Friends of the Charles Parker Archive

This group was set up in 1981 at the same time as the Charles Parker Trust, and since then has been supporting the Trustees in two main ways.  It has been a source of volunteers – to support the cataloguing and copying process, and to help in the organisation of events, some highlighted below.  It has also raised money which can be used as matched funding against grants from funding bodies.  This is particularly true in relation to the Heritage Lottery grant for the digitisation project, where the finance was completed with a cheque for £2,000 from the Friends.   There is now a Facebook group so that Friends can keep in touch with one another and get the latest news about events relating to the Archive.

Advantages of membership

Membership of the Friends entitles you to copies of the Actuality magazine, to the Annual Report or periodical newsletter, to concessionary prices for publications in print or sound and to be actively involved in the future of the Archive.  An Annual General Meeting was held each year until the coronavirus situation made it impossible.  Subscriptions can be paid online, or by downloading and completing the subscription form.

Some events that volunteers have made possible

When the archive moved to Birmingham Public Libraries in 1986 the Trustees were able, with the help of the Friends, to feature a grand launch in the city centre, as well as support BPL staff in mounting an exhibition from 11am-6pm daily for a month.  A large number of singers and musicians took part in a Street Festival in Chamberlain Square on Saturday 14 June, with a folk concert in the Library Theatre that evening, and another one a week later.  Here are some photos from the exhibition and the street festival

The exhibition The Living Word, featuring Charles Parker’s work and ideas 1954-1980, was a major feature of the Readers and Writers Festival in November 1988.  For two weeks our volunteer Friends staffed the Midlands Arts Centre gallery from 12 noon till 8pm.  On Sunday 20 November there was a full day event, with contributions from the National Sound Archive, Banner Theatre, Living Archive and S Wales Miners Library, the Sandwell Popular Archive and Black Country Oral History Cookbook as well as many singers and musicians.

kioskFriends gave huge support behind the scenes in the making of the Travelling Exhibition CD-ROM, launched in 1995. They also organised, as part of the Readers and Writers Festival, an evening of song, photographs and discussion – The Travelling People, Then and Now – on 20 May that year.

Ten years later they are still involved. The digitisation project A Future for Ordinary Folk, was launched in June 2004.  Singers, musicians and other Friends contributed to make this a memorable occasion.  They will continue to support the work of the Trustees in making the contents of the Archive accessible.

If you are interested in the Friends of the Charles Parker Archive please contact

Ian Parr, Secretary of the Charles Parker Archive Trust
c/o Archives, Heritage and Photography
Library of Birmingham
Centenary Square
Broad Street
B1 2ND

Tel +44 (0)121 303 4217

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