By Steve Smith
This short blog is to accompany the launch of a special project I have been working on for some while. What I have unveiled today is the online availability of decades of The Journal to assist fellow researchers and all those with an interest in Toc H. This blog will explain the basic story of the Journal and other Toc H magazines but is by no means an in-depth study.
Firstly though, why did the project come about. I have collected together a large set of Journal volumes over many years, as well as its successor Point 3. I constantly refer to these during the course of my research but until a couple of years ago this meant leafing through them page by page each time I had a new topic to research. So in March 2021 I bit the bullet and treated myself to a book scanner. I then began the lengthy task of scanning all the Journals I possessed. Subsequent to the scanning the magazines are processed by OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software which converts the scanned image into searchable text (With some errors inevitably). Once they are scanned and OCRd in this way, it is much easier to search them for subject matter. Although the scanning process is slow and laborious, the time saved when researching is massive and there is much less chance of me missing anything.
Originally I intended only to use the scanned volumes for my own research. However, I thought it might encourage others to work on Toc H research and historical projects if they were more widely available. Since I didn’t own the copyright to these volumes, releasing them ‘in the wild’ was not my initial intention but I spoke to Mark Eccleston – the archivist at the Cadbury Centre at Birmingham University where the Toc H archive resides – and we made copies available internally at the centre.
Then a few weeks ago I approached Paul Hackwood, CEO of Toc H, and put forward a proposal which the trustees of Toc H approved last month. So now with their kind consent I have been able to make the project – as far as it goes to date – available via the Internet Archive. The volumes are freely available at the Internet Archive (See below for link) in a variety of formats for people to use and even download. They are published under the terms of a Creative Commons licence (CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0). This allows people to view and share material but not to modify it or use it for commercial gain. Copyright remains with Toc H. See here for details https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/.
So far I have scanned The Journal from its first issue in June 1922 until the end of 1959. The series is complete from 1922-41 inclusive then I am missing some volumes after that but it’s about 80% complete after 1941. I will be continuing to scan The Journal, Point 3 and a few other related items later in the year and will upload them as I go.
You may find errors – particularly skewed pages – and I will be delighted to know about them as it is relatively straight-forward to rescan and upload corrected volumes.
The material is brought together in what the Internet Archive terms a Collection and if you want to just dive in and start browsing then just use this link.
If you want to search the Collection for something specific then you should see a Search box to the left of the screen. Make sure the radio button is set to Text as the default setting (Metadata) only searches the titles.
So what of the magazines themselves. The first newsletter was a typed newssheet duplicated on a Gestetner machine (Known to all as Lady Gestetner). There were 11 issues beginning in May 1921 with the final copy being May 1922. They ranged from 4-8 quarto pages in length. Most of the work was done by William Musters, the Toc H Registrar but ‘Siddy’ Hoare also edited it for a bit. It was simply known as the Toc H News sheet. I’ll be posting these online later this year.
It was replaced by the professionally printed The Journal in June 1922. This was edited by Lionel Bradgate until April 1924 when Barclay Baron took over. He held the reins until March 1954 when Ches (Frederick Chesworth) took over. As well as monthly magazines (In the early years August was omitted as it was a ‘holiday’ month) The Journal was often augmented by various supplements and every April with the annual report. The magazine was not issued automatically to members but they were asked to subscribe to copies. Usually branches would take a handful of copies which would be passed around its members. Often copies were bound together into annual books and these have survived much more than individual copies.
In the late sixties, to mark the forthcoming merging of the men’s and women’s movements, both their respective magazines (The Journal and The Log) were relaunched as a single title, Point 3. This was edited by many different people over the years but most notably perhaps by Ken Prideaux-Brune.
In the noughties a regional magazine, In Touch, was made national to replace Point 3 and this has been superseded today by Toc H News.
A list of international magazines, regional magazines, branch offerings, staff mags and specialist publications would be too much for this quick blog – perhaps one day I will attempt to capture them.