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].

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“President Wilson’s new message. Virtual acceptance of peace without victory.”

Entry dated Wednesday 9th January 1918, Diary of John Bruce Glasier [GP/2/1/25].

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“Visited 419th field Co.R.E. at Heuchin. Inspected work on horse standings in 165th & 166th brigade areas.”

War diary of University of Liverpool graduate J. H. Forshaw, documenting his service as Captain and Adjutant of the 55th Divisional Royal Engineers, entry dated 2nd January 1918 [D113/1/2].

This Week’s War: 178

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“We have had our Christmas dinner to-day, Boxing Day; otherwise there has been little doing. Our dinner consisted of some pork, with apple sauce, potatoes, and cabbage; also some excellent plum-pudding, tinned but a good imitation of the home made article. The quality of the dinner was good, if the quantity small. This afternoon, I went for a walk with Chisholm; it was frosty and all the scene white with snow.”

Entry dated December 26th, 1917, War Diary 1917 – 1919, by Aleyn Lyell Reade [ALR. A. 1. 2].

Archives at Altitude

Monday 11th December marks International Mountain Day 2017, which this year will highlight as its theme ‘Mountains under pressure: Climate, Hunger, and Migration.’ As humans, our relationship with the dizzying heights of the world’s highest terrains is witnessed through the writings of generations of intrepid explorers, artists, and highlanders. Experiences of the harsh quality of mountain life, as well as the dangers of summiting the highest peaks, can be found in many of the writings found within SC&A. Ultimately though, the following items show that we are still captivated by majestic mountainous regions.

Spanish Mountain Life (1955) by Juliette de Baïracli Levy

Expert veterinary herbalist Juliette de Baïracli Levy writes in her memoir Spanish Mountain Life (SPEC Scott MacFie D.6.7) about her experience of living amongst the gypsy community of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. The memoir paints a stark portrait of the primitive nature of mountain life and details how the Lanjarón community was impacted by the shadow of disease. The author’s own battle and eventual triumph over typhus is evoked. De Baïracli Levy exclaims her gratitude to the mountain for its abundant herbs and ideal climate: “later the mountain gave us back our health.”

 

Illustrations of the Passes of the Alps, by which Italy Communicates with France, Switzerland, and Germany (1828 – 1829) by William Brockedon

A traditional ‘rite of passage’ trip for generations of upper class young men was to undertake an educational European adventure known as ‘The Grand Tour.’ From the 17th to mid-19th centuries travellers would be able to experience the cultural highlights that Europe had to offer, including the dramatic Alpine landscapes from Germany to Italy. Brockedon’s volumes containing illustrations and routes of passage through the Alps (SPEC SPENCE 91-92) offered an insight into what these young men were to expect when journeying through the monumental passes that would have been worlds away from the streets of London.

 

Brochures [1927, 1992] (Cunard Archive)

There is little else in the world of travel that is more luxurious than a relaxing cruise. These items found within the Cunard Archive depict just some of the incredible destinations passengers can be treated to on a Cunard cruise. For the more adventurous, destinations include the Norwegian fjords and Alaskan glaciers, where passengers are transported into the wild.

– D42/PR3/10/44

– D42-ADD/28/2

 

Mountaineering Club Papers [1958-1984] (University Archive)

– A161/117

Here at the University of Liverpool, one of the more physically active societies students can join is the Mountaineering Club. The Club recently celebrated its 80th anniversary and through the years has organised sponsored climbs, competitions, and trips both at home and abroad, traditions that are continued today by the modern Club.

 

Everest is Climbed (1954) by Wilfrid Noyce and Richard Taylor

This educational Puffin picture book for young readers details the first successful attempt to summit Mount Everest, relating the experience of English mountaineer Wilfrid Noyce, who was part of the British Expedition in 1953 (OLDHAM 600). The illustrations and diagrams vividly portray the extreme conditions the teams faced, whilst the words of Noyce remind the reader of the perilous nature of the climb and the endurance required to conquer and overall to survive the highest mountain in the world.

 

The Lord of the Rings (1991) by J. R. R. Tolkien, illustrated by Alan Lee

In Tolkien’s epic fantasy world of Middle Earth, ancient folklore and mythology come together to create an intricate narrative bursting with well-rounded characters and complex locations. The central journey that Frodo Baggins embarks upon in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (PR6039.O32.A6LOR 1991) revolves around the quest to destroy the One Ring, the most powerful and dangerous of all Rings. The volatile and mysterious qualities of mountains and volcanos that is commonly reflected in literature is portrayed in the ferocious fires of Mount Doom. The mountain being where the One Ring was forged and in turn where it must be destroyed.

All of the above are available to view in the SC&A reading room between our opening hours of 9:30am – 16:45pm. Please contact us at scastaff@liverpool.ac.uk for an appointment (but don’t worry, we don’t have ‘peak’ hours).