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New Exhibition: Hidden in Plain Sight

By Sarah S Pipkin, on 30 March 2023

Our new Main Library exhibition “Hidden in Plain Sight: Liberating our Library Collections” is now open! The exhibition is free and open to members of the public.

Graphic which reads: Hidden in Plain Sight: Liberating our Library Collections. March-December 2023. A free exhibition highlighting UCL Library Services’ work to discover, record and celebrate the diverse voices in our collections. On display in the Main Library Stairwell and 1st floor.  To learn more, search ‘UCL Library Exhibitions.’ Graphic features UCL banner and a woodcut of a woman in 17th century dress.

Across UCL Library Services, staff members, students and volunteers have been working together to discover, record and celebrate the diverse voices in our collections. Through a number of projects, overseen by the Library Liberating the Collections Steering Group, we have gained a better understanding of our collections and improved their accessibility. However, we are at the early stages of this important initiative and there is still more work to be done.

The exhibition is located in the Main Library Staircase and First Floor. It is open to the public – just speak to a member of the Main Library front desk about getting a 15 minute pass to see the exhibition.

A catalogue for the exhibition is available online.

Items in the exhibition have also been digitised.

Photo of the Main Exhibition display

Early Modern Women and Printing

By Sarah S Pipkin, on 8 March 2023

The following was adapted from text written by Erika Delbecque and Tabitha Tuckett for the 2023 exhibition catalogue Hidden in Plain Sight: Liberating our Library Collections, which will be available online at the end of March. The Main Library exhibition Hidden in Plain Sight will also be opening at the end of March. Keep an eye out for an opening date announcement coming soon!

Often when we look at books in our collection, our preconceived notions about the historical roles of women in society can cause us to make assumptions about the history of an item. After all, what could the collected works of Francis Bacon, a former Lord High Chancellor of England, tell us about the working lives of women in 17th century England?

When you first open the 1657 edition of Resuscitatio your eye is almost immediately drawn to the full-page engraved portrait of Francis Bacon.  However, this book is part of the long history of women’s involvement in book production.

Portrait of Bacon from Resuscitatio

Portrait of Bacon from Resuscitatio

In early modern England, printing was mostly the preserve of men. However, widows were permitted to take over their late husbands’ printing businesses, which allowed many women a way into this profession. One of these women was Sarah Griffin, who was active as a printer from 1653 to 1673. We can see her involvement in the production of the 1657 edition of Resusciatio by taking a closer look at the title page.

Title page of Resuscitatio

Title page of Resuscitatio (STRONG ROOM OGDEN A QUARTO 329)

The bottom of the title page for Resuscitatio reads: “LONDON, Printed by Sarah Griffin, for William Lee, and are to be sold at his Shop in Fleetsstreet, at the sign of the Turks-head, near the Mitre Tavern, 1657.”

Publishing information at the bottom of the title page of Resuscitatio

Publishing information for Resuscitatio

Sarah Griffin inherited the printing business from her husband Edward in 1652 and ran it successfully for the next 20 years. We have several books printed by Sarah Griffin in our collection, including her edition of Resuscitatio.  

Hannah Allen was another example of a woman who acquired a business on her husband Benjamin’s death in 1632. While it is unclear how long she was involved in publishing, from 1646-1651 Allen published at least 54 books and pamphlets. Her business specialised in religious treatises, such as The hope of Israel. It is an English translation of a work by Menasseh ben Israel, who set up the first Hebrew printing press in Amsterdam.

Title page for The hope of Israel

Title page for The hope of Israel (STRONG ROOM MOCATTA 1650 M1 (5))

Like the 1657 edition of Resuscitatio, a quick glance at The hope of Israel does not reveal an obvious connection to women-owned businesses. However, the bottom of the title page reads: “Printed at London by R.I. for Hannah Allen, at the Crown in Popes-head Alley, 1650.”

Publisher information for The hope of Israel

Publisher information for The hope of Israel

Our collection includes The hope of Israel and the 1648 pamphlet The humble ansvver of the General Councel of the Officers of the Arm.

Both of these items were identified as part of the Rare Books Liberating the Collections volunteer project, which equipped participants with the knowledge and tools to search our catalogue for items in our rare book collections relating to under-represented groups. Twenty-seven volunteers have worked with us, each focusing on a particular topic, such as books owned by women, authors of colour and representations of disability. Without the work of these volunteers, we may have never realised that Resuscitatio and The hope of Israel were part of the history of women in publishing and printing.

Both of these items were identified by Emilia Reid, a 2021 and 2022 Rare Books Liberating the Collections volunteer.

 

‘The first stone’: 197 years of UCL

By Sarah S Pipkin, on 8 February 2023

Leah Johnston, Cataloguing Archivist (Records), explores documents in the College Archives relating to the history of UCL’s Wilkins Building

We are fast approaching UCL’s bicentenary in 2026 and much of its almost 200-year history is recorded within the documents, plans, drawings, photographs, and ephemera of UCL’s College Archive. The archive spans the period from its establishment in 1824, to the present day, and covers everything from founding deeds to student magazines, along with Council minutes, student registers and files, correspondence, and publications about the university.

As UCL Record’s Cataloguing Archivist, it is currently my job to catalogue some of the many collections we hold. I have recently begun work on the College Correspondence, which covers a variety of matters relating to the early administration of the university between 1825-1890. Although most of this collection has already been processed there are still around 200 letters left to be documented. The collection is often used by UCL’s Records’ team to answer enquiries about the early history of the university so it is important that we know what each letter relates to and where it can be found within the 164 boxes in which they are all stored.

While working on a folder of correspondence from 1827 I came across several letters from the architect, Sir William Wilkins who designed UCL’s Wilkins Building. In 1826 he entered a competition set by the Council to submit a design for the emerging university’s main building. Architects submitted their designs in March 1826 and after much deliberation Wilkins’ design was chosen. As noted by Dr Amy Spencer in her lecture ‘The beginnings of UCL in Bloomsbury: some parallels with UCL East’, this was mainly due to the fact that it offered the largest square-footage for the lowest estimate.

 

First page of a letter from from William Wilkins to the Council, dated 17 February 1827, requesting that they delay setting the first stone.Second page of a letter from William Wilkins to the Council, dated 17 February 1827, requesting that they delay setting the first stone.

Third page of a letter from William Wilkins to the Council, dated 17 February 1827, requesting that they delay setting the first stone.

UCLCA/CORR/3076: Letter from William Wilkins to the Council, dated 17 February 1827, requesting that they delay setting the first stone.

 

In this letter dated 17 February 1827, Wilkins requests that the ceremony of the setting of the first stone be postponed for another month. It seems that due to a hard frost at the time Wilkins believed it would be nearly impossible to break ground and he urged the Council to reconsider the intended date.

Other collections within the College Archive include drawings, plans and photographs of the Wilkins building from its inception in 1826 until the present day, allowing us to trace its history through the decades.

College Collection I 16C: West Front of the University of London, 1828

College Collection I 16C: West Front of the University of London, 1828

This print shows how the building would have looked upon its opening in October 1828. Although Wilkins’ estimate was relatively low the university struggled to secure the required funds and as a result the two wings of the building were unable to be built. It wouldn’t be for another 158 years until the building’s quadrangle was completed in 1985, an occasion marked by a visit of Queen Elizabeth II.

The Queen is pictured during a visit to UCL in 1985 to mark the official completion of the Main Quad.

The Queen is pictured during a visit to UCL in 1985 to mark the official completion of the Main Quad.

College Collection X 65: William Monk’s etching of the Wilkins’ Building Portico (c.1900-1920)

Over the years the building has become a well-known landmark of the Bloomsbury area and has been reproduced in drawings, paintings, and later photographs. This print is a copy of an etching by the Victorian artist William Monk and shows the distinctive 10 column Portico some time at the start of the 20th century.

UCL Front Quad and Portico at Night. November 2008

UCL Front Quad and Portico at Night. November 2008. © UCL Media Services – University College London

In contrast this image taken by UCL Media Services team in November 2008 shows the same aspect portrayed in Monk’s engraving. Although the images are almost a century apart the Wilkins Building has remained almost unchanged.

To explore more of the history of UCL’s campus check out our Digital Collections page.

Kelmscott School historians present a History of London – a digital exhibition with Special Collections

By Anna R Fineman, on 31 January 2023

Photo of Kelmscott School students viewing a large folio-sized diagram of the River Thames, at UCL East.

Kelmscott School students viewing William Faden’s map of the River Thames and surrounds (1799) from UCL Special Collections, at One Pool Street, UCL East.

Last term the Outreach team of UCL Special Collections were delighted to collaborate with Year 9 History enthusiasts at Kelmscott School in Waltham Forest. The club, called Becoming an Historian, took place over six weekly after-school sessions. Students defined the skills and qualities which make a good historian, learnt how to undertake historical research of primary resources, and each explored an item from UCL Special Collections in-depth. They chose the History of London as their theme and have produced informative and dynamic museum labels presented in this mini digital exhibition. You can also read their personal responses to the collection items on Twitter. The students each gained different things from participating in the club, as these three examples attest:

My favourite thing about the club is the amount of discussion we have. An opportunity to speak out your thoughts freely was very encouraging.

I liked getting to know more about how research is conducted.

My favourite thing about the club was the opportunity to work with others on a subject that I am passionate about.

To conclude the club, the students came to visit UCL East on 30 January 2023 – the very first school group through the doors of One Pool Street! Supported by the Outreach team, the students were thrilled to experience the original historical items they had been researching  – having worked from facsimiles until that point. One student observed:

‘It was interesting to see the details on the real-life item, as it was much more intricate than online.’

While another commented:

‘I was surprised seeing the actual item and the actual text. It was great!’

UCL Special Collections say a huge thank you to the students for undertaking this research and for helping to tell the stories of these extraordinary rare books and archives in our care.

Living London, Volume 1, Ed. George R. Sims (1902)

Photo of a double page spread of the rare book Living London by George R. Sims (1902). The left page is an illustration of people at a market, and the right page is the book's title page.

A double page spread of the rare book Living London by George R. Sims (1902).

Living London was written in 1902 by George R. Sims. It describes scenes of people looking for work in the London Docklands. At the time of writing, Britain was plagued by a deep class divide; upper classes saw themselves as superior to the working class. The mixing of different classes was frowned upon. Sims himself was the son of a successful merchant. Through the medium of the book Sims disparages those looking for work in the docks by describing them as ‘the common slum type, either criminal or loafer or both.’

Zahra

 

The several plans and drawings referred to in the second report from the select committee upon the improvement of the Port of London, illustrated by R. Metcalf, William Faden (1799)

A scan of a plan of the River Thames and surrounds, for the improvement of the Port of London, illustrated by R. Metcalf and published by William Faden (1799).

A plan of the River Thames and surrounds, for ‘the improvement of the Port of London’, illustrated by R. Metcalf and published by William Faden (1799).

William Faden (1749-1836) was a British cartographer. He was so well known that he was the royal geographer for King George III. This meant that he had to publish and supply maps to the royals and parliament. The map shows a detailed view of London.

Musa

William Faden was a British cartographer and a publisher of maps. He was born on July 11 1749 and died on March 21 1836. He self-printed the North American Atlas in 1777 and it became the most important atlas chronicling the revolution’s battles. He also made this map of the River Thames which gives a lot of information about the way buildings were placed, and the trading docks that held the actual trading ships used back in the day.

Petar

 

Letter from the Trades Advisory Council regarding wartime food regulations in relation to the baking of challah (1945)

Scan of the first page of a letter from the Trades Advisory Council regarding wartime food regulations in relation to the baking of challah (1945).

The first page of a letter from the Trades Advisory Council regarding wartime food regulations in relation to the baking of challah (1945).

This letter by the Trades Advisory Council was drafted in the 1930s and reconstituted in the 1940s to prevent growing hostility towards the Jewish population from British fascists. In this letter it states that the Jewish challah loaf was very similar to the bun loaf, and would be placed in the same category as it. It goes on to state that the ingredients for it should be rationed for the best of the British people.

Ahrab

The Trades Advisory Council was created in the 1930s and reconstituted in 1940 to challenge the British fascists. Because the Jewish bread challah is extremely similar to bun loaf, which was rationed, the council decided to add it to the same category as the bun loaf, saying that every British citizen was to put the nation first.

Lu’Ay

 

Vagabondiana : or, anecdotes of mendicant wanderers through the streets of London; with portraits of the most remarkable drawn from life, John Thomas Smith (1814)

The scan of an illustration of a woman, drawn from life on the streets of London, from Vagabondiana by John Thomas Smith (1814)

An illustration of a woman, drawn from life on the streets of London, from Vagabondiana by John Thomas Smith (1814).

This is a book written and illustrated by John Thomas Smith. It was published in 1813 and made from paper with printings of paintings. The author was born in 1766 inside a Hackney carriage. He was educated at the Royal Academy and was nicknamed ‘Antiquity.’ He attempted to become an actor, and then a sculptor. His eventual occupations were engraver, draughtsman and curator.

Ace

 

Metropolitan Sewers: Preliminary report on the drainage of the metropolis, John Phillips (1849)

A scan of the first typewritten of page of Metropolitan Sewers: Preliminary report on the drainage of the metropolis, John Phillips (1849).

The first page of Metropolitan Sewers: Preliminary report on the drainage of the metropolis, by John Phillips (1849).

Due to a combination of growing population, lack of sanitation and sewage systems, a result in the capital was several severe, contagious outbreaks of sickness, like cholera and typhoid. London’s Metropolitan Commission Sewers was established in 1848 as part of the solution to the issue. This text of 1849 describes the necessity for construction. It has plans for the running of a new sewer tunnel west to east, to transport London’s waste. The tunnel wasn’t built, but this map depicts London as far as Stratford.

Faith

 

East London, Walter Besant (1901)

Black and white illustration 'The Hooligans' from East London by Walter Besant, 1901. The drawing is of five figures involved in a violent attack - four stand, wielding knives, while one is slumped and holds the back of his hand to his forehead.

Illustration ‘The Hooligans’ from East London by Walter Besant, 1901.

‘The Hooligans’, a picture from Walter Besant’s book East London, showcases five figures, two armed, in a dark room with an arched entrance. One man seems to be lying down in pain, possibly from an injury caused by the two armed men. In a passage below the picture it is stated that ‘the blood is very restless at seventeen.’ This could be related back to London’s notoriously high knife crime and gang violence rate, with thousands of children taking part. Despite being published in 1901 East London mirrors modern London and its violent tendencies.

Natalie

What frightens me the most were ‘The Hooligans.’ Looking at the picture alone gives me the shivers. The beaten-up man lies defeated in the hands of the hooligans. These behaviours are similar in today’s knife crime London.

Habiba

This book was published in 1901, and it was written by Walter Besant. Besant was born on August 14 1836 and died on June 9 1901. He was an English novelist and philanthropist and who wrote quite a lot of works, one of them is East London. A good enough question is why did he write East London? Besant wanted to describe the social evil in London’s East End. And in my personal opinion, in this book he wanted to show people who lived in the west and in the south how people live in the east.

Kiril

 

Remarks on rural scenery : with twenty etchings of cottages, from nature; and some observations and precepts relative to the pictoresque [sic], John Thomas Smith (1797)

The title page from Remarks on Rural Scenery by John Thomas Smith (1797). The text is contained within a highly decorative border and a drawing of a paint palette breaks up the text.

The title page from Remarks on Rural Scenery by John Thomas Smith (1797).

The book Remarks on Rural Scenery was written in 1797 by John Thomas Smith, as the first of two items bound together. The author was also known as ‘Antiquity Smith’ and was born in 1766 in a Hackney carriage. When he left school he tried to become a sculptor, but left to study at the Royal Academy to become a painter, engraver and antiquarian. With this book he tried to bring to the mainstream the picturesque life in rural areas of England.

Viky

 

Common Lodging House Act, Metropolitan Police (1851)

The first page of the typewritten Common Lodging House Act by the Metropolitan Police (1851).

The first page of the Common Lodging House Act by the Metropolitan Police (1851).

The industrial revolution contributed to the population growth in the nineteenth century. During the century a record number of people relocated to London. By the middle of the century areas where cheap lodging could be found grew dangerously congested. The least expensive types of lodging were common lodging houses, where residents shared rooms and frequently beds with multiple other residents. Under the 1851 Act, these homes were registered with Metropolitan Police. These regulations were a direct reaction to the inadequate conditions of crowded housing and unscrupulous landlords and recognised the risks to public health posed by disease and poor sanitation.

Maleah

The Common Lodging Housing Act, 1951, sometimes known as the Shaftesbury Act, is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It is one of the principal British Housing Acts. It gave London boroughs the power to supervise public health regarding ‘common lodging houses’ for the poor and migratory people. This included fixing a maximum number of lodgers permitted to sleep in each house, promoting cleanliness and ventilation, providing inspection visits and ensuring segregation of the sexes. These powers were extended to local authorities in the Common Lodging Housing Act of 1851.

Malaeka and Inayah

Young people against racism in 1980s London schools

By Erika Delbecque, on 9 January 2023

This post was written by Dr Shirin Hirsch, who was one of the 2022 UCL RIC Visiting Fellows.

Bengali lives are at risk whilst they are at Morpeth – we are punched, kicked and spat on. Enough is enough.

On a Monday morning in January 1986 one hundred Bengali students walked out of their secondary school in Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets. That weekend they had drawn up a poster calling on all children to strike with them until their demands were met. In Oxford House just off Bethnal Green Road they set up an anti-racist alternative school. Three days later, the students returned to Morpeth with the school management agreeing to their demands. The strike was partially won. Young people, in taking action on their own behalf, had forced a change in the school.

Just over a decade later, I attended the same school. Bengali students were now a large part of the student intake and the school had new management. There were brief institutional histories given on dark days when fascists had attempted to organise and build their ranks inside the school. Then a new head teacher was brought in and it was said that he had transformed the school, later knighted for his efforts. But nowhere in these official histories were the actions of the students themselves remembered. Years later, when I stumbled upon a news report covering the strike, I was full of questions. Why did the students walk out of their school? Was the action connected to other strikes? What impact did the strike have on the school? And why had the students been forgotten for so long? I wanted to dig into the history of my old school, from a year before I was born, to try and find out more about where I was from and how young people had transformed their environment.

There are many challenges in researching the resistance of young people. For one thing, their lives are often remembered in words, documents or collections owned by adults. What is seen as ‘significant’ by older people might be different to young people’s views and experiences. Protests by young people are often against powerful institutions or people who can make decisions about what is and isn’t recorded. This was certainly the case in the Morpeth school strike, with the school management inviting ILEA press officers to the school to ensure the story was tightly controlled. Thames TV entered the school on the day the students returned from their strike but they were only able to interview selected staff and not students. That does not mean young people’s actions have been entirely erased. The local press did report on the Morpeth strike and documents from the strike were kept by a member of ILEA, which have since been donated to Tower Hamlets Archive.

1980s leaflet about the Campaign Against Racism in Schools

Rally against racism in schools. Papers of Ken Jones KJ/4/1, UCL Special Collections, IOE Library and Archives, London.

Morpeth was not the only school where young people were struggling against racism. For my UCL Special Collections fellowship here, I have been spending time with two collections: the Marina Foster (MF) and Ken Jones (KJ) papers. Marina Foster was a Black teacher who had left South Africa as a refugee in the 1960s and in London became an advisory teacher at the ILEA for many years, focusing on multi-ethnic education and tackling institutional racism. Ken Jones was from the 1970s until 1990 a teacher in London secondary schools and active in the politics of education and in issues of curriculum, pedagogy and trade unionism. Both collections illuminate the debates, policies and projects on multicultural and anti-racist education taking place in London schools. There are documents that show imaginative ways of creating an anti-racist classroom, with teacher organisations like Campaign against racism in education (CARE) All London Campaign Against Racism and Fascism (ALCARF) as well as documents from ILEA (Inner London Education Authority).

The collections also illuminate the serious racism that existed in London schools. Daneford school, nearby to Morpeth, in Tower Hamlets, was the most publicised example of this and there are a number of documents on this in UCL special collections. The Guardian reported in 1986 that three quarters of the students at Daneford were of Asian origin and there had been a spate of racist attacks inside the school. The school gates were plastered with National Front stickers and posters, and a 12 year old Bangladeshi student had been viscously attacked with a razor blade by four white students. Another time, twenty white young people at a football match ‘spilled over into the school’ shouting viscous racist abuse. One teacher, Norma Hundleby, told the press: ‘Boys were coming out of all the classrooms to join them. It was totally out of control.’ Kumar Murshid, Chairperson of Campaign against racism in schools (CARS) explained that only ‘the dedication of the anti-racist teachers and pupils who have organised themselves against these attacks’ had helped to ease the tensions at Daneford. The racism, alongside the resistance, would receive national attention following the arrest of Daneford teachers and a school student who were protesting outside the Tower Hamlets ILEA office over the refusal of ILEA to take serious action against racism at Daneford school.

The reports at both Daneford and Morpeth schools challenged a version of schooling which saw young people as passive objects, who should simply ‘do what they are told’. Sajid, 18 years old, summed up the feeling when he explained to the press in 1986:

If we can’t go to school peacefully and study in safety, then we have to fight back. We have as much right as any white kid to go to school.

Front cover of the first issue of Black Parents Special, 1985

Black Parents Special no 1 (1985). Papers of Marina Foster MF/8/39, UCL Special Collections, IOE Library and Archives, London.

The voices of young people are sometimes hard to hear within these collections, but that does not mean they are completely silenced. In the Marina Foster collection there is a ‘Black Youth Annual Penmanship Awards’ with records of Black children’s writings from 1981, with essays on ‘What is means to be Black and British’ and ‘Being without Employment in Britain today’. The winning essay questioned the very nature of the school system, the student directly asking ‘does it prepare me or help me tackle the blatant and insidious forms of racism that, I am afraid to say, I will invariably encounter?’ The frustration at the school system, as well as wider society, was powerfully expressed by many of these young Black authors.

Front cover of a publication by John Gus from the Black Parents Movement, entitled The Black Working Class Movement in Education and Schooling.

Gus, John (1986). The Black Working Class Movement in Education and Schooling. Papers of Marina Foster MF/8/63, UCL Special Collections, IOE Library and Archives, London.

The resistance at Morpeth secondary school in 1986 emerged out of this context and was not an isolated act. The Miners’ Strike had ended in March the previous year, a bitter defeat not just for the miners but for the whole of the labour movement. The year following the strike the numbers of days lost to strike action in Britain was at its lowest since 1967. However, school student strikes were not included in these figures. In April 1985 there was a national school student strike in response to the government’s attempts to make the Youth Training Scheme compulsorily for 16-17 year olds and to take unemployment benefits away from any young people refusing to participate. Alongside these strikes, the British government were openly attacking ‘hard left education authorities and extremist teachers’, as Thatcher put it. Parents were also resisting, and the Black Parents Movement, born in the 1970s, had begun to win serious changes in the schools. In 1981 and 1985 uprisings involving young people against the police had taken place in inner cities across England. Meanwhile teachers in 1985-6 entered disputes over cuts to schools and pay agreements. Gus John, a key activist and founder of the Black Parents Movement, in a speech he gave to teachers in 1986 which was later published as a pamphlet (M/8/63), explained:

The struggles waged by the black community outside of school and in relation to what was going on inside the school, gave school students the confidence to exercise their own power within the school. The school became for them the site of struggle against racism and against the treatment they were subjected to because of their class.

That relationship between students, community groups, teachers and wider political shifts is what I am interested in further exploring. This fellowship has given me the resources and time to piece together archival material and to explore these topics. I now hope to speak to some of the participants themselves. I am gradually trying to recover the resistance of young people against racism so as to remember and learn from their struggles.

The New Curators Project 2023 is Open for Applications!

By Vicky A Price, on 14 December 2022

The New Curators Project is an annual programme run by UCL Special Collections and Newham Heritage Month. It offers 10 young adults in East London the chance to develop the skills and experience needed to start a career in the cultural heritage sector.

Apply now!

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.

What will the project entail?

Successful applicants will receive training from industry experts in key areas such as:

Carrying out historical research.
Using archives.
Creating an exhibition.
Running events.
Communications in the cultural heritage sector.

Participants will gain real work experience by creating an exhibition for Newham Heritage Month using historical material from UCL Special Collections, the Archives and Local Studies Library in Stratford and beyond.

The programme also offers employment support such as advice on applying for jobs, writing applications and being interviewed.

Participants who attend all the workshops will receive up to £550.

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 or currently studying at university.
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.

Three young adults look at an archival map.

New Curators Participants scrutinising an historical map.

When and where is it happening?

Workshops will be ‘in person’ on Tuesday evenings from 6pm to 8pm, beginning on March 7 2023 and ending June 27 2023. There will also be three full day workshops on Friday 31 March, Thursday 20 April and Friday 26 May.

Workshops will take place at the UCL’s brand new East London campus:

UCL East
One Pool Street
London
E20 2AF

Do applicants 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.

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 application deadline is 8.00pm on Saturday 11 February 2023.

Delivered in partnership with Newham Heritage Month.

George Greenough’s papers – a window into the worlds of 19th-century science, wealth, and empire

By Kurt M Jameson, on 28 October 2022

George Bellas Greenough inherited a fortune at the age of 16 and, as a rich man in his 20s, decided to devote his life to the study of geology. He is best-known for his Geological Map of England and Wales, published in 1820, which used new data and an innovative colouring system to highlight deposits of different types of rocks and minerals. He later became a controversial figure due to his clashes with William Smith, another geologist who had also made a very similar geological map at almost exactly the same time.

George Greenough's colour-coded geological Map of England and Wales (1920).

Greenough’s Geological Map of England and Wales, published in 1820 by the Geological Society. An original copy of his 2nd edition, published in 1839, is held at UCL Special Collections (GREENOUGH/A/2/1).

In the title of Simon Winchester’s book The Map that Changed the World (2001), he is referring to the map created by Smith. Winchester claims that Greenough plagiarised Smith’s map, and that Greenough was an elitist snob who blocked Smith’s entry to the Geological Society due to his class background. However, others have since argued that the creation of Greenough’s map was in reality more nuanced.

A portrait engraving of George Bellas Greenough, early 19th-century.

Portrait of Greenough by Maxim Gauci, mid-19th century. Held at the National Portrait Gallery.

Regardless of whether or not Greenough plagiarised Smith’s work, these maps were ground-breaking in the way that they displayed the minerals and resources that were lying under the ground. This was an exciting development not only for those with an interest in geology or the study of fossils, but also to those who stood to benefit financially. At the time, raw materials were in high demand in order to fuel the industrial revolution. In Simon Winchester’s words: “Landowners realized that they possibly had beneath their lawns, meadows and forests huge seams of coal that could make them rich beyond their dreams.”

This was also a time of a growing British Empire, which may explain why Greenough’s other major publication was a comprehensive geological map of ‘British India’, in 1855. Greenough produced this map with the help of the East India Company, but never visited the Indian subcontinent himself. Some of Greenough’s papers hint at the potential advantages for nations of having more accurate geological information. The following passage is from a draft letter of 1810 which appears to have been drafted or translated by Greenough for Jacques Louis, Comte de Bournon, regarding a collection of minerals that had recently been bought by the British Museum:

“The collection of the late Mr. Greville, celebrated throughout Europe, is now the property of Great Britain, a country the commerce manufactures & territorial revenue of which are intimately connected with the state of its mines & this acquisition has been made at a time when mineralogy engages a more than ordinary share of public attention.” (GREENOUGH/B/4/R/12)

George Greenough's colour-coded 'General Sketch of the Physical and Geological Features of British India'

Greenough’s General Sketch of the Physical and Geological Features of British India, published in 1855. An original copy is held at UCL Special Collections (GREENOUGH/A/3/1).

UCL Special Collections holds a substantial collection of George Greenough’s papers. These papers include original copies and fragments of his own geological maps, his notes on various geological topics and debates, and his notes on other sciences. His diaries from his many expeditions through Europe include descriptions and sketches of the surrounding geology, as well as his observations on the local culture and politics. In one of these diaries he describes his escape from Sicily in 1803, as the French had invaded the Italian peninsula from the north (GREENOUGH/B/2/1/1).

A considerable amount of these papers consist of Greenough’s private correspondence. These letters read like a ‘who’s who’ of the elite scientific community in 19th-century Britain, and include letters from Michael Faraday, Francis Beaufort, Marc Isambard Brunel, and John Herschel. Being from this time period Greenough’s correspondence is almost entirely with other men, although there are some letters from women. In one letter Sarah Frembly appealed to Greenough to use his influence with the Admiralty, as her husband John had been shipwrecked and dismissed from the Royal Navy, leaving her family destitute (GREENOUGH/B/4/F/14).

In later life Greenough also focussed on the field of geography, serving as the President of the Royal Geographical Society from 1839 to 1841. This likely explains why he was in possession of a leaflet for a rescue mission for Franklin’s lost expedition to find the ‘Northwest Passage’ through the Canadian Arctic (GREENOUGH/B/3/5/1), and of prospectuses for the construction of a ‘Grand Georama’ in London (GREENOUGH/B/1/10).

Leaflet for an apeal to raise money for a rescue mission to find Franklin's lost expedition to the Canadian Arctic to find the 'Northwest Passage'.

Leaflet for the rescue of Franklin’s lost expedition (GREENOUGH/B/3/5/1)

The Greenough papers arrived at UCL in two separate deposits, the second deposit of which (‘Part B’) is newly-catalogued. The catalogue for the Greenough papers can be browsed via the UCL Archives online catalogue: https://archives.ucl.ac.uk/CalmView/. The Greenough papers will be of particular interest for any researchers of the history of geology, but may also prove useful for research into other aspects of 19th-century Britain.

To make an appointment to view any of the papers in the Greenough collection, please contact us at spec.coll@ucl.ac.uk.

“We Are Not Alone”: Legacies of Eugenics in Education and Society

By Nazlin Bhimani, on 17 October 2022

This post has been co-authored with Professor Marius Turda.

The IOE Library has on display a shortened version of the exhibition “We Are Not Alone”: Legacies of Eugenics which was first shown at the Weiner Holocaust Library in 2021 and which is now at the Royal College of Psychiatrists. The exhibition was curated by Professor Turda (Oxford Brookes University) with some content from UCL Special Collections (Galton Laboratory Collection and the IOE Library’s History of Education Collection) as well as content from the LSE’s Library. Following the opening of the exhibition, the Weiner Library hosted a Roundtable Discussion where all who worked on the exhibition shared our research. Both Indy Bhullar, Curator for Economics and Social Policy at the LSE Library, and I were subsequently invited by Subhadra Das (previously Curator of Science Collections at UCL Culture and now an independent scholar) to publish this research as short stories for the Wellcome Collection. The following provides some background on eugenics and the resources that are currently on display at the IOE Library.

The title of the exhibition, “We are Not Alone” is inspired by a widely circulated Nazi eugenic poster from the mid-1930s. After the introduction of the 1933 ‘Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring’, Nazi propagandists claimed that their eugenic programme of forced sterilisation was in no way different to provisions already existing in the penal legislation of countries such as the USA and Sweden, and which was about to be introduced in other European countries such as Britain, Hungary, and Poland. ‘We are not alone’, they said, hoping to garner international support for their plans to eliminate ‘defectives’ from society and to ‘purify the race’.

Eugenics was a global movement. The exhibition highlights this aspect, providing historical examples from Britain, USA, Italy, Sweden, and Romania, whilst recognising that eugenics programmes targeting individuals with mental disabilities and ethnic minorities were not stopped after 1945. They continued during the post-World War II period in countries as diverse as the USA, Scandinavia, Japan, Czechoslovakia, and Peru. The exhibition aims, therefore, to offer a historically informed account of our eugenic past, present, and future, balancing various elements of continuity and discontinuity, of idiosyncrasy and similarity between eugenic movements across the world.

The internationalisation of eugenics reflected a general appreciation in many parts of the world that science was the sufficient and necessary foundation for the long-awaited renewal of the human race. As a self-styled scientific theory of human betterment and planned breeding, eugenics was based on the principle that people who were deemed socially and biologically ‘unworthy’ of reproduction should be excluded. In the name of future generations, eugenicists dissolved aspects of the private sphere, scrutinising, and working to curtail reproductive, individual, gender, religious and indigenous rights. The boundary between the private and public spheres was blurred by the idea of public responsibility for the nation and the race, which came to dominate both. In the twentieth century, the state and the society at large increasingly adopted a eugenic worldview, even though none of it was based on proven scientific arguments. Instead, eugenics relied on speculations about social norms, cultural, ethnic and gender differences, and racial worth. Ideas of economic and social productivity also flowed readily from eugenic arguments, and eugenicists argued that if an individual was found to be socially ‘unfit’, it was appropriate for them to be ‘weeded out’. ‘Unfit’ had become a label for those members of society who were deemed ‘pathological’, ‘criminal’, ‘asocial’, ‘foreign’ and ‘undesired’.

Eugenicists claimed to act in the name of future generations by ensuring the continuity of people who were believed to be ‘hereditarily healthy’. Some eugenicists highlighted the primacy of heredity in shaping character and behaviour, while others insisted equally on the role of education and the environment. Not surprisingly, they also disagreed over which eugenic measures were deemed practical and efficient, and which ones should be rejected on ethical, scientific and religious grounds. In Britain, for instance, the Eugenics Society set up a committee to draft a sterilisation bill in 1929, chaired by the society’s president, Bernard Mallet. Two years later Major Archibald Church (1886–1954), a Labour MP and member of the Eugenics Society, introduced a sterilisation bill in the House of Commons, but it was rejected. One of his Labour colleagues, physician Hyacinth Morgan (1885-1956) rebuked the bill sharply: ‘Some when inebriated see beetles; the eugenist intoxicated, sees defectives’. In 1932, another sterilisation committee was established under the chairman of the Board of Control, Lawrence Brock (1879-1949). But these efforts led nowhere, as no sterilisation bill was introduced in Parliament again.

The exhibition presents us with the opportunity to review how assumptions and attitudes rooted in eugenic principles became entrenched in British education. From the beginning, eugenics appealed to educationalists, school reformers and feminists who advocated teaching the nation’s children and the youth ‘sound morals’ alongside physical education and modern ideas of hygiene. These were considered prerequisites for maintaining a healthy body and mind, and in society’s advancement towards a eugenic future. Educationalists such as the co-founder of the London School of Economics, Sidney Webb (who was instrumental in the establishment of the London Day Training College –now the IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society), was a key supporter of eugenics. Other examples include heads of colleges such as Margaret Tuke, Principal of Bedford College and J. J. Findlay of Owen’s College, Manchester, the London County Council’s Schools Inspector, W. H. Winch, and the educational psychologist Cyril Burt.

The cases display the intelligence tests or IQ tests from the Psychology and Human Development (PHD) Collection at the IOE. These tests were adapted by Cyril Burt from the IQ tests developed in Paris by Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon at the turn of the twentieth century. Burt’s ‘mental footrule’ was used to rate the intelligence of a child and his evaluation of mental deficiencies influenced the outcome of the 1924  Hadow report on psychological testing and the  1929 Wood Report of the Mental Deficiency Committee and the Board of Education. The latter recommended the reclassification of children considered to be ‘mentally defective’ . Also on display are publications by the experimental psychologist, H. R. Hamley and director T. Percy Nunn on The Education of Backward Children: and, Juvenile Delinquency in England and Wales as well as A Textbook of Hygiene for Training Colleges by Margaret Avery, Vice Principal of Warrington Teacher Training College.

Image of the title page of Margaret Avery's textbook 'Hygiene'

Besides focusing on biological hygiene, Avery devotes an entire chapter on eugenics. This chapter provides examples of how eugenic thinking persists in the present day and is consistent with recent statements made by some politicians currently in power. For example, Avery states that while there are many ‘causes of pauperism’, one of them is that the working classes simply ‘lack…”grit”‘(p. 310)–a message that is not dissimilar to the one recently expressed by the (now previous) prime minister in relation to ‘British workers being the worst idlers in the world’. In relation to immigrants, Avery states: ‘We should welcome the right type of immigrant and discourage the wrong type’ and ‘we… receive the off-scourings of other countries, and these are racially very undesirable’ (p. 320). Once again, this mirrors the views of the present government on refugees and immigrants. Avery ends her chapter by stating that Christianity is on the side of the eugenicists because it, ‘more than any other power, has given us a sense of the infinite value of human life, and the eugenicist is trying to prevent the wreckage of human life’ (p. 323). While the Church has spoken out against these messages in Britain, the story is far from different in the United States (see Witnessing Whiteness by Kristopher Norris). Avery’s book continued to be published in several editions until 1951. It was the recommended textbook for the Board of Education’s teachers’ examination in hygiene. Undoubtedly, it will have influenced the thinking of generations of teachers and their students.

Although the true impact of eugenics will never be known, its legacies continue to penetrate deeply and widely into the fabric of our society. Continuing education and engagement with eugenics, as well as its public condemnation, are essential components of our efforts to comprehend a hidden and ominous past, while also pursuing a fair and just society.

RIC Visiting Fellows appointed

By Erika Delbecque, on 3 October 2022

UCL Special Collections and the UCL Research Institute for Collections are delighted to announce that we have appointed two inaugural RIC Visiting Fellows. The Fellowship programme is an opportunity for external researchers to visit UCL for up to six weeks to conduct research on a topic centred on our holdings of archives, rare books, and records.

A photograph of Dr Shirin Hirsch

Dr Shirin Hirsch

Dr Shirin Hirsch will be working on a project called Young people against racism: School-student strikes and 1980s London Schools. She will be using the Ken Jones and the Marina Foster archives to explore the active role of school-students in the construction of anti-racist policy and practice in 1980s London schools.

Dr Hirsch, a Senior Lecturer in History based jointly at Manchester Metropolitan University and the People’s History Museum, is a specialist in histories of race and resistance in Modern Britain. She is in the early stages of writing a book on anti-racism in post-war British history with a focus on resistance from below, which her research at UCL Special Collections will support.

Focusing on items from the Graves Library collection, Dr Yelda Nasifoglu will study the circulation of mathematical works in Britain up to c.1700 for her project entitled Reading and Collecting Mathematics in Early Modern Britain. She will examine early modern book catalogues and individual copies from our collection to gain more insight into the mathematical book trade of this period.

Dr Nasifoglu is an historian of early modern mathematics and architecture, and an Associate Member of the Faculty of History, University of Oxford. She obtained her Ph.D. from McGill University for her dissertation entitled ‘Robert Hooke’s Praxes: Reading, Drawing, Building’, in which she studied shared practices in the scientific and architectural work of the 17th-century virtuoso Robert Hooke (1635–1703).

The Fellows will be visiting UCL in October and November of this year. During this period, they will participate in the programme of workshops, talks and lectures run by the RIC and UCL Special Collections. The events will be advertised on the RIC website and the UCL Special Collections Twitter feed.

Digitising the Annual Reports of the Institute of Archaeology, Volumes 1-13 (1938-1958)

By Vicky A Price, on 15 September 2022

This blog was written by Katie Meheux.

Volumes 1-13 (1938-1958) of the Annual Report of the Institute of Archaeology (formerly University of London, now UCL) have been digitised and made available as an open access resource through UCL Digital Collections and the Internet Archive following a project initiated by the UCL Institute of Archaeology Library and funded by UCL Special Collections.

The Annual Report was the Institute’s first annual journal, a tradition still continued today by Archaeology International. Each volume combined administrative information with academic research articles. Administrative reports outlined teaching, outreach, exhibitions, projects, excavations, collections, and lectures from visiting scholars – all the Institute’s day-to-day activities and a snapshot of its students, who came from all over the world. Research articles highlighted the international archaeological interests of the Institute’s staff – not just the academics, but librarians, photographers, and technicians too. Students also contributed research articles in a tradition now continued by Papers from the Institute of Archaeology.

A photograph of the spines of three hard back bound books. They look quite old and have library stickers on them from the Institute of Archaeology.

The Institute of Archaeology volumes – in need of conservation and looking their age.

The Report was the first journal produced by a university archaeology department in the UK and forms an important research resource for the history of the Institute of Archaeology and archaeology as an international discipline. Like all archaeological journals, the Report reflected and absorbed changes within the wider discipline and as such, charts key developments and changes in archaeological practice during the twentieth century. Volumes also allow us to see how the Institute chose to present itself to the contemporary British academic community and its wider public audience.

A close up of a page in a book with the title 'contents'. The paper is slightly coloured with age.

Contents page of the first volume of Annual Reports of the Institute of Archaeology.

The COVID pandemic, which caused extended periods of closure and limited access to libraries during 2020 and 2021, highlighted the problems of retaining such a valuable research resource as print only. There was also a conservation imperative behind the project; to protect the fragile print copies held by the Institute library. The Annual Reports join other open access Institute of Archaeology resources, notably the Gordon Childe Skara Brae Notebooks (1928-1930), digitised as a joint project with Historic Scotland. British archaeological societies and organisations have been making historic journal content available for over twenty years, both independently and through the Archaeological Data Service (ADS), the leading digital repository for heritage data in Britain. Digitising historic journals means they can be used in new ways; for example, Gwynedd Archaeological Trust volunteers have been using open access historical journals to enhance the regional Historic Environment Record (HER) for north-west Wales.

Although print copies of the Reports can be found in libraries world-wide, providing online access will assist researchers, students, and the public and help to raise awareness of the rich and significant history of the Institute of Archaeology. Digitising the journal will broaden access for scholars, students, and the public, raise awareness of the rich and significant history of the Institute of Archaeology, and protect an increasingly fragile ‘in demand’ print resource for the future.

A close up of a page of a book depicting a grand building's entrance.

A picture of the Institute of Archaeology at St Johns Lodge – the frontispiece of the first volume.

Liberating the Collections 2022: A Volunteer’s Experience of Searching UCL Special Collections

By Erika Delbecque, on 23 August 2022

This guest blog post was written by Jane McChrystal , who spent five months volunteering at UCL Special Collections as part of the Liberating the Collections project.

In March I was presented with an exciting opportunity – discovering the work of women authors published before 1750, held by UCL Library’s Special Collections. I’d been invited to join a team of volunteers for the library’s Liberating the Collections project, by Head of Rare books, Erika Delbecque. Next, Erika convened an online meeting to introduce volunteers to each other and some members of the library team. During the meeting the librarians showed us how to identify works catalogued in the Special Collections using the Explore service, knowledge which could then be applied to the pursuit of the individual projects Erika had assigned.

There were some initial qualms- what if there weren’t any works by women authors pre 1750 in UCL’s collections, or I couldn’t work out how to find them? Luckily, my supervisor, Jo Baines, Academic Liaison Librarian / Archivist, was at hand to reassure me that there were, as I’d hoped, many different ways of approaching the collections to find relevant texts, so it was fine, at this stage to try out a variety of search methods and see what worked.

Initially, I set out in quite a random fashion. I didn’t make much headway, but I was able familiarise myself with Explore and become more confident about finding my way round the collections. And then, Covid struck in April, leaving me quite foggy for a number of weeks.

Once the fog lifted, something had become clear, I needed a system. A simple idea occurred to me. How about approaching my searches with a list of women authors who lived between the 14th and 18th centuries? In this instance, Wikipedia was my friend and it helped me to compile a list of 353 authors. I then selected some who looked the most promising and noted the subjects they addressed, and the literary forms they employed, such as poetry, meditations or drama. Consequently, I was able to match the authors with the collections they were most likely to be found in and the carry out a simple author search in the catalogue of the relevant collections.

The title page of
Letters of the Right Honourable Lady M-y W–y M–e by
Mary Wortley Montagu (Dublin : Printed for P. Wilson, J. Hoey, Junior, and J. Potts, 1763). [SSEES Library, Rare Books Room, KMisc51]

The Rotton and Strong Room collections yielded eleven works by Aphra Behn, a good result, but not too surprising, as she was about the only seventeenth-century woman author I was already familiar with. Today, she is remembered chiefly for a novel, Oroonoko, the tale of a doomed affair between Oroonoko, an African prince and his love, Imoinda, set largely in Surinam played out against the background of a slaves’ revolt, and later adapted into a more successful play.

Before my search, though, I wasn’t aware of her four other dramas and poetry, mainly composed of paeons of praise to various illustrious individuals and members of royalty. I really knew very little about this literary form, but as I went ahead with further searches, I came to realise how popular it was, which makes sense when you consider the important role of patrons in literary life at the time.

And then I came across a gem in the Rotton collection, a collection of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu’s letters to various eminent men in England, concerning her travels in Europe, Africa and Asia with her husband, a British ambassador, which lists the name “Mary Astell” among its contributors.

Mary Astell (1666-1731), sometimes referred to as England’s first feminist, was the author of A Serious Proposal to the Ladies for the Advancement of their True and Greatest Interest, a Lockean philosopher and the founder of a charity school for girls in Chelsea.

She also belonged to a circle of scholarly women in Chelsea, which included Lady Mary Chudleigh, Elizabeth Thomas and Elizabeth Elstob and Wortley Montagu. Each lived in quite different circumstances, ranging from the wealthy, aristocratic Wortley Montagu to Astell.

Astell was a single woman, whose family had fallen on hard times and, as such, had no prospect of marriage to a social equal. She survived on the patronage of women, like those in the circle, who shared her interests in feminism, the oppressive nature of marital relations and the importance of a good education for girls and women.

I returned to the catalogue in search of their names and found four other works by Montagu in the Rotton Collection, largely made up of more letters about her experiences in the different countries she lived in. It is fortunate that these letters were preserved in the eminent men’s libraries and published after their estates were distributed. These texts were then picked up by collectors who donated them to UCL Library.

So, what next?  On 24th August I look forward to sharing my discoveries at a meeting of UCL Library’s Rare Books Club, where participants will have a chance to take a look at some of the texts I found and learn about the work of two fascinating women authors previously buried in the Special Collections, together with the stories of some other important women in their orbit.

All in all, these experiences of taking part in Liberating the Collections have lived up to every expectation I set out with and beyond. Working with Jo as my supervisor has been one of the most enjoyable of them and, thanks to her knowledge, flexible approach and supportive attitude, I found a path to these heroines.

Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize 2022: results announced

By Tabitha Tuckett, on 22 July 2022

We are delighted to announce the winner and finalists of this year’s Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize 2022.

The prize is open to students at London-based universities, and this year applicants included students from Birkbeck, Royal Holloway, SOAS, the Royal College Of Art and UCL.

A wide range of wonderful collections was submitted, but the panel had the difficult job of choosing a winner. Four applicants were shortlisted for the finals and presented their collections live to a panel of judges that included representatives of the Bibliographical Society, the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association and the University Of London’s Senate House Library.

collection of books & pamphlets

Items from ‘Swizzle And Serve’, the winning collection of Hannah Swan

Winner and finalists

The prize was awarded to Hannah Swan, studying for a PGDip in Archives And Records Management, for her collection entitled Swizzle and Serve: Party-Planning Books and Ephemera. She will have the opportunity to apply for the UK’s national collecting prize for students later this year.

Domenico Pino, studying for a PhD in History Of Art, was awarded an honourable mention by the judges for his collection of 19th-century Neapolitan books and prints entitled Bibliotheca Neapolitana.

shelf of books

Items from finalist Jessie Maier’s collection ‘The reclamation of Arab narratives in science fiction and graphic novels’

The other finalists were Jessie Maier, an MA student in Middle Eastern Studies, for her collection of graphic novels and science-fiction material entitled The reclamation of Arab narratives in science fiction and graphic novels and Małgorzata Dawidek, a PhD student in Fine Arts and Intermedia, for her collection of works on art, health and illness entitled Body Stories, with a particular emphasis on Polish publications.

All the finalists met with Anthony Davis and were given advice and contacts to support their future collecting. We’re delighted that Małgorzata, after being shortlisted, was awarded a grant from the Adam Mickiewicz Institute in recognition of her contribution to the dissemination of Polish culture by presenting her collection.

open book in front of books on shelves

Items from ‘Body Stories’, the collection of finalist Małgorzata.

See the shortlisted students’ collections: 27 July and 10 August

All four candidates will be presenting their collections to the public in our UCL Rare-Books Club series over the next few weeks. Domenico and Małgorzata will present in person at the UCL Bloomsbury campus in London on Wednesday 27 July: book your place on Eventbrite and drop in any time between 12.30pm and 2pm. Hannah and Jessie will present online on Wednesday 10 August 1.05-2pm: booking opens soon on the UCL Rare-Books Club Eventbrite page.

Collectors of the future

We hope you’ll be able to come along to these events to support the finalists, but we’d also like to thank all the applicants and wish them good luck and many years of joy in their future collecting. Our thanks also go to the judges for generously giving their time and, most of all, to the benefactor of the award, Anthony Davis, for helping nurture the collectors of the future with his encouragement, expertise and enthusiasm.

The New Curators Project Visit Tower Hamlets Archives

By Vicky A Price, on 11 July 2022

This blog was written by Arzama Hossain, a participant on this year’s New Curators Project. The project seeks to offer a cohort of 18-24 year olds from East London the chance to learn more about the cultural heritage sector, receive relevant training and to produce something for a real life heritage audience as part of Newham Heritage Month. In Arzama’s own words, it is ‘a project in which you learn and work’ at the same time. This blog is a reflection that she wrote after visiting Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives.

Visiting Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives

Today I had the great pleasure to visit the Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives; I really had an amazing time exploring the place and the vast collection of artefacts they have. One thing I was pleased to learn was that anyone is able to visit them and it’s not an exclusive thing, this is a good thing as it allows people interested in history to be able to research some things at the source.

One of the things I enjoyed seeing was pictures of the local area throughout the year. I think it is important to keep an archive of photos which will allow people to see the history of the place they live. Due to the vast amount of material in the place, it feels like you are able to properly get an idea of local history and how it has progressed over the years. These archives are an important part of history as they showcase the important role of minorities in the history of this country and how they have helped make Britain what it is today.

Three young adults look at an archival map.

New Curators Participants scrutinising an historical map.

Archives play an important role in our understanding of the past, as they showcase some of the hidden aspects of history that many people may not know. Throughout history, only the biggest events got the spotlight while smaller, just as significant stories aren’t told as often. A country should always acknowledge even the bad mistakes of the past as it makes sure they don’t happen again, and keeping an archive of events allows people to learn the good and bad.

I moved to England from Italy when I was 12 and started learning about British culture but not forgetting my roots, seeing my community represented in the Archive gives you some inspiration to be like the people that came before you and made this country what it is. I wanted to learn more about the history of the Bengali people in London due to being Bengali myself and seeing them represented in the archives made me proud of my roots.

Archives are important things to have as they preserve important knowledge which otherwise may have been lost. People should take a trip and visit an archive as they are open for anyone to look at.

Two young adults and an archivist look at an historical map together in grand surroundings.

Archivist Richard Wiltshire shows participants archival maps and plans.

New Jewish pamphlets

By Vanessa Freedman, on 24 June 2022

The Hebrew & Jewish Studies Collections in UCL Special Collections include a treasure trove of material in the form of pamphlets. There are over 9,000 pamphlets on a wide range of subjects throughout the field of Jewish Studies, particularly Anglo-Jewish history, Zionism and liturgy. The pamphlets date from 1601 onwards, and are in English, Hebrew, German and a number of other languages.

In 2019 we completed a project to make these rich collections available to scholars and the general public. They are now catalogued in Explore, the most fragile items have been conserved, and a selection of them have been digitised.

We haven’t finished developing this collection though, as we are still acquiring pamphlets by purchase or donation. If you have any pamphlets that you would like to donate, please contact the Hebrew & Jewish Studies librarian.

Here are a few highlights from our recent acquisitions.

Bekhi tamrurim : be-yom evel u-misped ʻal aḥenu ḥalele ha-peraʻot be-artsot Polin : yom 5, 28 Siṿan 679 li-f.-ḳ = A service of prayer and mourning for the victims of the pogroms in Poland : Queen’s Hall, June 26th, 5679-1919

Cover of pamphletOne of the highlights of the pamphlet collection is a large number of orders of service for a variety of national and communal occasions. This particular service was a cross-communal event: published by the Office of the Chief Rabbi of the United (orthodox) Synagogue, those leading the service also included Rev S.J. Roco of the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue and Rev Morris Joseph of the (Reform) West London Synagogue of British Jews. The occasion was a spate of attacks against Jews that took place in newly-independent Poland after the First World War. There were over 130 attacks against Jews in Polish territories between 1918 and 1921, causing around 300 deaths.[1] The Hebrew title Bekhi tamrurim means ‘bitter cry’.

 

 

A Palestine Munich? by R.H.S. Crossman and Michael Foot

Cover of pamphletIn this ‘provocative’[2] pamphlet, published in 1946, left-wing backbench MPs Richard Crossman and Michael Foot (later leader of the Labour Party) attack the Labour Government’s policy on Palestine. They criticise the government for indecision and compare the restriction of Jewish immigration in order to avoid Arab opposition to the pre-war appeasement of Hitler (hence the title). The pamphlet argues for the partition of Palestine to form a Jewish state and an enlarged Transjordan.

 

 

 

 

 

And finally, a fascinating oddity:

Teʻudah Yehudit = Idisher doḳumenṭ = Jewish certificate

Cover of pamphletThis ‘Jewish Certificate’, in Hebrew, Yiddish, English and Arabic, looks like a passport and includes space for the holder’s photograph, signature and personal details. It proclaims that ‘the bearer of this certificate is a Jew not a Zionist and has no connection with the nationalist movement which has gained control over the Holy Land and turned it into a Zionist state by falsely assuming the Jewish names of Zion and Israel’. It was produced in 1976 or 1977 by the anti-Zionist ultra-Orthodox group Neturei Karta, some of whose members refuse to carry an Israeli identity card[3].

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Anna Cichopek-Gajraj and Glenn Dynner, “Pogroms in Modern Poland, 1918–1946,” in Pogroms: A Documentary History, ed. Eugene M. Avrutin and Elissa Bemporad (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021), 193.

[2] Kenneth O. Morgan, “Foot, Michael Mackintosh (1913–2010), journalist, politician, and author,” in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2016).

[3] Menachem Friedman, “Neturei Karta,” in Encyclopaedia Judaica, ed. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik (Detroit, MI: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007).

Eighteenth-Century Digitisation At UCL

By Tabitha Tuckett, on 24 June 2022

This post was written by Caroline Kimbell, UCL Library Services

Allow me to introduce myself and ECCO: I’m Interim Head of Commercial Licensing and Digitisation, which involves working with publishers to identify rare books and archives for online publication, earning royalty income for the libraries, acquiring preservation images, free or discounted access to online resources and, after a suitable contractual period, allowing us to re-use digital content in any way.  In a previous career in publishing, I worked on developing “ECCO” – Gale’s Eighteenth-Century Collections Online.

Working out how many books were published in the 18th century, in the English language or in English-speaking countries has been an ambition of the library world since 1977, and the current answer according to the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC) is 351,689 held across 2,000 libraries.

You may imagine that this epic project was completed years ago, and that everything listed by ESTC would be available in ECCO or elsewhere? Not so.

For a few years now, a “final” tranche of digitisation has been in preparation to supplement ECCO’s current 180,000 titles. The “long list” for this third tranche currently stands at 78,000 titles. UCL is not an 18th century library, and when I arrived, I imagined that we would have little eligible material. I was wrong. We will be contributing about 320 items totalling around 66,000 pages, of which 59 have been accredited by ESTC as brand new entries – in other words, unique, first-time discoveries.

Many of these new finds are in UCL core subjects and include books on the volcanos of Sicily, agricultural enclosure, the structure of human teeth, works by Joseph Priestly and a Compleat History of Drugs from 1737. One among UCL’s thousands of eligible titles, inexplicably absent from Penguin Classics, “Human ordure, botanically considered” (1757), is already on ECCO but surely worth a mention?

Ladies Astronomy from 1738

Fig.1: The Ladies Astronomy And Chronology by Jasper Charlton (1738) UCL Special Collections GRAVES 15.c.6

Among female authors it is splendid to find An Essay on Combustion 1794 by Mrs Elizabeth Fulhame, “the first solo woman researcher in chemistry”, Mary Wollstonecraft on the French Revolution, the prolific Mary de la Rivière, or even a 4-part Ladies Astronomy from 1738, in which the Sun smiles approachably for female readers (fig.1)

We will also be contributing new-to-ESTC editions by major authors – Swift, Defoe, Pope, Beckford – astonishingly still coming to light in 2022. Our 1787 Mohawk language Book of Common Prayer is already online, but when it comes to travel and the exotic, we have real delights – such as new-to-ESTC, “Four letters concerning the growth of grape vines in the Island of Bermudas” from 1741 (worth a try), and a rare 1746 London edition of sci-fi novel A journey to the world under-ground by Norwegian satirist Ludwig Holberg (as in Grieg’s tribute Suite) for anyone who had ever wondered what a Baroque Dr Who monster might look like (fig.2).

A journey to the world under-ground by Nicholas Klimius

Fig.2: A Journey To The World Underground by Nicholas Klimius [i.e. Ludwig von Holberg], translated by John Lumby (1742) UCL Special Collections STRONG ROOM E 224 H61

Many of the concerns reflected in these works are mundane: parliamentary bills about pot-holes which have slipped all digital nets and a newly discovered Act from 1762  “for preventing annoyances” – still to take effect.  Alongside the irritations of urban life, we find pleasures and pastimes – A walk from St. James’s to Convent-Garden from 1717 and proto-Puzzler magazine “The British Oracle” from 1769 (“enigmas, paradoxes, rebusses, queries, epigrams & repartees”) both new to ESTC. Then there’s a 1779 edition of Hoyle’s Games: “whist, quadrille, piquet, chefs, back-gammon, draughts, cricket, tennis, quinze, hazard, lansquenet, and billiards”, or back outdoors “A dissertation on oriental gardening”, books on gunnery and the shoeing of horses along with plays from the Theatres Royal, poems and society gossip.

Unfortunately, data-combing our 18th century holdings against ESTC and the online landscape has revealed a backlog of wrinkles which are being addressed, in part by our wonderful placement student Ollie Nelmes: only 61% of our 18th century holdings were recorded on ESTC, but this project gives us a fantastic opportunity to refresh the collections, improve and enhance their discoverability and step forward as a rich repository of 18th century rare, and in some cases, unique books.