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Advent Definitions: Christmas Box

NazlinBhimani11 December 2017

The definition of ‘Christmas Box’ from the 19th century dictionaries is ‘a box for collecting Christmas presents; a Christmas present’ (1885). Christmas as we celebrate it today has its origins in the Victorian period, thanks to Prince Albert bringing to England the German tradition of a Christmas tree lit with candles. By the end of the 19th century, the Christmas tree was a familiar sight in the homes of many well-to-do families and the joy of opening a Christmas box part of the excitement of the festivities.

One of the children’s books in the Baines Collection held in the UCL Institute of Education’s Special Collection is an annual (the first for children published in England) with the title The Christmas Box. As the title is so relevant to this time of the year I would like to share the delight of this little book as a Christmas treat for everyone. The book, edited by T. Crofton Croker, is small in format as was typical of children’s books at the time so that they could fit in a child’s hands.  It is only 16.2 x 10.2 cm in size and was published between 1828 and 1829.  It has lovely wood cut prints  and includes short stories, verses, plays and articles and even a brief history of the Napoleonic wars.

The stories include ‘Battle of Frogs and Mice’, a short animal epic ascribed to Homer in the ancient world and ‘The Three Caskets’ which was used in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. The book also contains a couple of firsts:   the first appearance of a Norwegian folk tale ‘The History of Asim and Asgard’ and the first publication of Scott’s poem ‘The Bonnets of Bonny Dundee’ (Hahn, 2015, p. 127). In addition, there are writings by the prolific author of adult and children’s stories Maria Edgeworth (1768 – 1849) who also wrote the well-known education treatise Practical Education (1801) (also in the IOE’s Special Collections) in which she and her father Richard Lovell Edgeworth combine ideas of different philosophers including John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

The book concludes with a collection of carols and a message for the reader which seems very appropriate for both the book and this blog post:

And now, little dears, we have only to wish you all good wishes,

and to thank you for your patience in perusing our small present.

May you all spend your Christmas holidays pleasantly, with every enjoyment and entertainment,

and be ready, when we meet again, to glance over our pages with the same good humour and glee as we trust you have done.

And so GOOD BYE.

Have a lovely Christmas and Best wishes for the New Year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Excavations’ in the IOE’s School Histories Collection

NazlinBhimani8 November 2017

The Newsam Library at the Institute of Education has a large collection of  education institutional histories. These form a discrete collection and provide a rich source of information on individual schools, colleges and universities and their communities across Britain. The books and pamphlets mainly date from the early twentieth century up to the present day. Older materials, dating mainly from the nineteenth century, are held in the History of Education Collection in the closed stacks. This post focuses on the school histories which make up a significant part of the collection.

In anticipation of the half-day symposium on writing institutional histories, jointly organised by ICHRE (International Centre for Historical Research in Education) and FNLA (Friends of the Newsam Library and Archives), we present a guest blog by Dr. Barry Blades on his use of the IOE’s School Histories Collection to write his book, Roll of Honour.


NewReleaseRofH

Blades, B., 2015. Roll of Honour: Schooling and the Great War 1914-1919. Pen & Sword Military, Barnsley, South Yorkshire.

The School Histories Collection  consists of hundreds of monographs of individual British schools, covering a range of institutions spanning the educational spectrum. The voluminous histories of elite public schools stand next to brief studies of charity schools for waifs and strays. Publications marking the centenaries of ancient grammar schools are shelved next to accounts of elementary schools which no longer exist or have been absorbed into other institutions. A school’s place in the hierarchy of schooling is generally mirrored by the status of the publishing house which was commissioned to tell its story. Many of these histories – the vast majority relating to English, Welsh and Scottish institutions – were written by alumni: former pupils, teachers (especially retired Deputy Headteachers) and governors determined to place on record the distinctive development and particular achievements of their alma mater.

 

It is easy for the outsider to criticise the esoteric, celebratory and partisan nature of these histories. The great majority were intended primarily for the school community itself. Few beyond the immediate community would identify the school in question from headline titles such as Where the Fat Black Canons Dined, Further Up Stephen’s Brae, or Hyacinths and Haricot Beans. Subtitles were generally more informative. These histories were aimed predominantly at a readership already familiar with the institution, namely the ‘Old Boys’ or the ‘Old Girls’. An institutional history might cover hundreds of years, but in most there will be at least one section for the alumnus which refers to their particular period of attendance and school life as they experienced it. Headteachers inevitably dominate the story. The tenures of these deified – and very occasionally demonised – individuals commonly provide a chronological structure to a story of growth and development. Teachers, and especially those with nicknames deriving from their idiosyncratic mannerisms or behaviour, are fondly remembered. Heroic deeds on the playing field and battlefield are fixed in print and validate memories of achievement and loss. Narrative triumphs over analysis.

Yet, what may at first appear to be the greatest weaknesses of published school histories is, for the historian investigating the history of education more generally, their greatest strength. The rich detail, the human stories and the relatively obscure anecdotage contained therein tell us so much about the ethos, culture and formative traditions of individual institutions. These ‘secondary’ sources thus become a form of ‘primary’ material when the researcher asks questions relating to continuity and change and similarity and difference in any given period or aspect of schooling. Many of the histories were, of course, constructed using primary sources, their authors making full use of the archive material still retained by many institutions. School logbooks, magazines, headteachers’ annual reports, governors’ minutes, the records of alumni organisations, and ephemera including school photographs and fixture lists are the real archival treasures upon which these broader accounts are based.

Roll of Honour, the first book in the Schooling and the Great War trilogy, includes material from over one hundred such histories and drew ideas and inspiration from many more. Wherever possible I used extracts which were evidently drawn directly from the institutional archives. Other material was subjected to the usual tests of authenticity, accuracy and reliability. School histories vary considerably in their coverage of national events. This was particularly noticeable when searching for references to the Great War of 1914 to 1919. A few histories cover the wartime years in detail. In others, there is little or no reference at all to the impact of the war on the daily life of the school or even to the conflict in general. In many, the wartime experiences of alumni take centre stage. Taken collectively, however, these histories formed a major component of my research; an evidence base which could be cross-referenced and triangulated with material from other archival collections, official publications, newspapers, contemporary autobiographies, printed secondary works and digital resources.

For the researcher who wants to find out more about how different institutions created, developed and maintained their distinct cultures and particular identities, then dig deep into the School Histories Collection. For the researcher who wants to discover how institutional imperatives tempered directives from national and local authorities, or how schools responded to national and local economic and social circumstances, then test your hypotheses in the School Histories Collection. For those of you who are historians of the school curriculum, or teachers and teaching methods, or pupil origins and destinations – or indeed any given period or particular aspect of British schooling – I can assure you that delving into the School Histories Collection will be most rewarding.

Barry Blades

Online exhibition on Isabel Fry

JessicaWomack25 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.

 

Volunteers’ Week – A Day in the Life

Vicky APrice5 June 2017

Volunteers-Week-Logo_colour

Today is the penultimate day of Volunteers’ Week , during which we are 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, without whom many a project would have been difficult or even impossible to complete.

There is a wide range of roles that volunteers can take up within SCAR: helping with events, sorting through new collections, enhancing cataloguing, assisting in exhibition preparation, helping with our media and online communications.  Throughout Volunteers’ Week we intend to share a snapshot of some of these roles with you.  Each week day from 1st June to the 7th June, a guest volunteer writer will bring you a ‘day in their life’.

The third installment is from Marieta Pirc, who has given a great deal of time to helping with the Institute of Education’s archive:

Marieta Pirc – UCL IOE Archive Volunteer

I joined IOE (UCL) Archive team three years ago as a volunteer and never thought I would still be here enjoying myself.  Coming from a financial background (very monotonous), this is a different experience for me.  Each assignment is something new and interesting to digest.

Selected copies of 'The New Era', The World Education Fellowship's journal.

Selected copies of ‘The New Era’, The World Education Fellowship’s journal.

My current project is recording the contents of ‘The New Era – in Home and School’ journals, currently for the years 1925 to 1962 (the journal was founded in 1921 and we have issues up to 1994).  These publications gave teachers and other educational professionals from all over the world a way to communicate and exchange their ideas on helping with children’s education.  There are articles on how children learnt and played in schools in the UK, Europe and as far as Russia and Africa. Contributions are not only from teachers but also from child psychologists and other medical professionals.  The New Era also worked closely with UNESCO to help children around the world.

It is a great feeling knowing that these publications (now available via Explore and on the UCL IOE Archive catalogue) are available to be enjoyed by anyone all over the world. Volunteering at UCL, for me, it’s not about updating my CV but learning, discovery and working with a professional and knowledgeable archive team.

Volunteers’ Week – A Day in the Life

NazlinBhimani5 June 2017

Volunteers-Week-Logo_colour-300x140

We continue with  Volunteers’ Week during which we are 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, without whom many a project would have been difficult or even impossible to complete.

There are a wide range of roles that volunteers can take up within SCAR: helping with events, sorting through new collections, enhancing cataloguing, assisting in exhibition preparation, helping with our media and online communications.  Throughout Volunteers’ Week we intend to share a snapshot of some of these roles with you. Each week day from 1st June to the 7th June, a guest volunteer writer will bring you a ‘day in their life’.

The third installment comes from the two volunteers, Ashley Zuelke and Teodora Lazar, working on the Lauwerys Collection at the Institute of Education Library.

Ashley Zuelke:

Ashley at the Stacks SmilingRalph Waldo Emerson once wrote: “If we encountered a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he read.” At UCL Institute of Education (IOE) Special Collections and Archives we are building a picture of Joseph A. Lauwerys and his life by listing all of the reading material in his personal library. I am one of two volunteers sifting through 28 double-stacked shelves full of books, academic journals, newsletters, meeting proceedings and more collected by Lauwerys, a Belgian-born scientist who became a leader in comparative education studies instrumental in the establishment of the (IOE) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Lauwerys’ life spanned 79 years, from 1902 to 1981, and the fraction of the books we have listed thus far illustrate how world wars and subsequent multinational collaboration and scientific advancements shaped his perspective. On a given day working with the collection, one comes across material published in more than eight languages on subjects ranging from chemistry theory, to morality, to educational systems in Chile.  We note the details of each piece and scan them for marginalia, to see what he found important.  Lauwerys’ collection considers all levels of education. Some of the earliest pieces appear to be his own textbooks. He also kept some publications of his speeches and journal articles, especially those published in multiple languages. In addition to writings on science and educational theory, he kept items like yearbooks from the USA and memorial programmes for colleagues.

Volunteering to work with this collection appealed to me because of my undergraduate degrees in journalism, international relations and comparative politics and the fact that my parents are retired educators. I am pursuing a Master’s of Science at UCL in business analytics and management to challenge myself in a more quantitative environment and to be prepared to help organisations make sense of large amounts of data and take action. Listing items in this collection has given me an affinity with Lauwerys, who was grounded in scientific thinking, but obviously honed qualitative and diplomatic skills as well throughout his life, embodying the spirit of what his contemporaries called “permanent education.”

Issues Lauwerys faced in his lifetime are not that different from conversations occurring today. His collection considers what technological change means for teaching; how education can advance shared democratic ideals and equality; and how to promote lifelong learning and job training. In international comparative fields like Lauwerys’, themes emerge that there may be clear distinctions among different countries, but ultimately, we all strive for similar values and ends; there is more that unites than divides. One item in the collection, a published keynote address given by Lauwerys, sums this up for teachers, ending with the words: “Similar ideals animate teachers everywhere, in every country and continent…We can learn much from one another because we are all trying sincerely to do the same kind of job and because we all believe that, through education, the world of the future can be made better than the world of today.”

Teodora Lazar:
Theodora at the Desk SmilingI am Teodora, one of the volunteers listing all of the reading material in Joseph A. Lauwerys’ personal library. I cannot tell which reason influenced me to work with the IOE’s Special Collections and Archives more: my studies in Art History and Material Studies which, by default, bring me closed to any piece of heritage and culture, or my passion for volunteering, which constantly challenges me to step beyond my comfort zone. But I know for sure that the mixture between these two reasons always manages to get me closer to who I want to be.

After all, it may seem that all we as volunteers at the IOE’s Special Collections and Archives is to work with books, but few words incorporate as much meaning and deep substance as a ‘book’ does. Taking a peek into Lauwerys’ personal collection I got to recognise multiple languages by just a few words written on the title, I discovered letters, newspaper pages and dedications from authors and, most of all, I now open every book with the hope and curiosity of finding something important.  They’re not just  books…

 

It goes without saying that the valuable work that Ashley and Teodora are doing will benefit future researchers.  So a BIG thank you, Ashley and Teodora! We hope that the experience you gain from this will help you too in the future.