Michaelmas 1961: Robert Graves

St John’s College library has in its Robert Graves archive a barely legible carbon copy of Graves’ typescript for the talk he gave on 1 November 1961 under the title Poet’s Paradise.  Page 12 is missing and is substituted here with pages 12a and 13a of a previous draft.

poetsparadise1 poetsparadise2 poetsparadise3 poetsparadise4 poetsparadise5

poetsparadise6 poetsparadise7 poetsparadise8 poetsparadise9 poetsparadise10 poetsparadise11poetsparadise12a poetsparadise13 poetsparadise13a poetsparadise14 poetsparadise15 poetsparadise16These images are reproduced by kind permission of the President
and Fellows of St John’s College, Oxford.

[Michaelmas 1961]


Hilary 1968

Philip Bowler was president, Cristo Hird secretary and Jo Beaton treasurer.  There were study groups on crime and mental disorder, the status of women, and moral education.  Speakers included Maurice Cranston, Lena Jeger MP, Peter Fryer and Roger Manvell.

card 68-1 pp1-8 card 68-1 pp2-3 card 68-1 pp4-5 card 68-1 pp6-7


There was a tenth anniversary reunion, held in London on Saturday April 20 and the files show a large number of acceptances and a few notes of regret, one of which throws light on the early days of the group.

[Michaelmas 1967]            [Trinity 1968]

Michaelmas 1967

Chris Burnside was president, Philip Bowler secretary and Cristo Hird treasurer.Speakers included A J Ayer, Margaret Knight (who had become notoriouos in 1955 after two innocuous radio talks on morals without religion) and Tony Lynes of the new Child Poverty Action Group.  There was a joint study group on poverty with the Labour Club, a study group on marriage, and an advice service on contraception.

There was also correspondence with Francis Crick about a possible visit.

card 67-3 pp1-8 card 67-3 pp2-3 card 67-3 pp4-5 card 67-3 pp6-7


[Trinity 1967]      [Hilary 1968]

Michaelmas 1966

Ron Bell was president, Howard Rye was secretary and Rodney Bayley treasurer.  There were parties for charity as well as War on Want lunches.  Speakers included the veteran managing director of the Rationalist Press Association Hector Hawton, the veteran educationalist Lord Chorley, the not-yet veteran peace campaigner Pat Arrowsmith and the eminent Cambridge professor of economics Joan Robinson.  Arranged after the card was printed, a joint meeting was held with the OU Buddhist Society addressed by Mr Christmas Humphreys.  A poster survives for the hospital visiting that was a regular feature of the Group’s activities.

card 66-3 pp1-8 card 66-3 pp2-3 card 66-3 pp4-5 card 66-3 pp6-7

66-10-29 Humphreys


















Hospital visiting

















[Trinity 1966]       [Hilary 1967]

Address by Barbara Wootton

Barbara Wootton produced a shortened text for her talk on 19 February which was published in the University Humanist Federation Bulletin for Autumn 1963 and reprinted in The Freethinker of 13 December 1963:






















[With grateful acknowledgement for the images to the Mistress and Fellows of Girton College, Cambridge, who hold the Barbara Wootton archive.]

[Hilary 1963]

Hilary 1963: letters to Francis Crick

The Wellcome Library has copies of two letters to Francis Crick about his visit on 29 January – not the original invitation but one to agree the date (itself dated with the wrong year!) and another that crossed with one from Crick’s secretary about final arrangements:

The Wellcome references are:
Shelfmark: PP/CRI/E/1/11/3:Box 34
Reference number: b1818070x
Persistent URL: http://library.wellcome.ac.uk/player/b1818070x
Catalogue record: http://encore.wellcome.ac.uk/iii/encore/record/C__Rb1818070

[Hilary 1963]     [Posters]       [Opposing the SCM Mission]      [Isis on the Humanists]

[Unmarried but pregnant]        [Behaviour of the Press]        [Women in the Union]

[Other press coverage]

Reunion 1966

On 20 July 1966 an OUHG reunion party was held at 63 Kingston Road – the digs of the current Organising Secretary, Howard Rye.  If you can identify anyone not named in the captions, look at the names here and please get in touch

By wall, from bottom: David Hume, Tony Lambert, Stephen Hayes, Josephine Newcombe, Bob Leach, Clive Jones, [two shadowy figures at top of stairs awaiting identification].

By banisters, from bottom: Geoff Wyvill, Tony Brierley, Wendy Kaplan, Connaire Kensit, David Pollock.

Two group photos were taken in the street outside:

L to R: ?, ?, ?, Tony Brierley, Bob Leach, Wendy Kaplan, ?, Janet Mitchell, Stephen Hayes, ?, ?, Howard Rye, Geoff Wyvill, ?, Richard Hudson, David Pollock, David Hume, ?, Ruth Cowan, Connaire Kensit, Clive Jones, ?, Josephine Newcombe, ?, Leonard Evans.

L to R: ?, ?, Tony Brierley, Bob Leach, Wendy Kaplan, ?, Janet Mitchell, Stephen Hayes, ?, ?, Geoff Wyvill, ?, Howard Rye, David Hume, David Pollock, Richard Hudson, Connaire Kensit, Ruth Cowan, Clive Jones, ?, Josephine Newcombe, ?, ?, Leonard Evans, ? (behind), ?, ?, ?,

before the party resumed inside:

L to R: Bob Leach, Howard Rye, Stephen Hayes, Richard Hudson, Janet Mitchell, Ruth Cowan, ?, Wendy Kaplan.

Josephine Newcombe and Clive Jones.

Among those who accepted the invitation and are not identified in the captions were:

David Batchelor, Judy Evans, Fred Holroyd, Richard Hudson, David Hume, Ifan Lloyd, Simon Mattam, Marian Stamp.


[Trinity 1966]

Lobbying the National Humanist Movement, 1963-64

During 1963/64 members of OUHG, along with other young humanists, put pressure on the national humanist organisations to reform their structure and public presentation.  The situation from spring 1963 was that the Ethical Union and the Rationalist Press Association were jointly sponsoring an “umbrella organisation” called the British Humanist Association.  It suffered from having no independent existence and needing to reconcile the priorities of its two sponsors.

OUHG ex-president David Pollock had a letter in the RPA magazine The Humanist (December 1963):

In February 1964, Graham Kingsley from the Cambridge Humanists, had an article in the magazine:


And Wendy Kaplan, OUHG president in Michaelmas 1963, had a letter in the same issue:

In the April 1964 issue, ex-presidents Leonard Evans and  David Pollock had an article about the failure of the national movement to take advantage of opportunities.  This was a substantially adapted version of their original draft, about which editor Hector Hawton had substantial reservations.

 And the same issue carried further letters on the questoin of framing humanist policy:

In May 1964 a small correction was included:






along with further letters, one from Julian Newman, a former OUHG committee member, another again from ex-president Wendy Kaplan:

The heading for the correspondence changed in June 1964, with Julian Newman back in print:

 And there was a final batch of correspondence in July 1964, with a letter frfom ex-president David Pollock and ending with a letter from Graham Kingsley as now the chairman of the Ethical Union:


















This whole fervour of reform was driven very largely from Oxford.



Hilary 1970

No copy of the termly card is available. Roger Jarman was treasurer.

OUHG renewed its efforts to provide factual information about contraception to teenagers, but with similarly unsuccessful results as in Michaelmas 1964.  The Guardian reported on successive days (19 and 20 January 1970):


















[Michaelmas 1969]       [No subsequent records available]