Highlights of the National Aerospace Library

Tony Pilmer, Librarian at the National Aerospace Library, picks out some of the things that make the library special…

Photo of the National Aerospace Library reading room

National Aerospace Library reading room

The National Aerospace Library is the rather grand name of the library and archive of the Royal Aeronautical Society. The Society is open to anyone who is professionally interested in aeroplanes, helicopters, drones, launching things into space, hot air balloons etc., whether they are involved in designing, building, maintaining, testing, flying, administering, litigating – or simply enjoy researching the history of aviation.

The Society started in 1866 when a group of scientifically-minded individuals got together to work out how people could fly. For that, of course, they needed access to the best literature available, and so the library began. Then, as members got older and started looking for safe homes for their collections, the Society’s library was found to be a natural choice.

For over one hundred and fifty years we have continued to give members (and now non-members) access to the best of new resources, whilst also preserving some amazing historical materials for historians, and indeed anyone looking for old answers to new questions.

Photo of the interior of the National Aerospace Library

We open the doors of our Farnborough Reading Room to all, although the specialist nature of our collections means that we mainly attract professionals, historians and undergraduate and postgraduate students – there are hundreds of dissertations and theses waiting to be written on our shelves.

Our tours can last from two minutes to two hours (more if you get lost exploring our shelves), so I thought I’d better limit myself to highlighting seven things that make the National Aerospace Library so special…

#1: New stuff

We collect the best new aerospace publications, including textbooks, conference proceedings, journals and magazines. We also go through our new journals and transfer the details of the articles of most interest to our members and readers onto our library catalogue and, as a consequence, onto COPAC.

#2: Rather old stuff

The Library holds aeronautical material dating from 1515 onwards. Some of the gems of our collections have been digitised and placed on our heritage website, including the first technical drawings of an aeroplane and the notebooks of the Father of Aeronautics, Sir George Cayley.

Page from the notebook of Horace Short (1909)

Page from the notebook of Horace Short, containing detailed sketches of the Wright Flyer from which the first official aircraft plans were made (1909)

Page from Sir George Cayley's notebook - 'Sea' (1799-1811)

Page from Sir George Cayley’s notebook – ‘Sea’ (1799-1811)

#3: Royal Aeronautical Society stuff

Letter from Orville Wright to Griffiths Brewer, 1922

Letter from Orville Wright to Griffiths Brewer, 1st April 1922

Royal Aeronautical Society members have always been at the cutting edge of research.

Not only do we have letters from members of the Society to key figures in aviation, including the Wright Brothers, we also have recordings of lectures and interviews with many of them.

We have started to make available some of our audio material as podcasts, including recordings of Chuck Yeager and the men behind the Fairey Delta II and the World Speed Record of 1956.

We also hold the Royal Aeronautical Society Archive, which contains some wonderful material, including this cartoon of Sir Robert Hardingham, one of the Society’s past presidents.

Cartoon of Sir Robert Hardingham, President of the Royal Aeronautical Society

Cartoon of Sir Robert Hardingham, President of the Society of Licensed Aircraft Engineers and Technologists, later part of the Royal Aeronautical Society. Tech Air (February 1969)  p.23

#4: Photo collection

We hold over one hundred thousand images in our photographic collection. We work with the Mary Evans Picture Library to market our digitised collections to individuals and to corporate users and…

Okay, I’m rumbled, I’ve just added this paragraph so that I can include some nice photos of aeroplanes!

Photo of 18 Hawker Hunters of 111 Squadron at the Farnborough Air Show in 1960

18 Hawker Hunters of 111 Squadron at the Farnborough Air Show in 1960

Photo of Airship R101 at its mooring mast at Cardington, about 1929

Airship R101 at its mooring mast at Cardington, about 1929

Photo of the first flight of the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works DarkStar, 29 March 1996

The first flight of the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works DarkStar, 29 March 1996

#5: Volunteers

We have a great band of volunteers who are helping us to conserve and record our collections…

Photo of National Aerospace Library volunteers at work...

National Aerospace Library volunteers at work…

#6: Staff

…and we have a small, but perfectly formed staff to help readers find the material they want, whether in person, by phone or via e-mail. Our Chief Librarian, Brian Riddle, has worked in the Library for over thirty years – so what he doesn’t know about the collections isn’t worth knowing!

Photo of Brian Riddle

Brian Riddle

#7: Turning grown adults back into small children

After just an hour at the National Aerospace Library, even the most serious grown-up has often turned back into the girl or boy who first saw an aeroplane swoop down in front of their eyes.

We have heard though that not everybody likes aeroplanes as much as we do, and for those who don’t there are over fifty other libraries like ours – of professional and learned societies – both scattered around London and further afield. You can find out how to access the library on your favourite subject by visiting the website of the London Learned & Professional Societies Librarians’ Group.

Tony Pilmer
Librarian

The National Aerospace Library
The Hub
Fowler Avenue
Farnborough Business Park
Farnborough, Hampshire
GU14 7JP

+44 (0)1252 701038 or +44 (0)1252 701060
hublibrary@aerosociety.com
www.aerosociety.com/nal

All images copyright the National Aerospace Library/Royal Aeronautical Society, reproduced with kind permission of the copyright holder.

Changed Utterly: The 1916 Easter Rising Resource at the Library of Trinity College Dublin

In our latest feature Shane Mawe, Assistant Librarian at the Library of Trinity College Dublin, tells us about Changed Utterly: Ireland and the Easter Rising, the Library’s new online resource about the history of the 1916 Easter Rising.

 

Photograph of the Berkeley Library, Trinity College Dublin, Trinity Week 2015

The Berkeley Library, Trinity College Dublin, Trinity Week 2015

The 1916 Easter Rising was an armed insurrection against British rule in Ireland which took place between 24 and 30 April 1916, mainly in Dublin, but with skirmishes in other areas. Mounted by around 1,200 insurgents from republican groups, the Rising was quickly suppressed by British forces, culminating in the execution of fifteen of the leaders in May 1916.

In April 2015 the Library of Trinity College Dublin embarked on an ambitious blog project to commemorate the Rising. 52 blog posts were published during the lead up to the anniversary commemorations in April 2016. The aim of the blog was to showcase the surprising breadth of the 1916 collections held by the Library and to act as a catalyst for research. Topics ranged from our copy of the Easter Proclamation to working conditions in Dublin Zoo during the conflict.

The summer of 2016 saw a performance of Bairbre Ní Chaoimh’s site-specific theatrical work, ‘Meeting ghosts in College Park’, which focused on characters whose 1916 stories were covered in the blog (John Joly, Elsie Mahaffy’s sister Rachel, and Lilly Stokes). We were also fortunate in 2016 to host the visit of Harry and Pearse O’Hanrahan, grandnephews of Micheál Ó hAnnrachain. Features in the print media (including The Irish Times and The Guardian) helped promote the work and raise the profile of the collections, and a number of our blog posts contributed to the Irish Examiner’s Irish Revolution series.  The project also proved useful as an educational tool for primary schools throughout Ireland.

Overall, it was very gratifying to see such an upsurge of interest in the 1916 collections throughout the year.

We are now delighted to announce that the Changed Utterly blog has been redeveloped into a website. Launched in April 2017, the portal incorporates a broader selection of Easter Rising resources. Among the many new features are links to our online exhibition (in conjunction with the Google Cultural Institute) of photographs taken by Thomas Johnston Westropp of the ruins of Dublin, and a 44 page booklet covering the history of Trinity during the Rising and recording the events which commemorated the centenary. We are also pleased to report that the website has been shortlisted in the category of ‘Promoting Ireland Overseas’ at the upcoming Ireland eGovernment Awards. You can access the full site here: www.tcd.ie/library/1916.

Images from 'Views of the Ruins of Dublin', Thomas J. Westropp

Images from ‘Views of the Ruins of Dublin’, Thomas J. Westropp (Manuscripts & Archives Research Library, Trinity College Dublin, IE TCD MS 5870)

The blog posts on the site explore the Library of Trinity College Dublin’s collections of 1916 related material originating from before, during and after the Rising, from all sides of the political spectrum. Our Twitter account (@TCDLib1916) also draws heavily on the collections in an effort to promote the blog and the Library’s resources.

One such resource is the Samuels Collection of Printed Ephemera which consists of material related to the 1916 Rebellion, World War I, the War of Independence and the Civil War. It was gathered in part by the Royal Irish Constabulary, and collected by Arthur Warren Samuels (1852-1925), Solicitor General for Ireland (1917-1918) and Attorney General (1918-1919). The collection of 642 items includes political pamphlets and broadsides, ballads and songs, and other forms of printed political items. The collection is fully catalogued and available to explore on COPAC (search using the author ‘Samuels Collection’).

With the help of our colleagues in Preservation & Conservation and Digital Resources & Imaging Services the collection is now fully digitised and freely available to view via the Digital Collections portal.

Shane Mawe
Assistant Librarian
Department of Early Printed Books and Special Collections
The Library of Trinity College Dublin
The University of Dublin
epbooks@tcd.ie

All images copyright the Board of Trinity College Dublin, reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holder.

University of Sheffield Festival of Arts & Humanities Showcase Event

Jacky Hodgson, Head of Special Collections at the Western Bank Library, University of Sheffield, tells us about an event showcasing items from their collections to an audience beyond the University.

As part of the third Sheffield Festival of Arts & Humanities, the University of Sheffield Library’s Special Collections team recently took part in a Showcase Event in the Millennium Galleries in Sheffield city centre. Alongside us were colleagues from the National Fairground & Circus Archive (whose collections can be browsed at the Archives Hub), and many academics and students from across the Faculty of Arts & Humanities, presenting bite-size talks, activities and materials relating to their research interests to the general public.

The Special Collections team decided to showcase a variety of materials from our archive and rare book collections which support academic research, some of it relating to the local area and some of more general interest. As well as a stall on which to display physical objects for visitors to look at and handle, we also used a plasma screen to highlight some of our digital collections.

Examples of the collections on digital display included:

  • Photographs of late 19th century Sheffield from the Beet Lantern Slide Collection, a collection of almost 2,500 magic lantern slides covering a wide range of subjects, originally assembled by Arthur Edgar Beet in the early twentieth century
  • Twenty-four digitised images from the portfolio of hand-coloured lithographs entitled Recollections of the Great Exhibition 1851 

    Lithograph illustration from Recollections of the Great Exhibition 1851

    De Le Rue’s Stationary Stand and Envelope Machine, from Recollections of the Great Exhibition 1851

  • A selection of images from the Knoop Far East Photographic Collection (http://www.shef.ac.uk/library/special/knoop), documenting a visit to China, Korea, Japan and many other lands in 1913-1914 by Douglas Knoop, lecturer in Economics at the University of Sheffield

    Photograph of dancing Geisha girls

    Dancing Geisha girls, Japan (1913), from the Knoop Far East Photographic Collection

  • A sound recording of the Sheffield miner and poet ‘Totley Tom’ Hague, reciting some of his dialect verse

We also displayed material from our physical collections relating to research being carried out by academic colleagues in the Faculty of Arts & Humanities, including:

  • Documents from the recently deposited James Montgomery & Sheffield Sunday Schools Union Archive, including hymn sheets and programmes for Whitsuntide gatherings, newspaper cuttings and scrapbooks

The event ran from 11am to 4pm on Saturday 11 March 2017, with the opportunity to set up the stall from 9am. Four members of the Special Collections team took part, two in the morning and two in the afternoon. As well as the material on display, we also took our pop-up banner giving information about our collections and our contact details, plus flyers and postcards inviting visitors to register to be kept informed about future activities.

Photo of the Special Collections stall

The Special Collections stall at the Arts & Humanities showcase event

It was an enjoyable and successful day – time flew by as we chatted to a steady flow of visitors about the material on display. Some of our visitors were members of the Faculty of Arts & Humanities who were interested to see a few of our less well known collections, but the majority were members of the public curious to know more about the University’s research and collections.

The caricatures volume drew particular interest, as did the Whit Walks hymn sheets which brought back memories for some of the older visitors.  We were also asked some general questions about using archives for family and local history research. Organisers reported that around 1,000 people visited the event during the course of the day, and that feedback was extremely positive.

The cutter cut up, or, the monster at full length… Anon (1790), from the collection of caricatures

As well as our colleagues from the National Fairground & Circus Archive, other stalls included Dr Jonathan Rayner’s research into the First World War magazine The War Illustrated which is held in our collections;  the AHRC-funded Digital Panopticon project, enabling researchers to trace and explore the lives of convicts between 1780 and 1925; an opportunity provided by the Sheffield Institute for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies (SIIBS) for children to create a Greek Pantry God (Zeus Ktesios); and (rather worryingly for us librarians!) a family activity which involved chopping up books to create a stop-motion animation.

Cover of The War Illustrated Vol. 3, No. 72 (1916), from the War Magazines Collection

All in all, a very enjoyable and worthwhile occasion, providing us with the opportunity to showcase some of our collections and our work to the local community outside the University, and also to discover more about the research that our academic colleagues are engaged in.

Jacky Hodgson
Head of Special Collections
Western Bank Library
University of Sheffield

All images copyright the University of Sheffield Library and Michael Kindellan/Constitutional Information, reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holders.

Durham Cathedral’s Treasures

 Durham Cathedral MSS A.I.3 – St Cuthbert ©Chapter of Durham Cathedral


Durham Cathedral MSS A.I.3 – St Cuthbert ©Chapter of Durham Cathedral

Durham Cathedral’s Library can be traced back to the community of St Cuthbert originating in the 7th century at Lindisfarne. After fleeing Holy Island after Viking invasion, they settled in Durham in 995 bringing with them, alongside the body of Cuthbert and his sacred relics, their most precious manuscripts and scholarly works. In 1093, the Normans settled in Durham, establishing a Benedictine Community of Monks, and after the dissolution of the priory in 1539, the cathedral was re-founded under a dean and chapter who inherited much of what survived of the priory’s collection of manuscripts and printed books.

Durham Cathedral maintains the most complete in-situ medieval monastic library in Britain, built around these 308 surviving manuscripts and volumes, and also retains a collection of over 30,000 early printed books dating from the 16th to the 19th century. It also holds a manuscript music collection mostly comprising part-books used by the cathedral choir from the 17th to the 19th century, and printed secular and instrumental music. The post-1851 Chapter collection specialises in church history, local history, bibliography and architecture. We also maintain a modern theological lending library of around 15,000 titles on behalf of the Lord Crewe Trust.

The Cathedral also retains a substantial Archive, one of the most complete and extensive monastic archives to survive in Britain in its original location. Our colleagues at Durham University Library manage the Archives on our behalf. Among the many treasures held in the Archives, the Cathedral remains unique in holding three engrossments of the Magna Carta, alongside their corresponding Charters of the Forest – from 1216, 1225 and 1300.

King John Seal, Magna Carta, 1300 (DCL 2.2.Reg.2 ) ©Chapter of Durham Cathedral

King John Seal, Magna Carta, 1300 (DCL 2.2.Reg.2 ) ©Chapter of Durham Cathedral

The library is perhaps somewhat unique in that it retains responsibility not only for the paper and parchment collections owned by the Cathedral, but for all of its objects too. We care for tens of thousands of artefacts of historical, cultural, and religious significance including paintings, carved stones, textiles, metalwork, and even whale bones. The collections date as far back as the Anglo-Saxon period, and include the holy relics of St Cuthbert.

My role as Head of Collections is a busy one, overseeing the management of two Reading Rooms in order to facilitate access to the library collections (modern and historic), and since July, also having oversight of the Cathedral’s Open Treasure exhibition spaces. The claustral spaces have been opened to the public to host an interactive display showcasing the history of the Cathedral, the life of St Cuthbert and the many facets of life in a monastic community. We have also developed new exhibition galleries which will allow us to display many of the Cathedral’s treasured manuscripts and artefacts in environmentally controlled conditions. It’s an exciting opportunity to not only permanently display the relics of St Cuthbert in a beautiful environment which will help protect the objects, but also to be able to manage an ever-changing exhibition programme to allow people to see the wide range of objects held by the Cathedral. More information can be found here: https://www.durhamcathedral.co.uk/open-treasure.

Open Treasure, Monks’ Dormitory ©Peter Burmann

Open Treasure, Monks’ Dormitory ©Peter Burmann

To support Open Treasure, and to complement the exhibitions, new outreach programmes have been developed. The library plays a lead role through hosting visits from reading groups, displaying volumes from the collections which will hopefully inspire further learning and interest.

We will also contribute to the Education team’s Young Curator’s group. Targeting 11-15 year olds, the programme will teach children all about the art of creating an exhibition, to mirror those the Cathedral are creating.

The collections have traditionally been made available in a broader sense in a variety of ways.

Refectory Library ©Peter Burmann

Refectory Library ©Peter Burmann

Library staff undertake numerous displays and tours for all sorts of groups and to the public on a dizzying array of subjects – catering for coach parties, architecture and medieval manuscript students, specialist academics attending study days during Holy Week, potential donors, and on open days to the public.

Our visitors appreciate the opportunity to see material which is usually locked away and out of sight   – it can inspire that desire to learn more and widen access to the collections in the most positive of ways, adding an extra understanding to people’s concepts about the Cathedral and its wider role.

While Open Treasure will keep us even busier, we welcome the opportunity to showcase our collections in a beautiful and environmentally stable location. If you ever find yourself in Durham, please let us know. We would be delighted to show you around.

Lisa Di Tommaso
Head of Collections

All images copyright the Chapter of Durham Cathedral and Peter Burmann and reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holders.

The Library of the Zoological Society of London

A couple of months ago I was asked by Copac to write a piece about the Library that I work in, and I was only too happy to oblige as I can proudly say I work in a very special library, which I’d love to tell you more about…

My name is Emma, and I’m the Deputy Librarian at the Library of the Zoological Society of London.  We’re situated just on the edge of Regent’s Park, next to London Zoo, and we are one of the largest (and oldest) zoological libraries in the world!  We have in the region of 200,000 items on our shelves, comprising of about 40,000 books, 5000 journal titles, along with art works and archives, all of which are related to the study of zoology.  We also have nearly 20,000 unique records on Copac, demonstrating how unusual some of the items in our collection are.

Photo of ZSL Library interior

ZSL Library interior

You may have noticed that I tend to stress that the Library is part of the Zoological Society of London, and that’s because ZSL is made up of many departments working together on a range of projects, across the globe.  ZSL is comprised of not only London Zoo, but also Whipsnade Zoo, and very importantly the huge team of scientists and conservationists that make up two departments called the Institute of Zoology and Conservation Programmes.   The Library has the challenging task of trying to support the needs of the staff in all of these areas (many of whom are overseas) ranging from ordering books about the naked mole rat for Keeper staff here in London, to helping with literature searching about the red panda for our colleagues out in Nepal!  The Library is also open to members of the public, with the hope that we might inspire an enthusiasm for the conservation of animals.

Also, people are often surprised to find out that the Zoological Society of London has a rich history – a history that the Library has been intertwined with from ZSL’s founding in 1826.  In 1826, an ambitious man named Sir Stamford Raffles founded ZSL to meet the needs of the growing zoological community.  One of the obvious aims was to create a living collection of animals, but another very important goal was to create a leading zoological library.  In the early days the library had various locations across London, including Leicester Square and Hannover Square, but by 1910 it was decided that the library should be closer to the living animal collection in Regent’s Park, and from that day on is where the Library has remained.

To give an idea of the kind of material ZSL Library holds, we wanted to share with you some of the highlights of the collection, but it has been proving very difficult to select just a few as there are so many to choose from!  So I hope you don’t mind that I’ve selected a few that are my personal favourites, and hopefully you can see why.

Historiae animalium / by Konrad Gessner (1516-1565). – Tiguri : Froschover, 1551-85

Konrad Gessner was a Swiss naturalist, who was trying to describe all of the animals that were known (and unknown) at the time, and his 5 book work, Historiae animalium, is the culmination of his efforts.  In these books can be found descriptions of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles – some accurate, but some curious, like this ‘giraffe’ below.  This is also one of our oldest books in the Library.

‘Giraffe’ picture - Historiae animalium

‘Giraffe’ picture – Historiae animalium by Konrad Gessner (1516-1565).

Daily Occurrences

The Library also contains a unique archival collection relating to the history of ZSL, and one of our more heavily consulted items is a series of volumes called Daily Occurrences.  They record the comings and goings of animals at both London and Whipsnade Zoos, from both of the zoos foundation to the present day (admittedly the current ones are electronic).  This particular page shows the arrival of one of the stars London Zoo – Jumbo the Elephant.

Photo of Daily Occurrences – 26th June 1865

Daily Occurrences – 26th June 1865

Illustrations of the family of Psittacidae, or parrots, the greater part of them species hitherto unfigured… / by Edward Lear (1812-1888). – London : Lear, 1832

Edward Lear is most commonly known for his ‘nonsense poetry’ (i.e. the Owl and the Pussycat), but Lear was also a phenomenally talented artist whose skill influenced the style of others, such as the ornithologist John Gould and his wife Elizabeth.  One of Lear’s most beautiful works is his volume on the family of parrots, of which the illustrations were based on the birds in ZSL’s parrot house.

Image of Parrot from Illustrations of the family of Psittacidae

Illustrations of the family of Psittacidae, or parrots, the greater part of them species hitherto unfigured… / by Edward Lear (1812-1888). – London : Lear, 1832.

ZSL Library welcomes  members of the public, as well as Staff and Fellows of the ZSL.  As well as being able to make use of our resources, we usually have something of interest on display and there are always paintings and sculptures to admire in the Reading Room. To find out more please email library@zsl.org or consult our web pages http://www.zsl.org/about-us/zsl-library-collection.  Don’t forget to follow on Twitter @ZSLArts

Emma Milnes
Assistant Librarian
The Library
The Zoological Society of London

All images copyright the Zoological Society of London and reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holder.

 

The Library of the Society of Friends

The Library of the Society of Friends is the library and archive of the Religious Society of Friends in Britain (Quakers). It’s responsible for the care and use of one of the largest collections in the world relating to Quaker history, thought and activities.

Its origins lie in the religious controversies of the 17th century. In 1673 a committee of Friends (the Second Day’s Morning Meeting) decided to keep two copies of every book written by Friends, and one of every book written against them. This gathering together of books and pamphlets is the foundation of the Library.

Photo of Norman Penney in Eastern dress

Norman Penney in Eastern dress – new librarian dress code?

When the first librarian (Norman Penney) was appointed in 1901 the books were stored in the Society’s then central offices in Devonshire House, Bishopsgate, along with the archives from the 17th century on – records of Yearly Meeting (the annual Quaker assembly), Meeting for Sufferings (the national executive body) and numerous committees. Penney was a dynamic force in starting to arrange and catalogue these burgeoning collections, which were supplemented by substantial manuscript collections formerly held in private hands.

By the time plans for the present Quaker headquarters on Euston Road were being drawn up in the 1920s, a purpose built library with strong-rooms and reading room were an integral part of the specification.

Today the Library is open to all for research, and has a varied readership of members of the Society of Friends, academic researchers, local and family historians, media researchers and others. One of its strengths (and one of the reasons it’s such a great library to work in) is the way the printed and archival collections complement each other. Users can search across both printed and archive material using the online catalogue, and, like many special libraries, the Library has developed a range of finding aids and biographical, geographic and topical subject files that draw on the different parts of the collections.

Its printed collections now include over 100,000 books, pamphlets, broadsides and other items, and around 2,000 serial titles. While the majority are Quaker publications, there are significant supporting collections, including works on Quaker history and publications in areas where Quakers have been particularly active, such as the peace and anti-slavery movements.

Photo of bound volume of tracts

Bound volume of tracts (Library of the Society of Friends, Vol. 54)

What are the highlights? While other special collections may bring out lavishly illustrated books and gorgeous bindings to show off their holdings, our books are, by and large, distinguished by their sober appearance. They may lack visual sparkle, but book historians and conservators have been known to wax lyrical about some of these more humble exemplars of 17th and 18th century book production and bindings.

This lack of ornament is in keeping with the Quaker testimony of simplicity (exemplified in plainness of dress and speech), but it doesn’t mean there are no visually striking printed items in the collections. One example is George Fox’s Battle-door for teachers & professors to learn singular & plural (1660), a defence of the early Quaker use of “plain speech” (addressing all equally as thee and thou), with section heading pages printed in the shape of a battledore (the paddle shaped alphabet learning boards that succeeded hornbooks).

Anti-slavery campaigners used the power of visual imagery to great effect, in ways that are well known. This image of a plan of a slave ship was a potent way of conveying the real horror and suffering of the trade to a wide audience (read more about this particular copy, bound together with other anti-slavery material, in this post on our Quaker Strongrooms blog). The Library also holds anti-slavery china – cups and saucers bearing the anti-slavery message.

Plan of an African slave ship’s lower deck

Plymouth Society for the Abolition of Slavery, Plan of an African slave ship’s lower deck (Plymouth : Trewman and Haydon, printers, [1789?])

The central Quaker archives held by the Library consist of minute books, correspondence, reports and other records. Among them are the Great Books of Sufferings, 44 huge manuscript volumes compiled between 1650 and 1856, recording persecution of Quakers around the country for holding illegal meetings, non-attendance at church, or refusal to pay tithes (read more about them here). These central archives reflect Quaker involvement with wider social movements, like anti-slavery, peace, temperance, war time relief and reconstruction. Take for example the extensive records of the Friends Emergency & War Victims Relief Committee: a project to catalogue and make these more accessible has recently been completed.

WWI relief – sending out 44 mattresses from the depot

World War I relief – sending out 44 mattresses from the depot, Pargary (YM/MfS/FEWVRC/PICS/8/4/4)

The Library also holds local London & Middlesex Quaker records dating back to the 17th century – a rich resource for local historians and others (including economic historians, like this PhD student who wrote about her research on the Library’s blog).

A number of other Quaker related bodies have deposited their records in the Library. One of the more substantial archives is that of the Friends Ambulance Unit (the unofficial volunteer ambulance service set up by Quakers in both World Wars to provide alternative wartime service). In preparation for the World War I centenary, the Library has made the F.A.U. 1914-1919 service cards.

Photo of Friends Ambulance Unit service card for Lionel Sharples Penrose

Friends Ambulance Unit service card for Lionel Sharples Penrose.

Besides official records, there are considerable collections of personal papers – letters and diaries of well-known figures like George Fox or Elizabeth Fry (prison reformer, recently featured on the £5 note), and others less well-known, such as the travelling minister Abiah Darby of Coalbrookdale (1716-1794), or James Jenkins (1753-1831), illegitimate son of a Quaker, whose Records and recollections provide a sometimes waspish commentary on contemporary Quaker affairs. While the Swarthmore Manuscripts (a substantial body of about 1,400 letters and other documents of early Friends) are considered the “jewel in the crown” for historians of 17th century Quakerism, there are also rich collections of family papers for later periods, such as the Lloyd Papers or the A. Ruth Fry papers, both spanning several centuries.

Photo of Diary of Elizabeth Fry, volume 10 (MS Vol. S 264)

Diary of Elizabeth Fry, volume 10 (MS Vol. S 264)

The Library’s printed and archival holdings are complemented by its visual collections –  paintings, prints and drawings, and a remarkable photographic collection, including the photographic archives of Quaker relief work from the First World War onwards.

Contributing to Copac is one of the ways we’re making our collections known to wider audiences. For regular highlights, check out our own library blog and Facebook page.

Tabitha Driver
Printed Books Librarian
Library of the Society of Friends

All images copyright the Society of Friends and reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holder.

Magic, Witches and Devils in the Early Modern World

Magic, Witches and Devils in the Early Modern World, 2016.

Magic, Witches and Devils in the Early Modern World. John Rylands Library exhibition, 21 January – 21 August 2016.

This fascinating exhibition, housed within the gothic splendour of The John Rylands Library in Manchester, reveals how magic, diabolical witchcraft and ghostly encounters inspired fear and curiosity on an unprecedented scale between the 15th and 18th centuries. With stunning local, European and non-Western examples from Manchester collections, the exhibition offers an exceptionally wide-ranging window onto the supernatural world. Curated by historians Jennifer Spinks and Sasha Handley from the University of Manchester, the exhibition presents rare books, prints, manuscripts and objects that illuminate the roots of our obsession with supernatural powers and reveal a world where the Devil was understood as a very real and present danger in daily life.

The exhibition draws on the collections of the John Rylands Library, the Whitworth Art Gallery and Chetham’s Library which contain many rare books, prints, manuscripts and protective amulets that provide unique perspectives on how early modern people feared, engaged with, and sometimes found pleasure in the supernatural world. The years c.1400- c.1800 coincided with major changes in European society, from scientific developments to religious conflicts to a great increase in the number of printed publications. One of the most important changes was increasing contact with other lands. Although the exhibition focuses principally on Europe, it also includes examples of how some non-Western traditions represented and tapped into powers beyond the everyday.

Compendium magiae innaturalis nigrae (Compendium of Unnatural Black Magic).

Compendium magiae innaturalis nigrae (Compendium of Unnatural Black Magic).
Pseudo-Michael Scot. Franconia, Germany, late 16th century (Latin MS 105).

The Compendium was attributed to the astrologer Michael Scot, whose infamy as a supposed magician was noted even by the famous Italian poet Dante. Intriguingly, the Scot manuscript contained strange elements of Arabic artifice. What appears to be a copy of an earlier spell, transcribed into corrupted or fake Arabic, was included as a precursor to its Latin ‘translation’. This was evidently designed to lend a sense of mystery as well as credibility to the conjurations contained within the book.

Shahnama (Book of Kings).

Shahnama (Book of Kings). Abu’l Qasim Firdousi (‘Ferdowsi’) and unknown artist. Western India, mid 15th century (Persian MS 9).

The Shahnama (Book of Kings) was an epic poem that detailed Persian history from the beginning of the world to the arrival of Islam. It appeared in many manuscript editions and generated a vibrant artistic tradition. The story of Rustam’s fourth task saw the hero enter a land populated by demons and sorcerers, where he was approached by a witch in the guise of a beautiful young woman. Realising her true nature when she recoiled at hearing the name of God, Rustam ordered her to ‘speak and show thy proper favour’. Returning to her hideous, wrinkled appearance, she was quickly put to the sword.

 

 

The Art of Dying was designed to help people achieve a good death. Images of poor deathbed performances (listed as faithlessness, despair, impatience, vainglory and avarice) were contrasted with those showing how the dying person should behave (with faith, hope, patience, humility and worldly detachment). ‘The Temptation to Avarice’ scene, for example, shows a group of demons pointing to the dying man’s possessions and loved ones, reminding him of the things he will soon leave behind.

Ars moriendi (Art of Dying)


Ars moriendi (Art of Dying) Unknown author and artist. Strasbourg, France, c. 1475 (Blockbook collection 10123).

For further details and an online copy of the exhibition booklet, written by Jennifer Spinks, Sasha Handley and Postdoctoral Research Associate Stephen Gordon, see: http://www.library.manchester.ac.uk/rylands/whats-on/exhibitions/magic/

Magic, Witches & Devils in the Early Modern World runs from 21 January – 21 August 2016 at The John Rylands Library, Manchester.

You can also find an interview with the curators about the process of putting the exhibition together on the University of Manchester History blog (https://uomhistory.wordpress.com/2016/01/11/magic-witches-and-devils-in-the-early-modern-world-new-exhibition/)

This exhibition has been generously supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

AHRC logo

AHRC logo

Julianne Simpson
Rare Books and Maps Manager, Special Collections
University of Manchester Library

All images copyright The John Rylands Library, Manchester and reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holder.

From medical handbooks to the Mediterranean: Special Collections at King’s College London

Katie Sambrook, Head of Special Collections at King’s College London, tells us about the collections in her charge and how she and her colleagues are promoting them.

View of the Botanic Gardens St. Vincent, 1825.

View of the Botanic Gardens St. Vincent, 1825.

The Foyle Special Collections Library at King’s College London holds over 180,000 items – mainly printed books, periodicals and pamphlets, but also maps, manuscripts and photographs – in a landmark Victorian building in central London. The grade 2* listed edifice, which also houses the Maughan Library (the university’s largest library), served until the 1990s as the Public Record Office, the home of the nation’s documentary heritage, so its current purpose, as a repository of special collections of international importance, is very much in keeping with that for which it was originally constructed.

Photograph of Maughan Library, Chancery Lane (KCL), taken in winter.

Maughan Library Chancery Lane taken in winter. Part of the Strand Campus of King’s College London.

Our special collections

For me perhaps the most attractive aspect of our special collections, and one which helps to make my role so rewarding, is their wide variety. Ranging in date from the 15th century to the present day and spanning the humanities, social sciences and sciences, our special collections provide endless scope for research, teaching and public engagement.

Image of Godess Hygeia standing over a male patient with a bandaged head.

Godess Hygeia standing over a male patient with a bandaged head. Manchester Evening Chronicle household medical adviser, 1900.

Medicine is a notable strength; King’s has a long and rich tradition in this area, incorporating not only the foundation of King’s College Hospital in 1840 but the merger in the 1990s with two far older institutions of medical education and training, St Thomas’s Hospital (originally a medieval foundation) and Guy’s Hospital, founded in 1721.  All these institutions assembled large and important collections of rare and historical medical books, supplemented in psychiatry by that of another institution with which King’s merged in the 1990s, the Institute of Psychiatry.  In total we hold over 20,000 rare books and journals in the medical sciences, one of the most significant such collections in a UK university library.  To help promote their riches, we are a partner in the Jisc / Wellcome Trust-funded digitisation project, the UK Medical Heritage Library, which aims to digitise 15 million pages of 19th and early 20th century medical books. And we’re adding to our medical collections too, seeking out items that fill gaps in our holdings, like this attractively bound household medical handbook, for example.

Image of a rock warbler, 1822.

A rock warbler hunting an insect as depicted in John William Lewin’s ‘A natural history of the birds of New South Wales’, London, 1822.

Perhaps the most important of all our special collections – and it’s certainly the largest –is the FCO Historical Collection, the former library collection of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), which was transferred to King’s in 2007. Spanning 500 years of history and every corner of the world, this magnificent collection encompasses such themes as travel and exploration, war, peace and diplomacy, trade and transport, the growth and abolition of the Atlantic slave trade, the rise, rule and decline of empires and the creation of the Commonwealth.  Many items in the collection are rare; some are unrecorded elsewhere. Items range from sumptuously produced works, such as this early study of the bird life of New South Wales, to cheaply produced but no less interesting pamphlets and magazines, such as the rare Falkland Islands magazine, which documents daily life on the islands in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Image of Christ Church Cathedral, Falkland Islands Magazine cover, 1901.

Christ Church Cathedral, Falkland Islands Magazine cover, no. 6, Vol. XIII, October 1901.

Promoting our special collections

I see the active promotion of our special collections, both within King’s and to the wider world, as an essential part of our role.  Our central London location within a historic building that is a destination in its own right makes public exhibitions an obvious promotional tool for us, and it’s one in which we consequently invest a good deal of effort. We run three public exhibitions a year; they are free to visit and attract visitors from all around the world.  Our current exhibition is called West of Suez: Britain and the Mediterranean, 1704-1967, a theme we chose because it plays to the strengths of the FCO Historical Collection, has a compelling narrative with topical resonance and, not least, gives us scope to display some visually attractive and intriguing items.

Scenes of Gibraltar life in the 1950's.

Scenes of Gibraltar life in the 1950’s, including a British policeman and his Spanish counterpart checking documents at the frontier with Spain and Spanish workmen returning home after a day’s work. Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1958.

The exhibition runs until 7 May and you will find full details on our exhibitions web page.

Not everyone can visit our exhibitions, of course, so we also ensure that we make as many of our past exhibitions as we can available in online form. In the last year we’ve explored such topics as the Battle of Waterloo and the fight against infectious disease in both physical and digital form.

One of the characteristics of special collections – their capacity to foster cross-disciplinary research – is closely aligned to King’s College London’s strength in imaginative interdisciplinarity in research and teaching, and this ties in with another way in which we seek to promote use of our collections, by way of seminars with our academic colleagues, introducing them and their students to the vast array of material available to them. Most of the seminars we run are for King’s students, of course – this term we’re running seminars for English Literature and Medicine undergraduates, to give just two examples – but we can also provide this service for staff and students of other institutions; we’ve developed a successful pair of seminars for the MA in African Studies course at the School of Oriental and African Studies. Some seminars are introductory in nature, while others are more in-depth, requiring students to undertake a sustained piece of work on an item or items in our special collections.  I’m interested in developing creative partnerships with academic colleagues and departments further and would like to explore how we can best foster fuller exploitation of the potential of our special collections to generate new research, perhaps by fellowships, perhaps by internships or perhaps by some other means – we have plenty of ideas and this is an area we’re hoping to focus on in the next few years.

www.kcl.ac.uk/specialcollections

Katie Sambrook
Head of Special Collections
Library Services
King’s College London

All images copyright the King’s College London Library and reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holder.

Royal College of Physicians of London and the lost library of John Dee

We’re pleased to welcome a new contributor to Copac, the library of the Royal College of Physicians of London.

The Royal College of Physicians of London (RCP) is the professional body for physicians, with over 30,000 members and fellows across the globe. The RCP has an extensive library, supporting the needs of its members and reflecting their interests since the RCP’s foundation in 1518. Today the print collections number more than 55,000 titles, including current clinical, educational and professional resources, secondary sources on the history of medicine and a large collection of rare books whose highlights include 119 items from before 1501, and over 100 books previously owned by Elizabethan astrologer John Dee.

Portrait of John Dee. Stipple engraving by Robert Cooper after unknown artist, late 18th to early 19th century.

Portrait of John Dee. Stipple engraving by Robert Cooper after unknown artist, late 18th to early 19th century.

John Dee (1527–1609) was one of Tudor England’s most extraordinary and enigmatic figures – a Renaissance polymath, with interests in almost all branches of learning. The Royal College of Physicians of London library holds more than 100 volumes stolen from Dee during his lifetime, the largest single collection of Dee’s books in the world. From 18 January until 29 July 2016 a new exhibition at the RCP will display many of these for the first time.

Dee’s evocative sketch of a ship in full sail. Opera. Cicero, published Paris, 1539. © Royal College of Physicians / John Chase

Dee’s evocative sketch of a ship in full sail. Opera. Cicero, published Paris, 1539. © Royal College of Physicians / John Chase

Dee built, and lost, one of the greatest private libraries of 16th century England. He claimed to own over 3,000 books and 1,000 manuscripts. The authors and subjects of Dee’s books are wide-ranging, and reflect his extraordinary breadth of knowledge and expertise. They include diverse topics such as mathematics, natural history, music, astronomy, military history, cryptography, ancient history and alchemy. These books give us an extraordinary insight into Dee’s interests and beliefs and personality through his hand-written illustrations and annotations.

While Dee travelled to Europe in the 1580s, he entrusted the care of his library and laboratories to his brother-in-law Nicholas Fromond. But according to Dee, he ‘unduely sold it presently upon my departure, or caused it to be carried away’. A large number of Dee’s books came into the possession of Nicholas Saunder. Little is known about Saunder, or whether he personally stole Dee’s books. Saunder must, however,  have known that his books once belonged to Dee, because he repeatedly tried to erase or overwrite Dee’s signature with his own. Given that several books have part of the title page missing, we can also assume that Saunder probably cut and tore signatures from some books. Saunder’s collections later passed to Henry Pierrepont, the Marquis of Dorchester: a devoted book collector. Dorchester’s family presented his entire library to the RCP after his death in 1680, where this exceptional collection of early printed books remains today.

John Dee’s signature. Cinquante jeus divers d’honnete entretien. Innocenzio Ringhieri, published Lyon, 1555. © Royal College of Physicians / Mike Fear

John Dee’s signature. Cinquante jeus divers d’honnete entretien. Innocenzio Ringhieri, published Lyon, 1555. © Royal College of Physicians / Mike Fear

The exhibition ‘Scholar, courtier, magician: the lost library of John Dee’ runs from 18 January until 29 July 2016.

You can browse a list of the books in the RCP Dee exhibition on Copac.

 

Celebration of Christmas

Image from "The Coming of Father Christmas", 1894

Nativity image from “The Coming of Father Christmas”, 1894. British Library images.

For Christmas, we’re highlighting a selection of seasonal books, music and other material from some of our contributing libraries.

Carols and Music

In amongst the many works of Christmas Carols on Copac I’ve picked out a few that particularly appealed.

Chetham’s Library and the National Library of Scotland hold a song sheet entitled ‘The twelve good joys of Mary: a carol, for the twelve days of Christmas’ (also known by the first line ‘First good joy that Mary had’). This is believed to have been printed by George Angus (1783-1829), who was active in Newcastle between 1813 and 1825:

Records on Copac

The National Trust Libraries hold the book ‘Choice carols for Christmas holydays’. Changing tastes are reflected within this book that contains some carols still familiar today but others rather less so. Published in England in c.1800, songs include: ‘God rest you merry gentlemen’, ‘In friendly love and unity’, ‘Upon the 25th. of December’ and ‘When bloody Herod reigned king’:

Records on Copac

The Royal Academy of Music’s collection includes ‘Rumanian folk music. Vol.4 Carols and Christmas music (Colinde)’ by Bela Bartok, published in The Hague in 1975. This volume was formerly owned by the famous violinist Yehudi Menuhin (1916-1999):

Record on Copac

Children’s Books

First published in 1785 is the wonderfully named ‘Christmas tales: for the amusement and instruction of young ladies and gentlemen in winter evenings’ by Solomon Sobersides. Copies printed and sold by J. Marshall and Co. “… ordered all the booksellers, both in town and country, to make a present of it to good girls and boys, they paying six-pence only to defray the expences of binding”.

Libraries holding this book include Cambridge University (Special Collections), V & A National Art Library and York University:

Records on Copac

Image of reindeer pulling children in sledges

Image: Reindeer pulling children in sledges (1803). Wellcome Library, London. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

‘The home of Santa Claus : a story of Leslie Gordon’s visit to Father Christmas, and of the strange sights he beheld in the town of toys’ by George A. Best was published in 1900 and illustrated from photographs by Arthur Ullyett. Holding libraries include Oxford University and Liverpool University:

Records on Copac

Published around 1780-1800, ‘Mirth without mischief’, contains the English Folk song ‘The twelve days of Christmas’. It also includes the intriguing sounding ‘play of the gaping-wide-mouthed-wadling frog’. Libraries holding this illustrated children’s book include the British Library, Edinburgh University and Leeds University:

Records on Copac

Classic Christmas stories

Photo of a Christmas tree made of books

Image ‘Bibliojela’ (a Christmas tree made of books) by ToopaGia.

A Christmas Carol

Published in to critical acclaim in 1843 as ‘A Christmas carol: In prose. Being a ghost story of Christmas’, we follow the transformation of Scrooge’s character through his chilling encounters with the ghosts of Marley, Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. Libraries holding the first edition of this well-loved story by Charles Dickens include City of London, Guildhall Library and University of London, Senate House Libraries:

Records on Copac

The Night Before Christmas

This magical poem was first published c.1870 as ‘Santa Claus: or, The night before Christmas’ by Clement C. Moore in New York. Also known as ‘A Visit from St. Nicholas’, it inspired many Christmas traditions and popular culture An early edition is held by Trinity College Dublin Library:

Record on Copac

***Happy Christmas from the Copac team!***