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.
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.
Archivist Richard Wiltshire shows participants archival maps and plans.
The New Curators Project is run by UCL Special Collections, in collaboration with Newham Heritage Month. It is an annual programme for young adults (aged 18-24) who are interested in working in the cultural heritage sector, whether that be the arts, libraries, museums or heritage sites. It aims to provide the training and experience required for these new professionals to take their first steps on their chosen career path, and to create an opportunity for the group to create work for a real audience as they take their first steps into this field of work.
Each year the cohort create something for Newham Heritage Month’s programme, based on the given theme. 2022’s theme is ‘What London 2012 Means to Us’, and so participants set about collecting oral histories, film footage and photography of the Olympic Park and surrounding area. This is their first short film, created in response to the theme.
Applications are now open for a very special Summer School at UCL in July 2022. Year 12s based in London are invited to join Special Collections and The Orwell Youth Prize to develop their investigative writing skills, encounter first hand stories of journalism from the past and present and meet present-day journalists who are at the forefront of their profession.
Up to 25 participants will attend a range of seminars, study sessions, writing workshops and trips that will shed light on the life of professional journalists. They will develop their own writing with support from professional journalists, who will offer advice and share their experiences. They will also learn how the work of one of the UK’s most famous journalists, George Orwell, has influenced modern day writing and thought. During the Summer School, participants will have access to Orwell’s original notes, letters and diaries in the UNESCO listed George Orwell Archive held at UCL Special Collections.
Year 12 participants at a previous UCL Special Collections Summer School.
The Summer School will take place for one week, from Monday 25 July to Friday 29 July, 10.00am – 4.00pm, and participants will be expected to attend every day.
Apply now to:
• Learn from the best; meet current day journalists who will share tips, techniques and stories from today’s real life news desks.
• Write your own journalistic piece, which will be published online by UCL Special Collections.
• Get hands-on experiences with original archive items from UCL Special Collections, including the UNESCO registered Orwell Archive.
This Summer School is suitable for a wide variety of students who are currently in Year 12 at a London state-funded school, particularly those interested in English, History, Politics, Language, Culture and Anthropology. Anyone applying should currently be studying at least one of these subjects at A level: English Literature, English Language, Politics, History.
This is a non-residential Summer School, meaning that participants will need to commute to and from UCL’s campus each day. Applications close at midnight on Sunday 12 June 2022.
If you have any queries about the Summer School or would like support with completing your application please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07741671329.
Who are We?
The Orwell Youth Prize is an independent charity that sits under the auspices of the Orwell Foundation. It is a social justice-based writing programme rooted in Orwell’s values of integrity and fairness that introduces young people to the power of language and provokes them to think critically and creatively about the world in which they are living. The prize is driven by an understanding of social and educational disadvantage in the UK and works closely with schools and individuals to deliver an annual educational programme.
University College London’s Special Collections manages an outstanding collection of rare books, archives and manuscripts, dating from the 4th century to the present day. Together, the team preserve and conserve the collection and facilitate access through a reader service, academic teaching, digitisation and outreach. The Outreach programme aims to create inspiring educational activities for audiences who would not otherwise access the university’s special collections in UCL’s neighbouring and home boroughs; Camden, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Newham and Waltham Forest.
Hidden in the Institute of Education’s Baines Archives is a small book entitled Gavin’s book of witches (BA/1/9/78).
The Baines Archives includes items related to the work of George and Judith Baines, who pioneered new teaching methods in the 1960s-1980s. The archive includes examples of student work from Eynsham County Primary School where George Baines worked as the headteacher. There are a number of small books written, illustrated, and bound by the students. One former pupil described the process:
‘A prominent memory that I have is of the book binding which not only completed a study but also became a feature. The technique is a cherished memory: the meticulous scraping of the lino block, the roller thick with sticky paint, the binding and the glue oozing out in all the wrong places, the pride of producing a book contained within a hardback.’
Gavin’s book of witches is one such example of student work. It was produced by a young pupil, probably named Gavin, who was probably still learning to write. The teacher has written the text for Gavin to copy underneath. It was then illustrated with original drawings.
The book is very short – just six pages in total. A transcription of it follows:
My witch is flying. She is going to the witches party.
She gets there first then all these come.
The witches are singing and eating at their party.
Gavin’s book of witches is the perfect Halloween story.
If you’d like to see more examples of workbooks from the Baines collection, ‘A Book of Bones’ and ‘My Book about the Potato’ are both featured in our online exhibition ‘Word as Art: Beauty in the Archives.’
For the last year or so I’ve been working on a project to catalogue the administrative records of the National Survey of Health and Development (NSHD) – Britain’s longest running birth cohort study. Although this project has been a little disrupted by the pandemic, I’m very happy to say the cataloguing is now complete!
A selection of questionnaires and interview booklets that have been used in the NSHD over the years.
The history and impact of the National Survey of Health and Development (NSHD)
The NSHD is referred to as a ‘cohort study’ or ‘longitudinal study’ because it studies the same group of people over time, collecting data from them at fairly regular intervals (in the NSHD they are referred to as ‘study members’). Monitoring the same group of people throughout their lives means that cohort studies can highlight differences in health and development that arise due to life circumstances and experiences.
The findings of the maternity survey were published in 1948.
The NSHD began in 1946 as a one-off maternity survey. The 1930s and early ‘40s was a period of anxiety in Britain over declining birth rates and high infant death rates. At the time, this also included concerns over the national economy, and whether Britain would have enough people to run the Empire. A national maternity survey was planned, to understand why people were having fewer children. It consisted of interviews with the new mothers of 13,687 babies that had all been born in Britain in the same week in March 1946. It was directed by James Douglas, a young doctor and pacifist who had gained experience of carrying out surveys and data analysis on air-raid casualties during the war. Ironically, by the time the findings of the maternity survey were published in 1948, Britain was experiencing its post-war ‘baby boom’. Although fears over fertility rates had now subsided, the survey still produced some shocking revelations.
The science journalist Helen Pearson summarises the findings of the 1946 maternity survey in her book The Life Project, which gives a history of Britain’s birth cohort studies:
“Almost every result that tumbled out of Douglas’ tabulating machine showed a country divided by class. The babies in the lowest class were 70% more likely to be born dead than those in the most prosperous, and they were also far more likely to be born prematurely.”
These outcomes were largely the result of the costs involved in accessing good antenatal care at the time. The 1946 maternity survey also highlighted that most women were unable to access any pain relief during childbirth. These findings of the maternity survey contributed to the shaping of the early NHS (launched in 1948), and led to a change in the rules so that midwives were able to administer pain relief more freely.
An extract from the 1946 Maternity Survey questionnaires (Reference Number NSHD/2/2).
Although the maternity survey was intended as a one-off, about a third of the babies were selected for a follow-up survey, and it became the basis for an ongoing longitudinal study of health and development. In addition to health, the NSHD became influential in education and social policy. Douglas published the book The Home and the School in 1964, which demonstrated that children from more disadvantaged backgrounds were much less likely to go to grammar school, even when they were judged to be of similar ability. These findings contributed to the introduction of the ‘comprehensive’ school system in 1965.
Although the NSHD’s funding was precarious in its early years, from 1962 it secured regular core funding from the Medical Research Council (MRC). In its later years the NSHD evolved into a study of adult health (including mental health), and the life factors involved in developing certain illnesses and conditions. Today the NSHD remains an active, ongoing study, now oriented towards being a study of ageing. It has just had its 75th birthday as the NSHD study members turned 75 in March 2021. This online talk on the history of the NSHD was given as part of the 75th birthday celebrations:
As mentioned in that talk, the NSHD cohort is representative of the racial demographics of Britain when the study began, rather than Britain’s racial demographics today. As the NSHD study members were born in 1946, before the significant levels of immigration to Britain that happened in subsequent decades, the cohort is therefore overwhelmingly white. However, the impact of the NSHD provided the inspiration for several later British cohort studies, notably the 1958 National Child Development Study, the 1970 British Cohort Study, and the Millennium Cohort Study. These three later cohort studies are administered by a different organisation, the Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS), whose archives are also stored at UCL.
What’s in the NSHD archive?
It’s important to stress that none of the research data are included in this archive – this in an administrative archive whose documents demonstrate which kinds of data were collected, why particular questions were asked, and how the study has changed over time. A key part of the NSHD archive is the series of blank questionnaires and interview booklets, running from the 1946 maternity survey through to the present. From these you can see each and every question that has been asked as part of the study. The topics they cover include health, education, employment, income, housing, family, and social attitudes. The study members also took cognitive and attainment tests at ages 8, 11, and 15.
A page from the ‘Picture Intelligence Test’ given to the NSHD study members when they were aged 8, as part of the 1954 data collection (NSHD/2/8/3).
In 1962, the NSHD study members turned 16, which meant it would be much harder for the study to keep in touch with them. As a result, the NSHD began sending birthday cards to each study member every March (remember the NSHD study members all have roughly the same birthday!) Each year the card would have a new design, sometimes chosen through competitions. In a recent article, Hannah Elizabeth and Daisy Pailing explain how the NSHD birthday cards have evolved over time, how they led to the development of close bonds between the NSHD and its study members, and how the birthday cards demonstrate “the growing awareness of importance of emotion within British social science research communities”.
The first NSHD birthday card was sent out in March 1962, when the study members turned 16. The 1962 card is the only NSHD birthday card to have designs for different genders: female, left (NSHD/8/2/1/1); and male, right (NSHD/8/2/1/2).
The 50th birthday card, sent out in March 1996, featured pictures of NSHD staff members (NSHD/8/2/1/36). James Douglas (top, centre) was director of the NSHD 1946-1979; Michael Wadsworth (top right) was director 1986-2006; and Diana Kuh (bottom right) was director 2007-2017.
The archive also contains a wealth of planning documents, progress reports and grant applications, which demonstrate the rigorous and constant scrutiny involved in the study, and which also document the way the study has evolved over time. These records will allow researchers to see not just which questions were asked but why those particular questions were asked, and not others. These documents also capture the way that the importance of ethics and consent have changed over time in scientific research.
NSHD Progress Reports to the MRC, from 1965 (left, NSHD/3/1), and from 2012 (right, NSHD/3/9/3).
This cataloguing project was given the title ‘Interconnections’ due to the links between social science and medical science in the NSHD. The NSHD archive will therefore be of particular interest to researchers of either field.
The Outreach team at UCL Special Collections have spent a great six weeks delivering an after school club to Year 7, 8 and 9 pupils at William Ellis School. Pupils attended in their free time to explore how written texts have been produced through the ages and to learn about some of the ways printing has influenced western society.
Each session involved a hands on art or craft activity, producing manuscripts complete with calligraphy and gold leaf, block prints of historiated initials and lino cut illustrations. We are proud to share the end results of this final task with you – pupils were asked to choose a poem from a selection and to create an image they felt represented the poem in a lino print.
I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers,
From the seas and the streams;
I bear light shade for the leaves when laid
In their noonday dreams.
From my wings are shaken the dews that waken
The sweet buds every one,
When rocked to rest on their mother’s breast,
As she dances about the sun.
I wield the flail of the lashing hail,
And whiten the green plains under,
And then again I dissolve it in rain,
And laugh as I pass in thunder.
It takes more than a wish
to catch a fish
you take the hook
you add the bait
and then you wait
you wait you wait
but not a bite
the fish don’t have
so tell them what
good bait you’ve got
and how your bait
can hit the spot
this works a whole
lot better than
if you really
want to catch
One of my first tasks as a project archivist at UCL has been to catalogue the papers of the philosopher and educator Louis Arnaud Reid. Reid became the first Professor of Philosophy at the Institute of Education, and was a strong advocate of the importance of art in education. He retired in 1962, but continued writing and teaching as an emeritus professor right up until his death in 1986 at the age of 90. These papers were donated by his widow Molly.
The first thing that strikes you about the papers of Louis Arnaud Reid is the sheer volume of work. We have his drafts of 48 articles, papers, and books that he wrote. Draft after draft is typed, annotated with notes, and immaculately Tippexed. Here is someone who must have sat at his typewriter for hours on end, day after day. And this went on for decades – Reid published his first article in 1922, and his final book was published in 1986.
This photo of Reid was probably taken around 1940 or 1950. Despite looking very serious here, his correspondence hints at someone who was warm and affectionate. Below is an extract of a letter he wrote to a friend to ask for help in editing one of his books. He finished the letter by signing off:
“I know you’re enormously busy, and am really sorry to make it worse. I do wish we could meet sometimes. If it would save your time I could come to Cambridge; but I think it would probably have to be by train. ‘Thanking you in anticipation’ (as they say) and very much love (as I say!) Louis”
A letter to a friend
As for Reid’s contribution to the fields of philosophy, education and art – his colleague Tony Dyson summarised his work in an article shortly before Reid’s death:
“What is perhaps most remarkable about Louis Arnaud Reid’s life’s work is its consistency: he was writing about feeling and knowledge in the 1920s – and this is still his major preoccupation. The fact that his ideas have been assimilated and frequently employed – consciously or otherwise – by other apologists for the arts is clear evidence of the effectiveness of his mission. He has provided us with a formidable armoury in defence of the arts in education and, in so doing, he has ‘made philosophy live’ for very, very many, far beyond the immediate circle of his students and colleagues.”
Article in ‘Alumnis, The Review of the Institute of Education Society’ (1985)
Reid’s friend and peer Harold Osborne has also written that Reid was “clear that the central purpose of education should be the enrichment and development of the personality as a whole, and this must include the enhancement and honing of that power of direct apprehension which can never be wholly accommodated within verbal propositions” (quoted in Reid’s obituary in The Journal of Art & Design Education, written by Sheila Paine).
Amongst his papers, Reid has also retained material from his seminars at the IOE. Reid’s teaching methods with students are demonstrated here in his typed seminar questions for his students, and students’ written reports from each seminar group discussion have also been kept. His love of art is also clear from two sketchbooks which include Reid’s sketches in watercolour, crayon, and pencil, including the picture below:
One of Reid’s sketches, c.1973
However, his self-written bio for the department at the IOE includes the note:
“Nearly killed myself in the past trying to paint. Have vague dreams of returning to it; but apprehensive of effects!”
A self-written bio at the IOE
Overall, between the many typed drafts of articles and book chapters, the notes from his taught seminars at the IOE, and Reid’s own handwritten notes, there is likely to be much of interest here to a researcher of the philosophy of art and education, and how the two should be combined.
After writing this blog, I later catalogued a small, additional amount of ‘oversize’ material that had been included in Reid’s papers and stored separately, and its content was a little unexpected. It consisted mainly of photographs and pupils’ schoolwork from the Romford County High School for Girls, dating from 1907 to about 1946. Louis Arnaud Reid was never a teacher or a pupil at this school, and would have been only 12 years old in 1907. How, then, did he come to possess this material?
Romford County High School for Girls was founded in 1906 by Frances Bardsley. The school today is known as The Frances Bardsley Academy for Girls, and its website provides some background on her, along with some photographs:
Frances Bardsley graduated from London University in 1895 and then trained to be a teacher at the Cambridge Training College. At this time, when women had very limited opportunities, it would have been quite rare for a woman to achieve this level of academic education, and to pursue this career path.
Looking through these papers, you get a sense of the activities carried out at the school, under Bardsley’s time there. Decorated ‘Form Book’ folders contain colourful drawings and paintings, poems, and short stories which are often annotated with sketches, all created by the pupils. Programmes of school events reveal festival days at the school, which included activities such as drama, tableaux, choir singing, ‘moving pictures’, recitations, written articles, band performances, cooking, drawing, flower pressing, and dress making. Prizes were given in each category, and guests were sometimes invited, for example Elizabeth Hughes (Bardsley’s former mentor at the Cambridge Training College) and Sophia Bryant (the first woman in Britain to earn a science doctorate).
It seems fairly clear that these papers once belonged to Frances Bardsley. It is not at all clear how they came to be in Louis Arnaud Reid’s possession, however he may have acquired and kept them due to the way they vividly demonstrate how art, poetry, drama, music, and fun can be used in education. Frances Bardlsey lived until 1952 (aged 80), at which point Reid had already been teaching at the IOE for five years, so it is possible that the two met at some point to discuss their ideas and experiences regarding education and the arts.
The catalogue for Louis Arnaud Reid’s papers (including the material from the Romford County High School for Girls) can be viewed online here.
We can go one better than the traditional ‘ten Lords’ and offer you ‘one royal’…
We’re not going to lie to you, this one is a bit tenuous. But we couldn’t resist the opportunity to share one of our most successful outreach projects to date.
Thousands of children have been involved in an immersive First World War education programme that UCL Special Collections have played a key role in delivering. This was part of the Shrouds of the Somme project, one of the major centrepieces of Armistice commemorations that took place at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park from Thursday 8 to Sunday 18th November this year.
The Shrouds of Somme project is the brainchild of Artist Rob Heard, who has spent the past five years making more than 72,000 small shrouded figures, each one representing one of the men killed and never recovered from the battled field at the Battle of the Somme. On Thursday 8 November, each of the shrouds were laid out as a graphic reminder of the scale of sacrifice they made in the Great War. The installation welcomed just under 3000 school pupils as well as around 85,000 members of the public.
Photographs of the Shrouds of the Somme installation and artist Rob Heard, courtesy of the Shrouds of the Somme.
UCL Special Collections teamed up with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and UCL Institute of Education’s First World War Centenary Battlefields Tour Programme to create free online teacher resources, worksheets for visiting schools and a programme of workshops for schools in the neighbouring Olympic Park boroughs (Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Waltham Forest and Newham). Special Collection’s Education Coordinator, Vicky Price, delivered 33 workshops, visiting 12 schools and reaching almost 1000 pupils.
Pupils at Randal Cremer Primary School in a workshop delivered by UCL Special Collections.
Resource packs for Shrouds of the Somme workshops.
The workshops combined historical enquiry with creative writing and used primary resources from UCL‘s College archive. Through exploring archival items like Rosenberg’s student record and a publication of perhaps his most famous poem, Break of Day in the Trenches (in Poetry: a magazine of verse. Vol. IX (3), December 1916 [reprint edition, 1966], STORE Little Magazines), pupils learnt of the poet Isaac Rosenberg, who had been a student at the Slade School of Fine Art. He grew up in a Jewish working class family in Mile End and went to art school to become a painter. When war broke out, he volunteered to fight, sending poetry back to the UK from the trenches. He was killed in France in 1918.
But where does the royalty come in? (I hear you say). Well, we were honoured to be invited to attend a visit by The Princess Royal at the installation site. Vicky Price (UCL Special Collections Education Coordinator) shook the Princess’ hand and explained the work we had done alongside pupils and the Head Teacher from the Bobby Moore Academy.
The Princess Royal meets Vicky Price from UCL Special Collections, alonside pupils and Head Teacher Dr Foley from Bobby Moore Academy at the Shrouds of the Somme installation.
Last week saw UCL Special Collections hold its first Widening Participation Summer School. For four days, a group of twelve 17 year olds from in and around London explored archives, rare books and manuscripts here at UCL, guided by colleagues within Special Collections.
We had brilliant time, and were impressed with the students’ ability to link collection items to areas of their own knowledge and contextual understanding. We also spent a day at The National Archives, visiting their current exhibition, Suffragettes vs. The State, and discussing the notion of authenticity in relation to exhibition interpretation. The participants then got to work researching collection items from UCL Special Collections, developing interpretation for a public exhibition on the final day.
You can see examples of their work in this video:
We would like to thank everyone at Library Services for accommodating the group, whether that be in the Science Library or the Institute of Education Library, and for Special Collections colleagues who offered their time and expertise.
We are excited to announce UCL Special Collections’ newest addition to the outreach and education programme – our first Summer School programme, in August 2018!
We will be offering 14 Year 12 students a chance to learn about all things special collections – from what we keep, why we keep it, how we keep it and how our collections can be significant to an array of audiences.
Funded by Widening Participation, the four day programme will make good use of our wonderful host city; we will explore how special collections items are interpreted and displayed at The National Archives (at their exciting current exhibition Suffragettes vs.The City) and The British Library.
Our team of specialists will offer guidance and advice as participants explore the notion of authenticity in interpretation, and participants will experiment with applying what they have learnt to some chosen manuscripts, rare books and archival items at UCL.
The final result will be an exhibition that presents students’ own responses, in a variety of formats and genres, alongside the items themselves. The exhibition will take place in UCL’s South Junction Reading Room on August 9th from 2pm to 4pm – it will be free and open to the public, so please come along!*
*Visitors are invited to pop in at any time between 2pm and 4pm. Should the room become full we might ask you to wait a short while before entry, due to space restrictions.
“Nativity”, in: R 221 DICTIONARIES DYC 1748: Dyche, A new general English dictionary (London, 1748)
A substantial amount of Special Collections’ work is in teaching and teaching support across a broad range of subjects: classics, law, library studies, architecture, history, maths – the list goes on. Sometimes this is a single class on using historical and primary materials, but this may also be a series of sessions, as with the Archival Research and Oral History in Education (AROHE) module, taught at UCL Institute of Education.
This year AROHE students have explored the topics of international education, special educational needs, progressive education and multi-racial education, using items from Newsam Archives, to focus on areas like visual sources, curriculum, biography and learners’ voices.
One of the visual sources picked out by students was this photo from the Amelia Fysh collection:
Although they weren’t given any contextual or identifying information about the photography, it was immediately recognised as a school nativity play. Mary, Joseph and chorus of angels were all correctly identified, and after some discussion, so were the Three Wise Men and the shepherds. (The shepherds are very well dressed; fortuitously, the Three Wise Men can be distinguished by their crowns.)
However, when it came to dating the photograph, the students came somewhat unstuck. The wearing of costumes make it impossible to use fashion to estimate when the photograph was taken, and likewise most of the children’s heads are covered, so nor can their hair styles be used as a guide. In the end, it was suggested that the photo was probably “old”, because it was black and white.
This gave me something of a shock. Not the assertion itself; it may have been a little misguided (black and white film is still in use today, not to mention the black and white or sepia filters of digital photography!) but learning how to draw on others’ research, context clues and our own personal knowledge to understand objects is at the very heart of using archive materials. No – what stunned me was the realisation that many of today’s students are too young to recognise the product of a 1990’s style black-and-white photocopier…
In case you’re wondering – the image is from a booklet from Beech Green Nursery School, featuring photos from 1956-1973 (the booklet itself was created in 2002). Whether you think this can be considered “old” or not is up to you – although colour photography was definitely around by the 1950’s!