Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill Day

Written by Katie Beemer

The ties between Hillsdale College and Winston Churchill run deep.

Dr. Larry Arnn, the President of Hillsdale College, and his wife, Penny, spent their early years working on the Churchill Project with Sir Martin Gilbert, doing research for the official Churchill narrative biography and accompanying documents. Since the death of Sir Martin Gilbert earlier this year, Hillsdale College has officially taken responsibility for The Churchill Project.

In prior years, Randolph Churchill (the son of Winston Churchill) was originally given permission to draft his father’s official biography. From 1961-1968, he was able to draft two narrative volumes of the biography and five companion document volumes. The narrative volumes are what you expect from a biography. They are the life of Winston Churchill told in book form. The document volumes are all of the documents in full that are cited in the narrative biography as well as other documents that are important. They are annotated, chronologically organized, and bound into volumes called The Churchill Documents.

In 1968, Randolph died, and Sir Martin Gilbert took over the project, which he worked on from 1968-2012. Sir Martin Gilbert finished the narrative volumes (there are 8 in total) and got partway through volume 17 of The Churchill Documents before becoming too ill to continue.

In 2004, Hillsdale signed a contract agreeing that the College would reprint all of the volumes of books as well as take over the project where Sir Martin Gilbert ended his work. Later, in 2012, Hillsdale completely took over the project and finished volume 17, which was published in February 2014. The College is currently preparing to publish volume 18.

As Dr. Arnn often says, “If we weren’t doing this, probably no one would.”

College students play a huge role in this project. About 30 students thus far have worked on organizing the research and transcribing the documents into a publishable consistent format. From there, they are sent to a copy editor and a typesetter to be proofread several more times. Dr. Arnn is the head editor of this project.

Soren Geiger, the head researcher of the project, says that he thinks they are about three years away from completion of the volumes. For him, the best part of his research is what he gets to learn about who Winston Churchill was as a leader:

“I find it fascinating how involved Churchill was in so many seemingly mundane aspects of leading a country. For example, he was very interested in the production of eggs, as well as worrying about the anti-air defense of London. It actually reminds me of Dr. Arnn in a lot of ways. It doesn’t mean he’s doing everything, but he makes sure that everything gets done correctly. I find that fascinating. Churchill wasn’t just a great orator, but he also really knew how to get things done.”

In addition to publishing the written volumes, there is much else going on in the world of the Churchill Project. Today, April 9th, is National Winston Churchill Day, so named for the fact that this is the day he became an honorary U.S. citizen.

There will be a blog about Churchill launching today, essentially a treasure trove of information about Churchill with transcripts of speeches, pictures, and much more.

Hillsdale College has contracted Rosetta Books from New York City to convert the narrative volumes to ebook to make them more easily searchable, which will also be released today.

Finally, Hillsdale College will be offering the Churchill scholarship beginning Fall 2015, and part of the requirement of the scholarship will be to work on The Churchill Documents.

Katie Beemer is a #fantasticfreshman from #puremichigan in pursuit of a degree in #politics, which should say a lot about the state of her mind. She is an #extremeextrovert, uses hashtags excessively/inappropriately, and is the proud owner of a pet reindeer named Edgar John Cervantes III #itsalongstory. When she’s not wandering around the library looking for people to talk to, she occasionally does homework #cantstopwontstop.