Finding the unexpected

A quiet (and rather dreary) Monday afternoon calls for some cataloguing – a bit of a luxury at the moment! I’m currently listing the records of the English Section of the New Education Fellowship (later the World Education Fellowship). The files I’m working through now comprise the correspondence of Raymond King, the section’s Secretary. They are arranged alphabetically and from a research point of view, they can be very interesting. They contain correspondence with members and cover a range of subjects meaning they are important files to build a picture of the membership, work and discussions of the ENEF at the time. For example the current file (I’m up to M) shows that both Sir Robert Mayer and Dr Mario Montessori (son of Maria) were members.

But from a cataloguing point of view they’re not the most interesting files in the world. Having just said that to the other archivists I looked down to read this letter from Mrs M Murray, who was writing to explain the lack of active contribution to the ENEF by her daughter – Doris. The reason? – she had spent the last eight years in the Himalayas with the Dalai Lama working on medical and educational programmes!

Letter from Mrs Murray regarding her daughter Doris (WEF/C/temp ref 196)

A quick internet search found a few references to Doris and the work she did. A more full description (including in her own words) are included in Tibetan Foothold, an out of print book by Dervla Murphy published in 1966. Whilst volunteering Doris met Heidrun Bartsch who filmed the work being undertaken and the file also includes a letter from Bertsch offering to visit the ENEF to show the film and slides that she had accumulated during her time in the Himalyas. As yet I’ve found no reply but perhaps something will pop up later on in the collection.

We were all extremely impressed by both Doris and Heidrun (and it was also nice reminder that archives are always full of the unexpected).

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