2018 retrospect

As the first month of 2019 draws to a close, we look back on the previous year and all of the events, accessions, and projects that took place here in Special Collections and Archives.

January

We welcomed in the New Year in with a new exhibition, which was titled The University of Liverpool: A History through Archives. This exhibition celebrated 50 years since  establishment in 1968 of the official repository for the University Archives. The repository’s holdings currently comprise over 2000 linear meters of material and continue to grow.

The University of Liverpool: A History through Archives.

February

The Gypsy Lore Society collections were enhanced with the accession of a collection of papers formerly belonging to Helen Murray, secretary to philologist and GLS member Bernard Gilliat-Smith (1883-1974).The collection largely comprises correspondence and photographs, including letters from notable GLS members such as Dora YatesR. A. Scott Macfie and Henry James Francis.

Macfie (left) is pictured alongside a fellow employee from Messrs Macfie & Sons, the sugar refinery business which had been run by his family in Liverpool since 1838.

March

March was a busy month! Katy Hooper, Special Collections Librarian, attended the opening of the exhibition Mondes Tsiganes (Gypsy Worlds) at the Musée national de l’histoire de l’immigration, Paris, in order to see material from the Scott Macfie collections displayed; we celebrated World Poetry Day with two posts, the first also celebrating women poets in connection to International Women’s Day, and the second celebrating Small Press Poetry and the 20th C Liverpool poetry scene. We also celebrated World Book Day on the University of Liverpool Instagram. 

Photographs and a digital version of R. A. Scott Macfie’s photo album on display in Paris.

April

We began a new series of events displaying Special Collections and Archives ‘Treasures’. The series started with a display of medieval books, including the beautiful Nuremberg Chronicle (1493). To find out more, see our new blog post! Another first in April was the launch of the LivUniSCA twitter account, which has grown to have 299 followers to date.

May

The new SC&A exhibition Puzzles, Poetry and Playground Games debuted, which displayed games and pastimes, for children and adults, from the 18th-20th centuries. The exhibition “…don’t forget the photos, it’s very important…” The National Socialist Persecution of Central German Sinti and Roma featuring material from the Gypsy Lore Society Collections made its well received return to Liverpool in the Central Library.

D958: Queen Mary jigsaw puzzle, featured in the Puzzles, Poetry and Playground Games exhibition
…don’t forget the photos, it’s very important…” The National Socialist Persecution of Central German Sinti and Roma at Liverpool Central Library

June

The Harold Cohen Library holds the Mathematics texts for the University, so it was fitting that the ‘Seeing Euclid’ exhibition was on display there during June and July. We also welcomed many prospective students and their family and friends for the first Undergraduate open day of the year.

July

SC&A was awarded Archives Accreditation, the UK quality standard which recognises good performance in all areas of archive service delivery, and is awarded by a Committee representing the entire archive sector. We also welcomed the Society for the Social History of Medicine 2018 Conference delegates to view some of the medical texts held here in the collections.

August

We celebrated World Photo Day by picking our favourites from the collections, including the fantastic below photograph from the Cunard Archive. Niamh Delaney, Assistant Special Collections Librarian, was awarded a bursary to attend the Montefiascone Conservation Project in Italy, where she spent a week cataloguing books held in the collections there.

Dance aboard the RMS Queen Mary, from the Cunard Archive.
D42/PR2/1/97/F67.

The 31st of July also marks the end of the academic year, so in August we are busy totting up the total number of visitors, retrievals, and enquiries we answered throughout the previous year. Between 1st August 2017 and 31st July 2018, we retrieved 5332 items from the stores, welcomed 1107 visitors and readers, and received 1558 email and 210 phone call enquiries!

September

While the hustle and bustle of the first 2018-19 academic teaching semester began, staff changes were happening in SC&A. We said goodbye to Graduate Library Assistant Michaela Garland, who was heading for the Master of Archives and Records Management course, and we welcomed Caitlin Fleming into the same post; Cunard Archivist Sian Wilks gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Dylan Derek Matthews, and Beth Williams began her Maternity cover of the Cunard Archivist post; and finally we said goodbye to the amazing Andy Sawyer, who retired from the post of Science Fiction Librarian which he held for 25 years.

Author Neil Gaiman and Andy Sawyer

Third year English student Sophie Craven began her SOTA300 work experience placement cataloguing the Literary Annuals. The annuals are currently featuring in our new Special Collections and Archives exhibition, Behind the Scenes: Student encounters with Special Collections and Archives. We also began the A-Z of books blog series with Almost an Alphabet; we post each teaching week during semester to demystify some of the specialist words we use in cataloguing our printed books.

October

October was all about the Rathbone Papers and Library; firstly, the Special Collections and Archives Exhibition titled A gift from Greenbank’: reconstructing the Rathbone library was launched, whilst some of the Eleanor Rathbone papers travelled to the other side of campus at the Victoria Gallery for the exhibition Eleanor Rathbone – An Independant Woman. We also hosted a free Science Fiction books event to pass on duplicates from the collections to loving homes, and the next ‘Treasures’ event, ‘Tales from the University Archives’, took place.

A panel from the Eleanor Rathbone: An Independant Woman Exhibition at the VG&M

November

November was events month! Special Collections and Archives hosted a celebration event for the award of Archives Accreditation, at which President of the Archives and Records Association (ARA) Dr Alex Buchanan presented Vice Chancellor of the University of Liverpool Dame Professor Janet Beer with the official certificate (and, there was cake!). Sticking with the theme of archives, University Archivist Jo Klett and Archives Cataloguer Josette Reeve’s hard work on EMu (Collection Management System) became accessible to users via the new and updated archives catalogue.

Head of Special Collections and Archives Jenny Higham introduced Dame Professor Janet Beer to the collections at the Archives Accreditation event.

Other events included: Jenny Higham was welcomed by the Liverpool Nautical Research Society at the Athenaeum for a talk on the Cunard Archive; the ‘Treasures’ series continued with a fascinating display of medical texts, and Niamh Delaney (Special Collections Assistant Librarian) and Robyn Orr (Library Assistant) hosted a KnowHow session on using Special Collections and Archives material in research. Lastly, to mark the centenary of Armistice Day, the ‘This Week’s War’ blog posts were completed with a final overview post  by Caitlin Fleming.

December

We received a new accession to be added to the Science Fiction collections in the form of the library of Brian Aldiss. We wrapped up the year by getting festive in collaboration with the Sydney Jones Library team: images provided by SCA were displayed alongside the Christmas themed books, including this idyllic snow scene.

A268/19 Abercromby Square in the snow (image by
University’s Central Photographic Service)

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.

The General Election 2017

As the U.K. prepares itself to vote in the snap General Election, we thought it fitting to show some of the printed and archival material held here in Special Collections and Archives from the elections of the past.

Within our printed collection holdings, many pamphlets of the nineteenth century highlight the popular political topics of the day. Sydney Charles Buxton became an MP for the Liberal Party in the late nineteenth century, shortly after his publication of Electoral Purity and Economy (London: The London and Counties Liberal Union, 1882). The paper is written to suggest reforms in the electoral process to counteract bribery and expenses, which the reader is encouraged to undertake and promote themselves. The below referenced “crushed” Corrupt Practices Act finally came into fruition in 1883, formally known as the Corrupt and Illegal Practices Prevention Act. This was the first act which required the expenses of candidates to be publicly published.

SPEC Y84.3.269 (9)

SPEC Y84.3.269 (9)

We also hold archival material relating to individuals who held both local and national political positions. Eleanor Rathbone sat as an Independent MP for the Combined English Universities, and as a local councilor for the Granby Ward from 1909 -1935. Eleanor was instrumental in the passing of a number of bills, including those with a focus upon benefiting the socio-economic position of women and children.

RP XIV.3.3

RP XIV.3.3

The Glasier papers provide us with an insight to the political movements of the Independent Labour Party (ILP) through politician John Bruce Glasier and his wife, Katharine Glasier. In 1900 John Bruce Glasier became the chair of the ILP, which he held for three years. In the campaign pamphlet shown below, Glasier was standing in Bordesley, Birmingham – a campaign which was unsuccessful.

GP/5/2/2 (6)

GP/5/2/2 (6)

Lastly, the David Owen Archive is abundant with material relating to his time as a member of both the Labour party and the Social Democrats. Below is campaign material from the 1974 parliamentary election, when Owen was successfully elected as MP for Plymouth Devonport, holding the seat for the Labour Party.

D709 2/2/4/3

D709 2/2/4/3

D709 2/2/4/3

D709 2/2/4/3

All of the items included within this post are available to view in our reading room. Please see our website for more information on booking an appointment.

You can read the Manuscripts and More post for the General Election in 2015 here.

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.
      • 20160218_15251520160218_152538
  • 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.

Saving the Children in the 1930s

In 1948, United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This significant declaration is now used as a guideline for many nations around the world when implementing laws or adopting policies. As Human Rights Day commemorating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights takes place in December, we thought it fitting to show some of the material we have in Special Collections and Archives that champions the rights of children and refugees across the world.

Eleanor Rathbone

Portrait of Eleanor Rathbone [c. 1910].

Portrait of Eleanor Rathbone [RP XIV.3.96, c. 1910].

In particular, social reformer and M.P. Eleanor Rathbone was instrumental in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of those affected by war and any subsequent geographic displacement. As she formed the Children’s Minimum Committee in 1934 to actively campaign for the eradication of children in poverty, it is perhaps very fitting that the Declaration of the Rights of the Child was further expanded in 1946, the year of Eleanor’s death. This promoted the safety and welfare of children across the world.

In the later 1930s, she was an active participant in campaigning for peace and the safety of Spanish civilians during the Spanish Civil War. Here at Special Collections and Archives we hold material in the Rathbone Collection (RP XIV.2.13) that relates to Ms Rathbone’s attempts to ensure that the British government were doing all they could to assist refugees and injured civilians in Spain. The below telegram to the future Prime Minister Clement Attlee outlines Eleanor’s attempts to persuade the government to protect refugee ships leaving Spanish and French ports.

Telegram from Eleanor Rathbone to Clement Atlee, dated 19th June 1937 [RP XIV.2.13(26)].

Telegram from Eleanor Rathbone to Clement Atlee, dated 19th June 1937 [RP XIV.2.13(26)].  “Will you consider moving [adjournment?] [Monday?] to consider Spanish petition and protest against Government’s refusal to protect ships taking refugees from Bilbao to Spanish ports and also from Santander to French ports – stop latter prohibitions…”

Telegram from Eleanor Rathbone to Clement Attlee, dated 19th June 1937 [RP XIV.2.13(26)]. "on private information [privately?] confirmed [&?] Foreign Office [It?] closes the last door as Bilbao [?] understood to be almost unusable."

Telegram from Eleanor Rathbone to Clement Attlee, dated 19th June 1937 [RP XIV.2.13(26)]. “…on private information [privately?] confirmed & Foreign Office It closes the last door as Bilbao understood to be almost unusable.”

Eleanor was also instrumental in lobbying for the safe removal of refugees from those countries whereby the threat of Nazi Germany was prominent, and further their safety and ensuring the best treatment whilst in Britain [RP XIV.2.17]. In particular, she was keen for those families that were separated across international borders to be reunited in Britain as soon as possible. Eleanor wrote to the Home Secretary in reference to the Government’s regulations on allowing refugees into the country, which she described was “as though one were to throw a child out of the top window for fear of catching cold through leaving the door open”. [RP XIV.2.17(3), Letter to Home Secretary dated 3rd February 1940].

Current support for child refugees can be found in December through Christmas Jumper Day, in aid of Save the Children. This was certainly a cause close to Eleanor’s heart, and as the page below taken from The Girl’s Own Annual demonstrates, children in the 1930s should be safe and showing off their rounders positions!

SPEC JUV 573 1935-6 Edition p. 202

SPEC JUV 573 1935-6 Edition p. 202

See here for an overview on the Rathbone Collection. As always, the material is available to view here at Special Collections and Archives. We are based in Sydney Jones Library, Liverpool University, and open Monday to Friday, 9:30am until 4:30pm.

Eleanor Rathbone Public Lecture: Wednesday 24th February

Susan Pederson, 'Eleanor Rathbone and the politics of conscience', 2004

Susan Pederson, ‘Eleanor Rathbone and the politics of conscience’, 2004

The life and legacy of the MP and social reformer Eleanor Rathbone, who died 70 years ago this year, is currently being celebrated in the Remembering Eleanor Rathbone series of commemorative events.  These include the Utopia Calling exhibition currently on display in Special Collections & Archives.

The University’s School of Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology is also contributing by hosting the Eleanor Rathbone Social Justice Public lectures, 2015-16.  The next lecture in the series will take place on Wednesday 24th February at 5pm.  Professor Susan Pederson (Columbia University, New York) will speak on “Women and the Quest for Equal Citizenship”. Professor Pederson will examine Rathbone’s unflagging effort to secure ‘equal citizenship’ for women, exploring what she meant by the term and the campaigns she launched, first in Liverpool and then nationally and internationally, to achieve it.

Attendees of the lecture are encouraged to visit the exhibition in Special Collections & Archives between 2 and 4 pm.  The lecture will take place on campus in the Hearnshaw Lecture Theatre, Eleanor Rathbone Building, a short walk from the Sydney Jones Library.

Attendance is free, though registration is required.

 

Utopia Calling – Remembering Eleanor Rathbone

January 2016 sees the 70th anniversary of the death of the celebrated social reformer Eleanor Rathbone. To commemorate this event, an exhibition of items from Special Collections & Archives’ Rathbone Papers seeks to highlight her life and times.  Eleanor’s political career, social campaigning, family and legacy are examined through photographs, political manifestos, correspondence, publications and ephemera.

Eleanor Rathbone (centre) and other Liverpool suffragists campaigning in support of the pro-women’s suffrage candidate in the Kirkdale by-election, 1910. RP XIV.3.101

Eleanor Rathbone (centre) and other Liverpool suffragists campaigning in support of the pro-women’s suffrage candidate in the Kirkdale by-election, 1910. RP XIV.3.101

Born in Liverpool and educated at Kensington High School, London and Somerville College, Oxford, Eleanor was the second daughter of William Rathbone VI (1819-1902) and his second wife Emily Lyle (d.1918).  The Rathbone family were a Liverpool dynasty of non-conformist merchants and ship-owners, philanthropists, politicians and social reformers, artists and patrons of the arts.  From 1788 until 1940 the Rathbone family home in Liverpool was Greenbank Hall, which was bequeathed to the University in 1944.

In 1909 Eleanor Rathbone became the first woman elected to Liverpool City Council, standing as the independent councillor for the Granby Ward until 1935.  During this period she was a prominent campaigner for the cause of women’s suffrage, and in 1909 helped to establish the Liverpool Women’s Suffrage Society.  In the years after the First World War, Eleanor became a leading voice in the movement which saw the introduction of widows’ pensions in 1925 and the equal franchise legislation of 1928.

In 1929 Eleanor Rathbone was elected as the Independent MP for the Combined English Universities, a position she held until her death in 1946. She was one of the first politicians to realise the potential danger from the Nazi party in the 1930s, and was a relentless critic of the government policy of appeasement. Instrumental in the establishment of the Parliamentary Committee on Refugees in late 1938, Eleanor was a formidable campaigner on behalf of refugees from Francoist Spain and Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia. Building on her earlier social work, Eleanor was a vocal advocate for the introduction of family allowances, more commonly known as ‘child benefit’.  The Family Allowance Act was passed in 1945, with Eleanor instrumental in ensuring the benefit was paid directly to mothers.

The exhibition is open during SCA opening hours (Monday to Friday, 9.30am-4.45pm), and is also accessible at weekends during the core Sydney Jones Library opening hours of 12pm to 5pm.  Please ask for access at the main Sydney Jones Library reception desk.  The exhibition runs until April 11th 2016.