Ruth Tompsett Collection

Images of material collected by Ruth Tompsett retired AND  former course leader Metropolitan University –Social, Historical studies in Performance Art. Ruth introduced Carnival as part of a validated course which was run over 20 years.  The course developed a whole range of courses, including Witness and Practitioner sessions:enabling carnivalists to present their knowledge in a University setting e.g. Michael La Rose, Steve Lequan, other international and London based carnivalists. 
Ruth is also a long term carnivalist who plays with Notting Hill Mas bands.

Ruth also has an extensive, catalogued personal collection.  This is known as ARCS (Archive and Resource for Carnival Study).  At Nov 2010 it was housed on the Cat HIll and Trant Park Capmpuses of Middlesex University.

Carnival Studies was introduced to the BA performing arts degree at MIddlesex University, London in 1986.  The module fran for 21 years. 

The module combined theoretical and practical study and students were assessed both by essay and practical project.  For these assessments students needed resources, and it was this need that drove the development of the carnival collection at Middlesex.  Any materail that could be of use in carnival study was collected, from ephemera to published books, from recorded interviews with carnivalists to costume designs.  There was very little study material available in 1986, but the resource was built rapidly both from Trinidad and the UK, by intensive searching, purchasing, requesting, interviewing and creating.

Within a few years requests to use the resource were beginning to come in from outside Middlesex University.  In the early 1990s an MA student from Trinidad who used the resource, indicatated that it was the fullest collecton on carnival she had encountered in her searches.   sinc ethen the colleciton has continued to gorw and has had much increased interest from outside the university, proving of value to a wide public. 

Students, teachers, journlists, postgraduate scholars, authors and events managers are amongst those who use the collection.  Visitors are studying, teaching or writing about carnival from many angles.  Postgraduates in particular demonstrate the range of interest froming form the disciplines of geography, history, social science, media studies, performance, visual arts, literature - to name but some.

Nature of the colleciton
Because of its history the collection might be considered eclectic or haphazard.  to some extent that is true, but the personal nature of the colleciton may also be its strength.   all things with any carnival reference are potentially interesting and of value.   So the collection includes lots of expected material such as books, music and video recordings, carnival programmes etc.  It also contains less obvious material  e.g. articles about comparable events, documents about police action in the 1970s and 1908s which inform on carnival events whilst not specifically mentioning them, and so on.

The collection focuses on Caribbean-derived carnival in the UK ,Trinidad, the Americas and Europe. Material has mainly been collected between 1985 and 2008  but includes signficant material from up to thirty years earlier.

Content includes: books, journals, extractetd articles, programmes, photographs, copies of designs, non-photographic images, press reporting, audio recordings (music and interviews), conference proceedings, policy documents and reports, ephemera (brochures, tickets, flyers, posters etc.) letters, foims, a few costumes and musical instrucments.

At November 2010 the majority of books and audio recordgins were catalgoued within Middlesex University Library and held in this Library by signed agreement for a number of years.  The press reporting and photographs were not catalogued, but was copied, referenced, date-ordered and held in files by year.  Most other material required cataloguing. 

The majority of the items in the collection are owned by the collector, Ruth Tompsett.

At Nov 2010 therer was a need to raise funding to complete cataloguing and create online resrouces.  It was intended at Nov 2010 that the collection should be placed on a more permanent basis with a relevant archive or educational institutions. 

In Ruth Tompsett's words 'This collection exists to be used'.

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