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Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize: Collecting with Intention

Sarah S Pipkin12 April 2021

The Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize is an opportunity to celebrate student collectors and the diverse collections they build and nurture. Last year we wrote about how you can be a student book collector without even realising it. But what is the difference between a book collector and someone who just owns a lot of books? For us, and the judges on the Book Collecting Prize panel, the difference is collecting with intention.

What is Collecting with Intention?

Collecting anything is about building a collection of material around a common theme for a specific purpose. You could be collecting because you really love the subject, author or artist. Or it might be about raising awareness or preserving a history you believe is important. But it becomes a ‘collection’ when it forms a cohesive whole. Think of books or items that if you would give away as a unit rather than one item at a time.

The intention behind your collection can be academic or it can just be something that you are passionate about. Some of last year’s finalists collected in areas that overlapped with their studies, while the 2020 winner submitted a collection of books she had since her childhood. You can also submit material such as letters, postcards, and comic books.

It’s all well and good talking about this in the abstract, but what exactly does an intentional collection look like? Let’s look at some examples:

Vicky’s Collection of Music for the French Horn

Potential Collection Title: Milestones for a Music Student

Vicky, our Head of Outreach, has a collection of sheet music for the French horn. Her sheet music cover different milestones of a student’s journey to learning how to play the instrument. The music was primarily bought when she was learning the instrument herself as a child. None of the music in the collection are particularly rare, but some of them are now out of print.

Selected items from Vicky's music collection

Selection of sheet music from Vicky’s French Horn collection.

When Vicky started the collection, it was music that she needed to proceed to the next milestone of learning music. It wasn’t really a collection at the time – it was just the assigned sheet music for learning the French horn. However, over time she filled her books with annotations that documents her journey as a musician. This includes names of music teachers, recitals and more. They now serve as a history of her progress as a music student. Once she finished her studies, she kept the collection as a single unit. They have a certain amount of sentimental value – they represent the journey she took when learning the French Horn and remind her of the teachers and concerts that helped her along that journey. But it also represents what the musical journey of most French horn players – the music pieces that she has are very popular amongst people learning the French Horn and become more technically difficult over time. If she was to give the collection away, she’d give it to a music student at the beginning of their learning journey as, in theory, they then wouldn’t need to buy another piece of music until they finish their studies. But it’s also a collection that’s still in use. Vicky returns to old music to practice her skills and finds that the music she learned years ago is still challenging for different reasons. Why she isn’t actively adding to the collection, it serves as a physical representation of a learning journey.

Notations inside music book

Notations inside of one of Vicky’s music books.

What does this mean for you, a potential applicant to the Anthony Davis Book Prize? Books that you may have purchased over the course of learning something new, but then changed in significance to you overtime, may be a great thing to submit to the Book Prize. When looking at your collection, try asking yourself the following questions:

  • What does this collection represent to you?
  • What about it tells a story that I think is important?
  • What about my relationship to these items has changed that makes me think of them as a cohesive whole?

Sarah’s collection of modern science fiction and fantasy written by women

Potential Collection Title: Imagined Feminist Futures

I collect science fiction and fantasy novels written by women. These are primarily books published in the past five years, but I am also actively seeking earlier works. A few years ago I realised that despite the fact that I love the science fiction and fantasy genre, almost all of the authors I’ve read were men and the authors I had on my shelves were entirely men. So, I decided to change that by intentionally reading and buying science fiction and fantasy books authored by women. It started out as just a reading project – I read primarily library books or ebooks. But as I realised how many authors I had been ignoring, my purchasing patterns started changing as well. The moment I started seeing it as an intentional collection was when I bought a special edition of the collected Binti novellas – a series of novellas that had initially been published online but were re-issued in a physical format.

Selection of books from Sarah's collection

Selection of books from Sarah’s science fiction and fantasy collection.

As my collection has grown, it has become a reference library for suggesting authors to friends who are also looking at expanding the authors they read. It now serves as a reference library for myself and other people in my social circle. I also am more likely to buy a book by an author that I haven’t read if I believe it will fill a gap in my collection. While my collection is also dependant on the books I enjoy – part of it has been regifted to friends when I didn’t enjoy the story – there is a core set of books that I would be very reluctant to part with and serve as a representation of women’s contributions to the genre.

Book cover of Binit Collected Novellas

Binti: The Complete Trilogy. While tracking down this edition, I started to see my books as a collection.

If you, like me, started a collection to fill a knowledge gap or encourage better buying habits, these questions might help you think a bit more deeply about your own collection:

  • Why do you buy the books you buy (beyond them being required reading)?
  • Why do you buy particular editions?
  • What have you learned from building your collection?

Final Thoughts

Even though Vicky and I both collect printed material, your collection doesn’t have to be limited to printed books or sheet music. Instead, it can be a collection of letters or diaries, postcards or greeting cards. The items you collect do not have to be old or historically valuable – modern material is welcome. What we want to see in applications to the Anthony Davis Book Prize is intention and purpose. If you can tell us why these items serve as a cohesive whole and the story they tell, then you’ll be the ideal applicant to the Book Prize.

 

We are now accepting applications for the 2021 Anthony Davis Book Prize! The prize is open to all students at a London based university and applications close on 30 April 2021. For more information, visit our main page for the Anthony Davis Book Prize.

The Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize is now open for applications

Erika Delbecque9 February 2021

Calling all budding book collectors studying at London universities! Would you like to win a £600 cash prize to grow your collection, a chance to present your collection to an international online audience and the opportunity to work with library and archive staff to select an item for UCL Special Collections? The 2021 Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize is now open for applications.A student studying an item from UCL Special Collections

To many, the term book collection conjures up the image of shelves groaning under the weight of century-old leather-bound volumes, but that is not what this prize requires. The size, age and the financial value of your collection are irrelevant, because we expect these collections to be embryonic. Queer comics, debut Chinese poetry, books by Black British publishers, post-war architectural books, and Slovakian Beat poetry; this selection of themes from the shortlist for last year’s Prize gives a flavour of the broad spectrum that the Prize covers.

Your collection should consist of at least eight printed and/or manuscript items that reflect a common theme. It’s worth noting that despite its name, the Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize is not only restricted to books – other paper items such as collections of sheet music, manuscripts, magazines, booklets, and other ephemera are all admissible for the Prize. For more inspiration, have a look at our blog post explaining how you can put a collection together.

To apply, you need to submit an essay of not more than 500 words explaining the coherence and interest of your collection and why and how it was assembled, a list of items in the collection, and a list of five items that you would like to add to their collection. You can find full details and an application form here. The deadline for applications is 30th of April 2021. Good luck!

The New Curators Project is Open for Applications!

Vicky A Price18 January 2021

The New Curators Project is a new programme by UCL Special Collections and Newham Heritage Month. It will offer 10 young people in East London the chance to develop the skills and experience needed to start a career in the cultural heritage sector.

 

UPDATE: The application deadline has been EXTENDED to midnight on 5th March 2021.  If you’d still like to apply, please do!

 

What will the project entail?

Successful applicants will receive training from industry experts in key areas such as carrying out historical research, creating an exhibition and engaging with cultural heritage audiences. Participants will also work together to create an exhibition for Newham Heritage Month. Using historical material from UCL Special Collections and the Archives and Local Studies Library in Stratford, the exhibition will be an opportunity for participants to gain real life curation experience for a public heritage festival audience.

We expect the entire project to take place online, with the possibility of face to face sessions towards the end of the project (this will depend on national and local restrictions.  Any face to face activity that does take place with be compliant with government guidelines).

Who can apply?

Applications are open to people who:

  • Are aged 18 to 24 at the time of making their application.
  • Are living, studying or working in Newham, Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest.
  • Are not a university graduate.
  • Have less than 6 months paid experience in the cultural heritage sector.

As this project is a part of Newham Heritage Month, there are 5 places available to individuals who live, work or study in the borough of Newham. The remaining 5 places are available to those who live, work or study in Tower Hamlets, Hackney or Waltham Forest.

When is it happening?

Application close midnight on 12th February 2021.  There will be two online sessions per week, the first will be during the week of 1st March 2021 (date and time to be agreed with participants).  The final week of activity will be the week of 24th May 2021.

What’s in it for me?

We will be providing training in essential skills for working in the cultural heritage field, including:

  • How to carry out historical research.
  • How to use an archive.
  • How to create an exhibition.
  • Presentation and public speaking skills.

We are also offering a £200 bursary, paid in instalments, to support participants in attending as many of the workshops as possible.

Do I need to have any specific A Levels or GCSEs?

Absolutely not. We want to recruit participants who have a passion for local history, regardless of their qualifications.

What is Cultural Heritage?

The cultural heritage field is an area of work focused on preserving history and culture and making it available to the general public. Among other things, it includes:

  • Museums.
  • Arts organisations and charities.
  • Libraries and Archives.
  • Historic Buildings and heritage sites.
  • Archaeology.
  • Conservation.

How do I apply?

You can apply online via our online form. If you have difficulty using the form, please send us an email and we can find an alternative way for you to apply.

The due date for the application has been extended to midnight on 5th March 2021.  We aim to reply to applicants by 5pm on 8th March 2021.

A student looks for resources in a library. Shelves laden with colourful books line the edges of the photograph as she reads a book.

Among other skills, The New Curators Project will train participants in carrying out research, creating exhibitions and public speaking.

Questions?

You can send us an email at: library.spec.coll.ed@ucl.ac.uk.
Or, if you’d prefer to give us a call, you can call Vicky Price, Head of Outreach, on 07741671329.

If you think this project is a good fit for you, apply now!

The Foundation for Future London logo The logo for Newham Heritage Month

Women of The Institute of Education

utnvwom15 January 2021

To start, I feel this post needs a disclaimer – there is no way I can cover all the inspiring women who have played important roles in the life of the Institute of Education. These are just snapshots, hopefully they will inspire people to look further and read more about these women. I have put them in order of date of birth, in an effort to equalise any hierarchy of perceived significance.

Explanation of abbreviations;

  • LDTC – London Day Training College, the name of the IOE on its founding in 1902
  • IOE – Institute of Education, the name adopted in 1932

Margaret Punnett (1867-1946)

Photograph of staff register page

Margaret Punnett’s staff registration page

As Mistress of Method and later Vice Principal at the LDTC, she was responsible for organising and overseeing the teaching of the women students, and had overall responsibility for the teaching of maths, to which scripture and psychology were later added. She lectured also on the Principles of Education.

For many years she carried the main burden of administration, and also took a personal interest in students and their welfare.  When she retired the responsibilities of her post were divided, perhaps demonstrating how much work Punnett carried. It is interesting to note that, at a time when women’s salaries were generally lower than those of men with the same level of responsibility her salary on appointment, and subsequently, often equalled that of her male colleagues’.

Clotilde Rosalie Regina Von Wyss (1871-1938)

Copy of von Wyss' article

Article by Clotilde von Wyss, IE/12/3/1

Clotilde von Wyss was a pioneer of educational broadcasting and film.  Her teaching at the LDTC was enriched by her introduction of collections of plants, an aquarium, artists’ materials and animal photographs. In an article Nature Study for Fidgety Children in the Londinian, the Student Union magazine (Summer 1909), von Wyss expressed her belief in practical manual work as an outlet for children’s natural energy; one example was the creation of gardens in boxes brought in and painted by the pupils. She offered two separate courses in biology at the LDTC, for specialists and non-specialists and, in the 1930s, a special voluntary course for the colonial group.  In addition to her work at the college she taught on a voluntary basis at Wormwood Scrubs prison. In retirement she acted as adviser to producers of a film on Wood Ants.

Susan (nee Fairhurst) Isaacs (1885-1948)

Susan Isaacs was an influential child psychologist, her primary interest being in child development. She had had a varied career before joining the Institute of Education, including several years as Head of an experimental school in Cambridge, and was an advocate of nursery education.

Photograph of Susan Isaacs

Susan Isaacs

At the Institute of Education she was the first Head of the new Department of Child Development. The Department grew rapidly, her work and reputation bringing prestige to the Institute. When the Institute was evacuated to Nottingham in 1939, and the department temporarily closed, Isaacs led the Cambridge Evacuation Survey.  Illness prevented her from returning as Head of Department when the Institute moved back to London in 1943 and she was succeeded by one of her earliest students, Dorothy Gardner.

Between 1929 and 1940 Isaacs, under the pseudonym Ursula Wise, was an “agony aunt” replying to readers’ problems in child care journals. She also had her own practice as a psychoanalyst, which she maintained while working at the Institute. Isaacs was awarded the CBE in 1948.

Grace Mary Wacey (1894-1987)

During her 38 years at the LDTC/IOE Grace Wacey saw it grow from a small college chiefly engaged in preparing students to teach in London schools, to a major academic institution with an international reputation.  The changes were reflected in the scope and responsibility of her own post: starting off as the only full time member of administrative staff, by the time of her retirement the complement was about 50, over which she, as Secretary, presided.

Photograph of Grace Wacey holding a book

Grace Wacey

Grace Wacey was remembered as an approachable, kindly yet firm administrator – so much so that in 1984 the IOE organised a party to celebrate her 90th birthday. In 1953 she was awarded the MBE in the Coronation Honours.

Margaret Gladys Calthrop (1886-?)

At the LDTC/IOE Margaret Calthrop taught French and German, lectured in methods of teaching Modern Languages and supervised student teachers’ school practice.  She was one of a number of subject tutors who sought to make learning her subject more interesting to children, incurring some opposition from those who wondered whether the essentials of grammar were receiving sufficient attention. Her demonstration lessons attracted a good deal of attention, one on a La Fontaine fable drawing applause from children and students.

In the mid-1930s she suffered health problems.  Restored to health she continued to work until she reached retirement age in 1952; she was then offered the possibility of remaining on for a time, but decided not to accept.

Margaret Helen Read (1889-1991)

Margaret Read joined the Colonial Department after five years engaged in missionary social work in India. She had carried out research in anthropology at LSE, and been awarded a doctorate.  She took charge of the department during the war years and became Head in 1945.

Photograph of Colonial Department class

Margaret Read, front row, centre. Class photograph 1946/7

She was a pioneer in applying social anthropology to issues in the developing world, with a particular interest being the nature of cultural change affecting families and individuals who, having for generations practised agriculture in villages, had become part of the industrial proletariat. She thought that education in colonial territories should not be simply in basic skills, but also in citizenship and social relations, taking account of cultural traditions, and she stressed the need for adequate histories of education in each territory, to provide an objective description of what had happened since the earliest European contacts.

Read was a member of, and advisor to, various governmental, and world-wide organisations. In 1948 she was awarded the CBE for work in connection with colonial education.

Marion Elaine Richardson (1892-1946)

As art mistress at Dudley High School Marion Richardson started to develop a child-centred approach to art education, encouraging pupils to use memory and visual imagination in creating art works. At the LDTC she established a specialist course for students training to teach art. She was one of several subject tutors who challenged the prevailing methods of teaching in schools. In addition to her work in schools and the LDTC, Marion Richardson taught classes in Winson Green and  Holloway prisons.

Her ideas about child centred art education gained international recognition, while her book Writing and Writing Patterns remained in use in schools for some 50 years. A London school, Senrab Street in Stepney, has been renamed Marion Richardson School in her memory.

Sophia Weitzman (1896-1965)

Weitzman had progressive ideas on methods of teaching history and on the contents of the school curriculum which, she felt, had traditionally been overly concerned with political and constitutional matters.  She believed in working from the realities of children’s lives, and saw the value of visits in arousing their interest in history. Weitzman also considered that school should no longer be a forcing house for knowledge, but should prepare children for social living, encouraging initiative and independence.

Her lectures to students on teaching methods spelled out ways in which historical content might be communicated through the medium of active interest, including modelling, drawing, talking, writing and acting of historical plays, historical excursions, films and radio talks.

Like many of her colleagues at the Institute, Weitzman was interested in the educational systems of other countries, and in her later years she devoted much time to work with students who studied Indian education.

Geraldine Susan Maud de Montmorency (1900-1993)

Geraldine de Montmorency’s appointment as the first Librarian of the LDTC was on a part time basis. Realising the restrictions of this, with the help of students from UCL’s School of Librarianship, she worked on cataloguing and on a classification scheme within the subjects. Additions to the stock came from donations of books and material, as well as purchases.

Over the years de Montmorency increased the number of days she spent at the Institute, in 1940 her post was made full time. Both before and after the second world war specialist collections were developed, e.g. in the fields of colonial education, child development, comparative education and English as a foreign language. Although the marriage bar had been lifted some years earlier, the expectation that women could not cope with working and managing home life prevailed, and de Montmorency retired her post at the IOE upon marriage in 1957. By the time Geraldine de Montmorency resigned her post, the Institute Library had grown massively, with a stock over 50,000 volumes, and had achieved an international reputation.

Dorothy Ellen Marion Gardner (1900-1972)

Dorothy Gardner trained as a Froebel teacher, then worked with young children in a variety of settings and as a trainer of teachers and nursery nurses before becoming a part time student on the new advanced Child Development course at the IOE, while lecturing at Bishop Otter College.  As a student she greatly admired Susan Isaacs, the first Head of the new Department of Child Development, and in due course succeeded her.

Gardner became head of the Department of Child Development in 1943. When teaching – which included a course on the needs of young children in war time – resumed in January 1944 it had to take place in the evenings because teachers were unable to get paid leave. In 1948 Gardner established a research centre at Coram Fields: one of its projects, conducted jointly with the Institute of Child Health, was a long term study of local children.

Gardner played an important part in shaping the development of child centred education.   A highly regarded community nursery centre in West London, catering for 100 children, bears her name.

A number of these women recount their experiences in the volume Studies and Impressions, 1902-1952 Harrison, A. S., and University of London.  [edited by A. S. Harrison … Et Al.]. London: Evans Brothers for the U of London Institute of Education, 1952. Print. https://ucl-new-primo.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/f/5qfvbu/UCL_LMS_DS21167882720004761

Further biographical information has been collated from the Institute archives. Extended profiles of most of these women are available on request from the IOE archives ioe.arch-enquiries@ucl.ac.uk

If you have any ideas of who could be included in this list, and why they should be here, please add them in the comments.

Innovating for online teaching, events and public engagement

Tabitha Tuckett12 August 2020

Parts of this blog also appear in a post on the UCL Teaching And Learning blog

 

How do you teach the materiality of rare books, manuscripts and archives without the materials themselves? That was the challenge facing Special Collections’ staff when, at just a few days’ notice, academic activities suddenly moved online two weeks before the end of Term Two, just when students’ deadlines were looming.

Special Collections ordinarily runs roughly 50 classes a year, embedded across the University’s curricula and involving up-close encounters with physical collection items for over 1,000 students. Add to those a further 50-odd events a year supporting academic research and public engagement, from conferences to workshops to festivals. With getting up-close to most things – collections or humans – suddenly cancelled, we faced an innovation challenge, and had a lot of collaborators and participants to contact very fast in those first few days.

Student coursework

Our immediate challenge was students’ assignments. Over the past eight years, the Academic Support Team at Special Collections has worked with academics to develop modules that require in-depth study of our unique collections. Now, students needed to finish their coursework at a distance.

Impressively, many were already well acquainted with the features that made their chosen items unique, such as this Early Modern hedgehog:

Hedgehog doodle under the printer's details on the title-page: 'Imprinted .. at the signe of the hedg-hogge'

Title-page from Castiglione, transl. Thomas Hoby, The Covrtyer (1561). UCL Special Collections, STRONG ROOM CASTIGLIONE 1561 (2)

But as enquiries arrived about items not yet digitised, we worked with students to re-frame their essay or dissertation questions so that work could be completed to a high standard despite our reading rooms being temporarily closed. For those working on printed material rather than archives, our rare-book cataloguers also searched for online images of similar features in other institutions’ collections – bindings, annotations, scripts, bookplates, printers’ marks – or images of other copies as close to the same imprint as possible – not an easy task for hand-printed books, which are each unique. This was a new area of collaboration between Special Collections’ Academic Support, Rare Books, and Retrospective Cataloguing teams, and sharing expertise greatly increased the speed at which we could get responses out to students who were working to coursework deadlines.

Digital images

In the process, we learnt a lot about the limitations of many institutions’ platforms for digitised special collections. It is often surprisingly difficult, for example, to discover which copy, and whose, you are looking at, let alone find your way to the full catalogue record for the physical original.

So our Digitisation Team, while waiting to be able to access the physical collections to photograph more items in full, have pulled together as many existing single images of our own collections as possible. Starting with rare books to supplement our existing Digital Collections, they are uploading more images every day to a new rare-books area of our Digital Collections, complete with collection descriptions lower down the page. We’re aiming, where we have them, to include images of features often omitted on other sites, such as bindings, annotations and provenance marks: anything that enhances the sense of the three-dimensional materiality of our items.

Meanwhile the cataloguers are checking that the metadata for our images matches that on our catalogues. Crucially, they are adding a link from the library catalogue record of the physical original through to the digital images. See, for example, four images from this book of maps and images of Shoreditch, now available from the catalogue record for UCL’s copy of the physical original.

map of Shoreditch

Map from Shoreditch And The East End by Walter Besant (1908) LONDON HISTORY 1908 BES

Preparing for Connected Learning

Next we needed to find ways of fitting our summer and autumn programmes into UCL’s plans for online learning. Most of our activities involve object-based learning, so to prepare asynchronous resources, we needed both digital images and ways of allowing students and participants to explore our collections in three dimensions. We also needed to develop online forms of live interaction. This is needed both to provide engaged learning for our taught-course students, and because our public audiences expect our online-events offering to match those of other institutions, including museums’ and other organisations’ public-workshop series.

After extensive software testing, we found ways for students to join events with a second camera in order to show books and archives live. We hope to use our own visualisers to teach with our collections, even if students are logging on remotely, and to confirm with researchers and academics which features of an item need high-quality digitisation for their work. I secured access to UCL-supported software for recording videos with a half-and-half split screen, to compare, for example, a manuscript and its transcript, or two similar printed title-pages. Our exhibitions staff has started creating videos to bring our physical exhibitions to life online.

To make all of these resources, tools and events available to our students and academic partners, I secured a Moodle site for Special Collections for which we can set an access key for each group of users. That means our future suite of resources can be re-used, in different combinations and with different contextualising information, across the many modules and courses we support, saving us time. It also means we can use UCL-supported software such as Blackboard Collaborate to run live events. We’ve developed online booking and feedback forms. Finally we’ve arranged training for the whole team, and access to courses on UCL’s Connected Learning strategy.

Launching our online teaching and events programmes

All that remains now is to work with our academic partners to agree how we can support each module and academic project, and begin to prepare and trial events and resources. It has been extremely hard work, and personally I’d like to thank the Academic Support Team and the rest of our colleagues for adopting new ways of working and achieving so much so quickly.

But it’s been worthwhile when we’ve experienced how incredibly resilient our students have been. They have had to think thoughtfully and creatively about research and coursework while trying to secure flights home, changing time zones, moving back in with parents they’d hoped to move on from, finding their home city changed in the grip of the pandemic, or coping with the illness of family and loved ones.

This is a generation of students that is facing more challenges than most, so we were all the more impressed by the online exhibitions created by our BASc students (‘Attention’, for example, showcasing our Brazilian process poetry) and the overwhelming 64 applications for the Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize  from students at universities across London.

A hand unfolding a paper envelope from Virgula magazine

Special Collections’ copy of Virgula, as shown in the online exhibition ‘Attention’, created by UCL’s BASc students

Launching this year’s Rare-Books Club online, I have tried to programme as many student speakers as possible, before they face the challenge of job-hunting in a recession. Students and experienced researchers in the series have presented passionately on collecting Black British publishing, exploring fictitious publishers in the 17th century, developing the terminology that 19th-century book-bindings deserve, how our catalogue can provide context for the books of the Galton Laboratory Collection, and many other topics. We have been overwhelmed by the popularity of these sessions, with audiences reaching well over 100 at times – far greater than we could ordinarily accommodate in our physical reading room. Although chairing and moderating such large sessions online has been new and challenging for us, it has also enabled us unexpectedly to reach new audience members from Asia, Europe, the US, and Australia, and we look forward to engaging with them further in the future. We have recorded the sessions, and are rapidly learning how to caption and produce transcripts for the often specialist language used. I hope to make these publicly available as a series later in the year.

Meanwhile, here are even more ways to explore our collections from your armchair:

More online exhibitions by BASc students:

Further viewing, listening and reading: