By Jessica Womack, on 25 July 2017
A few months ago a group of students from the MA Archives and Records Management course used the Isabel Fry collection at the IOE archives to create an online exhibition. The exhibition, which is a fantastic resource on Fry, can be found here.
Isabel Fry (1869-1958) was an educationist and social activist. She founded, and was headmistress of, two experimental schools: The Farmhouse School, Mayortorne Manor, Wendover, and later, Church Farm, Buckland, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. She came from a famous reforming Quaker background and was the daughter of Sir Edward Fry (1827-1918), jurist, and sister of (Sara) Margery Fry (1874-1958), penal reformer, and Roger Eliot Fry (1866-1934), artist and critic.
I hope this sensitive interpretation of Fry’s archive continues to be available so people can enjoy a snapshot of the collection.
By Vicky A Price, on 21 July 2017
We were honoured to play host to three young visitors this month, who spent some time learning about what it means to work at UCL’s Special Collections, Archives and Records department and at the UCL Institute of Education’s Library.
Jacinta (15), Suad (17) and Kate (17) came to us from schools in Southwark, Yorkshire and Camden respectively, and they brought with them a range of skills, interests and aspirations that made them real assets to our team during their time with us.
Their timetables included assisting at the Library Services staff conference, helping deliver an adult learners outreach workshop Camden, assisting Francesca Ezzelino at the IOE with checking a substantial number of DERA records and helping to move part of the IOE’s Official Publications collection so that some sections have room to grow.
They also wrote a blog post, each focussing on a chosen aspect of their placement, which you can find below.
Thank you to all the staff members who spent time with Jacinta, Suad and Kate – it was of real benefit to them to learn about your roles.
Jacinta: My First Days at UCL
On my 4th day at UCL Special Collections, Archives and Records I helped at the same session of a conference twice, in the morning from 10:45 until lunch time. I really enjoyed it at the end because lots of jokes were being made which made it funny to watch as well as listen to, and I ended up having to contain my manic laugh so I didn’t frighten the audience.
After lunch I went to a Japanese block printing session with my supervisor Vicky Price. I got engaged in it eventually and it was pretty fun until I cut my finger (unintentionally) with my Stanley knife (oops)…
This fortnight was overall really interesting for me to experience what it’s really like in a workplace, and to learn the ways of the library and how to treat the special collections and archives. I found it fascinating to learn about people in the past and read their journals and diaries in the reading room, also finding out what it was like for people (mostly women) to cope in that day and age. It was quite enraging to look at all the rules that women had to follow and the misogyny and allegations that they had to deal with and face.
Suad: Worthy work experience
Work experience is a crucial part of a student’s life as it provides both experience into the working field and fun, depending on where you are placed. I cleverly chose to work with UCL Special Collections, Archives and Records, Library Services.
One of our activities consisted of helping Vicky to investigate further into the women’s position during and post-war. I may say that it was mind-blowing! Witnessing how letters were written to one another using typewriters and the multiple mistakes that were made, made me realise how lucky we are to now have a decent keyboard. I say decent but I really mean spectacular! It’s amazing how there is a huge difference from when you’re told about history and important figures as to when you have items written by a witness. It really is eye opening and in my opinion, this the best way a student can widen their understanding.
I took part in a library exploration where I had to locate 12 books across two libraries. At first it was confusing as you had many codes to look at and different floors or different areas to go to, but as the time went on I got the hang of it. I managed to locate 10/12 which was pretty impressive.
To sum my experience here at UCL Libraries, I can definitely say that it was an absorbing, thrilling and worthy work experience that any student should take upon.
Kate: Inspecting Archives of the NUWT
Throughout my A-level career, I would like to believe I have learned a substantial amount about women’s fight for equal rights. However, my eyes weren’t truly opened until I had the opportunity to peruse a collection from the Institute of Education’s archives. The most important thing I learned was that the battle for equality didn’t stop at gaining the vote.
I stumbled upon letters concerning the struggle of women being ignored and ridiculed in the Commons, including a complaint of politician, Sir William Lane Mitchell, that women gave teachers a bad name due to their rallying for more rights! (I, too, was appalled). However, the collection was not all struggle and strife. I had the fortune to come across a heartening advertisement for all women teachers to come along to the Commons and lobby (and to have a ‘good tea’ beforehand), encouraging women to get their voices heard.
When thinking of the First World War, people seem to immediately think of men fighting on the front line, without taking into consideration the role women played in the effort. This included resuming the job vacancies left behind, working in factories and hospitals for the wounded or even baking cakes for those on the front line!
Rifling through these archives gave me a deeper awareness of the often overlooked, yet extremely vital role women have played in history, and gave me a deeper appreciation of the struggle they have gone through and continue to go through for equality.
By Helen Biggs, on 14 June 2017
What: A free, two-day conference, held by the International Centre for Historical Research in Education, in association with the Friends of Newsam Library
Where: Cruciform Building, UCL
When: Wednesday 21st and Thursday 22nd June
This year’s ICHRE conference will cover a variety of themes and topics, including the social histories of universities and the history of education in China and East Asia.
Three members of UCL Libraries’ Special Collections, Archives and Records team will be taking part in the conference:
- Colin Penman, Head of Records, will be delivering the conference’s keynote speech on Redundant women: UCL’s place in the history of women’s higher education
- Jessica Womack, IOE Archivist, will be speaking on Socialising the IOE: the Student’s Union, and beyond the lecture theatre
- Kathryn Hannan, IOE Archivist, is taking part in a panel discussion on Teaching history of education through primary sources.
To find out more about this event, and to register for your free place at the conference, click here.
By Helen Biggs, on 9 June 2017
Despite the weather doing its very best to soak visitors, staff, and precious manuscripts, this year’s Treasures Day, Treasures of the Written Word, was a complete success. After shedding their dripping coats, brollies and bags, guests were treated to a range of delights, with 20 different displays on show throughout the afternoon, as well as a live demonstration of SCAR’s conservation work.
The conservators’ table included some rather familiar looking building plans
Visitors came from as far afield as Newcastle, and as close as the security desk at the front of the Roberts Building. Some popped in as they passed us on their way to another Festival of Culture event and some came back repeatedly to make sure they got a chance to see everything on display. One guest even brought with him his own 17th Century German astronomical manuscript, for which he received an expert opinion from a Warburg professor who also happened to be visiting our event at the time.
Popular exhibits included a 16th Century Italian Mahzor from our Hebrew and Jewish Collections, and the 1966 issue of the multimedia magazine Aspen edited by none other than Andy Warhol, held in our Little Magazines collection. But given that a live reading of 1984 was running concurrently at Senate House, it’s probably not surprising that the most in-demand item was George Orwell’s notebook containing manuscript notes for the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Our collections may be largely historical, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t have anything new on show. Dr Tim Causer, Senior Research Associate at the Bentham Project in UCL’s Faculty of Laws, has just had his first book launched by UCL Press. His edition of Memorandoms by James Martin, drawn from manuscripts held in the Bentham collection, challenges the myths and fictions around the earliest Australian convict narrative. For Treasures Day, Tim joined us to show his own opus next to the original manuscripts he used in his work.
Memorandoms by James Martin is now available at UCL Press as a paperback, hardback, or free Open Access pdf download.
As a member of SCAR I, of course, don’t have any favourites among our collections, but I was immediately enamoured with the brief note from the great composer Ludwig Beethoven we had on display. It doesn’t offer great insight into his compositions, but does give some insight into his taste in fish, as he instructs his “Kitchen Procurator” that “decent pike … alone is to be preferred to all the rest” before asking about the price of the local farm butter.
A huge thanks to everyone who braved the storm to come and see us, to all the UCL staff who helped us run the event, and especially to Tabitha Tuckett, Rare Books Librarian: Academic Support and Events, for the amazing job she did in organising and delivering another successful Treasures Day.
By Vicky A Price, on 7 June 2017
Today is the final day of Volunteers’ Week, and I thought I’d take the opportunity to write the final blog post of the series. All week we’ve been saying an emphatic THANK YOU to every single person who has offered their time and expertise over the past year to UCL’s SCAR department, and asking them to write a guest blog post to showcase some of the incredible skills and expertise they’ve offered to a range of different projects.
I’m not a volunteer with SCAR myself of course, so I can’t write my own ‘Day in the Life’ style post, but I can bring you some highlights from the week:
Volunteers making visitors welcome at our Treasures Day
As part of UCL’s Festival of Culture SCAR put on an annual event; Treasures of the Written Word. UCL staff, students and members of the public were invited to view some of the department’s most intriguing and precious items and learn about them from the department’s experts. Volunteers helped to welcome guests, keep record of numbers, explain details about some of our collection items (especially if they had been volunteering on projects with which the items related) and generally make the event run smoothly.
We were a well oiled team and despite the abysmal weather the mood was upbeat and the event went without a single hitch. Thank you so much to all that gave their time to help out, it was hugely appreciated.
Potential new volunteer recruits making contact with us
The Volunteers’ Week blogs were meant to be a way of saying thank you to volunteers rather than a way of finding new volunteers – but it looks like we might have found some new recruits from our readers as well! This is wonderful and is a real testament to the power of volunteers’ enthusiasm for the roles they carry out at SCAR.
Looking to the Summer and the projects it brings
As the academic year comes to a close we will be saying goodbye to many of our student volunteers, who will be travelling home to families or simply taking a well earned break. We hope as many as possible return to us in the Autumn to continue as volunteers, but for those who are moving on to new places of study or work (or new volunteer placements elsewhere) we’d like to say thank you. It’s been a real pleasure having you spend time with the department and you can rest assured that the projects you’ve helped us with have benefited immeasurably from your involvement.
We will also be developing some new volunteer roles that will start over the Summer holidays, as this is also the season when some people have more time to offer. UCL Records department, for example (pictured at the Treasures of the Written Word event above) will be looking for people to help with a project to better store and keep historic student records and there might be new opportunities to volunteer with our Poetry Store and Little Magazines collections (these are still in the pipeline!).
So watch this space for updates from new volunteers and projects – we can’t wait to see what the future holds!