On the YHA forum yesterday, the following announcement was made of an important development for those with an interest in the history of the Association:
The YHA has a developing Historical Archive. For the past three years this has been run by three volunteers who make occasional trips to Matlock to look after the growing number of materials in this very significant collection of English and Welsh social history. I am privileged to be a member of this team. The priorities are to care for what is already there, to catalogue it (well under way) and to search out new sources of YHA archival material.
While the Archive is being set up it is not really available for public viewing, though accessibility to some of the material in the future is a point under discussion. However, we do our utmost to help with historical queries.
In the last few months large new collections have been donated to the Archive, and an excellent roomy, atmospherically stable and secure store has been made available at YHA Head Office.
The Historical Archive consists of a very large collection of photographs, drawings, slides and postcards (in the course of sorting, cataloguing and some digitising of rare items), national and regional handbooks (missing some from the 1930s) and annual reports. Regional Annual Reports before 1965 are very well represented; after that there are gaps, especially after 1972. The individual 19 regions before 1965 have patchy representation in minute books, local YHA magazines, newspaper reports and ephemera; Northumberland and Tyneside, Birmingham and London Regions are very good, for instance, while other regions such as Devon, Cornwall, Gloucester, Somerset & Exmoor, West Riding, etc., are hardly represented at all in official records. The important London Region News publication has large gaps in the sequence, particularly for later years.
There is a growing collection in the Archive catalogue of hostellers’ memories, personal logs of holidays, photographic albums of YHA activities and hostels, etc. These items are especially prized, and new material would be very welcome. There are also significant amounts of publicity material, leaflets, film strips, magazine runs and so on. (Some Rucksack Magazines, 1930s-50s, and the associated Bulletins are in short supply). There is a small collection of YHA cast triangles, signs, badges, hostel closure items, membership cards and rubber stamps, and even a remarkable professional-standard scale model of Twyssenden Manor Youth Hostel (closed 25 years ago).
Any new material for the Archive would be much appreciated (and acknowledged), and can be sent to: YHA Historical Archive, Trevelyan House, Matlock, Derbyshire, DE4 3YH. We would also welcome any ‘leads’ helping in detective work to find some of the missing regional items. Loans for the purpose of digitising could also be very useful. You can contact me through my email link below for more information.
Additionally, I am always happy to try to help with historical queries; do get in touch via my email, in the first instance.
If you have a stack of YHA memorabilia gathering dust in a corner, I’m sure the archivist (so far identified only as “John”) and his two colleagues would be happy to hear from you.