The Blunkett Archives

The University Library has been awarded a grant from the Archives Revealed programme to catalogue and make available the archive of David Blunkett

David Blunkett and his guide dog 1970s

The Archives Revealed programme, which is supported by The National Archives, The Pilgrim Trust and the Wolfson Foundation, transforms access to archives for a wide range of users. The programme’s cataloguing grants open up collections that matter to researchers and communities, increasing public engagement with the UK’s rich documentary heritage.

The Blunkett Archives is a unique collection of national significance which records David Blunkett’s remarkable journey from a deprived area of Sheffield to the highest level of British politics. One of the most significant aspects of the collection is that it covers a transformative period in British political history from a unique perspective – that of the first blind cabinet minister in the UK. The collection dates from the 1950s to the present day and includes political and personal correspondence, policy papers, press cuttings, diaries, school reports, sound recordings and photographs.

The project will complete the detailed cataloguing of the collection, and provide access to the collection for the first time through an online catalogue. The project also aims to engage with new audiences through outreach activities with local schools, both to promote the use of the Blunkett Archives, and to encourage broader engagement with archive collections.

Anne Horn, Director of Library Services, and University Librarian, said: "The Blunkett Archive is an important part of the University Library's Special Collections. Aside from its obvious political significance, which is of interest to researchers both within and beyond the University, it is has an important role to play in the local history of the city of Sheffield. Making this archive more easily accessible to all will greatly increase its impact."

Commenting on the award, David Blunkett said: “I am extremely pleased that the Library has been awarded this grant, and would like to thank the Archives Revealed programme for supporting the project. I am very much looking forward to being involved with the project’s outreach activities, in particular working with young people in Sheffield and introducing them to the importance of archives to society. An archive should be a living thing that brings history alive and ensures whilst not living in the past, we learn lessons from it. I hope this will be true for both research/scholarship and for teaching.”

For more information about the Blunkett Archives contact Special Collections, lib-special@sheffield.ac.uk