Swansea Students' Bewildering Costumes in 1922 and Other Gems Uncovered in Archives; HISTORIANS AT UNIVERSITY RESEARCH THEIR OWN UNION

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), June 7, 2013 | Go to article overview

Swansea Students' Bewildering Costumes in 1922 and Other Gems Uncovered in Archives; HISTORIANS AT UNIVERSITY RESEARCH THEIR OWN UNION


Byline: ROBIN TURNER robin.turner@r walesonline.co.uk

IMAGES of students attending grand balls during the "roaring Twenties" to the 1980s with campaigns for cheaper beer and an end to apartheid have been uncovered at a Welsh univev rsr iti y. t The discovery was made by student historians examining their own students' union archives as part of a course offered by Swansea University's D ' epartment of History and Classics.

Among the treasures unearthed are: | A 1922 Rag Week fancy dress picture - in thet era of the Great Gatsby, jy ust two years after the founding of Swansea University with students ready to party in a bewildering variety of costumes; | Speed dating, 1920s style - a 1922 student ball dance card. The card lists the scheduled dances, from the tango waltz to the hesitation dip, and then gives space - with even a pencil attached on a piece of string - for students to book in their partner for each dance; | A 1950s student newspaper complaining about "dirty crockery and unsoaked peas" in the student refectory; | A set of 1960s hall of residence rules. Although it was the swinging 60s, female students at Beck House in 1965-6 were required not only to air rooms, make beds and wash up, but also to ask permission from the warden should they wish to be away overnight; | A 1980s plaque supporting Nelson Mandela.

A Swansea University spokesman said: "Like many student unions, Swansea took part in the campaign against apartheid in the 1980s, and a plaque from the time commemorates the visit of an African National Congress (ANC) representative to the campus in 1985, when the future South African president was still in jail."

Sion Durham was one of the Swansea winners in the Tell Us Your Story competition, run by Archives Wales, a for his work examining the Swansea University archives, which are known as the Richard Burton Archives.

He said: "One of the issues that came up in my research in the archives was Swansea students' long fight to have their own bar. T r he records show this lasts for around 30 years. Dances and balls were a part of student life. One wild night in 1958 ended up with lots of glasses being smashed. …

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