A small archive of documents from the drug advice and referral agency, Release, dating from its inception in 1967 through to its tenth anniversary. RELEASE.
A small archive of documents from the drug advice and referral agency, Release, dating from its inception in 1967 through to its tenth anniversary.
A small archive of documents from the drug advice and referral agency, Release, dating from its inception in 1967 through to its tenth anniversary.
A small archive of documents from the drug advice and referral agency, Release, dating from its inception in 1967 through to its tenth anniversary.
A small archive of documents from the drug advice and referral agency, Release, dating from its inception in 1967 through to its tenth anniversary.
A small archive of documents from the drug advice and referral agency, Release, dating from its inception in 1967 through to its tenth anniversary.
A small archive of documents from the drug advice and referral agency, Release, dating from its inception in 1967 through to its tenth anniversary.
A small archive of documents from the drug advice and referral agency, Release, dating from its inception in 1967 through to its tenth anniversary.
A small archive of documents from the drug advice and referral agency, Release, dating from its inception in 1967 through to its tenth anniversary.
A small archive of documents from the drug advice and referral agency, Release, dating from its inception in 1967 through to its tenth anniversary.
A small archive of documents from the drug advice and referral agency, Release, dating from its inception in 1967 through to its tenth anniversary.
A small archive of documents from the drug advice and referral agency, Release, dating from its inception in 1967 through to its tenth anniversary.
A small archive of documents from the drug advice and referral agency, Release, dating from its inception in 1967 through to its tenth anniversary.
A small archive of documents from the drug advice and referral agency, Release, dating from its inception in 1967 through to its tenth anniversary.
A small archive of documents from the drug advice and referral agency, Release, dating from its inception in 1967 through to its tenth anniversary.
A small archive of documents from the drug advice and referral agency, Release, dating from its inception in 1967 through to its tenth anniversary.
A small archive of documents from the drug advice and referral agency, Release, dating from its inception in 1967 through to its tenth anniversary.
A small archive of documents from the drug advice and referral agency, Release, dating from its inception in 1967 through to its tenth anniversary.

148.

A small archive of documents from the drug advice and referral agency, Release, dating from its inception in 1967 through to its tenth anniversary.

Release was founded in July 1967, largely in response to Hoppy's bust. It was given further impetus by the febrile atmosphere surrounding the earlier Stones bust at Redlands (Caroline Coon, Rufus Harris and Steve Abrams first met at the News of the World demonstration in June) and extra motivation when Caroline Coon's boyfriend was busted.


Its original directors were Joe Boyd, Caroline Coon and Todd Lloyd, an American who put up the initial money. Coon, who named the organisation, took the role of fundraiser and spokesperson, while Rufus Harris concentrated on the administration.


Their primary aim was provide bail services to people arrested for drug offences and to refer them to solicitors. A 24-hour telephone help line was set up; initially this was in Caroline Coon's flat in Sinclair Road, operated by volunteers, before a one-room office was found in Notting Hill, followed in 1969 by larger premises. By then the organisation estimated that it was handling about 60 busts a month, and in the first nine months of 1970 they claimed to have helped 1,548 people with their court cases. As with most underground organisations and projects, Release's finances were always tight, but it gained charitable status in 1972, and a few years later received a Home Office grant.


The archive consists of:
i) a statement, typed on Indica letterhead paper (c. July 1967), outlining the purpose of Release and the ways in which it was intended to function. It begins with the statement that "The purpose of RELEASE is to assist citizens, particularly students and other young people who are arrested for illegal drugs and other offences. RELEASE is financed entirely by independent donations administered by a board of overseers, and staffed by volunteers." The statement continues with seven numbered paragraphs outlining the ways in which it sought to operate; in the last one it distinguishes itself from SOMA (whose aim was to reform the drug laws) by stating that "RELEASE's prime concern is reforming the manner in which suspects and offenders are dealt with under the current laws…and to emphasize that many offences now treated as criminal are actually political, medical, religious or philosophical in nature." A short holograph note at the end in blue biro reads: "Seen Mike Henshaw but must check with Hoppy" (Henshaw was Hoppy's accountant, and acted for many others in the underground; he was also Indica's Secretary and his name is included along with the directors at the foot of the document). One of the founding documents of Release, and the basis for their widely-circulated advice sheet.


ii) an original 2pp. typescript entitled "Rules of the Road", printing "information gathered from Judges' Rules and Administrative Directions to the Police". The text was used as the foundation for the much-condensed version which appeared on the Release Bust Card, and contains eight numbered paragraphs summarising defendants' legal rights. Two sheets of thin orange paper, with a few holograph crossings-out and brief annotations.


iii) The Release Bust card, and the original part-typed, part-handwritten and hand-drawn design for the card. The card was the first of its kind in the world, and was designed, created and first distributed from Caroline Coon's flat in July 1967. Its layout was divided into two halves, the first printing advice on what to do "If You Are Arrested", the second outlining basic legal entitlements following arrest. The foolscap sheet contains several holograph amendments to the original typed notes, all of which were incorporated in the final design, and a simple drawing of the layout. The card is stapled to three mimeographed sheets, as issued, which provide the seven key points of "Information Concerning The Civil Rights Of Persons Who Have Been Arrested" (closely based on the typed statement on Indica notepaper above). Together with: two later variants of the card, the first produced in late 1967 after Release had moved into a one-room office in 52 Princedale Road; the second, printed in 1969, following the move to a larger office at 50A Princedale Road.


iv) Two copies of the Release form issued to individuals arrested on drug offences. The first remains blank, the second has been completed for a person charged with "Possession of cannabis resin & allowing it to be smoked on his premises." Further notes on the verso name all five of the accused ("all pleaded Not Guilty"), and brief comments: "Raid at 3.00am. All accused in bed. Police claimed to have smelt pot through window", and the date of the trial at Portsmouth Magistrate Court on September 25th (1967). Together with: an information sheet on how to operate the transfer system on the telephone exchange when phoning Release.


v) original mimeographed flyer produced by Release calling for a gathering "For Positive Action" in the King's Road, Chelsea, following Brian Jones's nine month sentence for drug possession on October 30th, 1967: "drums, flowers, bugles, anything, love…come now…bring people…". The verso prints the functions and aims of Release.


vi) A Release Press Statement on the drug offence charges facing Paul Waldman of Middle Earth, requesting "statements from people who have visited Middle Earth…who could speak of the service that the place provided, and the satisfactory manner in which it was conducted" (late 1968). Another sheet, announcing the publication of Cread, "a creative magazine of and from the Notting Hill area" (no record can be found of this ever appearing) attached by staple, along with flyers for the anti-censorship "Depravity and Corruption" event held at the Royal Festival Hall (December 9th, 1968) and The Defence of Literature and the Arts Society (the former lists The Grateful Dead among the performers, although they did not appear).


vii) a copy of "The Release Report on Drug Offenders & The Law" by Caroline Coon and Rufus Harris (London: Sphere Books, 1969), a summary of their early work. Together with an original printed card invite to Steve and Jane Abrams (of SOMA) "To celebrate the publication…and the completion of the new Release premises" on April 22nd (accompanied by a small group of contemporary press clippings on drugs). Together with: a foolscap mimeographed sheet entitled "Friends of Release", mentioning the book's upcoming publication and soliciting regular financial contributions - "Even though Release is one of the longest established Underground organisations, their bread supplies are still irregular and unreliable, especially now that Middle Earth is having difficulties in finding a home" (UFO at the Roundhouse had previously given 10% of the door to Release, George Harrison had recently donated £5000 following his bust in March 1969, and soon after Implosion raised more, but the organisation was perennially under-funded).


viii) a TLS on Release letterhead paper from Caroline Coon to Miles at Indica Books, dated May 12th, 1969. 89 words. Coon thanks Miles for his letter (a carbon copy of which is also included) in which he provided her with Timothy Leary's address in Berkeley, suggesting she approach him for donations and support during his possible UK visit (which did not materialise), and send him a copy of "The Release Report" and "any mimeographed handouts or whatever that you have".


ix) a colour double-sided quarto-size card flyer publicising the premiere of "Performance", organised as a benefit for Release (January 1971). One side prints a colour psychedelic image of Mick Jagger, the other "A History of Release". The launch was held at the Odeon Leicester Square, and although Jagger promised to attend, and the flyer states that the benefit was his personal suggestion, he did not show up.


x) a Release poster highlighting the effects of the proposed Misuse of Drugs Bill (1971). Offset, printed in black on white paper. Prints Release's new address at 40 Princedale Road (and another in Amsterdam) and the organisation's 'Peace Dove' logo in bold lettering, designed by Caroline Coon. Together with: a Release Press Statement on the First National Conference on Cannabis and the Law, held at Sarah Siddons School in Paddington, September 9th, 1972. By this time Release had relocated to Elgin Avenue.


xi) "Pop Festivals - The Release Experience", a 5pp. text on the role of Release and other alternative welfare services at both free and commercial festivals, documenting their experiences (1972). Foolscap sheets, mimeographed, stapled at top corner.


xii) three Release booklets: a) Truckers' Bible. London: Release, Spring 1973. First edition. 8vo. Stapled wrps., 52pp. Printed by the Suburban Press (Jeremy Brook and Jamie Reid). Contains a summary of the international laws on drugs and provides extensive advice both to overland travellers and prospective drug smugglers; b) "Leaves, But Not of Grass: The 'Flowering or Fruiting' Tops Controversy" by Don Aitken and Richard Harkinson. London: Release Publications Ltd., 1976. First edition. 8vo. Stapled wrps. (12pp.); c) "Hallucinogenic Mushrooms: A Release Guide" written by the Release Collective. London: Release Publications Ltd., 1979. First edition. 8vo. Stapled wrps., 20pp. Illustrated. Together with: a leaflet by Don Aitken, "Going to Pot?" (London: Student Humanist Foundation, 1968); a booklet by Simon Randall, with Release Library stamps; "Drugs In Your Town: A Review of Drug Abuse, Particularly Among Young People in London Borough of Bromley" (1969); and a Christmas card produced in aid of Release (c. 1967).


xiii) Release '67-'77. London: Release Publications Ltd., 1977. First edition. 4to. Stapled wrps., 16pp. Illustrated. A special issue of Release's newsletter marking their tenth anniversary. Includes articles on cannabis prohibition, women's rights, Operation Julie, and the squatting movement. Inside back cover prints a Virgin Records ad. for the Sex Pistols' "Pretty Vacant", featuring video images from their April 1977 Screen On The Green concert.


A rare archival collection, including significant items from one of the most important, effective and enduring organisations to emerge from the sixties counterculture.

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