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Remember 2012?

Vicky A Price24 May 2022

The New Curators Project is run by UCL Special Collections, in collaboration with Newham Heritage Month.  It is an annual programme for young adults (aged 18-24) who are interested in working in the cultural heritage sector, whether that be the arts, libraries, museums or heritage sites.  It aims to provide the training and experience required for these new professionals to take their first steps on their chosen career path, and to create an opportunity for the group to create work for a real audience as they take their first steps into this field of work.

Each year the cohort create something for Newham Heritage Month’s programme, based on the given theme.  2022’s theme is ‘What London 2012 Means to Us’, and so participants set about collecting oral histories, film footage and photography of the Olympic Park and surrounding area.  This is their first short film, created in response to the theme.

Get to know 2022’s cohort and revisit this page for addition short films in the month of June 2022!

New Summer School at UCL: What does it mean to be a journalist in turbulent times?

Vicky A Price25 April 2022

University College London (UCL) Special Collections and the Orwell Youth Prize team up to offer one-of-a-kind Summer School!

Applications are now open for a very special Summer School at UCL in July 2022. Year 12s based in London are invited to join Special Collections and The Orwell Youth Prize to develop their investigative writing skills, encounter first hand stories of journalism from the past and present and meet present-day journalists who are at the forefront of their profession.

Up to 25 participants will attend a range of seminars, study sessions, writing workshops and trips that will shed light on the life of professional journalists. They will develop their own writing with support from professional journalists, who will offer advice and share their experiences. They will also learn how the work of one of the UK’s most famous journalists, George Orwell, has influenced modern day writing and thought. During the Summer School, participants will have access to Orwell’s original notes, letters and diaries in the UNESCO listed George Orwell Archive held at UCL Special Collections.

A group of seven Year 12 pupils stand in the UCL main quad holding placards with their backs to the camera.

Year 12 participants at a previous UCL Special Collections Summer School.

The Summer School will take place for one week, from Monday 25 July to Friday 29 July, 10.00am – 4.00pm, and participants will be expected to attend every day.

Apply now to:
• Learn from the best; meet current day journalists who will share tips, techniques and stories from today’s real life news desks.
• Write your own journalistic piece, which will be published online by UCL Special Collections.
• Get hands-on experiences with original archive items from UCL Special Collections, including the UNESCO registered Orwell Archive.

This Summer School is suitable for a wide variety of students who are currently in Year 12 at a London state-funded school, particularly those interested in English, History, Politics, Language, Culture and Anthropology. Anyone applying should currently be studying at least one of these subjects at A level: English Literature, English Language, Politics, History.

This is a non-residential Summer School, meaning that participants will need to commute to and from UCL’s campus each day.  Applications close at midnight on Sunday 12 June 2022.

If you have any queries about the Summer School or would like support with completing your application please email us at library.spec.coll.ed@ucl.ac.uk or call 07741671329.

Who are We?

The Orwell Youth Prize is an independent charity that sits under the auspices of the Orwell Foundation. It is a social justice-based writing programme rooted in Orwell’s values of integrity and fairness that introduces young people to the power of language and provokes them to think critically and creatively about the world in which they are living. The prize is driven by an understanding of social and educational disadvantage in the UK and works closely with schools and individuals to deliver an annual educational programme.

University College London’s Special Collections manages an outstanding collection of rare books, archives and manuscripts, dating from the 4th century to the present day. Together, the team preserve and conserve the collection and facilitate access through a reader service, academic teaching, digitisation and outreach. The Outreach programme aims to create inspiring educational activities for audiences who would not otherwise access the university’s special collections in UCL’s neighbouring and home boroughs; Camden, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Newham and Waltham Forest.

Students Duke and Eric Reflect on their BA Education Studies Placement with the Outreach Team

Vicky A Price23 March 2022

We have been fortunate to host two students on a 50 hour placement from the IOE’s BA in Education Studies, and as their time comes to a close with us, they have written a blog to share their experiences.  Both students spent time learning about the Special Collections department before immersing themselves in the delivery of an Outreach project at UCL Academy – an after school club called Illustrate! which explores the use of illustration in our collection of rare books, archives and manuscripts.

Eric Xu

As part of the IOE’s Education Studies Placement Module, my course mate Duke and I have been working with Vicky Price as part of UCL Special Collections’ outreach team on the after-school workshop: Illustrate. I had a keen interest not only in working with students in a visual art focused workshop, but also in the collection itself after seeing items from the Orwell Collection around UCL’s campus. Our placement began in early January when we met with Vicky for the first time online. As the weeks went by, Duke and I had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with the people and places of Special collections, and learning about the processes of archiving, cataloguing, digitisation and of course the outreach of the collection.

Our work on Illustrate began promptly in the first weeks, reviewing the past workshop deliveries, and taking inspiration from curated catalogues of the collection. Trying to come up with original ideas of how to integrate collection items into fun and fruitful activities for the students was definitely a challenge, but Duke and I were able to come up with and produce resources for sessions which we were keen to deliver ourselves. Creating these lesson plans and resources was a much more multifaceted task than I had anticipated, the considerations of how students react to your information and questions greatly influences and informs the direction of the class, and having Vicky help us with leading the direction of these disseminations was very helpful and eye-opening. Similarly with the resources and activities, I found that oftentimes I had to give the activity a go myself to determine the difficulty and viability of it for the class, which meant a lot of the times that I had to adjust or even change the resource entirely. Ultimately, the final product of the workshops we delivered were much different and more refined than the initial plans that Duke and I had drawn up.

Working with the students at UCL Academy was also an experience that has reshaped my perspective on professionalism in schools. There were many hurdles we had to hop, both expected and unexpected, including uncertainty with the number of students coming into the workshop. The students that did consistently come every week were lovely to work with, not only were they respectful and interested to learn, but they were also amazing at drawing. Trying to keep every student up to pace with one another and engaging all of them in the content was another struggle that Duke and I faced, and we realised that sometimes it’s impossible to have everyone interested or fully committed in participating, but again with Vicky’s assistance, the workshops still ran successfully.

Overall, the experience for me was an amazing and insightful experience into the organisational operation of UCL Special Collections, the preparation of workshops and resources as well as the teaching of students. I would highly recommend anyone interested to get involved, and I’m very grateful to have worked with Vicky and UCL Special Collections as part of my placement.

 

A piece of grid lined paper featuring a number by number drawing task to outline an never-ending staircase like those of Escher's work.

Drawing activity designed by Eric and Duke based on the sketch from the Penrose Papers (below).

Grid lined paper with hand drawn illustration of a set of never ending stairs that continue in a loop, similar to Escher's work.

A sketch of a ‘continuous staircase’, much like the work of Escher, taken from the Penrose Papers at UCL Special Collections.

Duke Li

This term, the placement module from BA Education Studies offered us an opportunity to be involved in the outreach team of UCL Special Collections and the project “Illustrate”. To be specific, the aim of the project was to give the knowledge of special collections items to an audience with a non-academic background. It was really great to bring out activities to the after-school club and have interactions with students on the topic of special collections.

Our experiences started with the introduction of the UCL Special Collections team. Before that, I didn’t know that the UCL Special Collection team involved so many departments. For instance, we took several visits to the UCL Science Library and “hidden rooms” in the IOE building in order to see parts of the collection. It is always exciting to see those rare collection items – archives, rare books, and manuscripts – especially in a storage space that adds a mystery to it. As the placement went by, we got to know how to search items in the Special Collections catalogue, learn about the digitalization of the special collections items, and the process of getting access to items in the reading room. We also had a chance to take a look at an exhibition of the collection. From my perspective, those activities helped me to get a better idea of how the UCL Special Collections team work and cooperates with each other, and the experiences that I got turned out to be helpful when conducting the “Illustrate” project in the later weeks.

As well as intaking this knowledge, we also managed to bring out two sessions to the students on topics related to the collection items. The “Illustrate” project was an after-school class for the students, but the participants all engaged and learned from the discussion and the drawing activities in their own ways. Most of them were really active and willing to interact with us. It’s really delightful when giving out sessions and making students involved in the class. Though the teaching experience was wonderful, we do have several aspects to reflect on.

1. The teaching experiences
In the first session, we designed the whole activity on the work of Escher and his impossible world. We also set questions to ask the students. However, since we didn’t notice the difficulty and the linkage between questions, some of the students may have felt it hard to follow these ideas. From this, we concluded that the questions should be more carefully designed to express less in-depth, but easy-to-follow ideas, or else the knowledge of the collection items can not be promoted. Luckily, the final outcomes of the drawing activities turned out to be a big success, due to the creativity of the students. They have their own designs and thoughts.

2. The external factors
We also encounter some problems with the project as a whole. Since the project was an afterschool class in the school, schools may pay less attention to our project than the school’s wider teaching and learning activity. This may be the reason that most of the time, we did not have a lot of participants for our sessions. Also, we experienced once that the school was closed due to a problem with their water supply, but we only find out that when we arrived there, so these factors may have affected the teaching quality as well as the experience of teaching and learning.

To conclude, the whole placement experience is really great, we got the chance to know the UCL Special Collection team and how a team like this operates. The teaching experience with students was always nice since they were all really engaged. Also, we were really interested by the idea of the outreach team’s work when we were trying to make linkage between the non-academic audience and the special collection items that deserve to be noticed by more people. It was a really nice experience and I learned and reflected a lot.

Becoming an Historian at Kelmscott Secondary School

Vicky A Price17 December 2021

The Outreach programme at UCL Special Collections delivers free projects for schools and community groups in Camden, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Newham and Waltham Forest.

We have recently completed an after-school programme with a group of talented young historians at Kelmscott Secondary School in Waltham Forest. While learning how to ‘become an historian’ they decided the following skills were essential:

A Great Historian…

1) Uses multiple sources
2) Is aware of bias at all times
3) Is thorough and looks outside the box
4) Enjoys the process
5) Reads between the lines
6) Takes great care of primary sources.

These are certainly wise words, and they set themselves a high bar, doing everything they could in a short period of time to follow these principles.  Here are the fruits of their labour, in their own words – participants chose collection items to research and interpret on this blog:

The Trevelyon Miscellany (MS Ogden/24)
By Mary, Jasmine, Delphi, Rosa

While studying the Trevelyon Miscellany at our school’s history club, organised by the Head of Outreach at UCL Special Collections, we have learnt a lot regarding the 17th century manuscript. It’s believed to be created and published by Thomas Trevelyon around 1603. It consists of a variety of information, such as the dates of various monarchs’ births, deaths and accessions since William the Conqueror, as well as historical events, recent inventions of the time, biblical stories, charts of roads and portraits of rulers. It also includes nice patterns at the back.

We were drawn to it by the interesting illustrations and illuminations, one of which is shown below.

A close up from a manuscript. Elizabethan illustration of hay with the words 'dangers of hay' above.

A close up of part of a page in the Trevelyon manuscript.

Before coming into the UCL’s collection the Miscellany was owned by Charles Kay Ogden. We were intrigued by letters written to Warden Lock in Oxford in the 20th century about the item. They were written by a H. A. Wilson, R. L. Poole and ‘Allen’. They show an interesting and unique perspective into the thoughts and historical beliefs of the time. For example, a letter from H. A. Wilson to Lock details all the correct and incorrect dates of monarchs’ deaths, births and ascensions in the Miscellany. Speaking of unique thoughts, after much research we still have no idea what the ‘dangers of hay’ are.

Interviews with young apprentices in a House of Correction, Cold Bath Fields from 1837 (Chadwick 3/2/1)
By James

My item was commissioned by Edwin Chadwick, who wanted to know what it was like in a house of correction at the time and to work out why so many children were there. Inmates consisted of both genders at all ages.

A slightly faded page of neat handwriting.

A page from the Chadwick archive item.

While researching the item, I discovered a mortality record of Cold Bath Fields which was a ‘house of correction.’ I decided to study this item because I wanted to see what it was like in a workhouse because I visited one that was made into a museum when I was in primary school on a school trip.

I found out that during the years, 1795 – 1829 there were 376 deaths. Something very interesting I found out is that there were 15 child deaths during that thiry-four year period.

Here are two quotes I found from a writing about this place by Thomas R. Forbes. This is about what they had to go through on a day to day basis. They “picked old hemp ropes into oakum or separated stiff fibres of coir from outer shells of coconuts”.

This one is about the conditions that were in the workhouse: “The dungeons were composed of brick & stones, without fire or any furniture but straw, and no other barrier against the weather but iron gates”.

Something quite interesting is that 85 out of the 376 deaths (22.6%) were female. This may mean that most people there were male or that women were treated differently (better) from men back then.

This is where I got a lot of my information.

Fragment of a copy of Euripides’ Medea (MS Frag/Gre/1)
By Cameron

A tiny fragment of a manuscript revealing early hand written Greek.

UCL Special Collections’ oldest item – a Greek manuscript fragment from the 4th or 5th century.

I decided to study Euripides as he is someone I had heard of before and wanted to learn more about.

Medea is a play written in 431BC by Euripides, a Greek playwright who was the son of Mnesarchus and his wife Cleito. His writing continued to influence literature well into the 12th century.

Early life
He came from a well-off family and was a pupil of Aristotle.

Adulthood
Once Euripides had grown up he went into playwriting and poetry. Sadly he didn’t gain too much popularity as he was always outshone by Sophocles.
He also ran into some trouble with Kleon who prosecuted him for blasphemy after he disrespected the “immortals” however no evidence has been found of the outcome of this trial

Euripdes sadly passed away around 485 BC

Medea is only one of his famous plays – he wrote quite a few over his lifetime, and if you would like to I’m sure there’s info you can find on certain websites. I even encourage you to as I find his work very interesting.

Sources: Encyclopedia.com, which contains information from David Kovac’s Euripides.

Euripides and Feminism
By Isabella

I have chosen to focus on Euripides’ thoughts on women because by appreciating the modern concepts in Euripides plays we can understand the impact they would have had in Ancient Greece. The fragment we have is from Medea which is an important play for women because Medea is a girlboss; she is a multi-layered character who has her own opinions and ambitions.

“We are women, quite helpless in doing good but surpassing any master craftsman in creating evil”

While Medea could be considered a bad person and maybe didn’t represent women in the best light she still subverted the stereotypes women were expected to obey in Ancient Greece. They definitely weren’t supposed to murder their children.

Sources:
Pandora’s Jar by Natalie Haynes

Community Curated Exhibition Tours Newham Libraries

Vicky A Price7 May 2021

The Outreach team at UCL Special Collections have been working hard on a new community collaboration with Newham Heritage Month – The New Curators Project. This project set out to provide 10 young people from East London the chance to develop the skills and experience needed to start a career in the cultural heritage sector. Successful applicants would receive a bursary, training from industry experts and they would create an exhibition and online event for a real-life audience as part of Newham Heritage Month in May 2021.

With funding from Foundation for Future London and UCL Culture, we ran two months of workshop featuring visiting facilitators (who delivered sessions on public history research, curatorship, digital communications and using archivers in historical research). We also worked with the cohort to devise an exhibition and online talk that used resources from (among others) Newham’s archive, UCL Special Collections and personal photography from participants. It was a whirlwind of activity, all leading to Newham Heritage Month programme this May.

While we felt confident that the partnership with Newham Heritage Month would be a hugely valuable one, and we knew the visiting facilitators would provide insightful, exciting presentations, we could not have anticipated how well the participants would work together or how good-natured and multi-talented a group they would be. It has been a pleasure to deliver.

This week, we were delighted to see the exhibition arrive at Stratford Library:

Two colourful pop-up banners stand in Stratford public library.

The first side of the travelling exhibition made by participants on The New Curators Project.

Two colourful pop-up banners stand in Stratford library.

The second side of the travelling exhibition made by participants on The New Curators Project.

The exhibition will spend the rest of May travelling to eight other public libraries in Newham, and the group will be putting on a free public talk (online) on 28th May.

This is just the beginning for The New Curators Project, as we intend to run it annually. In time, we hope to see a growing alumni of past participants finding careers in the cultural heritage sector, and perhaps delivering content on future iterations of this project!

Contributing towards providing accessible pathways into the cultural heritage sector and demystifying roles within the field can sometimes seem an insurmountable task, especially when also trying to address the current lack of diversity in the sector. However, this is a practical step that will now take pride of place in our Outreach programme at UCL Special Collections.  At the same time, the project is an opportunity to strengthen a valuable community partnership with Newham Heritage Month and Newham’s public libraries.