Eleanor Rathbone – An Independent Woman

This past weekend welcomed the launch of the exhibition ‘Eleanor Rathbone – An Independent Woman: Suffragist, Politician & Social Reformer at the Victoria Gallery and Museum, University of Liverpool. This exhibition is drawn from the extensive Rathbone Papers held here in Special Collections and Archives.  

RPXIV.3.96. Eleanor Rathbone in 1910.

Eleanor Rathbone (1872 – 1946) was one of the most remarkable British women of the 20th century. Born into a prominent Liverpool family, she spent her career fighting against injustices and trying to make life better for those in need. This new exhibition uses documents from Eleanor’s own archive to tell the story of her life as a Suffragist, politician and ground-breaking social reformer. Her portrait by Sir James Gunn, which usually hangs in Portcullis House, Westminster, is on display in Liverpool for the first time as part of the exhibition.

Eleanor joined the Liverpool Women’s Suffrage Society in 1896 and was at the forefront of the national suffrage movement.

Her research on the working conditions at Liverpool Docks and its impact on families started a life-long campaign for a family allowance. Eleanor was elected Councillor for Liverpool’s Granby Ward in 1909, standing as an Independent rather than aligning with a political party. She held her seat for twenty-six years.

In 1929 Eleanor was elected MP for the Combined English Universities, again standing as an Independent. During the Spanish Civil War and Second World War she worked passionately on behalf of refugees. Just months before her death in 1946, after decades of campaigning, the Family Allowances Act was passed.

The exhibition is open to view Tuesday-Saturday 10am-5pm, Victoria Gallery & Museum, Ashton Street, Liverpool L69 3DR. For general enquiries on visiting the Victoria Gallery and Museum, telephone 0151 794 2348 or email vgmrecep@liv.ac.uk. For further information about the exhibition contact Dr Amanda Draper, Curator of Art & Exhibitions at amanda.draper@liverpool.ac.uk.

For enquiries regarding the Rathbone papers or to book an appointment, please contact scastaff@liverpool.ac.uk.

This Week’s War: 219

Aside

‘The war news is excellent now, and we can do more than see light through the tunnel at last. I am only afraid that the foolish people who abound everywhere in public as in private life will be tempted into too premature a discussion of peace terms. It is quite evident that the Hun now feels the hopelessness of his position, so it behoves us to wire into him with redoubled fury and finish the job thoroughly, once and for all.’

Entry dated October 9th 1918, War Diary 1917 – 1919, by Aleyn Lyell Reade [ALR. A. 1. 2].

B is for Bookplate

For almost as long as there have been printed books, there has existed a practice of marking ownership of those books through the use of an engraved or printed paper label. Bookplates typically contain an engraved or etched armorial or pictorial design, with the owner’s name or initials and perhaps a motto, address, occupation or degree. The term ‘book label’ has tended to be used for smaller and simpler labels, with a characteristic design comprised of an owner’s name within a relatively plain decorative border.

Liverpool Library bookplate

Liverpool Library bookplate.

 

Book label of Hannah Mary Reynolds.

It is not uncommon to find more than one bookplate or book label within a book, helping to build a picture of the life of an object by revealing the various individuals that have come into contact with it, and the various locations to which it has travelled. Often a later owner may have pasted a bookplate over the top of a previous owner’s bookplate, or made some attempt to erase a previous bookplate, presumably to ensure the avoidance of doubt as to who is the righful owner of the book now!

The name of the owner of this bookplate has been removed by a later owner of the book.

 

Here, Thomas Glazebrook Rylands has inserted his bookplate beneath the armorial bookplate of the book’s previous owner, John Lee. Both bookplates are from the 19th cnetury.

The design of bookplates has been subject to different fashions over time, and it is often possible to date a bookplate according to a recognisable trend in style. Some great artists – including Hans Holbein, Albrecht Durer, Kate Greenaway and Walter Crane – have designed bookplates. They offer interest not just to those concerned with the history of books and book ownership, then, but also from an art-historical viewpoint.

Bookplate of John. T. Beer.

On the front paste-down, the bookplate of antiquary Richard Duncan Radcliffe (1844-1925). On the first free endpaper, the bookplate of the physician Sir Robert Alexander Chermside (1792-1860).

Bookplate of the 10th Earl of Derby.

Bookplate of the 10th Earl of Derby.

If you are interested in learning more about the history and study of bookplates and book labels, a good place to start is with David Pearson’s Provenance research in book history: a handbook which is available to consult in the Special Collections and Archives reading room.

This Week’s War: 218

Aside

‘Bulgaria unconditionally surrenders. Allied forces on Western Front still making great headway.’

Entry dated Tuesday October 1 1918, diary of John Bruce Glasier [GP/2/1/25].

A is for Alphabet

Early printed books – from the start of printing in the fifteenth century up to the early nineteenth century – were produced very differently from modern, machine-printed books. They were printed by hand on large sheets of paper, with several pages on each side, as shown by this sermon preached to the House of Commons in 1707.

Unfolded sheet of printing: SPEC LGP 167 1st copy

The sheets were folded into gatherings – quires – and sewn together by the binder to make the book ready for binding, as in our second copy of the same sermon in the form of a stitched pamphlet.

SPEC LGP 167 2nd copy showing stitching

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before being folded into quires, as the individual sheets were being printed, the first page on each sheet was marked (‘signed’) with a letter of the alphabet. That way, when the quires came to be sewn together to make up the full book, the binder had a guide to help him retain the correct order – putting quire A, before B and so on.

A register of all the letters used by the printers was often included, as shown in an edition of Euclid printed in Paris in 1516.  Only 23 letters were used – leaving out I or J, U or V, and W. This printer’s alphabet – like many aspects of the earliest printed books – used the system developed by manuscript scribes, in this case to avoid confusion between similar looking letterforms in the Latin alphabet.

Almost an alphabet

Over the two 12-week semesters of this academic year, SC&A will be putting up a weekly blog post, working through from A to Z, to demystify some of the specialist words we use in cataloguing our printed books. Each term will be illustrated and explained using examples from our medieval to 21st century collections.

24 weeks for the whole alphabet? Don’t worry about our maths – or that there’s a secret week 13 – the printer’s alphabet is made up of only 23 letters. Find out why in week 1 at Manuscripts and more. And if there’s a word that puzzles you that you’d like explained, let us know – ask us when you’re in classes taught in Special Collections & Archives, when you come to the SC&A reading room, or by emailing us at scastaff@liverpool.ac.uk and we’ll try to include it in the series.

This Week’s War: 217

Aside

Not as Bad as It Might Be

Sergt. H. C. Hiles (Bristol Office), R.F.A. who is serving in the Italian Expeditionary Force writes: “I am spending a cool summer on the mountain tops. It is not such a bad old war as it might be.”

Extract from Cunard magazine September 1918 issue [D42/PR5/1].

This Week’s War: 216

Aside

‘Longuet[?] in impassioned speech declares France is in danger of extinction. Already 1,700,000 killed and 800,000 maimed.’

Entry dated Friday September 20 1918, diary of John Bruce Glasier [GP/2/1/25].

Cunard archive: Engineering staff records

At SCA we often receive enquiries from individuals who are researching their family history or are trying to trace an individual who worked for Cunard.

In this post we highlight some of the types of records found within the Cunard archive that relate to the engineering staff who worked for the company, and how researchers can discover this information.

Engineering staff taken at a luncheon on board Mauretania II prior to her breaking up – all of the individuals are named (18 Nov 1965)

As is often the case with business archives, the surviving records are not comprehensive and this is particularly the case for staff records. However, the role of engineer is perhaps the most likely to produce results for a researcher when compared to other roles such as steward or those working in the catering department. This is largely due to ‘D42/EN Engineers Department: Personnel records’ – a unique series of records within the Cunard archive  whose catalogue is available in printed format in our reading room.

These records appear to represent an almost full record of engineering officer staff from 1870, and as such are the most comprehensive staff records of any department within the company. This series of records also includes appointment books of White Star Line engineers prior to the creation of Cunard White Star in 1934. They generally contain information concerning appointments made to particular ships, length of sea service, rate of pay and rank information as well as often noting resignations, retirements and deaths.

Due to the personal nature of these records, some are subject to closure periods and their frequent use as a business record before being transferred to SCA also means that many of these volumes are fragile. Advance appointments to view these records help researchers get the most from their visit and ensures the long-term preservation of the records.

 

‘Cunard Careers at Sea’ (D42/PR4/46/56)

The personnel records of the engineering department can be complimented by ‘Captains Reports on Officers’ 1910-1922 (ref. D42/GM14/1-3) which were compiled by the General Manager’s Office. Other individual records which help provide biographical information of engineering officers can be found in the form of news clippings, press releases and notes (ref. D42/PR4/43/1).

Further potential sources of information can be found within passenger lists which in some cases record the names of senior staff, including that of the Chief Engineer. The photograph collection within the Public Relations series also contains a few examples of named individuals, with engineering staff appearing in both individual portraits and group photographs.

D42/PL12/1/3/14

All of the catalogues for the Cunard archive are available in printed format in our reading room. Further information about the archive and links to the catalogues that are searchable online can be found on our webpage, along with an information sheet about tracing crew.

This Week’s War: 215

Aside

‘We beg to point out that if the extra accommodation requisitioned by the War Office is granted it will put us to considerable inconvenience […] The present temporary Laboratory and curtailed filling room are barely sufficient to meet the demands now made upon them and in view of the increase in the entry of Dental Students, we must have some room for expansion.’

Letter dated September 11th 1918, from W. H. Gilmour to the War Office regarding use of the Dental Hospital [A306/2/8].