Evie Porat’s summer in Special Collections

Evie Porat cataloguing part of the Penguin Archive, July 2017. Photograph by Jamie Carstairs.

Evie Porat cataloguing part of the Penguin Archive, July 2017. Photograph by Jamie Carstairs.

This summer I spent a fantastic ten weeks working as an intern with Special Collections, based in the Arts and Social Sciences Library. The main purpose of the internship was to catalogue various series of the Penguin Archive, and put them online to make them more accessible to researchers. However, there were tasks associated with the job, and no two days were the same. Supervising the reading room, helping researchers in finding relevant material and fetching boxes from the archive were all regular duties. I also had the opportunity to assist with and learn more about digitisation, to sort ephemera from the recent General Election, and to help with an exhibition of Special Collections sources on the history of the University, held at Royal Fort House.

As mentioned above, the main project I worked on was cataloguing the Penguin Archive. The Archive includes editorial files for books published from 1935 to the early 1990s. I worked on cataloguing several series: the Penguin African Library, Penguin Classics, the Penguin English Library, Penguin Poetry and Penguin Specials. The extents of these series vary greatly: for example, the English Library comprises only 7 boxes, whereas Penguin Poetry consists of 55 boxes.

The Penguin Book of French VerseCataloguing these files required a great deal of concentration and attention to detail, maintained over long periods. There were other challenges, too: getting to grips with the house style, working out how to list files that didn’t follow the usual format and learning how to use the cataloguing software, CALM.

Hiroshima by John Hersey

A key lesson I learnt during the internship was of the necessity of resisting the urge to get drawn into the history detailed in each file. All the series are fascinating, and I could have easily spent hours reading correspondence with some of the Beat poets (DM1107/D78), or poring over Bertrand Russell’s correspondence with John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev regarding the Cuban Missile Crisis (DM1107/S220). By maintaining a level of detachment, however, I managed to catalogue 121 boxes of files during the period of the internship.

As well as being educational, the internship provided me with great practical experience. As a result of my time with Special Collections, I am convinced that a career as an archivist is the right path for me, and I will be applying for a Master’s degree in Archives and Records Management.

Homer The OdysseyOne of the things that made my time with Special Collections so worthwhile was all the help and advice I received from the department’s staff, who were all incredibly generous with their time. I am very grateful for the excellent experience they gave me, and should a similar opportunity be advertised again, I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone who is considering a career as an archivist.

Evie Porat

Open Day Delights

Open days offer a great opportunity for prospective students to find out about many aspects of the University.  For Bristol’s open day on 9th September, Special Collections opened its doors for an exhibition of just some of the delights held in its vast and wide-ranging collections.  We welcomed a steady flow of students and parents for much of the day, many of whom were delighted at the opportunity to see some of the rare books and archives held at Bristol.

The materials for display were chosen to give a taste of the diversity and scope of the collections.  Many visitors were interested to see a first edition of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (1813), alongside S.H. Grimm’s watercolour of Reading Abbey gatehouse (where Austen once went to school) which is one of a large suite of extra-illustrations in Dugdale’s Monasticon Anglicanum (1817-30).

Another item which received much attention was Cowper’s Anatomy of Humane Bodies (1698), one of the most comprehensive atlases of human anatomy at the time of its publication, known not only for the quality of its text and illustrations, but also for prompting a ferocious intellectual property dispute.  There was speculation among visitors about how the large volume was used and whether it provided a reference source at the operating table (no one examining it managed to find evidence of bloodstains, however!)

The earliest item on display was a fragment of music from a gradual of the 12th century, which had been used as a binding for an early alchemical tract from the abbey of Melk in Austria.  It was not uncommon for unwanted manuscripts to be used as binding material for later books in this way, as the vellum or parchment on which they were written provided a useful and sturdy material.

Much more recent in date were notebooks of Bristol physicist Cecil Powell, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1950 for his discovery of the pion subatomic particle.  These were displayed alongside other items from the Powell archive and proved a timely exhibit, as the 70th anniversary of the discovery has been celebrated at the University this month.

Other highlights included a miniature library of children’s books; a display from the Penguin books collection; items from the Feminist Archive South relating to Dora Russell’s ‘Women’s Peace Caravan’, which travelled across Europe in 1958; as well as masterpieces of botanical illustration, architecture, geology and map-making.

We hope that the exhibition enriched the day of those who visited it and proved enticing to prospective students.

Thank you for the #GE2017 flyers!

First of all we would like to say thank you to all of you who answered our call to send us election leaflets sent out by some of the c.3000 candidates in the 650 Westminster constituencies from Aldershot to West Dunbartonshire, via Foyle and Ogmore.

We have been delighted with what we have received so far, and are beginning to sort the materials out and catalogue them.  Materials have been scooped up from door mats and popped in envelopes, or attached as pdfs on emails.  We have appealed by email, local radio, twitter, press coverage and more.

We have collected and read manifestos and leaflets, been engaged by political discussions, voted, stayed up too late watching results, and watched the outcome and formation of the new government.  We are sure that you have done the same, and hope that our collection will make it easier for people to see in the future what the main issues were during the June 2017 General Election.

Watch this space for some of the delights we have, and remember if you find an election leaflet for 2017 consider sending it to us rather than popping it in the recycling.

http://www.bristol.ac.uk/library/resources/specialcollections/archives/election/

The catalogue reference for the 8th June 2017 General Election is DM2734.

Our political collections in Special Collections are open to all, so do get in touch.

Special-Collections@Bristol.ac.uk

0117 928 8014

Twitter: @BrisUniSpColl

http://www.bris.ac.uk/library/resources/specialcollections/

Link

General Election 8 June 2017

The University of Bristol Special Collections has an extensive collection of election addresses (over 30,000) relating to British General Elections from 1892 to date.  There is also extensive coverage of by-elections. We also hold election addresses for European Elections 1979 to date; and the London County Council elections 1889-1913.

With the General Election having been called for Thursday 8 June 2017, we would like to appeal to people to collect what comes through their doors, and to send it to us at Special Collections.

1955 General Election flyer

1955 General Election flyer

Remember:

We collect in all Westminster Constituencies (all 650 of them), and cover all political parties (both big and small).

We would welcome donations from members of the public, political parties, or the parliamentary candidates themselves.

We collect election leaflets/addresses, manifestos, and related publicity.

Please bundle up what comes through your door, and send it to us after the Election, in an envelope with a note of where you received the material, ie. 1 Tyndall Avenue, Bristol, BS8 1TJ.

Our Elections appeal webpage:

http://www.bristol.ac.uk/library/resources/specialcollections/archives/election/

Our online archive catalogue:

http://oac.lib.bris.ac.uk/DServe/

Have a look at DM2676 for our holdings on the 2015 General Election:

http://bit.ly/21D7Yh9

We really appreciate this, and hope that it is of interest.  By collecting you help the academic community, politicians, independent researchers, and others in the future see what was really discussed in the 2017 General Election.  Thank you.

2010 General Election flyer

2010 General Election flyer

How to get in touch:

Twitter: @BrisUniSpColl

Phone: 0117 928 8014

Email: special-collections@bristol.ac.uk

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

Images for refurbs…

Special Collections is happy to have provided images for refurbishments around the university.  We have been involved in refurbishment projects in Senate House Study Centre, Grace Reeves Study Centre, the Richmond Building (Bristol Students’ Union), Beacon House, Arts & Social Sciences Library, Physics Library, H H Wills Physics Laboratory – and also provided 29 images and arranged their framing, in departments of Classics & Ancient History, English, Religion & Theology, and HUMS administration/staff areas.

More to come?

Senate House Study Centre

Senate House Study Centre

Beacon House

Beacon House

Department of Classics & Ancient History

Department of Classics & Ancient History

Quiet Zone, Arts & Social Sciences Library

Quiet Zone, Arts & Social Sciences Library

Quiet Zone, Arts & Social Sciences Library

Quiet Zone, Arts & Social Sciences Library

Post Graduate Research Room, Arts & Social Sciences Library

Post Graduate Research Room, Arts & Social Sciences Library

H. H. Wills Physics Laboratory

H. H. Wills Physics Laboratory

H. H. Wills Physics Laboratory - detail

H. H. Wills Physics Laboratory – detail

Arts & Social Sciences Library, lobby area

Arts & Social Sciences Library, lobby area

Arts & Social Sciences Library, café

Arts & Social Sciences Library, café

Students Union, Richmond Building

Students Union, Richmond Building

Grace Reeves Study Centre

Grace Reeves Study Centre

Physics Library

Physics Library

Arts & Social Sciences Library, entrance

Arts & Social Sciences Library, entrance

Biscuits of Highest Degree

University Ice Biscuits ¬– First Quality – Superior Ice Biscuits of Highest Degree – Made with Most Modern Machinery.

University Ice Biscuits – First Quality – Superior Ice Biscuits of Highest Degree – Made with Most Modern Machinery.

During the recent half term school holiday to Cornwall we got off the train at Bodmin Parkway and walked two miles through parkland to the National Trust house of Lanhydrock.  A splendid Victorian family house.  Whilst wandering through the sculleries, game larders, luggage rooms, and kitchens I came upon an early twentieth century biscuit tin, which reminded me that work and Bristol are never far away.

Wills Memorial Building was designed by George Oatley and has become an iconic symbol of the University. The WMB was completed in 1925, which helps date the ice cream wafer tin. Special Collections has hundreds of architectural drawings, photographs, etc., relating to the “lantern of the West”.

Wills Memorial Building was designed by George Oatley and has become an iconic symbol of the University. The WMB was completed in 1925, which helps date the ice cream wafer tin. Special Collections has hundreds of architectural drawings, photographs, etc., relating to the “lantern of the West”.

Later on, above stairs in the amazing barrel-ceiling library, I gazed at the fine collection of theological works on display.  A quick visit round the garden and church, then back on the train to Liskeard and more holiday.  Cliffs, beaches, sand castle making, bus rides, discoveries, mist, ancient villages, seal watching, paddling…. and finally the trip home, via Saltash Bridge and Brunel’s Great Western Railway.  See our online archive catalogue for holdings relating to Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and start with DM162.

Hannah Lowery, Archivist, Special Collections.