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.

Using Primary Sources: new open access e-textbook launched

Special Collections & Archives has been a key contributor in “Using Primary Sources”, a newly launched Open Access teaching and study resource that combines archival and early printed source materials with high quality peer-reviewed chapters by leading academics.

Edited by Dr Jonathan Hogg, Senior Lecturer in Twentieth Century History at the University of Liverpool, with over 30 academics contributing, this project is a collaboration between Liverpool University Press, the University of Liverpool Library and JISC, and is available for free on the BiblioBoard platform.

Special Collections & Archives has provided images for several chapters across the Medieval, Early Modern and Modern anthologies. Dr Martin Heale’s chapter on Popular Religion features high resolution images from some of SC&A’s illuminated medieval manuscript treasures, including the Dance of Death scene in MS.F.2.14, a French Book of Hours from the late 15th century.  Death is represented as a rotting corpse, followed by a procession of a pope, an emperor and a cardinal. The depiction is intended to have a moral message: a reminder the end is the same for all, regardless of their wealth or status. The accompanying chapter provides the context for the interpretation of such primary sources, so as to better understand attitudes to popular religion during this period.

Dance of Death, Book of Hours (Use of Chalons), LUL MS F.2.14 f82r

Both the Cunard archive and the Rathbone papers feature in Dr Graeme Milne’s chapter on Business History, whilst items from our children’s literature collections have been selected for Dr Chris Pearson’s chapter on the Environment. Some of these items are also used in teaching classes, where students have the opportunity to see and interpret the volumes for themselves.

A. Johnston, Animals of the Countryside, 1941. Oldham 485

Title page of A. White, The instructive picture book, 1866 JUV.550.2

From the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament ephemera collected by Science Fiction author John Brunner to a 14th century English Book of Hours, “Using Primary Sources” is both a valuable showcase for SC&A’s collections, and an important open access resource for students.

The textbook can be accessed via the Library catalogue, or directly from: https://library.biblioboard.com/module/usingprimarysources.

You can read more about the project on the Liverpool University Press website, as well as an interview with editor Dr Jon Hogg.

Follow “Using Primary Sources” on Twitter @LivUniSources to find out when new themes are added to the e-textbook. Forthcoming chapters for launch in 2017 include Science & Medicine, Gender and Political Culture.

A glimpse of Victorian Shakespeare

April this year is Shakespeare month, as his 400th anniversary approaches. Amongst many Shakespeare resources in Special Collections & Archives there is a small theatre ephemera collection [SPEC J10.2] previously catalogued simply as:

75 programmes, advertisements, etc. of plays and other productions in London theatres, 1881-1902, and 6 of provincial productions, 1877-1884.

J10.2 Romeo and JulietThese highly ornamental Victorian programmes, including productions of Shakespeare’s plays, are now indexed separately by title and arranged by the theatre location and date of each performance, giving a glimpse of Shakespeare as presented in the 1880s and 1890s. There is also one programme for a Shakespeare production of 1879 as part of Wallace Roberts and Charles Archer’s dramatic company’s

Grand Provincial Tour, Assembly Rooms, Chichester positively for six nights only: East Lynne (from Mrs Wood’s novel), Flowers of the Forest (Buckstone’s romantic drama), School for Scandal (Sheridan’s admired comedy), ‘Twixt Axe and Crown (grand historical play, by Tom Taylor), As You Like It (Shakespeare’s beautiful comedy), Black Eyed Susan (nautical drama).

Each night’s main performance at Chichester was followed by the “B side” production: four ‘Laughable Farces’, one Burlesque and the final night’s ‘Screaming Farce, entitled Limerick Boy.’

The London theatre performances have equally Victorian elements, advertising, for example, seats secured by Mail, Telegraph or Telephone, on sale at all the LIBRARIES; there are specially composed contemporary musical arrangements and theatres lighted by electricity, or offering, for the convenience of visitors, a foyer fitted out with the Exchange Telegraph Company’s Tape Instrument. The list of the London productions is:

DALY’S: The Taming of the Shrew (perf. 1893)  — Twelfth Night (perf. 1894) — The Two Gentlemen of Verona (perf. 1895).

GLOBE: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (perf. 1890) — The Taming of the Shrew (perf. 1890)

HAYMARKET: Hamlet (perf. 1892, 7.45pm) – Hamlet (perf. 1892, 8pm).

HER MAJESTY’S: Julius Caesar (perf. 1898) — King John (perf. 1899).

LYCEUM: Romeo and Juliet (perf. 1882) — Much Ado About Nothing (perf. 1882) — Romeo and Juliet (perf. 1884) — Henry IV, Part I (perf. 1890) — As You Like It (perf. 1891) — King Henry the Eighth (perf. 1892) — Romeo and Juliet (perf. 1895). — Hamlet (perf. 1897) — Macbeth (perf. 1898).

ST JAMES’S: As You Like It (perf. 1890)

J10.2 As You Like It



New Year, new resources

New online listings of the architectural plans of University buildings, and of the manuscripts and albums of pictorial material given to the University Library, will soon be available in the searchable database of finding aids on the Special Collections & Archives website and on the Archives Hub, making records for this valuable research material searchable online for the first time.

Ashton Building

Ashton Building

The collection of architectural plans (ref: University of Liverpool Archive, A38 and A259) comprises approximately 1800 items including blueprints and plans dating from 1871 to 1996 of the Leverhulme Building – School of Architecture, Victoria Building, Carnatic and Greenbank Halls of residence, Abercromby Square, and the Walker and Harrison Hughes Engineering Laboratories amongst others.


18th century recipe for  curing a cold, from commonplace book LUL MS.148.

18th century recipe for curing a cold, from commonplace book LUL MS.148.

The manuscripts and albums include material given to the University Library from its foundation in the 19th century. The manuscripts collection contains over 150 items dating from the 16th to the 20th centuries, including historical manuscripts, letters and deeds collected by the former School of Local History and Records, diaries, commonplace books and notebooks. A number of items in Welsh, Manx and Cornish reflect the interests of the former department of Celtic Studies. There is a separate small collection of albums of pictorial items including postcards, photographs, Christmas cards, prints, and Chinese paintings on rice paper.

19th century Christmas card from LUL Album 3/4

19th century Christmas card from LUL Album 3/4

A small selection of the newly-listed manuscript and pictorial items are on view in the Special Collections and Archives display cases during January.

Love in the Library

To celebrate National Libraries Day and look ahead to Valentine’s Day, Special Collections and Archives has put on a romance-themed display.

On show are John Wyndham’s handmade Valentine’s cards, menus for romantic cruise dinners on board Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth and Caronia II, paintings and poems from the Adrian Henri archive, including an owl bookmark with verse by Henri and Carol Ann Duffy, and The Quiver of Love: a collection of Valentines ancient and modern illustrated by Walter Crane and Kate Greenaway.

1964 Cunard Valentine's menu

1964 Cunard Valentine's menu



Advent and After: 19. Catch the last post

E. W. Winstanley’s Book of Christmas Cards: SPEC K11.14

E. W. Winstanley’s Book of Christmas Cards: SPEC K11.14


Finish writing your Christmas cards tonight to catch tomorrow’s post – the recommended last posting day before Christmas. This scrapbook of Christmas cards shows a surprising range of Victorian examples. The first commercially produced Christmas card was commissioned and sent by Henry Cole in 1843 thus starting a tradition that was well established by 1874 when the Reverend Edward William Winstanley began to compile his scrapbook.

Winstanley was a student at the University of Liverpool in the Faculty of Arts and graduated in 1893, but the scrapbook did not find its way to the University Library until 1958. The University Library Report for session 1957-58 records the gift of the Scrapbook of Christmas Cards under the heading gifts: 623 books from the library of the late prebendary E W Winstanley, a member of the University, received by the bequest of his cousin Miss D E K Gough of Malvern Wells.