2016 retrospect

Heading into the Chinese New Year, Special Collections & Archives pauses to look back at another busy year of collecting, conserving, communicating and celebrating our rich and diverse resources.

  • January – SC&A started the year as formally part of Libraries, Museums and Galleries, looking forward to sharing curatorial expertise and exploring new collaborative ventures with colleagues in the University’s Museums and Galleries. The exhibition Utopia Calling: Eleanor Rathbone Remembered opened, we hosted visiting archivists from Japan, and we made great use of housekeeping week, including a programme of cleaning and reboxing some of our tiniest treasures. SPEC 2016 t1-01_3G-R resizing and cleaning 1 G-R resizing and cleaning 2
  • February – 24 Feb was Eleanor Rathbone day, with a memorial lecture; the Utopia Calling exhibition was advertised as part of a national Remembering Eleanor Rathbone programme; Andy Sawyer, our Science Fiction Librarian, was interviewed on Radio Merseyside; Cunard came to film items from their offical archive, and teaching classes got underway for the new semester, with enthusiastic students sharing their experiences on social media.
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  • March –- activities shared with our colleagues at the Victoria Gallery & Museum included a gallery talk on the Cunard Archive, and a talk on book conservation to accompany the Knowledge is Power exhibition on early Liverpool Libraries.
  • April – Professor Eve Rosenhaft and a colleague from Germany visited the Hanns Weltzel collections to prepare an exhibition on the Nazi persecution of Romani families and a session on ‘Using Primary Sources’ looking at case studies from University archives ran as part of Libary’s Researcher KnowHow training programme.GypsyNazi-4w
  • May – as part of LightNight VG&M visitors could meet a plague doctor and other characters interpreting the world of the Micrographia exhibition, SC&A mounted Something in the water? Liverpool and the Literary Fantastic: an exhibition on Liverpool science fiction and a busy Andy Sawyer was in demand for both LightNight and WoWfest’s History of Sci-Fi in 10 Objects.

LightNightSF_7

  • June – SC&A hosted BBC Radio 4’s My Muse who visited to record a programme with Professor Deryn Rees Jones and the singer/songwriter Kathryn Williams in the presence of manuscripts of Sylvia Plath’s poetry; a group visit from the HLF-funded project ‘history of place’ charting lives of the disabled through history to view resources relating to history of the Liverpool School for the Blind; and Ohio State University students studying science fiction. We welcomed sixth formers on work experience placements, and attendees of the Science Fiction Research Association and Current Research in Speculative Fictions conferences.
  • July – students from the other side of the Pacific – Sociology summer school students from Singapore – came to see a reprise of the Eleanor Rathbone exhibition.
  • August – the University Archivist, Jo Klett, worked hard over the summer on the migration and cleaning of data – 100,000 records – and arranging training in the new archives system EMu, in preparation for the launch next year of a new archives catalogue; items from the John Fraser collection were loaned to the  Richard Le Gallienne exhibition in Liverpool Central Library, advertised nationally and internationally.Fraser 248 sm
  • September – we welcomed three new members of staff at the beginning of the month: two Graduate Library Assistants, Beth Williams and Robyn Orr, and an experienced rare books cataloguer and children’s book specialist, Lucy Evans, who spent a busy week running the national Rare Books & Special Collections Group conference with SC&A Manager Jenny Higham on its first visit to Liverpool, including of course a visit to SC&A.

Margins and mainstream books display at the University of Liverpool Special Collections and ArchivesThe same week brought members of the Challenger Society to see some particularly well-preserved marine illustrations.

Challenger Society

  • October – SC&A’s Local Literary Landscapes exhibiton, curated by Special Collections Librarian Katy Hooper and Archives Cataloguer Josette Reeves, opened to promote the Liverpool Literary Festival – including 200 Years of Frankenstein with the indefatiguable Andy Sawyer in conversation with Miranda Seymour. The Reading Room was opened for the final University Open Day, following on from open days in June and September at which we welcomed potential students.
  • November – we were very pleased to welcome Lord Derby, President of the University Council, and to spread the word about our collections far and wide: Siân Wilks, Cunard Archivist, attended the UK Maritime Archives Initiatives Day at the National Maritime Museum; Andy Sawyer contributed to the University of Liverpool hub for the Being Human festival on the theme ‘Fears of the past, hopes for the future’ with a workshop on Olaf Stapledon; and Jenny Higham gave a presentation on careers in Special Collections & Archives for a University Career Insights session on heritage.
  • December – the #LivUniSCA Twitter feed featured a special #SCAdvent hashtag to brighten up the dark days at the end of the year.

Behind the scenes, the team has continued its work to make new accessions and newly catalogued collections available for research and teaching use, including early Liverpool printing, the Matt Simpson archive, and additions to the Cunard Archive. Find all these and more by searching the Archive and Library catalogues on the SCA website and browsing the accessions2016 tag.

Brush up your dance steps in the archives

In mid Summer Festival season, Special Collections and Archives can offer an unusual take on research in the Gypsy Lore Society archive,  which has been used to recreate traditional English folk dances and songs, as explained below by Simon Harmer.

An interest in step dance from the southern counties of England brought Jigfoot, musicians from Southampton with an interest in local traditional tunes, together with dancers Val Shipley, Janet Keet-Black , Peter Ingram and Jo and Simon Harmer. Alice Gillington’s Songs of the Open Road was discovered to be a source of song, music and dance descriptions from Hampshire. Michael Yates and Steve Roud’s excellent article ‘Alice Gillington: Dweller on the Roughs’ (Folk Music Journal 2006, Vol 9, No. 1) led us to the Gypsy Lore Society archive at Liverpool University.

 

Alice Gillington’s correspondence with GLS spans the years from 1907 until 1932. Her extensive correspondence with Scott Macfie is very descriptive of the two Romany settlements she became involved with, Botany Bay at Sholing near Southampton and Thorney Hill in the New Forest. The letters give background to the communities from which she collected the songs, music and dance. They have also been invaluable in helping to identify the characters in her book Gypsies of the Heath published under her pen name The Romany Rawny. In this book she describes painting a portrait of Ellenda Barney. Through a letter to Scott Macfie we know that her brother, John, photographed the painting and a copy was sent to the GLS. That photograph is pasted into one of Macfie’s scrap books.

Portrait by Alice Gillington in top left corner, in a scrapbook by Scott Macfie. SMGC 2/2/1 (52)

Portrait by Alice Gillington in top left corner, in a scrapbook by Scott Macfie. SMGC 2/2/1 (52)

 

The archive also contains correspondence with Amelia Goddard, a painter of Gypsy life who tutored Alice in art. Amelia lived in Thorney Hill and was the reason Alice moved there when she and her brother decided to live full time in a Gypsy caravan. We use some of her evocative paintings as projected images during our performance Hither Side of the Hedge. The Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society also contains a number of articles written by Alice. One of these ‘The House of the Open Door’ promotes Amelia Goddard’s art works and contains examples of her paintings.

 

The amount of material we have found in the archive of the GLS is enormous. In our performances we can only share a little of the background material to give context to the music, song and dance. Our joy has been to meet the families of the people she lived among and be welcomed to Thorney Hill to perform the songs, music and dance that she collected there. We finish our performance with this extract from a letter to Macfie:

‘I didn’t come back to the caravan till ten o’clock, as I was with the Sherreds and other children, in the green lanes and the green bushes watching them dance and sing, tho’ it grew as dark as a summer night can be. They then linked arms together and danced “The Keel Row”, singing, all along the road with me.’

A cover of the Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society with Alice Gillington as contributor. SPEC Scott Macfie J.1.11

A cover of the Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society with Alice Gillington as contributor. SPEC Scott Macfie J.1.11

This week’s war: 104

Aside

There is no doubt that our move has begun. Everyone says so. Panes, who has just returned from the front, says that he left them straining in the leash just waiting the word to go. Dora says that the Adjutant in charge of the camp at Aintree announced yesterday (Sunday) at parade that our advance troops were in Lille, which would be splendid indeed, and I have heard the same, on less authority, from others – among them…a man of the Defence fort at Crosby.

[…]

I hope we may be in time to prevent the fall of Verdun, which seems imminent otherwise.

26 July 1916. Letter from John Sampson, University Librarian, to his wife [Sampson Archive SP8/1/2/11/64]. This week’s war: 104.

 

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.

Basque-2

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.

neilgaimanvisit-2sm

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.

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  • 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.

CunardPoster-1w

  • 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

 

Hereditary, like a wooden leg

The annual Appleby Horse Fair, in Cumbria, which takes place in June, provides a rare occasion when images of Romany Gypsies are prominent in the national press.

The Victoria Gallery & Museum’s current exhibition from the Gypsy Lore Society Archive – Fred Shaw (1867-1950): Gypsy Portraits – continues until Saturday 26 September, showcasing the work of this skilled amateur photographer. The exhibition’s curator, Moira Lindsay, has selected her favourite photo from the display, of Charlotte Cooper:

P193blog

Photograph of Charlotte Cooper, wife of Jack, with infant, by Fred Shaw. Taken on Bookham Common, Surrey, 22 April 1923. GLS Archive SMGC 1/2 Shaw P193

Moira explains her choice:

I think the way Shaw has captured her expression combined with the composition is superb. I also noticed the other day – while looking for something else as you do – that Charlotte and the child are also in P.192, which is such a different photo, and P.192 is the print that Shaw had inscribed on the back ‘showing the type which the general public call Gypsies’.

I think looking at P.192 in relation to P.193 reinforces his skills in capturing that moment in time in P.193 when clearly there are a lot of other things happening around them yet Charlotte is sitting calmly gazing off: Shaw has made a moment in time monumental.

The best way I can put it, is that sometimes an image makes you catch your breath, and this one does that for me.

Frederick James Shaw’s fascination with gypsy life and culture began as a small child when he accompanied his nursemaid on visits.  In his childhood he learnt much of their language and quickly became fluent in several Romani dialects.

Shaw worked as a printer, but his spare time was taken up with photography. Some of his photographs were reproduced in the journal of the Gypsy Lore Society, of which he was a member. He clearly had a fascination and respect for the people he met. His photographs show a real trust and connection between Shaw and his subjects which combined with his skill is what makes them so captivating.

His photographs do not romanticise their life, nor does Shaw approach them as an ethnographer, but as a portraitist. He said that ‘the best and truest Romano Rai is the man who likes to be with Gypsies for their own sake and is not everlastingly questioning them about their ancestry and their customs’. His friend and obituarist, Andrew Macfarlane, recalled that he was scathing about writers who claimed ‘some remote Gypsy ancestor as responsible for their interest, and by inference, subtle insight into Gypsy life: “hereditary, like a wooden leg”.’

SMGC 1/2 Shaw P192

Photograph by Fred Shaw of unknown group, including Charlotte Cooper, taken at Bookham Common, Surrey 22 April 1923: GLS Archive SMGC 1/2 Shaw P192

Shaw’s collection was presented by his wife Helen to the Gypsy Lore Society Archive which is deposited with University of Liverpool’s Special Collections & Archives. The titles in the exhibition are the captions recorded by Fred Shaw on his photographic negatives or prints.

 

 

Movember Mondays: 2

This week’s moustaches share a horizontal style, as worn by aristocratic members of the Gypsy Lore Society and Liverpool medics, such as Rushton Parker.

Read more on Movember moustaches and support the University’s teams from the Wolfson Centre and the University Library.

Colocci, in military dress in the Bulgarian war of 1885

Adriano Colocci, in military dress in the Bulgarian war of 1885

Marquis Adriano Colocci (1855-1941) was President of the Gypsy Lore Society 1910-1911. He sent this photograph to the Honorary Secretary, Dora Yates, with the signed inscription: “When I was officer in the Bulgarian war (1885).”

Colocci signed up to the newly-founded Gypsy Lore Society on 22nd June 1888, within a month of its launch in Edinburgh, and remained a member throughout his long and colourful career.

Heinrich von Wlislocki

Heinrich von Wlislocki (1856-1907)

Heinrich von Wlislocki (1856-1907), another Gypsiologist and nobleman, was born to a Polish family in Transylvania, and travelled with a group of Transylvanain Gypsies for most of a year after finishing his PhD.He died just as the Gypsy Lore Society was being revived in Liverpool. His obituary in the first volume of the Journal describes how his shyness made him the subject of a cycle of legends amongst his fellow students.

Photograph of Rushton Parker

Rushton Parker, Liverpool surgeon

Rushton Parker (1847-1932) FRCS, was born in Kirkdale, Liverpool and went to the Royal Institution School. He trained in London, Paris and Vienna, before returning to Liverpool, where he introduced Lister’s ideas on antisepsis to the Royal Infirmary. He became the first Professor of Surgery at the newly-founded University College in 1882, where he continued in post until he died in 1932, at the age of 84. His neighbours on Rodney St were almost exclusively medics.

We can now reveal the result of the Library staff poll for Moustache of the Week for Movember Mondays:1 was Principal Rendall – see his moustache in 3D at the Victoria Gallery & Museum.

Liverpool Heritage Open Month

Who? Find out more about Joseph Mayer, Josephine Butler, John Sampson, Robert Andrew Scott Macfie, Edgar Allison Peers, Janet Gnosspelius, Olaf Stapledon, Eric Frank Russell, Ramsey Campbell, the Liverpool Science Fiction Group, and the University of Liverpool itself.

Where? Find out where they lived and worked in Liverpool.

When? Find out when they arrived in Liverpool and how long they stayed.

What? From Josephine Butler’s jet mourning jewellery to a Dental Students’ Society tie, via an Occupy Senate poster and Eric Frank Russell’s Hugo Award, see the University’s Special Collections and Archives from a new angle.