"The DNA of thinking": archives projects win two prizes for Swansea

Two projects which involved research in the Richard Burton Archives at Swansea University have won prizes in the national Tell us Your Story competition, organised by Archives Wales. Entrants had to describe their experience using archives, and explain how it helped them with their project.

Christian Erbacher from the University of Bergen in Norway visited the Richard Burton Archives to use the Rush Rhees collection.  Rhees was a philosopher, principally known as a student, friend and literary executor of the philosopher Wittgenstein. Rhees taught philosophy at Swansea University from 1940 to 1966.

Christian said: “I have been travelling a thousand miles to the Richard Burton Archives, and it was worth the effort.  Each time I open a new folder it is as if I set a foot on a new land. I explore this country of thought and try to give my readers a sense of what I have experienced.  Telling their twists and turns the philosopher’s views live again and pass on to others. This is why archives belong to the DNA of thinking.”

Sion Durham is a history undergraduate at Swansea University. He used the archives in his second year for a new course, ‘Researching and Re-telling the Past: Swansea Student Union History Project’ . This course, funded by the Swansea Academy for Learning and Teaching (SALT), involved students being taught entirely through using archive material.

Watch Sion showing his work on the history of the Swansea University Student Union. 

 Sion said that “Swansea University has its own unique history”, and he was able to explore the history of the Student Union through countless sources which are in the archive, including student newspapers, minutes of meetings and photographs.   “What makes an archive is the people who run these services”, he said, describing the Richard Burton Archives as “an outstanding place to go and research”.