Winston Churchill Goes Digital

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You’re a high school or college student, or a journalist, psychologist or historian, and you have a paper to write on Winston Churchill’s “finest hour” speech from June 18, 1940, arguably his most stirring moment in World War II. But you want to go beyond the famous lyric of defiance he delivered in the House of Commons and learn how he progressed in his own mind to that moment, and what private doubts he had — as he did — about Britain’s ability to withstand Hitler.

By the summer of 2012 the challenge will become a great deal easier, thanks to a project that will be announced on Thursday by the Churchill Archives Center in Cambridge and Bloomsbury Academic, an imprint of the London publishing house Bloomsbury. No longer will the serious student have to journey to Cambridge, paying for travel and a hotel, when the same end can be achieved with a few keystrokes and a fraction of the cost.

Under the deal, the entire Churchill archive, currently stored in 2,500 boxes at the center’s home in the quiet, grassy precincts of Cambridge University’s Churchill College, is to be digitized and made available on a pay-as-you-go basis to those with an Internet connection.

Henceforth, anybody on the Web will have access to a million documents, covering the life and career of a man often rated as the most famous Englishman of all time, who died in January 1965 at the age of 90. No decisions have yet been made on differential rates for scholars, students and other users....

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Frank Randle - 7/31/2010

Why should the public pay again for access to papers that were written by Churchill whilst he was a member of various governments?
Churchill was paid a salary by the UK taxpayers whilst he was Prime Minister, Home Secretary and Minister of State and therefore anything he wrote as part of those official duties of State should belong to the State and be available to all in the NATIONAL Archive.
How come Churchill's family were awarded the copyright to government papers? It seems a cosy deal that is not afforded to all.