Category Archives: Uncategorized

A guide to our Online Archive Catalogue and other resources

Hannah Lowery, Archivist and Special Collections Manager, has penned this guide to Special Collections resources available online.

Special Collections holds over 5km of books, archives, photographs, and artefacts dating from the eleventh to the twenty-first century.  Due to the current Covid-19 situation you can’t visit us, but here is a brief guide to viewing some of our holdings remotely.

Ceremonial key used by King George V to open the Wills Memorial Building on 9th June 1925. DM320.

Ceremonial key used by King George V to open the Wills Memorial Building on 9th June 1925. DM320.

Start with our web pages.

Use our guide to ‘collection strengths‘ to find out more.

Use the library catalogue to find out about our book holdings, though you will often have to use other sources to find physical or electronic copies of the books.

Our colleagues are bringing together lists of resources available online, so go to the Library page to find them.  Some may only be for University of Bristol people, but there is a wide variety of materials available for all.

Remember if you need advice, or want to find out more, do email us at special-collections@bristol.ac.uk and we will try and help.

Sit down for a tour of our Online Archive Catalogue, and a guide as to where you might find digitised materials, which you can investigate.

Note that when you click on a ‘thumbnail’ image at the bottom of a record in the Online Archive Catalogue, you can view a larger version. For even closer study, click on the symbol for a magnifying glass at the top right. Any text should be fully readable. To close the enlarged image, click on the ‘x’ at the top right.

University of Bristol materials

We hold the ever growing archive of University College Bristol (1876-1909) and the University of Bristol (1909 to date).  As well as papers of academics, departments and students you can find out about the buildings and much more.

Poster about Radio Wills. DM1447/2.

Poster about Radio Wills. DM1447/2.

Did you know that Winston Spencer Churchill (1874-1965) was Chancellor of the University from 1929 until his death?  A search in the online archive catalogue brings up 226 mentions of archives relating to Churchill.

For instance, DM270 contains digitised photograph albums relating to visits to Bristol by Churchill in 1951 and 1958.  Click here to find a photograph of Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) being granted an honorary degree by Churchill on 14 December 1951.

DM1310 is the archive of Sir Charles Frank (1911-1998), who was a physicist.

Although the entire catalogue is not yet available on line, there is a PDF, of the catalogue. We hope to spend the coming months working on making these lists more available.

There are extensive archives relating to the University of Bristol Physics Department, including the papers of Noble Prize winner Cecil Powell (1903-1969) – for example DM517.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-1859)

A view of Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol, from St Vincent’s Rocks, showing the piers under construction, along with chains, and scaffolding on the towers. DM216/3/4.

A view of Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol, from St Vincent’s Rocks, showing the piers under construction, along with chains, and scaffolding on the towers. DM216/3/4.

Interested in Victorian Engineering and the extended Brunel family?  You are in luck! Our extensive archive relating to Brunel and his family is held at the Brunel Institute, a collaboration between the SS Great Britain and the University of Bristol.

Our online archive catalogue is where you can find descriptions of the archives and related images.  Explore Brunel’s letters, letterbooks, sketchbooks, competition drawings for the Clifton Suspension Bridge, and more.

For instance, do a search for DM162, which was the first gift from the Brunel family to University of Bristol Special Collections…

DM162/10: Letterbooks.

DM162/10/1: Letter book covering 27 May 1832-5 November 1839.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel to W L Moorsom, 9 April 1836, concerning the Cheltenham Railway.

DM162/8: Isambard Kingdom Brunel Sketchbooks and Calculation Books.  There are 63 of these, covering the period 1829-1859.  Click on the link above and you can see sketchbooks arranged by size or topic (Small, Large, Great Western, Other).

A personal favourite of mine is in Great Western Sketchbook 10  – something we might not expect to see in an engineering related sketchbook.

We will return to Brunel in the future, but you can now view newly uploaded materials on the Great Eastern and more (See a previous blog by our colleague Emma Howgill about the Great Eastern ship).

The current change to how we work presents an opportunity to get more paper catalogue lists online, which will make them more accessible in the future.

Medieval Manuscripts

A grotesque or drollery, perhaps serving as a mnemonic, in the margin of a folio in the Cobden Book of Hours. DM832.

A grotesque or drollery, perhaps serving as a mnemonic, in the margin of a folio in the Cobden Book of Hours. DM832.

There are sixteen examples of medieval manuscripts if you search under the ‘Major Collections’ tab for medieval manuscripts in the advanced search, including:

DM104 Kingswood Abbey Deeds, Gloucestershire

The deeds cover the period 1225-1444, and include grants of land to the abbey, confirmation of grants, accounts of receipt and expenditure, confirmations of privileges, and papal letters. They are reputed to contain the oldest surviving rent rolls in England.

Go to the catalogue to find out more about the Abbey which was founded by William of Berkeley in 1139.  The fifty deeds have been digitised.  For instance here is a link to DM104/1 which is a grant of lands in Culkerton, Gloucestershire in 1225.

Two academics from British Universities have approached us about these recently, so it is nice to be able to share all of the images with everyone.

You might also want to explore DM832 Cobden Book of Hours

This is an early 15th-century Book of Hours designed for use in the diocese of Troyes, France and made on parchment, the text in French and Latin.  Watch Dr Erica O’Brien (Department of History of Art, University of Bristol) talk about its beauty and significance, currently understudied. It is beautifully illustrated, and this bird recently got people talking, what do you think it is?  (See our twitter feed for earlier discussion of a part of ff74r-77r Penitential Psalms – an image of this folio is at top of the thumbnails shown here)

DM58 Pinney Papers

We hold on deposit for the Pinney family extensive archives relating to their family, including their estates in Britain and the West Indies. If you are Bristol based, you may know that the Georgian House Museum on Great George Street, now in the possession of Bristol Museums, was once owned by the Pinney family.

Digital images of only one item from DM58 are presently available online, which is DM58/6/Pinney Miscellaneous 7.  This is a notebook covering the period 1783-1794, and includes instructions from the Pinney family to Joseph Gill their land manager, on how to manage their estate.  You can read each page separately.

We hope to do more work on this, so return if you want to find out more.

DM1031 Humphry Repton’s Red Book for Leigh Court, Abbots Leigh

Humphrey Repton (1752-1818) designed new grounds for the Miles family for their property at Leigh Court, Abbots Leigh, near Bristol, in 1814.

You can explore the drawings via the link above.  This book was loaned to the Garden Museum in London in 2018, with many other Red Books to mark the bicentenary of Repton’s death.

John Addington Symonds

John Addington Symonds on a toboggan, Davos, Switzerland. DM377.

John Addington Symonds on a toboggan, Davos, Switzerland. DM377.

John Addington Symonds, (1840-1893), lived at Clifton Hill House, Bristol, now one of the University of Bristol Halls of Residence.  He wrote on the Italian Renaissance, and had a talented and extended family, which included his daughters Madge Vaughan (1869-1925) and Dame Katharine Furse (1875-1952).

We may return to them in the future, but for the moment take time to look at the family scrapbook (DM375/1), compiled by Madge Vaughan and her daughter Janet.  Here you can explore photographs of family life in Bristol and Davos, Switzerland, where John Addington Symonds was forced to live due to health issues.  Find photographs of family groups tobogganing, of friends such as Robert Louis Stephenson (a portrait by Albert George Dew Smith), as well as artwork of flowers and alpine gardens, well-loved family dogs, and press cuttings.

We hope that this helps as a starter to the wealth of Special Collections materials available to all, and do return to find out more.  And remember to ask if you have any questions, and we will help if we can (email us at special-collections@bristol.ac.uk).

Spring is coming! Artwork by Margaret Symonds (Madge Vaughan) of the garden at ‘Am Hof’, Davos Platz, Switzerland, entitled ‘A View of my Mother’s Alpine Garden at Davos / Sketch by Myself 1897’. DM375/1.

Spring is coming! Artwork by Margaret Symonds (Madge Vaughan) of the garden at ‘Am Hof’, Davos Platz, Switzerland, entitled ‘A View of my Mother’s Alpine Garden at Davos / Sketch by Myself 1897’. DM375/1.

Photographing Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s S.S. Great Eastern

Emma Howgill is a project archivist at Special Collections, University of Bristol. She has recently completed the cataloguing of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s S.S. Great Eastern letter-books.

As a project archivist, my job is full of enjoyable moments and satisfaction. There’s the satisfaction of being one of a privileged few people who get to go through, in painstaking detail, a variety of archives. There’s the joy of getting to know someone who may be long dead, through their own words and personal correspondence and relationships. Then there’s possibly the best part of my job; the thrill of putting disparate bits of information together to make connections. These connections might be between different parts of the same archive, with material in other archives or with knowledge floating around in the back of my brain.  While cataloguing Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s correspondence relating to the S.S. Great Eastern (DM1306/11/1), I got to make all three sorts of connections.

The S.S. Great Eastern was Brunel’s last project; the third and largest of his three great ships and was dogged by misfortune throughout her life. From a fire in the shipyard and the bankruptcy of the shipbuilder, John Scott Russell, to the three months that it took to launch the ship and a disastrous explosion that blew up one of the funnels and killed several of the crew during her trial voyage from London to Weymouth, the ship seemed ill-fated. Even once in service, disaster seemed to follow the ship and eventually she was broken up in 1889, having served out her last few years as a floating billboard for a local department store in Liverpool. Yet in engineering terms, the ship was a significant achievement. At 692 feet and over 18,000 tons, the S.S. Great Eastern held the title of the largest ship ever built for over forty years.  The ship was also packed with revolutionary engineering techniques; from her double-layered iron hull to a series of bulkheads allowing compartmentalisation of the hull in case of flood or fire.  It is no wonder, with such revolutionary size and construction techniques that Isambard Kingdom Brunel wanted his magnum opus to be recorded in detail.  And that is where the connections come in.

Over a period of six months, I catalogued six volumes of correspondence, covering eight years and countless correspondents on numerous topics.  Cataloguing a sequence of correspondence like this allows themes to emerge. In October and November 1854, Brunel and his ship-builder, John Scott Russell, discuss a set of photographs that Brunel wishes to commission of the ship’s construction. This phase of correspondence finishes on 8 November 1854 with a letter from Brunel to John Yates, secretary of the Eastern Steam Navigation Company, mentioning that Brunel has commissioned a regular photographic record be made detailing the progress of the construction of the Great Eastern (DM1306/11/1/1/folio 304-305). Seven months later there is another set of correspondence about these photographs, beginning with a letter from Isambard Kingdom Brunel asking to see the photographs of the Great Eastern under construction (DM1306/11/1/2/folio 72). This set of correspondence ends with two pages of Instructions for Photographs listing exactly how Brunel wants any future photographs to be taken (DM1306/11/1/2/folio 85-86).  And just over a year and a half later, on 9 December 1856, there is a letter from Joseph Cundall of the Photographic Institute in New Bond Street, requesting payment for taking these photographs. Brunel’s letter-books, carefully showing the sequence of all the correspondence that he both sent and received about the Great Eastern allows us to trace the development of Brunel’s idea to illustrate the process of constructing his great ship, from its conception to payment.

First of page of Brunel’s Instructions to Photographers, 14 May 1855. DM1306/11/1/2/folio 85-86.

First of page of Brunel’s Instructions to Photographers, 14 May 1855. DM1306/11/1/2/folio 85-86.

This correspondence also allows us to connect our collections at the University of Bristol with those at the Special Collections of the University of Bath. The Hollingworth collection at the University of Bath contains typed transcripts of correspondence about the construction of the S.S. Great Eastern as well as copies of some photographs of the ship.  Close examination of these photographs reveals them to be the ones commissioned by Brunel from Cundall and Howlett, and in fact demonstrates that Brunel’s chosen photographers actually included many of the points made in his Instructions for Photographs of the 14 May 1855 (DM1306/11/1/2/folio 85-86).  For example, comparing the photographs shows them to have been taken from several distinct spots around the ship, so that when the photographs are arranged chronologically, it is possible to track the growth of the double-skinned hull across the months by comparing distinct landmarks incorporated in each photograph.  This echoes Brunel’s explicit instructions to ensure that the photographs are taken from comparable spots. The images also demonstrate Brunel’s wish to have the date of each photograph somewhere in the image itself, thus allowing quick and easy identification of the rate of progress, and it is possible to engage in a Victorian game of ‘Where’s Wally’, finding the date of each photograph, whether hidden on wooden beams or inscribed on the side of a watchman’s hut.

Photograph taken by Cundall and Howlett showing the S.S. Great Eastern under construction. 23 January 1856. Photograph from the University of Bath Special Collections.

Photograph taken by Cundall and Howlett showing the S.S. Great Eastern under construction. 23 January 1856. Photograph from the University of Bath Special Collections.

Now come the external connections. Joseph Cundall, the photographer writing to Brunel in December 1856 requesting payment for his work, was the senior partner in the firm of Cundall and Howlett. Cundall himself had earlier been tasked to photograph the rebuilt Crystal Palace with which Isambard Kingdom Brunel was also involved when he helped to design the steam heating system of the new Crystal Palace. Cundall’s junior partner, Robert Howlett, through this Great Eastern commission, was subsequently responsible for what may arguably be one of the most recognisable photographs of the Victorian Age. As well as photographing the construction of the S.S. Great Eastern, Howlett was commissioned by the Illustrated London News to capture the launching of the Great Eastern in November 1857.  As part of this later commission, he photographed Isambard Kingdom Brunel standing, with his ubiquitous hat and cigar, in front of the great drums of the launching chains of the Great Eastern, an image that has come to define not only Isambard Kingdom Brunel, but also Victorian engineering. Before Howlett’s untimely death in 1858, he had been commissioned by Prince Albert to photograph some of the interiors of Buckingham Palace and the works of artist Raphael, as well as being commissioned, with Joseph Cundall, to produce photographic portraits of soldiers returning from the Crimean war for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. And so this one letter from Joseph Cundall forges a series of connections within Brunel’s Great Eastern correspondence, with neighbouring archives but also with two of the early pioneers of photography and with one of the most instantly recognisable photographs of the Victorian age.

If you want to explore Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Great Eastern correspondence in more detail, please visit our online catalogue, or you can arrange to visit the original letter-books which are held at the Brunel Institute.

‘Darwent Revisited: Shanghai now and then’ – photography exhibition

The Historical Photographs of China (HPC) project and Special Collections present a pop-up exhibition, ‘Darwent Revisited: Shanghai now and then’, in the Foyer of the Arts & Social Sciences Library, Tyndall Avenue, Bristol. The exhibition which features photographs by Jamie Carstairs (Digitisation Officer, Special Collections) and by the Reverend Charles Ewart Darwent, minister of the Union Church Shanghai (新天安堂) from 1899-1919, coincides with the Chinese New Year, fraught as it is this year.

Jamie Carstairs was inspired by the Revd C.E. Darwent’s Shanghai: A Handbook for Travellers and Residents (1904; 2nd ed. 1920). Jamie went on a first-time visit to Shanghai in May 2011, with the idea of exploring how the city might be photographed if Darwent’s instructions in his 1904 handbook about what, where and when to photograph, were followed today. Moreover, rather than simply follow them to the letter, the aim was to photograph the city in the spirit of the guidebook’s hints – inspiration was also found in Darwent’s own photographs.

Portrait of moustachioed Revd C. E. Darwent, Eastern Sketch, vol. 1, No. 6 (1904).

Portrait of moustachioed Revd C. E. Darwent, Eastern Sketch, vol. 1, No. 6 (1904).

The Yorkshireman was a leading light in the Shanghai Amateur Photographic Society, which was active on and off, with some long off periods, between 1902 and about 1924. His handbook showcases some of his work, and until an album of his original prints came to light in 2009, annotated by the man himself, the Handbook’s grainy shots were all we had. All the prints from the album are on the HPC site. After the demolition of the Shanghai city walls, Darwent predicted, in the 1920 edition of his Handbook, ‘…as time goes on, old Chinese life will assert itself … So that, as the old life masters the new conditions, the photographers of the future may hope still to find subjects’.

A woman selling a children’s toy, Nanjing Road, Shanghai, May 2011. Photograph by Jamie Carstairs.

A woman selling a children’s toy, Nanjing Road, Shanghai, May 2011. Photograph by Jamie Carstairs.

This is not a definitive exhibition of contemporary Shanghai. It is a personal response to a vibrant, colourful city, informed by the hints and suggestions, as well as the confident partisanship, of a mentor from the past. Charles Ewart Darwent died in Tianjin in 1924, five years after leaving the city with which his name has become so firmly associated, and far from the town of his birth, and the city of Hull, where he had first made his name as Minister of the harbour-side Fish Street Church.

A Foochow pole junk, with a full cargo of poles, Shanghai, c.1902. Photograph by Charles Darwent. HPC ref: Da01-21.

A Foochow pole junk, with a full cargo of poles, Shanghai, c.1902. Photograph by Charles Darwent. HPC ref: Da01-21.

Darwent Revisited was first exhibited in 2013 and was funded by the AHRC and the British Academy. This blog is a close copy of one by Robert Bickers, posted in February 2013 on http://visualisingchina.net/blog/.

The current exhibition is on until Friday 31st January 2020.

新年快樂 Happy new year

General Election 12 December 2019

With the General Election having been called for Thursday 12 December 2019, we would like to appeal to people throughout the country to collect all the election leaflets and other materials distributed to them and send them to us at: Special Collections, Arts & Social Sciences Library, University of Bristol, Tyndall Avenue, Bristol BS8 1TJ.

  • We collect election addresses, leaflets, manifestos, and related materials such as local or national newspaper cuttings on the election (marked with the date and title of the publication)
  • We cover all political parties and independent candidates from all UK constituencies to represent the whole political spectrum
  • We welcome donations from members of the public, political parties, or parliamentary candidates. We obscure personal names and addresses on all material added to the archive
  • Please bundle up what comes through your door and send it to us after the Election with a note of where you received the material

The University of Bristol Special Collections holds the largest and longest established collection of election addresses (over 30,000) and campaign literature from all British Parliamentary Elections since 1892.  We also hold leaflets from the London County Council and European Elections, along with campaign literature from other important national plebiscites such as the 1975 and 2016 referendums on membership of the European Union.  This material is available for consultation by students, researchers, journalists, and members of the public.

A description of our political collections including our election address archive can be found at: http://www.bris.ac.uk/library/special-collections/strengths/politics/

Our online archive catalogue can be found at: https://archives.bristol.ac.uk/  Have a look at DM2734 for our holdings of the 2017 General Election.

How to get in touch:

Webpage: https://www.bristol.ac.uk/library/special-collections

Twitter: @BrisUniSpColl

Email: special-collections@bristol.ac.uk

Phone: 0117 9288014

Address: Special Collections, Arts & Social Sciences Library, University of Bristol, Tyndall Avenue, Bristol BS8 1TJ

European Parliamentary Elections 23 May 2019

With the European Elections having been called for Thursday 23 May 2019, we would like to appeal to people throughout the country to collect the election leaflets and other materials distributed to them and send them to us: Special Collections, Arts & Social Sciences Library, University of Bristol, Tyndall Avenue, Bristol BS8 1TJ.

The University of Bristol Special Collections holds the largest collection of election leaflets and related documents (over 30,000) from all British Parliamentary Elections since 1892, including the European Elections held within the UK since 1979.  This material is available for consultation by students, researchers, and members of the public.

We collect election addresses, leaflets, manifestos, related materials, and local or national newspaper cuttings on the election (marked with the date and title of the publication).  We aim to cover all political parties and independent candidates to obtain a full spread representing all sides of the political spectrum.

We collect from all UK constituencies.  There are 12 multi-member constituencies in the European Elections: South East; South West; London; Eastern; East Midlands; West Midlands, Wales; Yorkshire and the Humber; North East; North West; Scotland; and Northern Ireland.

We welcome donations from members of the public, political parties, or the parliamentary candidates themselves.  Please bundle up what comes through your door and send it to us after the Election with a note of where you received the material.  We will black out the names and personal addresses of addressees on any material added to the archive.

A description of our political collections including our election address archive can be found at: http://www.bris.ac.uk/library/special-collections/strengths/politics/.

Our online archive catalogue can be found at: http://oac.lib.bris.ac.uk/DServe/. Have a look at DM2646 for our holdings of the 2014 European Election.

How to get in touch:

Webpage: https://www.bristol.ac.uk/library/special-collections

Twitter: @BrisUniSpColl

Email: special-collections@bristol.ac.uk

Phone: 0117 928 8014

Address: Special Collections, Arts & Social Sciences Library, University of Bristol, Tyndall Avenue, Bristol BS8 1TJ

New Wildfilm History Archive Coming to Bristol

An exciting new Wildfilm History Archive will be coming to Special Collections in the University of Bristol Library, thanks to a grant from the Wellcome Trust.

Here’s the archive as it is now, all boxed up in storage. We’ll be unpacking, exploring and eventually making the contents accessible.

Here’s the archive as it is now, all boxed up in storage. We’ll be unpacking, exploring and eventually making the contents accessible.

The Wildfilm History Project will officially start on the 1st April 2019 and run for two years.  The project will catalogue, conserve and make available a rich, diverse and important collection of wildlife filmmaking materials which document the changing cultural context of wildlife film making and how it has shaped our historical, social and cultural understanding of the natural world, as well as the growing appreciation of conservation issues and the broad public understanding of science.

Key goals of the project will be to:

  • Create a detailed catalogue of the wide range of materials contained within the archive, including some of the most important wildlife films of the last hundred years.
  • Digitise and provide access to a prioritised selection of the archive and make this publicly available (where rights allow) through the University’s Digital Archival Management system.
  • Ensure the physical and digital archive is preserved to enable long-term access for researchers and the wider public.

The University of Bristol is home to the Centre for Environmental Humanities and from our initial discussions with researchers from Bristol and more widely there is clearly already strong research and teaching interest in the archive, as well as support from outside agencies such as Wildscreen and the BBC Natural History Unit.

“This is terrific news. Working on a project with the BBC Natural History Unit for the past few years has reinforced my conviction that there’s significant research potential for the archive from humanities and social science perspectives. Visual resources are highly valued not just by environmental and animal historians like me, but by the entire scholarly community working in the environmental humanities and the environmental social sciences.  Until now, though, insufficient filmmaking materials have been available to support research.” Professor Peter Coates, School of Humanities, University of Bristol

For more details of the Wildfilm History Project please contact special-collections@bristol.ac.uk

Fiftieth anniversary of the students’ Senate House sit-in

5 December 2018 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the start of a sit-in by a group of University of Bristol students, who occupied Senate House for eleven days, until 16 December 1968.  The students were campaigning for a greater say in the running of the University and for the University of Bristol Student Union to be open to students from other education establishments in the city.

Whilst the sit-in took place, other students held a mass meeting in the Anson Rooms (Students Union) calling for the sit-in to end.

The Union Council asked the 400+ students to leave Senate House and a Joint Staff Student Working Party was set up under Professor Roderick Collar.

Editions of Nonesuch (to be found in Special Collections) dating from December 1968, cover these events as do other printed and archival material.

Tony Byers, a University of Bristol student who photographed many of these events at the time, deposited his archive of photographs (DM2269) in Special Collections.  Here we share some of his photographs and press coverage.

Sue Tate and Kevin Whitson gave a talk in May 2018 on the topic for the Bristol Radical History Group.

Related resources:

DM1635: Documents and press coverage of the student unrest of 1968 and the occupation/sit-in of Senate House, including the controversy over reciprocal membership of the Student’s Union.  Includes the Complicity statement, copies of the Informal newsletter and Nonesuch, general newspaper articles, ‘conspiratorial’ publications such as ‘Open Conspiracy’, letters, minutes of meetings and statements, 1969-1969. Also, newspaper coverage of student unrest in other Universities.

DM2476, Transcript of a lecture by Gordon Strong about the University of Bristol 1968 sit-in, 16 February 2006.

All photographs are copyrighted to Tony Byers.

Ruth Donaldson’s summer 2018 in Special Collections

Papers relating to Margaret Leach (DM2701).

Papers relating to Margaret Leach (DM2701).

This summer I spent a wonderful two months as an intern with the Special Collections team, based in the Arts and Social Sciences Library. My main responsibility was supervising the Reading Room. This meant getting to grips with the archive’s vast collection and retrieving documents for readers. I became familiar with some of the archive’s most fascinating collections, from feminist archive posters to the 18th Century diaries of the Pinney family (DM58). Another of my key responsibilities was to work through Special Collection’s paper catalogues, eventually entering the data into the archive software CALM so that it could be searchable by the public on the Special Collections online catalogue.

John Pinney’s Letter concerning Pero’s health. Pinney Letter Book 14, page 74 (DM58).

John Pinney’s Letter concerning Pero’s health. Pinney Letter Book 14, page 74 (DM58).

Poster in the Feminist Archive South Collection (DM2123).

Poster in the Feminist Archive South Collection (DM2123).

I was also given the opportunity to catalogue the papers of Margaret Leach (DM2701), which were donated to the archive several years ago and form part of the Long Ashton Research Station collection. Margaret kept a diary for every year of her life, a hugely impressive feat. It was strange and wonderful to trace the life of this woman from the age of 11 – with entries on the hours spent in an air raid shelter during WWI – through to her flourishing scientific career and rich retirement.

Another fascinating part of the collection are the bundles of letters from Margaret’s brother, Thomas Leach, positioned in Nigeria as a military veterinarian, to Margaret and their mother, and Ida. Reading the accounts of holidays, neighbourhood gossip and correspondence of everyday life it is difficult not to feel privileged by the window of access into the life of this close family.

Margaret’s senior role as head of the Domestic Preservation Section of Long Ashton Research Station was the pinnacle of a long and illustrious career. She would frequently travel the UK giving lectures on food preservation to amateur and professional groups. A hugely accomplished person, Margaret is just one example of the many remarkable women whose papers lie in the archives waiting to have their stories told.

One of the things I will take way from my two months as intern was the passion and commitment of the team I was working with. The lengths to which they went to help researchers, as well as their incredible knowledge of the collections, meant that not only did I learn a lot but feel enthused the archive is in the hands of a team dedicated to sharing it with the public.

DM2734 General Election 8 June 2017

The 2017 General Election was held a year ago today.  The catalogue of our collection of election addresses, leaflets, campaign literature, manifestos, press coverage, and other related materials is available online at DM2734 and can be accessed via our Webpage at:  https://www.bristol.ac.uk/library/special-collections/ or through our Online Archive Catalogue at: http://oac.lib.bris.ac.uk/DServe/

Our Politics collection includes the largest and longest-established collection of election addresses and campaign literature relating to UK Parliamentary elections dating back to the 1890s, with some   examples from even earlier.  We also hold material from the London County Council and European elections along with campaign literature from other important national plebiscites such as the 1975 and 2016 referendums on membership of the European Union.  These collections are used regularly by students, researchers, journalists, political activists, and members of the public.

We would like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude for the efforts of all those who responded to our appeal to send in their election leaflets from throughout the country.  We would not be able to maintain such an excellent collection without your contributions.

Special Collections and Women

6 February 2018 marks the centenary of legislation which allowed all women over 30 with a property qualification the right to vote.  This vote also gave all men over 21 the right to vote.  Many argued that this did not go far enough, and it wasn’t until 1928 that men and women could vote on an equal footing.

Special Collections, housed in the Arts and Social Sciences Library, and open to all, has such a wealth of materials relating to the politicisation of women, that we couldn’t miss the opportunity to celebrate this date.

Have a look at this website to see a copy of the 6 February 1918 Representation of the People Act, which is also available in the University of Bristol Library.

And this web page gives more of the story.

Our online archive catalogue is a good start for an explore as to what we hold.

Also, look at the Library book catalogue to discover gems such as:

Lucienne Boyce, The Bristol Suffragettes, Bristol, 2013 [available to borrow from ASSL].

Madge Dresser ed., Women and the city: Bristol 1373-2000, Bristol, 2016 [also available to borrow from ASSL].

University College Bristol was founded in 1876.  The College could not award degrees itself, until it became the University of Bristol in 1909, but from the outset women were admitted as students on an equal footing as men.

Staff and students, Chemistry Department, University College Bristol, 1907-08. DM2740.

Staff and students, Chemistry Department, University College Bristol, 1907-08. DM2740.

We have evidence of the activities of female students, academics, and administrative staff including one of the first female Registrars Winifred Shapland; Marian F. Pease (1859-1954) who was one of the first women to enrol in University College Bristol; and early female professors such as Lilian Hawker, Professor of Mycology.

In the 1970s the University Library purchased the Library of the National Liberal Club.  This includes a wealth of materials relating to General Elections and by-elections for the Westminster Parliament.

Our 1918 Election Address volume, for the 14 December 1918, includes the leaflets of five female candidates.  Most candidates mention female suffrage.

Our election leaflets go up to 2018, so you can trace female candidates from all parties over the years.

Election address/leaflet for Mrs How Martyn, Hendon, Progressive Independent Candidate. General Election, December 1918.

Election address/leaflet for Mrs How Martyn, Hendon, Progressive Independent Candidate. General Election, December 1918.

Election address/leaflet for Emily Phipps, Chelsea, Independent Candidate. General Election, December 1918.

Election address/leaflet for Emily Phipps, Chelsea, Independent Candidate. General Election, December 1918.

We hold the papers of Jane Cobden Unwin (1851-1949), DM851, who stood and was elected with one other woman (Margaret Sandurst) as one of the first female County Councillors in the UK in Bow and Bromley in 1889, as Liberal candidates.  Her papers also show her campaigning activities on behalf of the rights of indigenous people.

Poster for a public meeting addressed by Miss Jane Cobden. London County Council Elections, January 1889. DM851.

Poster for a public meeting addressed by Miss Jane Cobden. London County Council Elections, January 1889. DM851.

We hold extensive papers of the Women’s Liberal Federation, DM1193.  Here you can follow debates within the Liberal Party concerning the enfranchisement of women, and the founding in 1913, of the Liberal Women’s Suffrage Union, which supported the cause of women’s suffrage within the Liberal Party.

A more recent arrival has been the papers of the Feminist Archive South, DM2123, which covers the women’s movement from c.1969-2000.  The Feminist Archive South hits forty this year and has been held in Special Collections for ten years.  A series of workshops are taking place this spring.  If you want to see how women have campaigned and built on the vote from 1918 this is the place to go.  Campaigns on all topics under the sun are covered.

Rights demand poster, 1970s. Feminist Archive South. DM2123.

Rights demand poster, 1970s. Feminist Archive South. DM2123.

“We all wish to secure peace.” Dora Russell’s Caravan of Peace, 1958. DM2123 FA/Arch 9.

“We all wish to secure peace.” Dora Russell’s Caravan of Peace, 1958. DM2123 FA/Arch 9.

There is some coverage of the Suffragette Movement in Bristol.  In particular of an incident in October 1913, when University of Bristol students, angered after suffragettes had burned down the Coombe Dingle sports pavilion, attacked the Suffragettes’ headquarters on Queens Road, Bristol.  This postcard (DM325) shows the aftermath of the activity.

The Bristol headquarters of the WSPU (Women's Social and Political Union), after being wrecked by some 500 undergraduates, Queens Road, Bristol, October 1913. DM325.

The Bristol headquarters of the WSPU (Women’s Social and Political Union), after being wrecked by some 500 undergraduates, Queens Road, Bristol, October 1913. DM325.