Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)US121
TitleUniversity of Birmingham Staff Papers: Stuart Hall Archive
Extent102 boxes
DescriptionProfessional and political archive of Stuart Hall containing material relating to his activities as editor of the Universities and Left Review and the New Left Review in the 1950s and early 1960s; his involvement with CND during its first wave in the early 1960s; his role as a member and Director of the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at the University of Birmingham from 1964 to 1979; his teaching work at the Open University after he left Birmingham in 1979; and his wide-ranging research interests following his retirement from the Open University in 1997, until the end of his life. The archive contains a substantial quantity of annotated drafts and published copies of Stuart Hall's writings on a wide range of subjects, spanning the period from the 1950s to the 2010s, as well as correspondence; course materials; interview transcripts; recordings; and ephemera
ArrangementMaterial has been roughly arranged according to the various phases of Stuart Hall's professional and political life, though there are some inconsistencies
Access ConditionsThe majority of this collection is open to all registered researchers. The collection contains a small amount of personal information of some living individuals. Access and use of this information is covered by our 'Access to Archives and Manuscripts' declaration in order to comply with Data Protection regulations. Where a closure period has been applied, small sections of the collection will not be generally available to researchers until the closure period has expired. More details of closure periods applied can be found in the temporary handlist available as a pdf file

The collection is currently being fully catalogued as part of the activities of the Stuart Hall Archive Project, 2024-2026. We may not be able facilitate access to parts of the collection during the cataloguing process. Researchers are welcome to contact the Project Archivist to discuss their research needs, though requests to access the collection will be considered on a case-by-case basis
Finding AidsA temporary handlist is available as a pdf file. Click on the link in the document field below. A paper copy is also available at the Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections
DocumentUS121 Stuart Hall Archive finding aid.pdf
Access StatusOpen, but subject to some access restrictions
Physical DescriptionThe archive includes some sound recordings on reel-to-reel tapes which require migration to a modern format before they can be made accessible. These are indicated in the temporary handlist, and are not currently available to researchers. The archive also includes born-digital content on 3.5" floppy disk. These are indicated in the temporary handlist, and are not currently available to researchers.
Creator NameHall, Stuart McPhail (1932-2014), cultural theorist and political commentator
Administrative HistoryStuart McPhail Hall was born on 3 February 1932 in Jamaica. He was the son of Herman McPhail Hall, accountant at the Jamaican subsidiary of United Fruit, and his wife, Jessie. He was of mixed African, Scottish, and Portuguese descent. He had a brother and sister, both of whom were older than him. He won a scholarship to Jamaica College, and won a Rhodes scholarship to Merton College at Oxford, travelling to Britain in 1951. He read English at Oxford and graduated in 1954. He began work on a DPhil on Henry James, but was becoming increasingly interested in British politics, and in culture, and moved to London in 1957. This move coincided with his appointment as joint founding editor of the Universities and Left Review, later renamed the New Left Review. He went on the first Aldermaston march in 1958 and became extremely active in both the 'new left' and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, devoting most of his time to them. He taught English at Stockwell secondary modern school and later was a lecturer in film and mass media studies at Chelsea College, part of London University. One of the concerns of the Universities and Left Review and the New Left Review was to understand and analyse cultural change, and especially popular culture. Hall later described this period as the beginning of cultural studies. He was also concerned by British responses to colonial migration during this period, and particularly with the level of awareness of the history of empire.
In 1963 Hall met Catherine Mary Barrett (b. 1946), who was also involved with CND. They married in December 1964, and had two children, Becky (b. 1968) and Jess (b. 1971). Catherine became a member of a women's liberation group in Birmingham, and later formed a collaborative feminist history research group. She later became an acclaimed historian, working on race, gender, and empire, and leading a project on legacies of British slave-ownership.

Stuart Hall joined the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at the University of Birmingham in 1964 at the invitation of its director, Richard Hoggart. He took over from Hoggart as acting director in 1968, and was Director from 1973 to 1979. In his work at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies he developed ideas set out in 'The Popular Arts' which he co-wrote with Paddy Whannel in 1964, and expanded the scope of cultural studies to deal with race and gender, helping to incorporate new ideas derived from the work of French theorists. He saw cultural studies as multidisciplinary, and in popular rather than elitist terms. He was particularly influenced by Raymond Williams and by the Italian Marxist, Antonio Gramsci, and was interested in culture's relationship with politics and power. His writings usually took the form of collaborations with others, often graduate students of the Centre, and he helped to shape the terms of debate on the media, deviancy, race, politics, Marxism, and critical theory. His output included a number of collectively written and edited volumes, essays and journalism, political speeches, and radio and television talks.

He left Birmingham in 1979 to become Professor of Sociology at the Open University, and held this post until his retirement in 1997. He was appointed emeritus professor in 1998. At the Open University he established a series of courses in communications and sociology, and increasingly his own focus was on questions of race and postcolonialism, and on theorising the migrant view of Britain. Hall also analysed the policies of Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government, elected in 1979, and created the term Thatcherism in an article in Marxism Today, a few months before her election victory. Following on from his work 'Policing the Crisis' (1978), subsequent writings emphasised the role of race in Thatcherite politics, especially in relation to law and order policies, which he characterised as 'authoritarian populism'.

Stuart Hall was a member of a number of public bodies, and from 1997-2000 he served on the Runnymede Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain. In retirement, he was also able to devote more time to work with the black arts movement, workinng with artists and film-makers exploring the politics of black subjectivity. He was Chair of Autograph (the Association of Black Photographers) and the International Institute of Visual Arts. He also helped to secure funding for Rivington Place in East London, which was dedicated to public education in multicultural issues. His involvement in the black arts movement gave him new intellectual outlets, and his life and work was reflected in the film produced by John Akomfrah, in the form of a gallery installation, 'The Unfinished Conversation' (2012) and in a film, 'The Stuart Hall Project' (2013).

In 1995 he became one of the founding editors of Soundings: a Journal of Politics and Culture, which he continued to edit. He suffered from increasing ill-health following his diagnosis with kidney disease in the 1980s which resulted in dialysis and, eventually, a kidney transplant. Treatment for this condition took up his time and energy, and eventually restricted his ability to take part in public life. However, he continued working until the end of his life, and collaborated with colleagues at Soundings to issue the Kilburn manifesto for post neoliberal life, in 2013.

His published work includes the collaborative volumes Resistance Through Rituals (1975); Culture, Media, Language (1980); Politics and Ideology (1986); The Hard Road to Renewal (1988); New Times (1989); Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies (1996); and Different: A Historical Context: Contemporary Photographers and Black Identity (2001). He became a Fellow of the British Academy in 2005.

Stuart Hall died on 10 February 2014

Sources: Guardian obituary by David Morley and Bill Schwarz, Accessed January 2019; Oxford DNB entry by Martin Jacques, Accessed January 2019
Custodial HistoryThe archive was kept by Stuart Hall in his home in London and some sorting took place during the last few years of his life. Nick Beech produced a preliminary list of contents based on this work, and also produced a bibliography of Stuart Hall's output, available on the website of the Stuart Hall Foundation:
AcquisitionThe main archive was deposited by Catherine Hall, October 2018, though a small amount of material had been deposited in 2011, with further small accruals in 2013 and 2016. Material relating to Stuart Hall's association with Goldsmiths, University of London, was deposited by David Morley in November 2018, following discussion with Catherine Hall. An additional deposit of material was made by Catherine Hall in November 2023
Related MaterialSpecial Collections holds research papers of other former members of staff of the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies as well as a small departmental archive of the Centre. Please contact Special Collections for further information


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