Exploring Harold Bridger’s Archive

Exploring Harold Bridger’s Archive

This talk explores the ways in which Harold Bridger shaped the history, memory, and identity of the Tavistock Institute between the years 1947 and c.1990

Harold Bridger

Bridger’s Legacy Within and Beyond the Institute

This talk explores the ways in which Harold Bridger shaped the history, memory, and identity of the Tavistock Institute between the years 1947 and c.1990. The talk features Harold Bridger’s records from TIHR’s founding years, early action research projects, the first Leicester Conference, his consultancy work with Unilever and J Lyons and Co and his career counselling work. The talk also provides the opportunity to explore some of Bridger’s relationships with members of the Institute.

Through exploring aspects from Harold Bridger’s archive, this talk allows to reflect on some key questions including:

  • What is Harold Bridger’s legacy within and beyond the Tavistock Institute?
  • How does Harold Bridger’s archive contribute to rediscovering his life, work, and legacy?
  • How can we apply Harold Bridger’s theories to our work today? What can we learn from him?

Recording of the talk

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Please note: The records are copyrighted materials and should not be copied. For any enquiries regarding the Harold Bridger collection contact the archive team archives@mulberrybush.org.uk.

About the project: 

In 2020, The Mulberry Bush Charity received funding from the Wellcome Trust for the project ‘Rediscovering Harold Bridger: His Life, Work, and Legacy.’ This 18-month project has preserved, catalogued, and promoted the personal papers of psychoanalyst, social science consultant and founding member of the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations, Harold Bridger (1909-2005).

Harold Bridger was born in 1909 in Tavistock Crescent, London. After school and university, he began his career teaching mathematics in Coventry. During the early years of the Second World War Bridger commanded a search light battery in Coventry and then an anti-aircraft battery on the Island of Hoy. He later transferred to the War Office Selection Boards (WOSBs) in 1942 as a Military Testing Officer and was closely associated with its development and use of group methods. In 1944 Bridger was appointed commanding officer at the psychiatric Northfield Military Hospital alongside SH Foulkes and Tom Main where they conducted the second ‘Northfield experiment’ using therapeutic community methods. In 1945 he joined the staff at the Civil Resettlement Units (for returned prisoners of war) as Chief Vocational Officer alongside Isabel Menzies Lyth, Tommy Wilson, and Eric Trist. After the war, Bridger trained as a psychoanalyst at the Institute of Psychoanalysis, under the supervision of John Rickman, Paula Heimann, Melanie Klein, and Anna Freud, qualifying in 1950. Building on these experiences, in 1947 Harold Bridger became one of the founding members of the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations where he worked as a senior social scientist/consultant for nearly half a century.

Speaker’s bio

Annie Lord is the project archivist responsible for the Harold Bridger collection. She completed an undergraduate degree in History from the University of Sussex and went on to complete her Masters in Archives and Records Management at the University of Liverpool. She is currently undertaking the project ‘Rediscovering Harold Bridger: His Life, Work and Legacy’ at the Mulberry Bush Charity where she is responsible for sorting, preserving, cataloguing, and promoting Harold Bridger’s collection.

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