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Imagined archives: transatlantic conversations about the Read collections

One archive, two institutions, multiple connections. Join a conversation about the possibilities for dispersed archives in the digital age.

How do dealers and executors shape archival collections? How does digitisation and digital reunification reshape archives? If we privilege content over context does something get lost in the metadata? Co-hosted by the Universities of Victoria and Leeds, this conversation will talk around the exciting possibilities and interesting questions sparked by international collaboration and digital interventions into dispersed archival collections. A ‘Reassessing Herbert Read’ event.

Speakers Ruth Burton (AHRC-RLUK Professional Practice Fellow, Leeds), Heather Dean (Archivist/Associate Director Special Collections, Victoria) and Matt Huculak (Head, Advanced Research Services/Digital Scholarship Librarian), all come to the Herbert Read collections with slightly differing perspectives. They will talk about current, potential and imagined projects and will try to unpick some of the knotty issues surrounding physical and digital collections. These are conversations that are occurring across the sector and they look forward to hearing about your own experiences and ideas during the Q & A.   

The case study for the conversation is the archives of Sir Herbert Read (1893-1968), held at both the University of Victoria (British Columbia, Canada) and the University of Leeds (UK). Read was a poet, literary critic, art critic, historian, publisher, editor and educationalist who significantly influenced culture in Britain, Europe and the United States in the twentieth century. He wrote prolifically about art, literature, education and anarchism, and his archives reveal a vast international network of cultural contacts. In addition to notebooks, manuscripts, photographs and personalia the archives hold a wealth of correspondence from writers, artists, philosophers and thinkers including T.S. Eliot, Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth, Naum Gabo, Ezra Pound, Bertrand Russell, Henry Miller, Carl Jung, Kathleen Raine, and Graham Greene. With the incoming correspondence largely split across two institutions, and the outgoing correspondence dispersed internationally, one question this conversation will ask is what are the implications and possibility of bringing some of these letters together?  


This event will be hosted online on Zoom, at 6pm BST / 10am PST. The joining link will be emailed to registered attendees one day before the start time. If you experience any difficulties while registering for this event, please contact us at so that we can assist you. 

Scattered white slips of paper with black typed writing on a black background
Scattered white slips of paper with black typed writing on a black background