Archives of Nostell Priory and the Winn Family

Archives Hub feature for May 2015

Image of Winn Arms, Rowland Winn 1st Baron, 1885

Winn Arms, Rowland Winn 1st Baron, 1885

The collection and cataloguing project

In 2011 the West Yorkshire Archive Service [WYAS] held a public vote in each of its five districts to find out which collection was considered to be the ‘Treasure of the Archives’. The Nostell Priory (Winn Family) collection (finding number WYW1352) easily won this title in the Wakefield district with a massive 40.73% of the votes.

Leading on from this, in 2013, WYAS secured funding for a year cataloguing project from the National Archives Cataloguing Grants Programme to fully catalogue and make accessible the archives of Nostell Priory and the Winn family spanning 800 years of history. The project enabled the original catalogue for the collection to be enhanced and brought up to current archival standards, as well as making available previously unlisted and unknown records of the Winn family.

Additional information has been added for some 6000 entries including Civil War tracts from the 17th century and eye-witness accounts and letters relating to the doomed invasion of Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745.

Records held in the collection include family papers [13th century-1999] and estate papers [1215-1987]. The collection consists of over 544 boxes worth of material. Whether you are looking for your ancestors who worked there, researching the influential Winn family, the estate, the Priory, coalmining or any aspect of local history, there is something for everyone in this wonderful collection!

A brief history of the house and the Winn Family

The Priory of St Oswald at Nostell was founded in the early 12th century out of a pre-existing hermitage that was devoted to St James.

In 1540 the Priory was closed down by Henry VIII during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and the buildings and land were granted to Dr Thomas Leigh. The estate passed through a number of owners and was then purchased by Rowland Winn, a London Alderman, in 1654. The Winns were originally from Gwydir in North Wales but had since become textile merchants in London, George Wynne of Gwydir was appointed draper to Elizabeth I. As the family increased its wealth they began acquiring land, which included the estate and manor of Thornton Curtis, Lincolnshire, and the manor of Appleby, Lincolnshire, before the purchase of Nostell in 1654.

By this time sections of the old Priory buildings had been converted into a manor house known as Nostell Hall, and the next three generations of the Winn family would use this house as their principal residence. The house that exists today is a result of the work commissioned by the 4th and 5th Baronets, both called Sir Rowland Winn. Work began in 1729 with Colonel James Moyser, James Paine and then Robert Adam all working on the house. Adam’s work on the interior and exterior of the house continued until 1785, when the 5th Baronet was suddenly killed in a carriage accident and money problems stopped all further work.

Engraving of Nostell Priory

Engraving of Nostell Priory

During his time at Nostell, Adam had brought in the painter Antonio Zucchi, the plasterer Joseph Rose, and the cabinet maker and furniture designer Thomas Chippendale to complete the interiors of the house, and these contributions are widely celebrated today.

After Sir Rowland Winn, 6th Baronet, died unmarried in 1805 the estate passed to his 11 year old nephew John Williamson, who was the son of Sir Rowland’s sister, Esther Winn, and John Williamson, a Manchester Baker. Upon inheriting the estate, John Williamson (junior) and his siblings, changed their names to Winn and we have the grant conferring John Williamson of Nostell Priory with the surname of Winn and coat of arms [see image above]. However the Williamson children did not inherit the Baronetcy, which could only be inherited through the male line in the family, and so it instead passed to Edmund Mark Winn, 7th Baronet, a first cousin. During much of the 6th Baronet’s ownership and the minority of John Winn, the daily management of the estate was left to Shepley Watson, a local solicitor.

After John Winn died in Rome in 1817, his brother Charles Winn inherited the estate. Charles commissioned further work on the furnishing and interiors at Nostell and, as a result of his keen antiquarian and scholarly interests, significantly added to the art, furniture and library collections at the house.

After Charles’ death in 1874, his son Rowland inherited the estate and embarked on further building and refurbishment work at Nostell. Rowland Winn was keenly interested in politics as was his son, Rowland [2nd Lord St Oswald]. The 2nd Lord St Oswald divided his time between Nostell and London and also travelled extensively overseas.

Following his father’s death in 1919, Rowland George Winn, 3rd Lord St Oswald, succeeded to the peerage but did not live at Nostell. During the 1920s and 1930s the house was occupied by other members of the Winn family. The Royal Artillery occupied the house during the Second World War, but the 4th Baron, Rowland Denys Guy Winn, returned to the family home following a distinguished service record in the Second World War and in Korea.

Upon his return he embarked on a political career and then succeeded to the title on his father’s death. He was an active member of the House of Lords throughout the rest of his life.

During the early 1950s the house was opened to the public as a heritage site, and in 1984 Nostell Priory was conveyed to the National Trust in lieu of inheritance tax, largely down to the work of the 4th Baron. Upon his death in 1984, he was succeeded by his younger brother Derek Edmund Anthony Winn, 5th Lord St Oswald, the father of the present Lord St Oswald, Charles Rowland Andrew Winn, 6th Baron Saint Oswald, who in turn took the title on the death of his father in 1999.

How to view the collection

Photo showing Nostell correspondence

Nostell correspondence

The collection is fully listed and information about the records can be found on the WYAS online catalogue at http://catalogue.wyjs.org.uk/Record.aspx?id=LC03029

This information is also due to be available to view on the Hub in the next fews months. Original records can be viewed at the Wakefield office of WYAS wakefield@wyjs.org.uk , telephone 01924 305980 [appointments are recommended as the material is not held on site]. Opening times and details of where the Wakefield office is located can be found at http://www.wyjs.org.uk/archives-wakefield.asp

Related information on the Archives Hub

West Yorkshire Archive Service, Wakefield: browse Wakefield collections

West Yorkshire Archive Service, all districts – Hub contributor information

Jennifer Brierley
ICT and Collections Archivist
West Yorkshire Archive Service

All images copyright the West Yorkshire Archive Service, and reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holder.

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Exploring British Design: Interface Design Principles

Britain Can Make It exhibition poster

Britain Can Make It, exhibition poster

For our AHRC project, ‘Exploring British Design‘ one of the questions we asked is:

How might a website co-designed by researchers, rather than a top-down collection-defined approach to archive content, enhance engagement with and understanding of British design?

The workshops that we have run were one of the key ways that we hoped to understand more about how postgraduates and others research their topics, what they liked and didn’t like about websites, and in a general sense how they think and understand resources, and how we can tune into that thinking.

 

 

In the blogs posts that we have created so far, we set out one of our central ideas:

Providing different routes into archives, showing different contexts, and enabling researchers to create their own narratives, can potentially be achieved through a focus on the ‘real things’ within an archive description; the people, organisations and places, and also the events surrounding them.

The feedback from the workshops gave us plenty to work with, and here I wanted to draw out some of the key messages that we are using to help us design an interface.

Researchers often think visually

Several of the participants in our workshops were visual thinkers. Maybe we had a slightly biased group, in that they work within or study design, but it seems reasonable to conclude that a visual approach can be attractive and engaging. We want to find a way to represent information more visually, whilst providing a rich and detailed resource. Our belief is that the visual should not dominate or hide the textual, as does often happen with cultural heritage resources, but that they should work better together.

Researchers often think in terms of creating a story or narrative

When we asked our participants to focus on an individual object, several of them thought in terms of its ‘story’. It seemed to me that most of the discussions that we had assumed a narrative type approach. It is hardy surprising, as when we talk about people, places and events we connect them together. It is a natural thing to do.

Different types of contexts provide value

When we asked workshop participants to think about how they would go about researching the object they were given, they tended to think of ways to contextualise it. They were interested in where it came from, in its physicality and its story. For example, we gave out photographs of an exhibition and they wanted to know where the photographs were taken, more about the exhibition and the designers involved in it, what else was going on at that time?   Our idea with Exploring British Design is that we can create records that allow these kinds of contexts to flourish. The participants did not concentrate on traditional archival context, as they did not tend to recognise this in the same way as archivists – it is one perspective amongst many.

We cannot provide a substitute for the value of handling the original object, and it was clear that researchers found this to be immensely valuable, but we can help to provide context that helps to scope reality.

Uncovering the obscure is a good thing

Not surprisingly, our workshop participants were keen that their research efforts should result in finding little-known information that they could utilise. They talked about the excitement of uncovering information and the benefits for their work.

Habits are part of the approach to research

The balance between being innovative and anchoring an interface in what people are familiar with seems to be important.

Trust is very important

The importance of trust was stressed at all of our workshops, and the need to know the context of information. We need to build something that researchers believe is a quality resource, with information they can rely on.

Serendipity is good…although it can lead you astray

It was clear that our participants wanted to explore, and liked the idea of coming across the unexpected. Several of them felt that the library bookshelves provide a good opportunity to browse and discover new sources (they talked about this more than the serendipity of the web). But there was also a note of caution about time wasted pursuing different avenues of information. It seems good to build in serendipity, whilst providing an interface that gives clear landmarks and signposts.

Search and Relevance

Our workshop participants were clear that choice of search terms has a big influence on what you find, and this can be a disadvantage. You may be presented with a search box, and you don’t really know what to search for to get what you want, especially if you don’t know what you want! Also, the relevance ranking can be a puzzle. Library databases often seem to give results that don’t make that much sense.

One thing that stood out to me was the willingness to use Google, which is a simple search box, with no indication of how to search, that brings back huge amounts of results; but the criticisms of library databases, where choice of search term is crucial and where ‘too many results’ are seen as a problem. It seemed that the key here was effective relevance ranking, but our workshop participants did agree that relevance ranking can deceive: the first page of results may look good, but you don’t really know what you are missing. Google is good at providing a first page of useful looking results….and maybe that’s enough to stop most people wondering about what they might be missing!

 Exploring British Design

As our project has progressed, I think it is fair to say that we have benefitted hugely from the input of the students and academics that we have talked to, not only for this project but also more generally. But it was not possible for us to manage to implement a directly co-designed website. The logistics of the project didn’t allow for this, as we wanted to gather input to inform the project, and then we had the complications of pulling together the data, designing the back end and the API. We would probably have needed at least another 6 months on the project to go back to the workshop participants and ask them about the website design as we went along.

But I think we have achieved a good deal in terms of engagement. Our Exploring British Design project has been about other ways through content, moving away from a search box and a list of search results, and thinking about immersing researchers in a ‘landscape’, where they can orientate themselves but also explore freely. So, we are thinking about engagement in terms of a more visually attractive and immersive experience, giving researchers the opportunity to follow connections in a way that gives them a sense of movement through the design landscape, hints at the unknown, and shows the relevancy of the entities that are featured in the website.  We hope to show how this can potentially expand understanding because it allow for a wider context and more varied narratives.

In the next project post we hope to present our interface for this pilot project!

 

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Capturing the Energy – Oil and Gas Archive at Aberdeen University

Archives Hub feature for April 2015

The University of Aberdeen’s Special Collections Centre has a growing collection of archives relating to the UK offshore oil and gas industry, which has been centred in Aberdeen since the 1960s. The Capturing the Energy project, based at the University, is working with companies and organisations across the industry to ensure that historical records find their way to the archive to preserve a record of one of modern Britain’s most significant industries.

Frigg

One of the Oil & Gas Archive’s key collections is the Frigg UK archive, which was deposited by the operating company Total as part of a documentation project between 2006 and 2008.

The Frigg field was the world’s largest and deepest offshore gas field when it was discovered in 1971, straddling the international boundary between the Norwegian and British sectors of the North Sea. British and Norwegian companies involved agreed to develop and manage the field as a single entity operated by Total E&P Norge in Stavanger, Norway.

Drawing of the MCP-01 platform

A general arrangement drawing of the MCP-01 platform, early 1980s.

At its peak, 1800 men were working on the construction of five installations in the Frigg Field. There were two drilling and treatment platforms on the Norwegian side and three on the British side of the border: an accommodation platform for 120 people, plus additional treatment and drilling platforms. Bridges connected three of the platforms, crossing over the international boundary line.

An additional platform in the UK sector, MCP-01, formed part of the Frigg Transportation System (FTS) which transported gas from the field to the St Fergus terminal in Scotland. The FTS is formed of two 230 mile long pipelines, laid between 1974 and 1977, and MCP-01 switched gas between the two pipelines, compressed the gas entering the pipelines and was also used for the inspection and maintenance of the pipelines.

Archives

Aerial photograph of platforms

Aerial photograph of platforms in the Frigg Field, circa late 1970s.

The documentation project was run by the Norwegian Petroleum Museum in Stavanger, in partnership with the Stavanger Regional Archives and the University of Aberdeen who both took in archive material relating to Frigg. The University collected material relating to MCP-01, the Frigg Transportation System and the St Fergus terminal.

The Frigg UK collection contains over 1,500 individual items, including engineering drawings, technical manuals, operational records, staff magazines, photographs, and film and video footage. Oral history recordings provide a uniquely personal view of how the arrival of North Sea gas shaped people’s lives. There are runs of engineering, administrative and publicity records, showing the development of technology and changes in corporate policy.

Significance of Frigg

 Map showing MCP-01


Location map showing MCP-01 and the Frigg Field.

At its peak in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Frigg supplied Britain with a third of its gas requirements, contributing to Britain being self-sufficient in energy for a time. More widely, the industry as a whole generated many jobs across the UK and in Aberdeen City and Shire in particular: in 2012 the offshore oil and gas industry was estimated to provide employment for 440,000 people across the whole country. The construction, development and operation of the Frigg platforms, FTS and St Fergus provided employment for many people locally in Aberdeenshire and across the UK and Norway. In the early 1980s MCP-01 also housed the first women to work on a British installation in the North Sea.

Radio tower

MCP-01’s radio tower at sunset, 1986.

Frigg’s position in the northern North Sea between the Norwegian and British sectors, and the depth of the field meant that many technological innovations and a landmark international agreement, the 1976 Frigg Treaty, were needed to develop the field. World records for speed and depth were set with the construction and installation of the FTS pipelines. As the first international field to be exploited in Europe, Frigg became the model on which later collaborative agreements and operations were based.
Although the platforms on the Frigg field have now been decommissioned and removed, the Frigg pipelines continue to be used to transport gas from other fields to St Fergus, which continues to supply around 20% of the UK’s energy requirements.

The field is also the first example of a documentation project for the UK sector of the North Sea, and Capturing the Energy hope to employ a similar methodology to capture important records about other significant fields in the industry’s history.

Frigg on the Archives Hub

The collection description is available on the Archives Hub and is also available on the University of Aberdeen’s own catalogue.

More information about the Frigg project and Capturing the Energy are available on the respective project websites: http://www.capturing-the-energy.org.uk/ and http://www.abdn.ac.uk/historic/energyarchive/, and you can get further details about the University of Aberdeen’s oil and gas collections in this factsheet: https://www.abdn.ac.uk/library/documents/guides/hcol/qghcol011.pdf

Katy Johnson
Project Development Officer, Capturing the Energy

All images copyright the University of Aberdeen, and reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holder.

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Continuity of Care – The Royal Scottish National Hospital

Archives Hub feature for March 2015

The Wellcome Trust is currently funding a project to catalogue and conserve the records of the Royal Scottish National Hospital (RSNH), Larbert. The historical importance of the collection was recognized by its inclusion in the UNESCO UK Memory of the World Register in 2013.

The foundation of the Institution

Photo of the the Scottish National Institution c1910

The Scottish National Institution c1910

The background to the Institution’s revolutionary approach lies in its reaction to the prevailing social attitudes of the time. Prior to the Mental Deficiency Act 1913, there was no distinction made between mental illness and mental impairment. If children with learning disabilities could not be looked after by their families the alternatives were the poorhouse or an adult lunatic asylum.

The concern generated by this situation resulted in the foundation of the Society for the Education of Imbecile Youth in Scotland in 1859. The Society supported a small school in Edinburgh but it became clear that in order fully to realise their vision, they needed their own premises. In Edinburgh, according to the first annual report, any negotiations with landlords ended as soon as the purpose of the proposed Institution was known. They had to look outside the city and land in Larbert, with its excellent rail links, was chosen.

Initially the children were admitted on a fee-paying basis. For those whose families could not afford the fee the Institution paid, following the election of suitable applicants by donors to the Society.

Applications for admission

Image of Application for admission, 1865

Application for admission, 1865

This election process created one of the most important parts of the collection: the applications. Around 3000 of these have survived dating from 1865 to the 1940s. Most early applications include a form titled ‘Queries to be answered by Parent or other near Relative personally acquainted with Case, applying for admission’. This form asks for information on the family’s circumstances as well as the child’s health, behaviour and educational abilities.

Usually accompanying the form is a medical certificate signed by a local doctor which classifies the child’s abilities as Class 1 – very hopeful; Class 2 – hopeful; Class 3 – less so; and Class 4 – subject to severe and frequent fits. To ensure the success of its chosen applicants, the Institution makes it clear on this second form that ‘cases of insanity, of confirmed epilepsy, of the deaf and dumb, and of the blind are ineligible for admission except upon payment’.

Electioneering was expected and applicants were often direct in their approach. One letter asks for a list of subscribers so they could be asked for their votes. Another indicates how large a donation could be expected from the locality on the election of the desired candidate. Lobbying on behalf of applicants became such as nuisance that as early as 1864 the Directors voted to ban the use of cards in canvassing as ‘expensive to the parents and an annoyance to the subscribers’.

Many of the applications include correspondence. One early application was for a boy from Saltcoats called Charles McLarty. According to his form he was admitted in 1881 at the age of 15. But the application includes four letters written between 1927 and 1933 presumably from a relative, asking about his health and sending him sweets. At the age of 67 Charlie was still at the Institution.

This issue of adults in what was ostensibly a children’s Institution exercised the Commissioners in Lunacy during their twice-yearly inspections. One wrote in 1876 ‘[it] is no longer as to the detention of one or two exceptional cases, but it applies to a third or more of the inmates’. They requested that the situation be regularised with orders of the sheriff and a paid licence. But given the lack of any suitable Institution to discharge them to, many were kept on as servants in the Institution or were simply paid boarders. It was only with the opening of the Industrial Colony for Adults in 1935 that the Larbert Institution could officially be said to provide all-life care.

Photo of the new Industrial Colony, 1935

The new Industrial Colony, 1935

Life in the Institution

There is ample evidence that the children were treated with kindness. Even in a source as potentially dry as the cash book there are entries devoted to payments for travelling musicians, toys for children and bonnets for boys.

Image: In the schoolroom, c1915

In the schoolroom, c1915

Three and a half hours of schooling were given each day in the early years of the Institution but even training was seen as pleasurable: ‘kindly instructors and happy children’ as one inspector described the workshops in 1927. And there were plenty of leisure activities provided. Picnics were popular as were the introduction of ‘talkies’ in 1936. These were described in the minutes: ‘no innovation has given greater pleasure than this either in anticipation, realisation or retrospect’.

It is easier to understand the medical superintendent’s bewilderment in 1920 when faced with three runaways from the Institution in the one month. One boy had only been in the Institution a week ‘and was home-sick for a garret in a horrible slum in Glasgow…[with] no furniture’.

Image: Picnic in the grounds, c1937

Picnic in the grounds, c1937

The RSNH on the Archives Hub

The collection description is already available on the Archives Hub. The rest of the collection will be added when the project ends in July this year. It will also be available on the University of Stirling’s own catalogue: http://www.calmview.eu/stirling/CalmView/Default.aspx.

Other highlights of the collection include admissions registers (1863-19880, minute books (1863-1969), annual reports (1862-1948) and correspondence (1881-1965).

University of Stirling collections on the Archives Hub

The university’s collections are as diverse as would be expected but are particularly strong in the areas of film-making, politics, literature and sport. Highlights of the collections on the Archives Hub include Lindsay Anderson (1923-1994) film director; James Hogg (1770-1835) poet and novelist; and the extensive collection of political papers, pamphlets and newspapers of William Tait (1889-1941) socialist labour politician.

Alison Scott, Project Archivist
University of Stirling

All images copyright the University of Stirling, and reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holder.

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Europeana Tech 2015: focus on the journey

Last week I attended a very full and lively Europeana Tech conference. Here are some of the main initiatives and ideas I have taken away with me:

Think in terms of improvement, not perfection

Do the best you can with what you have; incorrect data may not be as bad as we think and maybe users expectations are changing, and they are increasingly willing to work with incomplete or imperfect data. Some of the speakers talked about successful crowd-sourcing – people are often happy to correct your metadata for you and a well thought-out crowd-sourcing project can give great results.

BL Georeferencer, showing an old map overlaying part of Manchester: http://www.bl.uk/maps/georeferencingmap.html

BL Georeferencer, showing an old map overlaying part of Manchester: http://www.bl.uk/maps/georeferencingmap.html

The British Library currently have an initiative to encourage tagging of their images on Flickr Commons and they also have a crowd-sourcing geo-referencer project.

The Cooper Hewitt Museum site takes a different and more informal approach to what we might usually expect from a cultural heritage site. The homepage goes for an honest approach:

“This is a kind of living document, meaning that development is ongoing — object research is being added, bugs are being fixed, and erroneous terms are being revised. In spite of the eccentricities of raw data, you can begin exploring the collection and discovering unexpected connections among objects and designers.”

The ‘here is some stuff’ and ‘show me more stuff’ type of approach was noticeable throughout the conference, with different speakers talking about their own websites. Seb Chan from the Cooper Hewitt Museum talked about the importance of putting information out there, even if you have very little, it is better than nothing (e.g. https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18446665).

The speaker from Google, Chris Welty, is best known for his work on ontologies in the Semantic Web and IBM’s Watson. He spoke about cognitive computing, and his message was ‘maybe it’s OK to be wrong’. Something may well still useful, even if it is not perfectly precise. We are increasingly understanding that the Web is in a state of continuous improvement, and so we should focus on improvement, not perfection. What we want is for mistakes to decrease, and for new functionality not to break old functionality.  Chris talked about the importance of having a metric – something that is believable – that you can use to measure improvement. He also spoke about what is ‘true’ and the need for a ‘ground truth’ in an environment where problems often don’t have a right or wrong answer. What is the truth about an image? If you show an image to a human and ask them to talk about it they could talk for a long time. What are the right things to say about it? What should a machine see? To know this, or to know it better, Chris said, Google needs data – more and more and more data. He made it clear that the data is key and it will help us on the road to continuous improvement. He used the example of searching for pictures of flowers using Google to find ‘paintings with flowers’. If you did this search 5 years ago you probably wouldn’t get just paintings with flowers. The  search has improved, and it will continue to improve.  A search for ‘paintings with tulips’ now is likely to show you just tulips. However, he gave the example of  ‘paintings with flowers by french artists’ –  a search where you start to see errors as the results are not all by french artists. A current problem Google are dealing with is mixed language queries, such as  ‘paintings des fleurs’, which opens a whole can of worms. But Chris’ message was that metadata matters: it is the metadata that makes this kind of searching possible.

The Success of Failure

Related to the point about improvement, the message is that being ‘wrong’ or ‘failing’ should be seen in a much more positive light. Chris Welty told us that two thirds of his work doesn’t make it into a live environment, and he has no problem with that. Of course, it’s hard not to think that Google can afford to fail rather more than many of us! But I did have an interesting conversation with colleagues, via Twitter, around the importance of senior management and funders understanding that we can learn a great deal from what is perceived as failure, and we shouldn’t feel compelled to hide it away.

Photo from Europeana Tech

Europeana Tech panel session, with four continents represented

Think in terms of Entities

We had a small group conversation where this came up, and a colleague said to me ‘but surely that’s obvious’. But as archivists we have always been very centered on documents rather than things – on the archive collection, and the archive collection description. The  trend that I was seeing reflected at Europeana Tech continued to be towards connections, narratives, pathways, utilising new tools for working with data, for improving data quality and linking data, for adding geo-coordinates and describing new entities, for making images more interoperable and contextualising information. The principle underlying this was that we should start from the real world – the real world entities – and go from there. Various data models were explored, such as the Europeana Data Model and CIDOC CRM, and speakers explained how entities can connect, and enable a richer landscape. Data models are a tricky one because they can help to focus on key entities and relationships, but they can be very complex and rather off-putting. The EDM seems to split the crowd somewhat, and there was some criticism that it is not event-based like CIDOC CRM, but the CRM is often criticised for being very complex and difficult to understand. Anyway, setting that aside, the overall the message was that relationships are key, however we decide to model them.

Cataloguing will never capture everyone’s research interests

An obvious point, but I thought it was quite well conveyed in the conference. Do we catalogue with the assumption that people know what they need? What about researchers interested in how ‘sad’ is expressed throughout history, or fashions for facial hair, or a million other topics that simply don’t fit in with the sorts of keywords and subject terms we normally use. We’ll never be able to meet these needs, but putting out as much data as we can, and making it open, allows others to explore, tag and annotate and create infinite groups of resources. It can be amazing and moving, what people create: Every3Minutes.

There’s so much out there to explore….

There are so many great looking tools and initiatives worth looking at, so many places to go and experiment with open data, so many APIs enabling so much potential. I ended up with a very long list of interesting looking sites to check out. But I couldn’t help feeling that so few of us have the time or resource to actually take advantage of this busy world of technology. We heard about Europeana Labs, which has around 100 ‘hardcore’ users and 2,200 registered keys (required for API use). It is described as “a playground for remixing and using your cultural and scientific heritage. A place for inspiration, innovation and sharing.” I wondered if we would ever have the time to go and have a play. But then maybe we should shift focus away from not being able to do these things ourselves, and simply allow others to use the data, and to adopt the tools and techniques that are available – people can create all sorts of things. One example amongst many we heard about at the conference is a cultural collage: zenlan.com/collage. It comes back to what is now quite an old adage, ‘the best innovation may not be done by you’. APIs enable others to innovate, and what interests people can be a real surprise. Bill Thompson from the BBC referred to a huge interest in old listings from Radio Times, which are now available online.

The International Image Interoperability Framework

I list the IIIF this because it jumped out at me as a framework that seems to be very popular – several speakers referred to it, and it very positive terms. I hadn’t heard of it before, but it seemed to be seen as a practical means to ensure that images are interoperable, and can be moved around different systems.

Think Little

One of my favourite thoughts from the conference, from the ever-inspirational Tim Sherratt, was that big ideas should enable little ideas. The little ideas are often what really makes the world go round. You don’t have to always think big. In fact, many sites have suffered from the tendency to try to do everything. Just because you can add tons of features to your applications, it doesn’t mean you should

The Importance of Orientation

How would you present your collections if you didn’t have a search box? This is the question I asked myself after listening to George Oates, from Good Form and Spectacle. She is a User Interface expert, and has worked on Flickr and for the Internet Archive amongst other things. I thought her argument about the need to help orientate users was interesting, as so often we are told that the ‘Google search box’ is the key thing, and what users expect. She talked about some of her experiments with front end interfaces that allow users to look at things differently, such as the V&A Spelunker. She spoke in terms of landmarks and paths that users could follow. I wonder if this is easier said than done with archives without over-curating what you have or excluding material that is less well catalogued, or does not have a nice image to work with. But I certainly think it is an idea worth exploring.

View of V&A Speleunker

“The V&A Spelunker is a rough thing built by Good, Form & Spectacle to give a different view into the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum”

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Exhibitions at the Shakespeare Institute: seeing beyond the book shelves

Archives Hub feature for February 2015

Image of poster for 2014 exhibition: Birth in Shakespeare's time

Poster for 2014 exhibition: Birth in Shakespeare’s time (to mark the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth)

The Shakespeare Institute Library holds monthly exhibitions which bring out lesser known aspects of our collections and especially our archive holdings.

Image of poster for 2014 exhibition: Where are we now?

Poster for 2014 exhibition: Where are we now? (Showcasing alumni careers)

These exhibitions were designed as a way to inform our users, predominantly our student body, of the breadth and depth of our holdings. As they have developed they have also enabled us to connect with the students and our local community in other ways: highlighting the careers and output of alumni of the Institute, promoting other collections in the local area, tying in with events and conferences, etc.

All library staff get involved in the researching, formatting, publicising and mounting of exhibitions so, as well as informing our users our staff get an excellent chance for learning more about the contents of the library and to work on areas of professional development – which, of course, can only benefit out users. The enthusiasm of the staff for the exhibitions has helped developed an exciting programme themes which we programme for the year. Work on these is scheduled so that there is a clear picture of when other collections need to be approached. As one is launched the work on the next begins.

Photo of exhibition on Henry V

Exhibition on Henry V (1913) commemorating the boys of King Edward VI School killed in WW1

These exhibitions have also given us the opportunity to collaborate with neighbouring collections. In November 2014 we held an exhibition on the boys of a King Edward VI School (Stratford-upon-Avon) who died in the First World War and performed in a production of Henry V in 1913, directed by Frank Benson.

Image of poster for 2014 exhibition: Shakespeare's Composers

Poster for 2014 exhibition: Shakespeare’s Composers

We’ve also worked extensively with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and the Library of Birmingham, most recently on an exhibition on Shakespeare’s Composers for which we displayed a manuscript of Vaughan Williams incidental music to the afore mentioned Henry V (1913) and a manuscript of Granville Bantock’s music for a production of Macbeth performed at the Prince’s Theatre, London, 1926.

We also utilise the knowledge of our academic staff in order to develop exhibition ideas, themes and to check over content. When tied in to our curriculum, conference and symposia themes the exhibitions have also proved an ideal way of encouraging students to look beyond the reading list. By highlighting areas of direct relevance they also encourage visiting academics and students into the Library when they are attending events at the Institute. Our library users have really appreciated the opportunity to see beyond the book shelves.

Blogging about the exhibitions has also helped to market our library beyond the University.

Image of poster for 2014 exhibition: Henry IV, Parts 1 & 2 (Old Vic, 1945)

Poster for 2014 exhibition: Henry IV, Parts 1 & 2 (Old Vic, 1945)

In January 2015 as student came from America to consult the collections at the Shakespeare Institute, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and King Edward’s School after reading about the KES Henry V exhibition online. Now he has had access to the archives for this production he’s started writing a play as well as his MA dissertation. SIL blog address: http://silibrary1.wordpress.com/

Our programme of exhibitions is going from strength-to-strength and their success has been acknowledged by our department in Library Services with the funding of high quality display boards and a glass cabinet in order to facilitate more ambitious projects. This year we look forward to showing off our resources on some fascinating themes, including: Approaches to Teaching Shakespeare, Elizabethan Printing, Comic Book Shakespeare and Shakespeare and the Actor. We hope that they’ll continue to be informative and inspiring to our users!

Karin Brown, Shakespeare Institute Librarian

Shakespeare Institute Library: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/edacs/departments/shakespeare/research/shakespeare-institute-library.aspx

Shakespeare Institute: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/edacs/departments/shakespeare/index.aspx

Related:

Browse the collections of The Shakespeare Institute (University of Birmingham) on the Archives Hub:

Image of poster for 2014 exhibition: Foakes and Hawkes

Poster for 2014 exhibition: Foakes and Hawkes

All images copyright Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham, and reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holder.

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2014 Features Showcase

Archives Hub feature for January 2015

Woolwich advert, 1945

Woolwich Equitable Building Society advert, 1945

This month, January 2015, we’re showcasing our features from 2014, with themes including banking, dance, war, peace and educational reform.

Barclays Group Archives

Founded in 1690 by two goldsmith bankers, Barclays PLC now has customers in over 50 countries:

http://archiveshub.ac.uk/blog/2014/01/barclays-group-archives/

Be my Valentine

Photo of Barbara Cartland, 1925

© Image is in the public domain: Barbara Cartland, 1925 Barbara Cartland, 1925

Love letters, cards and poetry, together with less directly connected ‘Valentines’ descriptions!:

http://archiveshub.ac.uk/blog/2014/02/be-my-valentine/

A European Journey: The Archives Portal Europe

The Archives Hub is the UK ‘Country Manager’ for the Archives Portal Europe, a European aggregator for archives:

http://archiveshub.ac.uk/blog/2014/03/a-european-journey-the-archives-portal-europe/

250 and counting!

More than 250 UK institutions and organisations now contribute to the Archives Hub! A look at some of our most recent contributors:

http://archiveshub.ac.uk/blog/2014/04/250-and-counting/

A Spring in Your Step

Image of couple dancing, 1900s.

Lecon de Cake-Walk, 1900s. Image in Public domain

Collections relating to dancers, choreographers and teachers, schools and companies, ballet, contemporary and other styles of dance:

http://archiveshub.ac.uk/blog/2014/05/a-spring-in-your-step/

Exploring British Design: An Introduction

The Archives Hub has joined forces with The University of Brighton Design Archives for an exciting new project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council:

http://archiveshub.ac.uk/blog/2014/07/exploring-british-design-an-introduction/

The Anti-Apartheid Movement

Image of Free Nelson Mandela rally poster

Free Nelson Mandela rally poster (1980), AAM Archives, ref: po059.

Anti-Apartheid Movement Archives held at the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford:

http://archiveshub.ac.uk/blog/2014/07/the-anti-apartheid-movement/

Swords into Ploughshares

The cataloguing of two peace organisations’ archives at LSE, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and the Fellowship of Reconciliation: London Union:

http://archiveshub.ac.uk/blog/2014/08/swords-into-ploughshares/

Kettle’s Yard Archive

Image of Jim Ede

Jim Ede at Kettle’s Yard – Kettle’s Yard, 
University of Cambridge

Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge, much more than a house, a museum or a gallery:

http://archiveshub.ac.uk/blog/2014/09/kettles-yard-archive/

Engineering and innovation during the First World War

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers archives on how the war sparked a technological battle for the best weapons, infrastructure and defences, and what this meant for engineering:

http://archiveshub.ac.uk/blog/2014/10/engineering-and-innovation-during-the-first-world-war/

James Phillips Kay-Shuttleworth – pioneering educational reformer

Photograph of Elizabeth Gaskell

Elizabeth Gaskell, c. 1864. Photograph by Alexander McGlashon

Archivists at The University of Manchester Library recently catalogued the papers of celebrated Victorian educationist Sir James Phillips Kay-Shuttleworth (1804-1877), relating to his career, family ties and literary circles:

 

 

 

 

 


http://archiveshub.ac.uk/blog/2014/11/james-phillips-kay-shuttleworth-pioneering-educational-reformer/

The Twelve Days of Christmas – archives style!

Our feature is (loosely!) based on the traditional folk melody ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’. Collections highlighted include those of the drummer Max Abrams, the Swan Land and Cattle Company, Hen Gapel, Llanbryn-mair Chapel Records (one of the oldest and most famous chapels in Wales) and the singer David Cassidy:

http://archiveshub.ac.uk/blog/2014/12/the-twelve-days-of-christmas-archives-style/

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Exploring British Design: Research Paths II

We recently ran a second workshop as part of our Exploring British Design project. The workshops aim  to understand more about  approaches to research, and researchers’ understanding and use of archives.

The second workshop was run largely on the same basis as the first workshop, using the same exercises.

Looking at what our researchers said and documented about their research paths over the two workshops, some points came out quite strongly:

  • Google is by far the most common starting point but its shortcomings are clear and issue of trust come up frequently.
  • There is often a strong visual emphasis to research, including searching for images and the use of Pinterest; there seems to be a split between those who gravitate towards a more text-based approach and those who think visually (many of our participants were graphic designers though!).
  • It is common to utilise the references listed in Wikipedia articles.
  • The library as a source is seen as part of a diverse landscape – it is one place to go to, albeit an important one. It is not the first port of call for the majority.
  • Aggregators are not specifically referred to very often. But they may be seen as a place to go if other searches don’t yield useful results.
  • Talking to people is very important, be it lecturers, experts, colleagues or friends
  • Online research is more immediate, and usually takes less effort, but there are issues of trust and it may not yield specific enough results, or uncover the more obscure sources.
  • There is a tendency to start from the general and work towards the more specific. With the research paths of most of the researchers, the library/archive was somewhere in the middle of this process.
  • Personal habits and past experience play a very large part, but there is a real interest in finding new routes through research, so habit is not a sticking point, but simply the dominant influence unless it is challenged.

For the second workshop, the first exercise asked participants to document their likely research paths around a topic.

flip chart showing research paths for a topic

Research paths of two researchers for the topic of Simpsons of Piccadilly

 

We had four pairs of researchers looking at different topics, and we left them to discuss their research paths for about 45 minutes. The discussions following the exercise picked up on a number of areas:

Online vs Offline

We kicked off by asking the researchers about online versus ‘offline’ research paths. One participant commented that she saw online as a route through to traditional research – maybe to locate a library or archive – ‘online is telling me where to look’ but in itself it is too general and not specific enough; whereas the person she was paired with tended to do more research online. He saw online as giving the benefit of immediacy – at any time of day or night he could access content. The issue of trust came up in the discussion around this issue, and one participant summed up nicely: “If you do online research there is less effort but there is less trust; if you research offline there is more effort but there is more trust.”

Following on from the discussion about how people go about using online services, there was a comment that things found online are often the more obvious, the more used and cited resources. Visiting a library or archive may give more opportunity to uncover little known sources that help with original research. This seemed to be endorsed by most participants, one commenting that Pinterest tends to reflect what is trendy and popular. However, there was also a view that something like Pinterest can lead researchers to new sources, as they are benefiting from the efforts, and sometimes the quite obsessive enthusiasms, of a wide range of people.

There was agreement that online research can lead to ‘information dumping’, where you build up a formidable collection of resources, but are unlikely to get round to sorting them all out and using them.

Library Resources

The issue of effort came up later in the discussion when referring to a particular university library (probably typical of many university libraries), and the amount of effort involved in using its databases. There was a comment about how you need to ‘work yourself up to an afternoon in the library’ and there seemed to be a general agreement that the ‘search across all resources’ often produced quite meaningless results. When compared to Google, the issue seems to be that relevance ranking is not effective, so the top results often don’t match your requirements. There was also some discussion around the way that library resource discovery services often involve too many steps, and there is effort in understanding how the catalogue works. One participant, whose research centres on the Web and the online user experience, felt that printed sources were of little use to him, as they were out of date very quickly.

Curating your sources

One researcher talked about using Pinterest to organise findings visually. This was followed up by another researcher talking about how with online research you can organise and collect things yourself. It facilitates ‘curating’ your own collection of resources. It can also be easier to remember resources if they are visual. Comparing Pinterest to the Library – with the former you click to add the image to your board; with the Library you pay a visit, you find the book, you take it to the scanner, you pay to take a scan…although it is increasingly possible to take pictures of books using your own device. But the general feeling was that the Web was far quicker and more immediate.

Attitudes towards research

One participant felt that there might be a split between those more like him who see research as ‘a means to an end’ and those who enjoy the process itself. So maybe some are looking for the shortest route to the end goal, and others see research as more exploratory activity and expect it to take time and effort. This may partly be a result of the nature and scope of the research. Short time scales preclude in-depth research.

Talking about serendipitous approaches, someone commented that browsing the library shelves can be constructive, as you can find books around your subject that you weren’t aware existed. This is replicated to some extent in something like Amazon, which suggests books you might be interested in. There was also some feeling that exploring too many avenues can take the researcher off topic and take up a great deal of time.

Trust and Citation

The issue of trust is important.  A first-hand experience, whether of a place you are researching, or using physical archive sources, is the most trustworthy, because you are seeing with your own eyes, experiencing first hand or looking at primary sources first hand; a library provides the next level of trust, as a book is an interpretation, and you may feel it requires corroboration; the online world is the least trustworthy. You will have the least trust if you are looking at a website where you don’t know about who or what is behind it. There was agreement that trust can come through crowd sourced information, but also some discussion around how to cite this (for example, using the Harvard system to reference web pages and crowd sourced resources). This led on to a short discussion around the credibility of what is cited within research. Maybe attitudes to Wikipedia are slowly changing, but at present there is generally still a feeling that a researcher cannot cite it as a source. There are traditions within disciplines around how to cite and what are the ‘right’ things to cite.

[Further posts on Exploring British Design will follow, with reflections on our workshops and updates on the project generally]

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Twelve Days of Christmas – archives style!

Archives Hub feature for December 2014

The Twelve Days of Christmas song poster

“The Twelve Days of Christmas song poster” by Xavier Romero-Frias is
licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

There are several versions of the traditional folk melody The Twelve Days of Christmas (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Twelve_Days_of_Christmas_%28song%29). This feature is based on the 1909 publication by English composer Frederic Austin.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me…

Twelve drummers drumming

Max Abrams Collection, 1920s-1992. Max Abrams was a drummer, teacher of drums and author of drum tutors. He kept detailed diaries between 1943 and 1992, which document his performance career and information about his pupils, as well as personal information. He wrote around 50 jazz tutor books.
http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb2942-ma

Logo for Seven Stories

Logo for Seven Stories, the Centre for Children’s Books

‘The Little Drummer Boy’ greetings card, c. 1968-1999. An illustration of the well-known carol, the card is part of a collection of publications, prints and original artwork by the illustrators, twins Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone. The Johnston Memorial Collection is held by Seven Stories, the Centre for Children’s Books.
http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb1840-jaj/jaj/02/04/10

Beat The Retreat On Thy Drum (Sam, Sam, Beat the Retreat!), 1932.
Printed score of a musical monologue performed by Stanley Holloway, part
of the Stanley Holloway Archive held by the V&A Department of Theatre and Performance. Stanley Holloway (1890-1982) made over 50 films, but he loved performing in the theatre and the comic monologues, for which he was so well known.
http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb71-thm/18/thm/18/1/7

Eleven pipers piping

Papers of John and Myfanwy Piper, 1882-1990s. John Piper (1903-1992) was a major figure in modern British art. He was a painter in oils and water colour, designed stained glass, ceramics and for the stage, made prints and devised ingenious firework displays. In addition to this he was also a gifted photographer of buildings and landscapes. Piper also wrote poetry, art criticism and several guidebooks on landscape and architecture.
http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb70-tga200410

W.T. Piper papers, 1914-1919. W.T. Piper was a Private, 5th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment, serving in India.
http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb206-liddlecollectionind31

Ten lords a-leaping

Papers of Horatio Nelson, Viscount and First Admiral, 1758-1805. Held by Glasgow University Library, Special Collections Department, comprising correspondence concerning the promotion of Lieutenant Scott of Monmouth.
http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb247-msgen512/35

Manuscript of speeches made by Lord Crewe, Lord Lansdowne, and Lord Loreburn in the Library of the House of Lords, 1908. The speeches were made on Monday, 27th July, 1908, on the occasion of the presentation to the Lord Chancellor, Lord Loreburn, of his portrait painted by Sir George Reid.
http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb206-brothertoncollectionms19creid

Transcription of Thomas Hope, Major Practicks, c. 1670. Sir Thomas Hope (1573-1646) of Craighall, advocate and politician. He was solicitor to the Church of Scotland, became a very successful advocate, then worked for Charles I and was appointed Lord Advocate in 1626 and admitted to the Scottish privy council 2 years later.
http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb227-mske.l2

Nine ladies dancing

Photograph of ballet dancer, Anthony Crickmay Dance Photographs, © V&A Department of Theatre and Performance.

Anthony Crickmay Dance Photographs (THM/20), © V&A Department of Theatre and Performance, Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Collection of material relating to Anna Pavlova, 1875-1965. Anna Pavlova (1881-1931) was the most celebrated ballerina of her generation. The collection includes accessories originally worn by Pavlova in performance, scrapbooks containing many assorted press and illustrated magazine cuttings featuring Pavlova and sepia prints of Pavlova at a young age.
http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb3208-rbs/pav

Adeline Genée Archive Collection, c. 1890-1970. Danish by birth, Adeline Genée (1878-1970), was a talented ballerina and the founder president of the Association of Teachers of Operatic Dancing of Great Britain (later the Royal Academy of Dance).
http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb3370-rad/ag

Marie Rambert Collection, 1890s-1980s. Collection of films, costumes, photographs, correspondence, diaries, programmes, press cuttings, personal papers, autobiographical notes, awards and medals owned and collected by Dame Marie Rambert throughout her life as well as papers relating to her death and memorials.
http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb2228-mr

Eight maids a-milking

M. Russell-Fergusson papers, 1914-1990. M. Russell-Fergusson, Women’s National Land Service Corps, served as a milk maid in Norfolk from Aug. 1917 and later in Leicestershire and at the Royal Dairy Farm, Windsor.
http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb206-liddlecollectiondf112

Photograph of Audree Howard as the Milkmaid in ‘Facade’, 1930s. Part of a small collection relating to the artist Paul Nash at the Tate Gallery Archive.
http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb70-tga769/tga769/5/13

Seven swans a-swimming

Logo: University of Leeds

Logo: University of Leeds (Leeds University Library Special Collections)

Books about Russia written by members of the Swan/Swann family, 1968-1989. The Swan/Swann family were members of the British community in pre-revolutionary Russia. Material held by Leeds University Library.
http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb206-ms1036

Papers of and relating to Annie S. Swan, c. 1900-1946. Annie Shepherd Swan, daughter of Edward Swan, farmer and potato merchant, was born in Mountskip, near Edinburgh in 1859. She married James Burnett Smith in 1883, and in the early years of their marriage her writing supported him through medical school.
http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb231-ms3517

Swan Land and Cattle Company, 1883-1947. The collection is composed of reminiscences of the Swan Land and Cattle Company. The home ranch of the Swan Land and Cattle Company was sited at Chugwater, Wyoming. Its corporate headquarters were in Cheyenne. This large corporate cattle company, with between 50,000 and 80,000 livestock, at one time controlled an area of land greater than the size of the State of Connecticut.
http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb237-coll-162

Six geese a-laying

‘Taking a gander’. Article concerning the geese at the University, 1966. Part of the Lady Violet Deramore Collection (1881-2005) held by the Borthwick Institute, University of York.
http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb193-vder/vder/3/1/2/10

As it’s pantomime season (oh no it’s not! Oh yes it is!), we also have:

Cuttings about Mother Goose pantomime, 1951. These records form part of the Unity Theatre, theatre company collection held by V&A Department of Theatre and Performance. Unity Theatre was founded in 1936 by a general meeting of the Rebel Players and Red Radio, left-wing theatre groups derived from the Workers’ Theatre Movement.
http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb71-thm/9/thm/9/4/5/77

Five gold rings

Small printed notice “Unique and hitherto unknown variety of the Gold Ring Money of Ireland in the form of an Ear Ornament”, 1840s. Held by Chetham’s Library, this item forms part of the The Correspondence of John Bell, Antiquary and Land Surveyor, Gateshead, Newcastle Collection.
http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb418-bell/bell/1/29

The rings may in fact refer to ringed-necked pheasants:

Pictorial tapestry rug featuring a pheasant, 1888.
Tapestry rug of worsted yarn and jute in acid colours featuring a pheasant in a floral landscape. Part of the Stoddard-Templeton Carpet and Textile Collection (c. 1840s-1960s). James Templeton and Co. was established in 1843, making Chenille, Axminster, Wilton and Brussels carpets. It employed artists of international calibre such as Charles Voysey, Walter Crane and Frank Brangwyn, with their carpets used in Coronations and in liners such as the Titanic. The collection is held by The Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections Centre.
http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb1694-dc077/2/1

Four calling birds

This could be song birds, such as Canaries, or may be ‘colly’ or black birds:

Descriptions of the Canary Islands and of the Azores, c. 1610.
The manuscript consists of two works, bound together. The first is a description of the Canary Islands, detailing the history, religion and laws of the natives, called the Guanches, as well as observations on the geography and fauna of the islands. The second work is a compilation from other works describing the Azores.The existence of the Canary Islands, a chain of seven islands off the northwest coast of Africa, was known to the Romans and later the Arabs, and European navigators reached the islands in the 13th century. The Azores, an archipelago in the Mid-Atlantic, were discovered in 1427 by the Portuguese and their colonisation by them began in 1432.
http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb133-engms17

Image: Transport for London Metropolitan Line

Image: TfL Metropolitan Line, Transport for London Corporate Archives.

Briefing on Canary Wharf Station, 1989.
Paper concerning delays and changes in the redesign of Canary Wharf Station. Subjects include construction and negotiations, unresolved issues and financial risk. Part of a series of minutes of meetings belonging to the Transport for London Group Archive.
http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb2856-%28new%29lt000099/%28new%29lt000099/035

Production contracts for ‘Study from ‘Blackbird”, 2002. Part of the Rambert Dance Company Archive: Productions collection (1920s – 2010s), the folder includes choreographer contracts, production budget and correspondence concerning casting travel and rehearsals.
http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb2228-rdc/pd/rdc/pd/06/01/0423

Three French hens

‘The Little White Hen’, 1989-2003.
Material relating to ‘The Little White Hen’, written by Philippa Pearce and illustrated by Gillian McClure (Scholastic, 1996). The series includes a dummy book; preliminary artwork; four pieces of finished artwork; a small amount of correspondence from Philippa Pearce, with some reviews of the book; and a copy of the first edition of the book.
http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb1840-gmc/gmc/04

Hen Gapel, Llanbryn-mair Chapel Records, 1898-1932.
Hen Gapel (Old Chapel) in Llanbryn-mair, Montgomeryshire is one of the oldest and most famous chapels in Wales. As far back as 1635 the Rev Walter Craddoc had a small congregation in Llanbryn-mair. Initially, the cause had no home and meetings were held in houses or in a nearby forest. In 1739 a chapel was built (then re-built in 1821).
http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb222-bmsshg

Two turtle doves

Ms transcript of song, ‘The Turtle Dove’. 2 leaves belonging to a series of ms and ts transcripts of songs and ballads (1925 to 1965) by the poet and author Robert Graves (1895-1985). The papers are held at St John’s College, Oxford.
http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb473-rg/m/rg/m/ballads/4

Records for the Dove Brothers Ltd, builders, 1850-1970.
Dove Brothers Ltd was a prominent construction company based in Islington from 1781 to 1993 which worked with most of the major architects of the late 19th to 20th century. The company was founded by William Spencer Dove (1793-1869). His sons formed the Dove Brothers partnership in 1852.
http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb1032-s/dov

And a partridge in a pear tree!

David Cassidy Collection, 1972-1976. The Amercian singer David Cassidy was best known for the musical sitcom The Partridge Family.
http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb71-thm/378

Image of title page from "The 12 days of Christmas", 1780

Title page from the first known publication of “The 12 days of Christmas” in 1780.
Image in the public domain.

Bernard Partridge Drawings Collection, 1861-1905. Bernard Partridge (1861-1945) was a painter and illustrator who became the principal cartoonist of Punch magazine.
http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb71-thm/227

Artworks by James Joshua Guthrie and relating to the Pear Tree Press, 1897-1930s. Designs and illustrations, along with other book illustration work and bookplates for the Pear Tree Press.
http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb58-addms88957/addms88957/4/4

Trustees of W S Brown – proposed purchase of Deep Mines under Pear Tree House, Tyldesley. 1905. 2 items of correspondence, maintained by the trustees of the Bridgewater estate Ltd.
http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb427-bea/bea/i/1774

Related information

Birds of the Twelve Days of Christmas, 10,000 Birds blog post, 2013: http://10000birds.com/birds-of-the-twelve-days-of-christmas.htm

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James Phillips Kay-Shuttleworth – pioneering educational reformer

Archives Hub feature for November 2014

Funded by a grant from the John Rylands Research Institute, we have recently catalogued the papers of celebrated Victorian educationist Sir James Phillips Kay-Shuttleworth (1804-1877), opening up the rich content of this archive to researchers across the world.

Kay-Shuttleworth was born James Kay in Rochdale, Lancashire, into a textile manufacturing family. After qualifying as a doctor, he went on to have a distinguished career. He was a pioneer of public health, an influential civil servant, and played a key part in nineteenth-century educational reform, laying the groundwork for today’s system of national school education.

Kay-Shuttleworth’s career

After training at Edinburgh University, James Kay returned to practise as a doctor in Manchester in 1827. The following year, he co-founded the Ardwick and Ancoats Dispensary, a charity based in one of the poorest areas of the city. Through this work, he witnessed the appalling living conditions of the urban poor, and became increasingly involved in public health initiatives.

In 1832, the year of the cholera epidemic, he published his seminal pamphlet, The Moral and Physical Condition of the Working Classes Employed in the Cotton Manufacture in Manchester. This predated by some 13 years Friedrich Engels’ better-known The Condition of the Working Class in England.

In 1835, he became an Assistant Poor Law Commissioner for Norfolk and Suffolk, a role which gave rise to his lifelong interest in education and his conviction that it held the key to society’s regeneration.

Image of pamphlet The Training of Pauper Children

The Training of Pauper Children (1839): Kay-Shuttleworth’s ideas about educational reform had their origins in his work with pauper children.

In 1839, he was appointed as Assistant Secretary to the Whig government’s Committee of the Privy Council on Education, which administered grants for public education, a post he held for nine years. He was a highly effective civil servant and much of what we take for granted today had its origins in his inspired reforms. In 1840, he established Battersea College, the first teacher training college in Britain. He created a school inspection system; he argued for state education; and he forced through regulations around how children were taught, the design of school buildings, the structure of the teaching profession and the ways in which schools were governed.

There are over 1,000 letters in Kay-Shuttleworth’s archive, reflecting his whole professional career. Correspondents include those involved in education and philanthropy like Matthew Arnold and Angela Burdett-Coutts, as well as many Liberal or Whig politicians, including Gladstone, W.E. Forster, Lord John Russell and John Bright. Most of his key publications are also represented.

Family ties

The archival material relating to Kay-Shuttleworth’s public life is complemented by extensive personal and family correspondence, providing a fascinating insight into family relationships, social and gender roles.

In 1842, he married Lady Janet Shuttleworth, the heiress of Gawthorpe Hall in Lancashire, and adopted her surname on marriage, becoming Kay-Shuttleworth. The couple had five children.

Photograph of Gawthorpe Hall

Gawthorpe Hall, Padiham, Lancashire. James Kay-Shuttleworth set his own stamp on his wife’s ancestral home, employing fashionable architect Charles Barry to undertake major renovations in the 1850s. Photograph courtesy of Lee Pilkington.

The letters between Kay-Shuttleworth and his son Ughtred James (1844-1939) show the closeness of their relationship. Ughtred inherited Gawthorpe Hall, and estate management is discussed in some detail, as is Ughtred’s early political career; he went on to become a successful Liberal MP.

Other relationships were less straightforward. Correspondence in the archive documents the young James Kay’s unsuccessful courtship of Helen Kennedy, daughter of a wealthy Manchester family. Later, he grew apart from his wife, Janet; in 1851 she moved permanently to the Continent, ultimately settling in Italy with her eldest child Janet, two youngest sons, and the family governess Rosa Poplawska.

Two of the Kay-Shuttleworth sons – Robert (known as Robin) and Stewart – caused ongoing anxiety to their father. Neither lived up to his expectations, either getting into debt or associating with people of whom their parents disapproved. Ultimately Kay-Shuttleworth arranged for Robin to travel to Australia and take up sheep-farming (although he proved a continued source of worry to his parents), and Stewart emigrated to Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) to run a plantation.

Literary circles

Kay-Shuttleworth’s literary aspirations are less well-known than his public career. Always passionate about literature, after his retirement he published two historical novels set in his home county of Lancashire, Scarsdale (1860) and Ribblesdale (1870). Correspondence and reviews relating to these two novels are included in his archive, as is the manuscript of a third novel, Cromwell in the North, which remained unpublished at his death, and his unpublished autobiography.

Image of a page from Gaskell’s manuscript of The Life of Charlotte Brontë

A page from Gaskell’s manuscript of The Life of Charlotte Brontë, from the Library’s Elizabeth Gaskell Collection

His own literary endeavours failed to attract much critical acclaim, and his greatest contribution to literature was probably his role in bringing together Charlotte Brontë and Elizabeth Gaskell. The two writers first met in August 1850, during a visit to the summer home of the Kay-Shuttleworths in the Lake District. Gaskell was already fascinated by what she knew of Brontë and her isolated life in Haworth, which was so different from Gaskell’s own bustling home in Manchester. Despite their many differences, the women immediately struck up a friendship which lasted until Brontë’s premature death in 1855. Gaskell went on to write the celebrated biography of her friend.

Photograph of Elizabeth Gaskell

Elizabeth Gaskell, c. 1864. Photograph by Alexander McGlashon

 

Having been refused access to the manuscript of Brontë’s unpublished novel, The Professor, by her widower, the Rev. Arthur Nicholls, Gaskell recruited Kay Shuttleworth’s assistance. They visited the parsonage at Haworth together in July 1856. The forceful personality of Sir James overcame the misgivings of Nicholls. He and Gaskell came away not only with The Professor manuscript, but also the fragment of a novel called Emma which Brontë had been working on before her marriage, and the now-famous miniature ‘Gondal’ and ‘Angria’ manuscripts created by Brontë and her siblings.

 

Fran Baker (Archivist) and Jane Speller (Project Archivist), The University of Manchester Library

Find out more and explore the collection:

Papers of Sir James Phillips Kay-Shuttleworthhttp://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb133-jks

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