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Special archive to unlock Kate Adie’s trailblazing career

Special archive to unlock Kate Adie’s trailblazing career

World-renowned BBC journalist and author Kate Adie is to have her life’s work catalogued and archived as part of a specially curated collection in her home city – unlocking its use for future generations.

From her coverage of the Iranian Embassy siege in 1980 to both Gulf Wars, Kate donated her archive of notebooks, tapes, letters, pictures, video and even fan mail, to the University of Sunderland in 2005 to preserve a record of her professional career.

The University has recently been awarded grant funding from Archives Revealed, to catalogue all of Kate’s work – held by the University Library as part of its Special Collections.

The funding supports the employment of a dedicated Project Archivist, Dr Ellie Clewlow, for 12 months, whose work will unlock the Kate Adie Collection for future teaching, learning, research and the wider community.

The University will also embark on a programme of engagement activity promoting the Kate Adie Collection to a wide audience.

Sir David Bell, Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Sunderland, said:

Kate Adie is one of the most talented journalists and broadcasters of her generation, and a well-known face to millions of people around the world. As a native of Sunderland, her collection of materials will be of interest locally as well as much further afield.

“We believe that Kate’s collection is a unique example of its type within the UK. It is extensive in its breadth and richness of content and includes a variety of written and audio-visual materials relating to some of the most significant events of the 20th and 21st century. For that reason, we are delighted to be showcasing it here at the University of Sunderland.”

The collection covers Kate’s trailblazing career at the BBC from 1968 onwards: her early years working at local radio in Durham and Bristol, her coverage of the student uprising in Tiananmen Square in 1989, and her appointment as the BBC’s chief news correspondent, a role which lasted until 2003. During that time, Kate covered a raft of major world events and reported from several combat zones including the Gulf and the former Yugoslavia.

Kate holds honorary degrees from a number of universities and is Honorary Professor of Journalism at the University of Sunderland. Her published works include Kindness of Strangers, Corsets to Camouflage, Into Danger, Nobody’s Child and Fighting on the Home Front. She was awarded an OBE in 1993 and won the Richard Dimbleby Award from BAFTA in 1990.

Kate Adie said: “It has been enormous fun to dig back through the attic where I have found all sorts of memorabilia about Sunderland. Everything from old news photos and old prints of the city, and things surrounding my childhood, including two fragments of a bomb which fell in the back of my adoptive parents’ house during World War II.

“The city has a wonderful history and growing up in cities like Sunderland does shape you, it makes you the person you are. Sunderland shaped me. It is all to do with where I come from, and I feel very strongly about that.”

Kate gave her collection to the University in 2005 on indefinite loan, at a time when the University’s Special Collections were in their earliest stages of development. Kate also continues to add material to the Collection.

Since then, the University’s Special Collections section has grown and now includes a mining archive (NEEMARC) The Lord Puttnam Collection and the Quaker Collection.

The University Library also has a strongroom that can control the temperature and humidity, to make sure the Special Collections are protected from mould, dust, water and fire.

Dr Ellie Clewlow said:

“We are thrilled to embark upon this exciting project to enhance the accessibility and utilisation of a nationally important collection. It will enrich the academic experience of our students and staff as well as foster engagement with a wide range of community groups.”

Archives Revealed is a partnership funding programme between The National Archives, the Pilgrim Trust and the Wolfson Foundation to ensure that significant archive collections, representing the lives and perspectives of all people across the UK, are made accessible to the public for research and enjoyment.

Jack Butterworth, Head of Grants and Funding at The National Archives, said:

“Archives Revealed is delighted to support the University of Sunderland in its project to catalogue the records of Kate Adie’s pioneering career. Our funding ensures that significant archival collections are made accessible for research and enjoyment, and this project will make records, including field notebooks, photographs and newsclips of Kate Adie’s trailblazing career in journalism, accessible for the first time.

“We are proud to be supporting archives in the north-east, and particularly to be unlocking a collection with such strong ties to the institution and community in which it will be held.”

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