22 December marks the 120th anniversary of the birth of Revd Dr James William Parkes. The transfer of his Library and archive to the University of Southampton in 1964 marked the start of a half century of significant growth, both in the Parkes Library and in Jewish archive collections, transforming Southampton into a major Jewish documentation centre. Amongst the predominantly paper based archive collection were a series of audio material in analogue or obsolete formats. This material, which includes recordings of sermons and talks during the 1960s and 1970s, has been transferred to digital to make it available for research.
The sermons include “The End of the Way” delivered by Parkes at the Church of St Edward King and Martyr, Cambridge, at the close of the conference of the International Council of Christians and Jews (ICCJ) on Jewish-Christian co-operation in 1966 [MS 60/4/6]; and “The Road to Jerusalem” consisting of five sermons for Lent given at Salisbury Cathedral in 1967 [MS 60/4/8/5], sequentially titled “Jesus Clears His Mind – The Temptations”, “The Road Through Tradition”, “The Road Through Teaching”, “The Road Through Healing” and “The Road Through Suffering”.
Recordings of talks by Parkes include “Israel, the diaspora and the world outside” recorded for the BBC, 1 September 1966 [MS 60/4/6]; “Jewish Students between the Wars” delivered to the Oxford University Jewish Society on 14 May 1967 [MS 60/4/8/8]; and “Tradition and Adventure” given at the Westminster Synagogue on 13 June 1967 [MS 60/4/8/8].
The collection also contains two recordings focusing on the life of James Parkes. These include “Journeying” recorded by Parkes’ wife, Dorothy, on 29 April 1977 [MS 60/37/1]; and “Word of Greeting” recorded by Dr Morton C Fierman, California State University, for a colloquium held by the International Council of Christians and Jews in honour of Rev Dr James Parkes and Professor Jules Isaac at Connaught Hall, Southampton, on 20 July 1977 [MS 60/37/1].
The earliest recording is of the opening of the Parkes Library at the University of Southampton on 23 June 1965 [MS 60/4/6]. The event included speeches by Edmund Leopold de Rothschild, and Lord Perth, Vice President of the Council of Christians and Jews. In his introductory speech, the University’s Deputy Vice Chancellor announced the establishment of the Parkes Library Fellowship, a post intended to raise the profile of the collection and to help secure funding for the international research centre envisaged by James Parkes.
The following thirty years saw a series of distinguished Parkes Library Fellows working on the collection, but it was not until 1996 — the year of his centenary — that Parkes Centre for the Study of Jewish/non-Jewish Relations was launched. Five years later the Parkes Institute was created to coordinate and expand the activities of what had become the AHRB Parkes Centre, and the associated library and archive collections.
All of the recordings are now available to access in the Archives and Manuscripts reading room.