People Power: Bradford treasures on show in London

2017 offers a very rare chance to see the original sketches of the ‘peace symbol’. Special Collections and the Trustees of the Commonweal Library are lending the sketches to a major exhibition at the IWM, People Power: Fighting for Peace: 23 March-28 August 2017.

Sketches of the nuclear disarmament symbol, by Gerald Holtom.

Sketch of the nuclear disarmament symbol, by Gerald Holtom.
Copyright: Trustees of the Commonweal Collection.

Artist Gerald Holtom created the symbol in 1958 for the first Aldermaston March (organised by the Direct Action Committee); it was later adopted by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and many other groups and campaigns working for peace, making it one of the most recognisable and powerful designs ever created. Holtom’s original sketches are very fragile and so can rarely be shown to the public. This exhibition is a wonderful opportunity for the University and Commonweal to display these unique items to great numbers of people for the first time.

People Power explores 100 years of anti-war campaigning in Britain through 300 objects: banners, posters, flyers, leaflets, paintings, letters … Many have never been exhibited before. In addition to the sketches, we are lending a pencil drawing of Peace Pledge Union founder Dick Sheppard by activist and artist Peggy Smith and a range of letters and ephemera relating to anti-nuclear campaigns of the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Sketch of the nuclear disarmament symbol, by Gerald Holtom. Copyright: Trustees of the Commonweal Collection.

Alumni are very welcome to use Special Collections and Commonweal Library, which are both open to the public.

Special Collections is home to the University’s archives and rare books, including the papers of many campaigners and pressure groups.  If you’re interested in the University’s history, Bradford, Yorkshire, or modern history and literature, we may have something for you.

Commonweal Library is an independent library based in the J.B. Priestley Library.  Its focus is on peace and disarmament, environmentalism and the green movement, nonviolent philosophy and practice, human rights, development and regional issues, anti-racism, identity issues, and much more.


Alison Cullingford, Special Collections Librarian, University of Bradford

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