2015 in retrospect

Burns Night is a suitably celebratory prompt to look back on the Auld Lang Syne of 2015 in Special Collections & Archives and remember some of its highlights – the enthusiasm of students, staff, and visitors; new accessions and new discoveries in the collections; and collaborations with colleagues around the University, throughout Liverpool and further afield.

  • January – our first external visitors were the North West branch of CILIP, visiting the Science Fiction collections.
  • February – SC&A hosted a visit for volunteers from the National Trust’s Jacobean Speke Hall.
  • March – the grandaughters of Basque nationalist Manuel Irujo de Ollo visited the Irujo collections after attending a seminar in the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures. The great-nephew of Irujo’s contemporary, Professor of Spanish Edgar Allison Peers, visited with a current Liverpool Spanish student who worked at his publishing company on her year abroad.


Other visitors in March included authors Neil Gaiman and Cheryl Morgan, who explored the worlds of fantasy and comics with Science Fiction Librarian Andy Sawyer, and volunteers at the George Garrett archive.


IMG_0917At the University’s School of the Arts, Jenny Higham, SC&A Manager, introduced SC&A’s Renaissance resources at the Department of English seminar ‘Making Knowledge in the Renaissance.’

Inc. Ryl. 63.OS Claudius Ptolemaeus Cosmographia

  • April – Preparations for 2015’s Cunard 175 celebrations got underway in April with the BBC Inside Out team filming material from the official Cunard Archive; SC&A’s new exhibition cases were installed and our copy of Robert Hooke’s Micrographia was measured up for exhibition at the Victoria Gallery and Museum, to celebrate its 350th birthday.

SPEC Y81 3 1637

  • May – Liverpool’s annual Light Night on 15 May launched the LOOK/15 International Photography festival including Gypsy portraits from the Fred Shaw photograph collection. Cunard 175 culminated in the Three Queens choreographed sailing on the Mersey over the Bank Holiday weekend, with news items and interviews with Jenny Higham on the BBC North West Tonight and Granada News.








  • June – the Cunard theme continued with a creative writing workshop inspired by the Cunard Archive, and both the Fairbridge Archive and the Science Fiction collection hosted external visitors.
  • July – LIHG, CILIP’s specialist Library history group took advantage of the CILIP conference at Liverpool’s St George’s Hall to include a visit to SC&A, visiting the Cunard exhibition and seeing highlights from the early printed book collection chosen for their provenance history.
  • August – the family of Sir Harold Cohen, eponymous founder of the Harold Cohen Library saw his Library, his archive, and the pen that made it all possible.

Phil Sykes with Mrs Penny Gluckstein and Amanda Graves in the Library Special Collections and Archives

  • September – the ships have sailed, but the posters on display in the Victoria Gallery & Museum keep the Cunard glamour alive.


  • October – more well-travelled visitors included Stanisław Krawczyk from the University of Warsaw, to give a talk on fantastic fiction in Poland, and Eric Flounders, Cunard’s former Public Relations Manager, spoke to a packed Leggate theatre audience on his 27 years of experience of Cunard.
  • November – as part of Being Human 2015, Will Slocombe (English Department) and Andy Sawyer presented Being Posthuman at FACT, and the Knowledge is Power exhibition opened at the VGM.

Knowledge is Power

  • December – SC&A hosted a thank you visit for the Friends of the University, who generously funded a programme to clean and box the incunable collection

Sydney Jones incunables 1

New accessions and newly catalogued collections, now available for research and teaching use, include: University Archive EXT – 70 years of papers from the Extension Studies Dept. 1935-2005 and D1042 (1968-2013) papers of the Academic Institution Management Service; CNDA – Cunard memorabilia from the Cunard Associated Deposits; D709/6 – new additions to the David Owen Archive; LUL MSS and LUL Albums – listings of scrapbooks, commonplace books and other individual volumes previously donated to the University Library; foreign language science fiction; 17th-century pamphlets from Knowsley Hall and 19th-century pharmacological books. Find all these and more by searching the Archive and Library catalogues on the SCA website


The Manuel Irujo Collection

The 2014-15 academic session will see the introduction of a Basque language, literature and popular culture module to the School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies. The library of Manuel Irujo, the Navarrese lawyer and politician, donated by his family, has been fully catalogued and is available for study and research in Special Collections and Archives.

Manuel Irujo portait

Manuel Irujo portait

Manuel de Irujo Ollo was born in Estella / Lizarra in 1891. His father had close links with Sabino Arana Goiri, founder of the Basque Nationalist Party (the PNV); and  the family had a long history of involvement  in local politics.   At Deusto University in Bilbao Irujo studied Humanities, but after the sudden death of his father retrained as a lawyer in order to take  over  his father’s practice. In 1919 Irujo was elected as a delegate to the Council of Navarra.  Conservative forces conspired to annul the results and he was unable to take up his seat; he stood again in 1921 and served until 1931.In the national elections of 1931,1933 and 1936  Irujo was elected  Member of Parliament for the Basque province of Gipuzkoa as a member of the Basque Nationalist Party, Partido Nacionalista Vasco (PNV). He supported the Second Spanish Republic and was fiercely opposed to Franco’s military uprising.  He was appointed Minister Without Portfolio in 1936 in the Government of Largo Caballero and later became Minister of Justice under Negrin. Irujo was determined to restore a basic form of justice in the Spanish Republican Zone, but  eventually  he was forced to  resign the position, mainly due to the extra judicial killings, which continued despite all his efforts. During the months he served as Minister Irujo saved  the lives of many condemned to execution by firing squad and worked tirelessly to facilitate the  exchange of prisoners and the safe passage of third parties.

Spanish Civil War pamphlet

SPEC Irujo D.2. Spanish Civil War pamphlet

After the Civil War Manuel Irujo initially went into exile in the United Kingdom. Later he served as a member of the Republican Government in exile in Mexico and  went on to work with  the Basque Government in exile in Paris under José Antonio Aguirre.Irujo was the author of a number of books including Inglaterra y los Vascos, in which he described the link between the Basque Country and Great Britain, and Instituciones juridicias, where he wrote about the Basque judicial system. Over the decades he  wrote  hundreds of articles for a number of periodicals including Euzko Deya : La Voz de los Vascos en México, Euzko Deya : La Voz de Euzkadi and Eusko-Gaztedi.

Irujo’s work in promoting European Unity earned him the title Honorary President of the Federal Peninsular Council of the European Movement (see Europa de los pueblos) and in October 1974 he was made Amigo de Europa. He returned to the Basque Country after Franco’s death, and was elected Senador to the Cortes in 1978, in which he served until his death in 1981.

SPEC IRUJO G 1 no 218: August 1958 issue of Euzco Deya

SPEC IRUJO G.1 Euzco Deya 218 (Aug. 1958)

The Manuel Irujo collection was donated to the Special Collections & Archives section of the Sydney Jones Library by Manuel Irujo’s grandchildren (Ane Button Irujo and Miren Button Irujo), and contains nearly 400 books and pamphlets and 117 periodicals, on Basque culture, the Spanish Civil War, with a section on Manuel Irujo’s legacy. Mostly collected by Irujo after he went into exile in the UK and France, the collection includes copies of Basque newspapers published for  exiled communities who had relocated to Europe and the Americas.  Many of the books are inscribed with dedications from Irujo’s friends, colleagues and associates, including the anti-Franco journalist and historian, Herbert Rutledge Southworth, the sculptor, Eduardo Chillida, the opera singer and writer, Isidoro de Fagoaga, the archaeologist and anthropologist, Pere Bosch-Gimpera, and the artist and politician Luis Quintanilla.

SPEC IRUJO C.15 – Eduardo Chillida’s dedication

SPEC IRUJO C.15 – Eduardo Chillida’s dedication

A Basque exile’s books come to rest in Liverpool

Special Collections & Archives is delighted to have received a significant acquisition to its holdings of books relating to Hispanic studies and the Spanish Civil War. Delivered in person by his grandaughters, Miren and Ane, the books which Manuel Irujo took with him to exile in Paris have been donated to the University, where they will be an important resource for teaching and research in Basque studies.

Book cover from Irujo collectionManuel Irujo (1891-1981), a Navarrese from Estella was the only Basque politician to hold ministerial responsibility in the Second Republican government, he was both Minister of Justice and Minister without portfolio, and became president of the Basque National Council in 1940. Irujo spent nearly half his life in exile – in Paris and London – from the post-Spanish Civil War government of his contemporary General Franco (1892-1975). Even after Franco’s death, Irujo’s return to Spain had to be delayed – leaving him only his final four years in his home country.

The books Irujo had with him in exile have been donated to Liverpool by his family, in recognition of Liverpool’s position as a centre of Hispanist studies, and with the purpose of promoting the development of Basque Studies. When catalogued, they will take their place alongside the library of E. Allison Peers, and other material related to the Spanish Civil war, including the E.J. Burford and Ronald Fraser collections, and the papers of Eleanor Rathbone, who was instrumental in the escape of thousands of Basque children from the conflict.

Irujo’s library of nearly 400 titles, in Basque, Spanish, Franch and English, is arranged in sections relating to: Basque Language and Literature; Navarra (Irujo’s home province); Basque people, culture and folklore; the Spanish Civil War, its aftermath, and Basque politics; political and social issues in the Basque country after the Civil War; Early Basque Nationalism; Basques and the Americas; Newspapers; and works on History, Travel, Geography, Science and Nature.

Many items are dedicated to Irujo by their authors, and the collection includes his own annotated copy of a volume of his memoirs. The Basque diaspora are well-represented, especially through the publications of Ekin, founded in Buenos Aires in 1942 by Basque exiles including Manuel’s Irujo’s brother Andres. 

Euzko Deya cover from Irujo collection