Placement Blog: Sean looks back at ‘Welsh Efforts on the World’s Journey’ to end Nuclear Threat.

WCIA Placement, Sean McGovern

Sean McGovern is a student with Cardiff University’s Department of International Relations, currently undertaking a 3 month placement with WCIA’s ‘Peace Heritage’ programme. Here he shares his reflections on his first project task – digitisation of CND Cymru’s ‘Campaign Wales’ Archives from the early 1980s.

As one of the team of volunteers tasked with digitisation and indexing of the CND Cymru Archives – ahead of January’s International Nuclear Ban Treaty – I was interested to examine Welsh efforts in the struggle against proliferation of nuclear weapons during the 1980s and 1990s.

Within the current international context – with the recent United Nations Nuclear Weapons Ban entering into force this January – I believe it important to digitise these records to provide easy access for future historians, researchers, or enthusiasts to examine the Welsh efforts which contributed to the World’s journey in reaching this landmark decision. Through close examination of CND Cymru’s ‘Campaign Wales’ magazines, I was able to transcribe article summaries and key words so as to make these historical documents more accessible to all online.

“In the ‘age of the internet’, you can type anything into Google and thousands of results will come up. But these results are dependent on the quality of information, data and tags attached; if a document hasn’t been ‘indexed’, you probably won’t find it! The CND Cymru Archives contain 40 years of peace campaigning records and social history, with literally thousands of individual stories – which will now be accessible to future generations thanks to the efforts of volunteers like Sean who have spent Winter 2020-21 indexing this important chapter in Wales’ Peace Heritage.”

Craig Owen, WCIA Heritage Advisor

This project was fitting to my undergraduate degree in International Relations at Cardiff University, where I have been recently examining modules in nuclear diplomacy and the historical international efforts to curb the spread of these weapons.

What I found most profound during my WCIA research, were the international ‘trips’ in which campaign members journeyed to other nations – such as the Soviet Union, Latvia, Australia, and Switzerland (amongst others). This was particularly interesting, as it was clear that CND Cymru’s aspirations were not limited to just pursuing a nuclear free Wales or Britain, but were tied in to truly international efforts to spread their message. It came across very powerfully, that CND members undertook these journeys to understand and form ties with cultures worldwide in order to spread their aspirations for a nuclear-free world.

These particular stories – amongst the others I have had the opportunity to transcribe – all fit into a compelling ‘greater Welsh struggle’ to halt the proliferation of nuclear weapons locally, as well as internationally. I’m look forward to seeing where further opportunities in volunteering at the WCIA take me.

CND Cymru Campaign Wales Magazines, early 1980s

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