BARGE records a variety of archival resources relating to refugees who arrived in Britain between 1933 and 1950 and whose papers are located in public or private British collections. Proportionally speaking, Britain received more refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe than any other country, the majority of whom were German-speaking and from a Jewish background. The database records the names of individuals, with brief biographical descriptions, and the location of their papers.
The database was officially launched in April 2007 at the Refugee Archives: Theory and Practice conference. One of the creators of the database, Andrea Hammel, has written a chapter “The online database of British Archival Resources Relating to German-Speaking Refugees (BARGE) in Context” which is published as part of conferences proceedings by the Centre for German and Austrian Exile Studies. The chapter outlines the methodology, problems, collation and the structure of the data.
Searches can be conducted by “Biography” using name, gender, keywords, profession or words in the “Summary of migration story”; searches by “Collection Description” using title, creator, keyword and archive repository; and searches by “Archive” using institutional name and “town/city”. There is a listing of keywords, admittedly perfunctory, but nevertheless useful, covering obvious areas such as internment and Kindertransport as well as “further migration” and British Army which neatly picks up Walter Freud’s (grandson of Sigmund) work with the Special Operations Executive in Austria.
It would have been useful to see and browse a list of people and a list of professions to search. Users have to either know a name or guess a profession. However by searching under “Biography” and “Gender” and entering “male” or “female” one can generate a list of names and browse the lists.
Still a work in progress (there seems to be more than a few unlinked records) the site has all the making of a useful research tool in exile studies and will document the contribution of refugees to the cultural, social and political life of Britain.