New Accessions: Guides to Health

As part of our series introducing new summer acquisitions to SC&A, we are pleased to showcase two items from 1854 and 1890.

SPEC 2017.a.023

Controul of the passions, printed in 1854, is, on the surface, a guide to the “duties and obligations of the married state”. With a brief nod towards conjugal relations the text focuses primarily on “self pollution”, gonorrhoea and other venereal diseases and includes some choice images of the ravages of syphilis. This item is exceptionally rare, despite it being printed as the twenty first edition, with no copy with this imprint being recorded elsewhere. In keeping with the theme of sexual health and propriety, the second acquisition is The golden referee: a guide to health, printed in 1890.

SPEC 2017.a.024

Heavy on “the injurious effects of solitary and sexual indulgence” one of the most interesting aspects of this book is a printed note on the inside upper wrapper stating that the copyright for the item is owned by Joseph Thornton Woodhead. The same Mr. Woodhead was the owner of the Liverpool Museum of Anatomy, a notorious attraction which remained open in Liverpool until 1937. On the lower wrapper is an advertisement for the Museum, previously at 29 Paradise Street, which seeks to present it as “An interesting collection! An intellectual study!! And a public advantage!!!”. In reality it offered a mix of models and diagrams of the human body, discreet consultations for men with sexual problems and even courses on midwifery with a heavy tone of morality, rather than titillation.

Already included in the collections here at SC&A is a copy of the descriptive catalogue of the Museum at shelfmark Y87.3.222, which includes a matching advertisement to the one found on The golden referee.

SPEC Y87.3.222

For further reading on medical museums the Sydney Jones Library holds:

  • Morbid curiosities: Medical museums in nineteenth-century Britain by Samuel J.M.M. Alberti
  • Medical museums: Past, present, future edited by Samuel J.M.M. Alberti and Elizabeth Hallam.
  • Anatomy as spectacle: Public exhibitions of the body from 1700 to present by Elizabeth Stephens.

New Accessions: Verse

SC&A was recently able to acquire some 22 items printed or published in Liverpool during the late eighteen or early nineteenth centuries, to add to its already extensive collections of local history, literature and publishing. Several items were displayed in Manuscripts and More on 17 August. Among the rest of the recent acquisitions are several in verse. 150 years before The Mersey Sound, Liverpool already had a busy community of poets such as Sarah Medley, whose book of Original poems: sacred and miscellaneous (1807; SPEC 2017.a.019) was printed here by James Smith; Robert Merdant, author of Country people; or, Pastoral poetry (1810), printed locally by Thomas Kaye (1810; SPEC 2017.a.008), and T. G. Lace, whose Ode on the present state of Europe was printed by M. Galway & Co in 1811, during the Napoleonic wars (SPEC 2016.PF1.14).

The vision for coquettes. An Arabian tale (SPEC 2017.c.006) a poem of unknown authorship, was printed by John M’Creery in 1804 and sold by, among others, the well-known Liverpool poet, abolitionist and bookseller Edward Rushton from his shop in Paradise Street.

An extract from The vision of coquettes

Several of the new items feature William Roscoe (1753-1851), the most prominent member of Liverpool’s intellectual community at this date and its most prolific author. These new items include several political pamphlets and one of his scientific works, A new arrangement of the plants of the monandrian class usually called scitamineae, published in London during Roscoe’s brief career as MP for Liverpool (1807; SPEC 2017.c.008).

SC&A also now hold one of the few copies in the UK of his anti-slavery campaign poem, The wrongs of Africa (in two parts: London 1787-8; SPEC 2017.b.011). Roscoe’s writing career had started with an Ode, printed in a few copies in 1774, which was then added to a meditative verse account of the area he was brought up in: Mount Pleasant: A descriptive poem which was printed at Warrington in 1777 (SPEC G11A(32.5)). The wrongs of Africa was his next poem, and marked a complete change of direction, inaugurating as it did the work of a circle of abolitionist poets living and working in Liverpool. These included Rushton, whose West-Indian eclogues appeared later in 1787 (in London); the Irish émigré engraver Hugh Mulligan, author of Poems chiefly on slavery and oppression (London, 1788), Peter Newby’s The wrongs of Almoona (printed by H. Hodgson in Liverpool, 1788), and Thomas Hall’s Achmet to Selim, or, The dying negro (printed in Liverpool by M’Creery in 1792). Part one of Roscoe’s poem was published in May 1787 and part two in February 1788; it was republished in Philadelphia later that year. More copies of the Liverpool printing survive in America than do in Britain; ours is one of eight copies known in UK libraries. It was formerly in Worcester Public Library.

Roscoe’s poem was published in an era when writing by slaves was, for obvious reasons, hardly known at all. Letters of the late Ignatius Sancho, an African, had appeared in 1782, and The interesting narrative of the life of Olaudah Equiano, one of the earliest formal autobiographies by a former slave, came out in 1789. Meanwhile abolition-minded writers in Liverpool and Bristol supplied the deficiency through the medium of poetic scenes and narratives in which slaves, normally denied a voice, were imagined to state their feelings to a sympathetic readership. The point was to engage public feeling by focusing on realities of life on the plantations and the suffering of the enslaved Africans. Roscoe complemented his verse tale with a soberly-argued prose account, A general view of the African slave-trade, demonstrating its injustice and impolicy: with hints towards a bill for its abolition (1788).

The poem is more psychological and emotive than economic or political in focus. According to the ‘Advertisement’ to the Part Two, it was originally planned in three parts, to focus sequentially on Africa, the passage to America, and the colonies, but only two parts were completed. Part One asks readers to transform the ‘sensibility’ they bring to the reading of sentimental fiction to active human sympathy in a pressingly real situation. It also addresses slave masters and the captains of slaving ships and a local ‘veteran trafficker’, in an attempt to provoke examination of the strange and twisted psychology involved in the enslavement of other human beings. It takes readers on an imaginary journey to Angola, portrays the peaceful life of the inhabitants before traders arrive, and blames the traders for corrupting local customs and covering the continent with fear. An inset story of two brothers, Arebo and Corymbo, caught up in a devastating raid, gives the narrative direct human appeal. Part Two imagines the passage to America from the perspective of the captured Africans. A planned revolt is bloodily thwarted. Its leader, Cymbello, an African prince educated in political principles similar to Roscoe’s own, and partly formed on the model of Aphra Behn’s seventeenth-century ‘royal slave’ Oroonoko, dies courageously with his lover in the carnage.  The last pages of the poem are devoted to a wide-ranging history of the concept of Freedom and a final address from Freedom herself, prophesying her final victory over the tyrants and enslavers of Europe and the world.

A year after Part Two was published, the French Revolution appeared to begin to dismantle the institutions of oppression (as they were perceived by Roscoe and his political allies). It would be another twenty years before the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act finally passed the House of Commons, and decades more before the practice itself was outlawed; but poems like Roscoe’s were an important initial element in the campaign, defiantly continued by Roscoe and his colleagues in Liverpool, Bristol and London, to bring the atrocities of the trade to public view and to stimulate human sympathy for an otherwise largely voiceless and invisible mass of people. It is fitting that this rare printed item should return to the place where it was written.

A guest blog post written by Paul Baines from the Department of English.

New Acquisitions: August

A bumper month for new acquisitions here in SC&A. One of the main collecting areas for the department is items printed in, or about, Liverpool.

SPEC 2017.b.003 – Memoirs of mammoth

Memoirs of mammoth was printed in Liverpool in 1806 by G.F. Harris. The author, Thomas Ashe (1770-1835), travelled in America and sent the first mammoth bones back to Britain. The work details the discovery and composition of the mammoth bones which were held at the Liverpool Museum.

SPEC 2016.P2.07 – The geology of the hundred of Wirral

This pamphlet, by John Cunningham and printed in 1864 by J. Oliver in Birkenhead, details the geology of the Wirral with particular reference to the water supply. Items printed by J. Oliver are exceptionally rare with only four works reported to COPAC, this item is not among them making it the only known copy, particularly nice as it is dedicated to a Thomas Duncan by the author.

 

SPEC 2017.c.005 – An address to the merchants of Liverpool

SCA has a wealth of material relating to the maritime history of Liverpool and this 1806 stab-sewn pamphlet is an excellent addition to the collections. Willis Earle, a local timber merchant, was elected to investigate the financial accounts of the Liverpool Dock Estate, it includes a recent history of the docks and the effect of recent Parliamentary Acts on the workings of the port.

SPEC 2017.b.010 – A form of prayer, and a new collection of Psalms

This 1763 volume is one of only 11 copies reported to the ESTC and is beautifully bound in gilt tooled black morocco. The text is a first edition of the experimental non-conformist liturgy at the Octagon Chapel in Liverpool which was developed by Philip Holland and Richard Godwin.

SPEC 2017.b.010 – provenance

The volume bears the names of Robert Pilkington, Joseph Pilkington and Esther Holland. A pencil note explains: “Given by Esther Holland who was the daughter of Robert Pilkington, to her cousin Joseph Pilkington”.

SPEC 2017.a.010 – The stereotype ready reckoner

The final item in this collection of Liverpool related items is an 1814 ready reckoner, owned by an officer of excise. A ready reckoner is a table listing standard calculations such as weights and measures and rates of interest.

These items are available to consult in our reading room, you can find out how to make an appointment on our new website.

 

New Accession – Brian Hudson images

The following photographs show the University campus during the 1960s and are just some of the digital images sent to SC&A by former student Brian Hudson of Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane.

Brian Hudson’s photographs have been given the deposit number D1153 and include further photographs of the University campus, the Liverpool City area more widely and aboard the New Brighton ferry.

A student’s room, 144 Chatham Street, Liverpool. Brian Hudson ©

The Victoria Building viewed from Mulberry Street 1962.
Brian Hudson ©

Bedford Street South, showing the terrace in which Sir William Holford had his home and office. The Civic Design Building is just beyond on the corner of Abercromby Square.
Brian Hudson ©

Civic Design Studio 1962.
Brian Hudson ©

Aboard the New Brighton ferry.
Brian Hudson ©

 

 

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.