Cleyn was best known for his tapestry designs, but he was also an accomplished designer of seals, title pages, book illustrations and decorative interior design schemes. Many of the sketches in the album have been identified as preparatory studies for engravings, sculpture and tapestries.

Cleyn was the chief designer at the Mortlake Tapestry Factory for Charles I of England and under the Commonwealth. Originally from Rostock, Cleyn worked first for King Christian IV of Denmark before Christian loaned his services to his brother-in-law, James I of England. James I set up the Mortlake Tapestry Factory in 1619: by the reign of his son Charles I it employed as many as 140 people and produced some of the finest tapestries woven in Europe in the 1620s and 1630s.

Drapery studies by Cleyn, including kilt of Roman soldier [MS292 f.18r]

Drapery studies by Cleyn, including kilt of Roman soldier [MS292 f.18r]

Sketch by Cleyn of winged putti [MS292 f.5r]

Sketch by Cleyn of winged putti [MS292 f.5r]

Cleyn was considered one of the best ‘storytellers’ in English art and played a remarkable role in tapestry design. Among the drawings in his album are five for a series of ‘Love and Folly tapestries, for Charles I, which were probably prepared in 1626, perhaps in connection with the King’s marriage to Henrietta Maria, and three designs for the Mortlake series of ‘Horses’ tapestries — Perseus and Andromeda, Meleager and the Calydonian Boar, and Minos and Scylla, from a set of six.

Preparatory sketch by Cleyn for a tapestry ‘Perseus and Andromeda’ [MS292 f.34r]

Preparatory sketch by Cleyn for tapestry Perseus and Andromeda [MS292 f.34r]

The ‘Horses’ tapestries were among the possessions of Charles I inventoried after his death whilst the Leonardo da Vinci drawings currently on display in Southampton and 11 other venues around the UK became part of the Royal Collection in the reign of Charles II in the late seventeenth century.

Drawings from the Cleyn album are on display in the Special Collections exhibition The Leonardo Link Image-Making from Anatomy to Code which opened on Monday 18 February.

Sir Marc Brunel (1769-1849) and the Duke of Wellington

The Wellington Papers held by the Special Collections, Hartley Library, contain extensive correspondence with Marc Brunel, born in France in 1769 and the father of the more celebrated Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Marc was also a gifted and innovative engineer whose most famous project was the Thames Tunnel, the first successful tunnel ever to be built under a body of water, and for which achievement he was knighted by Queen Victoria. This year is the 250th anniversary of his birth.

Marc’s first major contact with the Duke of Wellington was after the financial failure of his project to construct boot-making machinery for the army, although he had previously corresponded with him on other projects including a plan for a new bridge at Rochester in 1819-20. The demand for boots collapsed after Waterloo, which resulted in Marc’s incarceration for 88 days in 1821 in a debtor’s prison, along with his wife Sophia. He felt that he had been treated very unfairly by the Government, and appealed for help to the Duke, who managed to secure a grant of £5000 to obtain his release. Wellington wrote to Charles Arbuthnot in July 1821 “..Mr Brunel has rendered most important services to the public in all departments of the state whose business is to superintend the provision of the equipments for carrying on war” [MS 61 WP1/673/3].

Marc Brunel’s many other inventions included a stocking knitting machine, improvements in printing and Liverpool’s first floating landing stage. Another major achievement was his improved block-making machinery for the Admiralty, pulley blocks being essential parts of rigging on sailing vessels, and the reason he first came to England in 1799. In September 1821 he sent drawings of two chain bridges to the Duke of Wellington with a letter explaining his reservations about the design of the first, and why he believed his own design was superior.

Drawing of two chain bridges by Marc Brunel [MS 61 WP1/679/8]

Drawing of two chain bridges by Marc Brunel, 1821 [MS61 WP1/679/8]

The Special Collections holds a number of letters, including drawings, from Marc Brunel concerning the Thames Tunnel. The Tunnel was planned to link Rotherhithe and Wapping and Marc designed an ingenious tunnelling shield to achieve this. This idea is the basis of modern tunnelling shields, including that used in the Crossrail project under London. Brunel’s original patented design was circular, but unfortunately, partly due to lack of funds, a rectangular shield was adopted for the Thames, allowing disastrous inundations.

Tunnelling shield: drawing by Marc Brunel, 1838 [MS 61 WP/2/49/34]

Tunnelling shield: drawn by Marc Brunel, 1838 [MS61 WP/2/49/34]

Letter from Brunel relating to tunnelling shield, 1838 [MS61 WP2/49/33]

Letter from Brunel relating to tunnelling shield, 1838 [MS61 WP2/49/33]

“I may, I presume, take the liberty of saying a word from our Region (1of morning). All is going on well here; but it is through an expedient applicable to the emergency. Emergencies I may say. Pelted as we have been by the River with all kind of missiles besides water, I have resorted to protection which I frequently illustrate by the Blinds of your Grace’s windows. . . . Every one of the boards may be unhinged easily without affecting the stability of the rest.”

Lithograph showing men at work in the tunnel from Marc Brunel A new plan for tunnelling

Lithograph showing men at work in the tunnel from Marc Brunel A new plan for tunnelling [Wellington Pamphlet 1094]

Work began on the tunnelling project in 1825, but suffered many setbacks and was not completed until 1843. The ground under the river did not consist of the solid clay that had been hoped for, but included water-bearing sand and gravel. This caused a number of very dangerous inundations, one of which carried away the young Isambard Kingdom Brunel who was assisting his father with the project, and causing him serious injuries. Working conditions were made even worse by the state of the river at that period, which was little more than an open sewer, causing much sickness among the workmen. Throughout the project, Marc Brunel kept the Duke of Wellington informed of its progress, as on 1 September 1837 when work had just resumed after another inundation.: “It is from the lowest regions of the Thames that I have the honor of addressing you. … [I] found the Shield undisturbed and not one brick missing to the structure”. [MS61 WP2/47/65]

Plan of the Wapping shaft: drawn by Brunel, 1842 [MS61 WP2/83/12]

Plan of the Wapping shaft: drawn by Marc Brunel, 1842 [MS61 WP2/83/12]

The last letter that we hold from Marc Brunel is dated March 1844 [MS61 WP2/118/15], when the tunnel was complete except for the carriageways to the entrances. Brunel requests a pension from the government, and outlines his long career:

“I came to this country five and forty years ago. In 1802 I erected . . . the Block Machinery at Portsmouth, which remains to this hour successfully at work . . . I was subsequently employed in erecting Saw Mills on a new principle in both Woolwich and Chatham Dock Yards. . . .Several other mechanical inventions, the Great Circular Saw, now so extensively used, the Cotton-winding machine, which led to the general use of cotton thread, are also instances if improvements of which I am the Author.”

Wellington has written a draft reply across the letter:: “[The Duke of Wellington] is the Commander in Chief of the Army … not the President of the Board of Trade. He has no control over the Public Purse.” The Duke received a great many requests of this nature, and had there are many other examples of such replies.

Reply from Wellington to Brunel, 29 March 1844 [MS61 WP2/118/15]

Draft of reply from Wellington to Marc Brunel, written across the top of the letter, 29 March 1844 [MS61 WP2/118/15]

Marc Brunel’s tunnel under the Thames is still in use today as part of London’s railway network. Trains began running here in 1869, although the tunnel was originally intended for horse-drawn traffic and pedestrians. Brunel was unable to construct the carriageways down to the tunnel as the money had run out, but pedestrians were able to access it by a spiral staircase.

Some of the Brunel items feature in the new Special Collections exhibition The Leonardo link: image-making from anatomy to code which will open on Monday 18 February.

Archivist projects: Cataloguing the Papers of Michael Sherbourne

This week archivist Lara Nelson discusses a recent cataloguing project focusing on the papers of Michael Sherbourne, a human rights activist who played an influential role in the movement to win Jews the right to emigrate from the Soviet Union.

Michael Sherborne [MS434 A4249 7/2]

Michael Sherbourne [MS434 A4249 7/2]

Born on 22 February 1917 in London, Michael Sherbourne’s family name was Sheinbaum. His father’s parents were from Poland and his mother’s Sephardi family (descendants of Spanish exiles), had lived in England since the seventeenth century. His father worked as a tailor and a taxi driver, and his mother was a housewife. In the 1930s Michael and his three brothers anglicised their surname to Sherbourne.

Michael was politically engaged from an early age. When British fascists attempted to march in one of the Jewish areas of London, a 19 year old Michael was to be seen taking part in the anti-fascistic action of the Jews, who filled the streets and blocked the march. This single event made Michael realise the importance of unity and determination in gaining victory over a powerful enemy. He took this on in his fight for the independent Jewish state and in his struggle for the liberation of Jews from Soviet captivity.

As a result of the Great Depression in 1929, unemployment was rife in Great Britain, peaking at just below 3 million by 1932. This partly led to Michael Sherbourne leaving school at sixteen, and joining the Civil Service. Interested in Zionism however, Sherbourne soon left the Civil Service and went to what was then Palestine, and joined the Zionist organisation Hechaluts, which means “the pioneer”.

Young Michael Sherbourne, 1939 [MS434 A4249 7/3]

Young Michael Sherbourne, 1939 [MS434 A4249 7/3]

Hechaluts was a group for the youth, providing news about the land of Israel (which at the time was Palestine); courses in Hebrew; Hebrew songs and dances; and pioneer training, which was named Hachshara. Sherbourne joined this training programme at the age of eighteen. The trainees practised agriculture and learned to be farmers. Sherbourne put what he learnt into practice at a training farm in Kent, where he was to meet his future wife, Muriel Cohen. After receiving their certificate for Aliyah, they left for Palestine on the first day of World War Two, 1 September 1939. They joined Kibbutz Anglo Balti for 6 months, then left for Haifa, where Michael was employed in the Royal Navy, and where their eldest daughter Norma was later born. Sherbourne’s involvement in the Eastern Mediterranean Fleet of the Royal Navy provided the opportunity for him to become fluent in French and Hebrew and to study Arabic.

Michael Sherbourne and his wife Muriel in USA, 1989 [MS434 A4249 7/2]

Michael Sherbourne and his wife Muriel in USA, 1989 [MS434 A4249 7/2]

 After World War Two ended, the Sherbourne family returned to England. Shortly after the birth of Sherbourne’s second daughter Lana, Michael was forced to return to Palestine in 1948 to join the Israeli Army during the War of Independence. Michael was a fighter in the IDF (Hativat Sheva, Mahal), and participated in the decisive battle for Latrun.

As Muriel contracted tuberculosis, the Sherbournes could not stay in Israel long-term. In London Muriel underwent treatment for this over a 2-year period. Sherbourne focussed on training to become a teacher, taking a 13 month course at a teacher’s training college in London. At the College were 30 Jews, of which 28 were members of the Communist Party, causing Sherbourne to always be in disagreement with them. As a result of a challenge to learn Russian Sherbourne learnt took up evening classes, and went on to study a degree in Russian. Some say that Sherbourne also learnt Russian to learn the language of the enemy. After achieving his degree, Sherbourne switched from teaching metalwork and machine-tool mechanics to teaching foreign languages, and became Head of the Department of Modern Foreign Languages at a large secondary comprehensive school in North London, until he retired in 1979.

MS 434 A4249_4_12_2 Section of Soviet Socialists Map

Section of Soviet Socialists map, c.1960s [MS434 A4249 4/12/2]

Even after taking a school party to the Soviet Union, and speaking to Jews at the Synagogue in Leningrad, Sherbourne did not learn about the Jewish problem in Russia until he attended a meeting in London where Jewish women from Leningrad spoke of their experiences. Following this meeting, the Association of Jewish Ex-service Men and Women organised a committee to help Soviet Jews, to which Michael and his wife Muriel asked to join. After telling the Committee that he could speak Russian, the first job delegated to him was to ring some of the Jews that had suffered in Russia. As Sherbourne made the phone calls, he received more and more numbers to call, particularly from a lady called Eder Nudel. Nudel made it her business to find Jewish prisoners who were given the misleading title of prisoners of Zion. Over a period of fifteen years, Sherbourne made up to six thousand telephone calls. Sherbourne would use the phone calls to find out when the person had applied for permission to immigrate, when they were refused, what difficulties they had faced from the police, and what their current situation was. Sherbourne would then communicate this information to the Israeli Embassy in London, and the activist group, the 35’s Women’s Campaign for Soviet Jewry. Over time, Sherbourne succeeded in forming a solid chain of communication between what he termed the “Refuseniks” and Jewish organisations wishing to help them emigrate from Russia.

Michael Sherbourne on the telephone with his recording equipment, c.1980s-1990s [MS434 A4249 7/4]

Michael Sherbourne on the telephone with his recording equipment, c.1980s-1990s [MS434 A4249 7/4]

After meeting members of the 35s Women’s Campaign for Soviet Jewry at a conference held by the Chief Rabbi in Britain, Sherbourne began to work closely with the organisation. Peaceful protests were made outside theatres where Soviet artists performed, publicising the names of refuseniks and calling on the Soviet Union to release the Jews. Jeans were also sent to refuseniks to help them to earn money.

Women’s Campaign for Soviet Jewry calendar, 1989 [MS 434 A4249 5/6]

Women’s Campaign for Soviet Jewry calendar, 1989 [MS434 A4249 5/6]

Retiring from the synagogue and teaching in the late seventies left time for Sherbourne to write articles and give public talks on Soviet Jewry. Topics of these talks included “Russian Jewry: Triumph or Tragedy?”, “A Brief Account of Russian Anti-Semitism and the 35s Women’s Campaign for Soviet Jewry”, and “Jews in the U.S.S.R. – Cultural Genocide”. Sherbourne also attended talks relating to these topics, such as “Final Reckoning: Was the Soviet Union really ‘bad for the Jews’?” given by John Klier at the sixth annual Maccabean Lecture at King’s College London. Known as a strong personality in the campaign for Soviet Jewry, Sherborne received many enquiries, such as authors requesting his thoughts on their books and articles on the subject. An example includes Martin Gilbert on his publication Shcharansky Hero of Our Time.

Poster for talk given by Michael Sherbourne on ‘Russian Jewry Past, Present, and Future’, 2004 [MS 434 A 4249 1/3 Folder 8]

Poster for talk given by Michael Sherbourne on “Russian Jewry Past, Present, and Future”, 2004 [MS434 A4249 1/3 Folder 8]

Putting his skill of being able to read and write in Russian to good use, Sherbourne also spent his time in the 1990s translating documents from Russian and Hebrew into English. Documents included publications, poems, and even family history and legal documents.

Front cover of We are from Russia by Paulina Kleiner translated from Russian by Michael Sherbourne , MS434 A 4249 2/1/1 Folder 1]

Front cover of We are from Russia by Paulina Kleiner translated from Russian by Michael Sherbourne, [MS434 A4249 2/1/1 Folder 1]

In 1971 Sherbourne invented the term “Refusenik”, when the Jewish movement in the USSR started to expand and the number of Refuseniks increased dramatically. Sherbourne went so far as to write to dictionary publishers and writers of newspaper articles when he thought that they had defined the word incorrectly, or had used the term incorrectly. Criticism included specifying that the term Refusenik refers only to a Jew, and that the term is not Yinglish, as it is a direct translation of the Russian word “Otkaznik”. He has also corrected publishers when he believed that definitions provided for “Red Sea” had been incorrect.

Some records within the Sherbourne collection relate to Women’s Campaign for Soviet Jewry. These include correspondence discussing the history of the organisation, newsletters and bulletins, and circulars and calendars. We also hold the collection MS 254 Papers of the Women’s Campaign for Soviet Jewry.

The Sherbourne collection provides a rich resource of material for the study of the campaign against the Soviet Jewry. Not only is there material which shows the point of view of parties outside Russia, there are also copies of the Russian magazine Kohtekct that contains articles relating to Soviet Jewry. Extensive material also relates to the conflict in the Middle East, as well as on anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, and the Kristallnacht.

Thanks to the efforts of individuals like Michael Sherbourne, and organisations like the Women’s Campaign for the Soviet Jewry, Jewish communities in Russia have formed that have direct contact with many synagogues in Great Britain, who regularly meet.

“But there, in – inside the former Soviet Union, the children are teaching their parents to understand Judaism. It’s—it’s an amazing thing, how it’s risen, like Phoenix from the ashes. It’s amazing.” (Interview with Michael Sherborne, p.23, 6 September 2003 [MS434 A4249 1/1]

Michael Sherbourne on protest march in San Francisco near the Soviet Consulate, [MS434 A4249 7/2]

Michael Sherbourne on protest march in San Francisco near the Soviet Consulate, [MS434 A4249 7/2]