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‘No! I have not had time to visit a Canteen or an eggs-and-chips place since I became post-corporal, but I get coffee and other refreshment in the morning while I am waiting for the mail to come up…’

Entry dated February 25th 1918, War Diary 1917 – 1919, by Aleyn Lyell Reade [ALR. A. 1. 2].

The Blind School: Pioneering People and Places

Three items from Special Collections & Archives have been included in a new exhibition at the Museum of Liverpool, which explores the history of Liverpool’s Royal School for the Blind and the experiences of generations of its students.

The School, the first in Britain, was founded in 1791 by Edward Rushton. Born in Liverpool and apprenticed as a sea-boy at 11, Rushton contracted an eye infection on board a slave ship, an experience which left him both blind and with an interest in radical political causes.

Report of the state of the School for the Blind (Liverpool, 1817), SPEC Knowsley Pamphlet 241. Image courtesy of the Museum of Liverpool.

‘The Blind School: Pioneering People and Places’ is one of three exhibitions curated by History of Place, a national project run by Accentuate, which explores 800 years of disability history through eight different sites around the UK.

A group of volunteers working on the Heritage Lottery-funded project visited Special Collections & Archives as part of their research in 2016. The group consulted a number of items from the collection and later selected three items to appear in the final exhibition, all printed in Liverpool – An unselfish life: sermon preached at the Blind School Chapel (1878);  Report of the state of the School for the Blind (1817); and An address to the benevolent founders of the Chapel for the Blind (1828)The books are displayed alongside objects, spoken stories and a film made with visually impaired and blind students from St Vincent’s School in a narrative which challenges people’s attitudes towards blind people, both past and present.

The exhibition includes audio description, Braille, British Sign Language interpretation, and multi-sensory features, and is open at the Museum of Liverpool until April 15th 2018.

The launch event on 25 January 2018. Image courtesy of the Museum of Liverpool.

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Wounded Soldiers’ Concerts

‘The second concert was held on February 9, Alderman M. H. Maxwell, J. P., presiding. The proceedings were an unqualified success. The star turn was Miss Ella Shields, whose songs were greatly appreciated by the wounded soldiers.’

Extract from Cunard staff magazine, February 1918 issue [D42/PR5/1].

New Accession: Ephraim Wood

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SC&A’s latest acquisition is a somewhat eccentric publication, composed of a mishmash of writings by the Quaker author Ephraim Wood (pictured) – including, An account of a tour from Liverpool to London, Notes on the new age, or the new heaven and new earth and A friendly address to sailors; or, A few remarks on a seafaring life. The work was printed by ‘Johnson’, in Liverpool, in 1820. In a rather telling note on page 436, they write that “The Printer respectfully informs the reader, that the Author’s punctuation and peculiar style of writing, have been strictly adhered to”.

This book is one of only three known copies of the work in the UK, and bears contemporary ownership marks (see the top corner of the title-page above), as well as the book label of Anne and Fernand Renier. Prodigious book collectors, the Renier’s had a particularly impressive collection of 80,000 children’s books, now looked after by the V&A Library.

The University of Liverpool: A History through Archives

Reflecting the growth and achievements of the University since its beginnings The Archive of the University of Liverpool contains records recording the history of the University over 137 years from its beginnings as University College in 1881 through to the present day. The archive reflects the functions of the University through the records it produces and includes administrative records, personal papers of former staff and students, photographs, objects and ephemera relating to the history of the University of Liverpool.

This exhibition celebrates 50 years of the establishment in 1968 of the official repository for the University Archives. The repository currently comprises over 2000 linear meters of material and continues to grow, receiving a wide range of deposits from the University, it’s staff and alumni, benefactors, affiliated members and other external donors and individuals.

Highlights of the exhibition include:

  • Grant of Arms: Grant by Garter Principal King of Arms, Clarenceux King of Arms and Norroy King of Arms to the University of Liverpool, (30 October Edward VII [1903])
  • University of Liverpool medals, buttons and badges
  • University of Liverpool Appeal poster, 1920
  • Guild of Undergraduates Dance and Debating Society programmes, 1919-1922

The exhibition is available to view on the Ground Floor Grove Wing Special Collections and Archives exhibition area during the opening hours of the Sydney Jones Library.

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‘Convoy left Braux-St-Remy and went back to Maricourt where the land is full of preparations for a guessed Boche offensive.’

Entry dated 2nd February 1918, diary of Olaf Stapledon [OS/A1/20].

2017 retrospect

2017 was another busy year in Special Collections and Archives. To celebrate Burns Night, we have curated some of the highlights: collections that were conserved, catalogued, acquired, and the people whom we have been thrilled to meet and work alongside this past year.

February – Peers Symposium attendees

  • March – always a busy month for teaching classes, including the popular Children’s Literature module (see below photo). We also welcomed several visitors with special links to our collections, including a relation of Grace Wilson, the long term partner and wife of John Wyndham.

    March – Dr Esme Miskimmin leading a seminar using SC&A material for ENGL573 Children’s Literature module. ®McCoy_Wynne

  • April – Cunard archivist Siân Wilks worked hard to ensure that the catalogues for the Chairman’s papers (an excellent resource for business and maritime history) are available online; we hosted a meeting of members of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association; our reading room reference collection overhaul was completed, undertaken by our former Assistant Librarian Lucy Evans and Archives Cataloguer Josette Reeves; and Special Collections and Archives Manager Jenny Higham delivered the session ‘Using Primary Sources’ for the Researcher KnowHow programme.
  • May –  filming took place in the archive for the UKTV Yesterday channel documentary series “Nazi Victory: The Post War Plan“, using University Archive material to explore the university life of a German student who was suspected of being a spy during WWII; we also installed a new exhibition: ‘Thomas Rickman (1776-1841) Architect and Antiquary’. The exhibition was curated by University of Liverpool academic Dr Alex Buchanan as part of a larger AHRC funded project. On Light Night, our Science Fiction Librarian Andy Sawyer interviewed John Higgins on stage at the Victoria Gallery & Museum to coincide with the Beyond Dredd and Watchmen: The Art of John Higgins.

    May – Thomas Rickman Exhibition

    May – John Higgins (L) and Andy Sawyer (R) chatting about John Higgin’s work

  • June – the first undergraduate open day of the year, at which staff were thrilled to speak to so many prospective students; and a large amount of Science Fiction material was transported to the Barbican Centre in London for their Into the Unknown exhibition (Science Fiction was certainly well travelled throughout the year in general).
  • July – many boxes from the Liverpool Poets archive were transported to London for the Southbank Centre exhibition The Mersey Sound at 50our reading room was refreshed through the acquisition of a new microfilm system, new specialist book rests, and new professional photographs were hung on the walls, giving a behind-the-scenes look at our collections and activities.

    July – a photograph of some of the beautiful spines and tooling work in our collections! ®McCoy_Wynne

  • August – we showed off our feline collections and friends for International Cat Day. Thankfully, all the pet cats featured in the blog post are dealing with their new found fame in a very grounded manner. Our University Archivist, Jo Klett, also completed a data cleanse of records to prepare for the launch of a new archives catalogue in the future.

    August – International Cat Day featured Oldham 173, The Tale of Tom Kitten

  • September – aside from greeting students both returning and new for the start of the 2017-18 session, we welcomed our new Graduate Library Assistant Michaela Garland to the team, bade farewell to Beth Williams for the Master of Archives and Records Management course, and former Graduate Library Assistant Robyn Orr took up the new post of Library Assistant, with responsibility for the day-to-day reading room service. The Unsettling Scientific Stories researchers visited us to consult the Science Fiction archive; and we also opened a new exhibition, Roscoe’s University: Liverpool Royal Institution 1817 – 2017, to celebrate the bicentenary of the Liverpool Royal Institution.

    September – Roscoe’s University: Liverpool Royal Institution 1817-2017 exhibition

  • October – we fittingly marked the 50th anniversary of the last voyage of the Queen Mary by showing on our blog the exciting new accessions donated that month; we hosted our Library colleagues to view our some of our new acquisitions in a Staff Open Afternoon; more enthusiastic prospective undergraduates visited us on the second open day of the year; SC&A staff took part choosing our favourite books for the Libraries Week fun on the Library Instagram; and these events were a final hurrah for our Assistant Librarian Lucy Evans, who left us to join the British Library as Curator of Printed Heritage Collections. She leaves a great legacy in many research-enabling catalogue records and on social media, including her work with the ERC funded TIDE project.

    October – D1169/1/2, The Queen Mary puzzle

  • November – we kicked off this month with a bang through a blog post on bonfire night; we also welcomed Niamh Delaney to the team as the Assistant Librarian, who has been very busy cataloguing our Special Collections material and keeping up SCA’s profile on social media since her arrival; we were also pleased to welcome visitor Christopher Graham, Vice President of the Council of the University of Liverpool, to view material from his time as President of the Guild; further, after the event The Bicentenary of Liverpool Royal Institution: A Celebration, we hosted attendees to view our Liverpool Royal Institution exhibition.

    November – Attendees of the Bicentenary event viewing the Liverpool Royal Institution material in our exhibition area.

    November – an eager attendee viewing the Liverpool Royal Institution exhibition.

  • December – and finally, our festive season and winter themed material took centre stage on both the University Library twitter (#livunisca) and a board displayed at the entrance of the Sydney Jones Library; we launched our SC&A merchandise (available to purchase at our reception during opening hours); and our collections reached dizzying heights to celebrate International Mountains Day 2017.

    December – The merchandise table located in the SC&A reception area – available to purchase Monday to Friday, 9:30am – 4:45pm.

    December – SC&A Merchandise, including notebooks, pencils, erasers, magnets, bookmarks, and more!

December – one of our lovely Special Collections items (reference JUV.530) found on the #livunisca twitter advent

We wish our readers and visitors a happy new year and we look forward to welcoming  old and new faces in 2018. To arrange an appointment, please do email us on scastaff@liverpool.ac.uk and our staff will be happy to assist.

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“Yesterday, as I was taking the mail home (a limber, of course, actually carries the bags) I met Percy, and this time, as he was on foot, he recognized me and we stopped for a little talk. It is curious, in the deserted streets of a French town – we were just in the confines of Armentieres – for friends and neighbours to meet in this way…”

Entry dated January 23rd, 1918, War Diary 1917 – 1919, by Aleyn Lyell Reade [ALR. A. 1. 2].

 

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“The Bolsheviks here have realised the futility of their peace negotiations, and they’re trying to raise a volunteer army to replace the old army that they’ve destroyed. I fear they will have little success – the discipline of the existing units has been destroyed, and the officers’ authority has gone…”

Letter written by Lyon Blease to his mother during his service with the Red Cross, dated 14th January 1918, Anglo-Russian Hospital, Odessa, Ukraine. Letters of Professor Walter Lyon Blease [D55/26/5].