Closed Week Update

During our closed week in December 2017, we were very busy indeed working on adding material to the Archives collections (accessioning!)… and to give you flavour of the material we have taken in, we thought we’d highlight a few!

MS 4881 (2017/026), Stories & Games: A documentary on Bangladeshi urban and rural heritage, 2017. This is a documentary DVD containing a video of the games events and the oral history interviews of members of the local community both in English and Bengali. The Bengali interviews have been transcribed, and English subtitles appear on the video.

Image provided by New Hope Birmingham.


SF Additional (2017/027), Minutes and essays of the Friends Essay Society, 19th – 20th cent. The Friends Essay Society was a group of members of the Religious Society of Friends who met at each other’s houses one evening a month to read out essays which they had previously written anonymously, either on a subject given to them or, more often, on a subject of their own choice. The evening started with tea, and after each member had read aloud someone else’s essay, they had supper. You can see the catalogue for this material online here.

And here’s a fabulous box that the collection came in…


MS 4924 (2017/057), Membership register of the Birmingham and Midland Hairdressers’ Academy and Philanthropic Society, 1892-1927. We rather liked this – it is the only item we have relating to this organisation though – so we don’t know very much about it!



MS 4907 (2017/058), Handsworth Ladies Shakespeare Reading Society, 1884-2008. The Handsworth Shakespeare Reading Society began in 1880 when a group of ladies in Handsworth Wood decided to meet regularly in each other’s houses. The society had a list of rules by 1887. The group was for women only and new members were recruited by personal invitation. Meetings were devoted to reading plays by Shakespeare and other authors. It continued to hold meetings during the First and Second World Wars, however the number of meetings dropped to four meetings during the First World War and meetings were suspended during the winter months of the Second World War. Continue reading


New Year, New Additions

Birmingham Collection in the Heritage Research Area, floor 4, Library of Birmingham

The following is a list of selected highlights of additions to our printed bookstock collections since December 2016, we hope you enjoy!


1. Ed. Archer – Parre, Caroline & Dick, Malcolm.
John Baskerville, Art and Industry of the Enlightenment. (2017).
BCOL 87.1 BAS, Level 4 and L 78.1 BAS, Level 5.

2. Armstrong, Eric.
Birmingham’s War : Voices of the Second World War. (2016).
BCOL 75.8 ARM, Level 4 & L 75.8 ARM, level 5.

3. Brazier, Corinne & Rice, Steve.
A Fair Cop : Celebrating 100 years of policewomen in the West Midlands. (2017).
L 42.21 BRA, Level 5.

4. Carter, Terry.
Birmingham in the Great War : Mobilisation & Recruitment, the first eighteenth months of the war. (2016).
BCOL 75.7, Level 4 & L 75.7 CAR, Level 5.

5. Dicks, Brian & Gardner, Andrew.
Edwardian Enterprises : The Untold Origins of Midland Red. (2017).
LF 47.63 MID, Level 5.

6. Flack, Fenella.
God’s Back Garden : A History of Immanuel Church, Kings Norton, Birmingham. (2014).
BCOL 14.57, Level 4 & L 14.57, Level 5.

7. Goodman, Ruth. Helping Britain Prosper.
From industrial revolution to digital revolution. A social history of Britain and Lloyds Bank. (2015).
LF 63.21 LLO, Level 5.

8. Hewston, Norman.
A History of Moseley Village. (2009).
Moseley  – Birmingham Collection, Level 4 and L 92.1, Level 5.

9. Hill, Lewis. (ed) Kirk, Pauline.
Thinking of You Always – The Letters of Cpl. Hill, 1941 – 1945. (2016).
L 78.1 HIL, Level 5.

10. Library of Birmingham Discovery Season Brochure. (2013).
LP 53.31, Level 5.

11. Meads, Catherine & Pennant, Mary & McManus, James & Bayliss, Sue.
A systematic review of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender health in the West Midlands region of the UK compared to published UK research. (2009).
LF 22.85 MEA, Level 5.

12. Mussett, Nigel. J., (Compiled by).
George Albert Ravenhill, VC. (2017).
LP 78.1 RAV, Level 5.

13. Pieper, Antje. Music and the Making of Middle – Class Culture.
A Comparative History of Nineteenth – Century Leipzig and Birmingham. (2008).
L 55.5, Level 5.

14. Phillips, Jess.
Everywoman – One Woman’s Truth About Speaking the Truth. (2017).
BCOL 78.1 PHI, Level 4 and L 78.1 PHI, Level 5.

15. Reid, Adam.
The Chemical Activities of the Lunar Society, c 1765 – 1800. (2004).
LF 50.6, Level 5.

16. Reekes, Andrew.
Two Titans, One City : Joseph Chamberlain and George Cadbury. (2017).
L 78 REE, Level 5.

17. Rennie, Paul.
Safety First : Vintage Posters from RoSPA’s archive. (2015).
LF 45.62, Level 5.

18. Roberts, Stephen.
Joseph Gillott and Four Other Birmingham Manufacturers, 1784 – 1892. (2016).
BCOL 64.1, Level 4 & L 64.1 ROB, Level 5.

19. Roberts, Stephen.
Birmingham 1889 : One Year in a Victorian City. (2017).
BCOL 73.4 ROB, Level 4 &  L 73.4 ROB, Level 5.

20. Robson, Geoff.
Dark Satanic Mills :  Religion and Irreligion in Birmingham and the Black Country. (2002).
L 10 ROB, Level 5.

21. Rudge, Ted & Clenton, Keith.
Changing Nechells. (2015).
Nechells – Birmingham Collection, Level 4 and L 91.4, Level 5.

22. Slater, Terry.
‘The Pride of the Place’ : The Cathedral Church of St. Philip, Birmingham, 1715 – 2015. (2016).
BCOL 14.13 SLA, Level 4 & L 14.13 SLA, Level 5.

23. Smith, Douglas H.
From Tramways to Trenches : The story of the men of Birmingham Corporation Tramways who gave their lives in the First World War. (2014).
LP 47.621, level 5.

24. Swani, Balwant K.
Hello England. (2017).
BCOL 78.1 SWA, Level 4 and  L 78.1 SWA, Level 5.

25. Woods, Gary, W.
Out & About : Mapping LGBT Lives in Birmingham. (September 2011).
LP 22.85 WOO, Level 5.

26. Walters, Graham.
Sir William Mills and the Standard Golf Company, 1895 – 1939. (2016).
LF 25.16 WAL, Level 5. Continue reading

A Very Happy New Year to All

Bell and Nicholson Trade Catalogue, 1933

2017 was another year of moving forward for Archives & Collections.

We have seen the completion of the Birmingham and Warwickshire Quakers cataloguing project, making this wonderful collection fully accessible.

We also launched our Heritage Research Area familiarisation sessions, where members of the public were invited to join us for a tour of the resources available for researching  family history.

As part of Birmingham Heritage Week and Explore Your Archive Week, our Conservator guided visitors through our stores and talked about the different issues that affect the care of our documents.

The most significant achievement for us as a team, however, was becoming an Accredited Archive Service, which demonstrates our commitment to providing the best possible service we can for our users and stakeholders, and our dedication in the care we take in looking after our collections.

The trade catalogue for Bell and Nicholson from 1933 seemed relevant for us today – 2018 will bring a new year and, no doubt,  new demands, but Archives & Collections will be looking forward to the challenges that await!

We wish you all a very prosperous Happy New Year!

The Twelve Days of Christmas

We’ve run with this idea before using a few of our archival documents, but for the Twelve Days of Christmas this year, we bring you images from our Early and Fine Printing Collections.





On the first and second days of Christmas, we give to you partridges, minus any pear trees, and two turtle doves. These images are taken from Birds of Britain, Vol. IV, by John Gould. [598.2942 F 096/1873].

Gould published several series of works on birds, featuring species indigenous not just to Britain, but to places all across the globe. His expertise was intrinsic to the identification of ‘Darwin’s finches’, one of the sparks for Darwin’s Theory of Evolution [More information can be found here:].

On the third, fourth, and fifth days of Christmas, we give you some hens (in French), a crow (a ‘calling’ bird, as far as I understand, comes from the word ‘colly’, and it meant blackbirds and perhaps birds that are black) plus some silver rings!


These images all come from a copy of Æsop’s Fables with His Life, which has the text in English, French and Latin [F 094/1687/6]. The volume was rebound in celebration of the move to The Library of Birmingham in 2013 and features the same pattern as the filigree on the outside of the building. More information about the binding can be discovered in this video.


Continue reading

Catalogue of the Central England Quakers archive now available

Bull Street Meeting House exterior (finding no. SF/1516)

Following completion of the Birmingham and Warwickshire Quakers cataloguing project, funded by a cataloguing grant from the National Archives and a bequest from a member of Bull Street Quaker Meeting, the catalogue of Central England Area Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends is now available to view on our online catalogue and in hardcopy in the Wolfson Centre for Archival Research.

Covering the establishment of Quakerism in the area in the mid-17th century to the present day, the collection includes records of the county’s umbrella organisation, Warwickshire Monthly Meeting and its predecessors, and the records of the regional Warwickshire, Staffordshire and Leicestershire Quarterly Meeting which reported to the head of the Quaker Church, the Yearly Meeting in London. It also includes records of local Quaker Meetings in Birmingham such as Bull Street, Bournville, Cotteridge, Edgbaston, Selly Oak and Kings Heath, as well as those further afield such as Warwick, Coventry, Barnt Green and Redditch, Stourbridge, Solihull, Sutton Coldfield and Walsall.  Records for meetings which no longer exist such as Gooch Street, Farm Street, Longbridge, Dudley, Stirchley, Shipston-on-Stour, Baddsley Ensor, Fulford Heath and Wigginshill are also in the archive.

Screenshot of the online catalogue for the Records of the Central England Area Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (ref SF)

Continue reading

Learn more about our Heritage Research Area

Familiarisation session in the Heritage Research Area

Following on from the great success of our previous two events, Archives & Collections are now offering another chance to get to know the sources available in our Heritage Research Area. Would you like to learn how the Heritage Research Area on level 4 could benefit your genealogical research?

At this free event, staff will guide you through our resources such as maps, electoral and parish registers as well as digital resources on Ancestry Institution and software for reading local newspapers.

Spaces are limited to 12 people per session. Please email or speak with a member of staff on level 4 to make a reservation.

Saturday 6th January 2018

11 am – 1 pm

Please note this session is not aimed at answering specific genealogical enquiries.

Our Heritage Research Familiarisation Session is now fully booked. If you haven’t managed to book on the session this time, we are planning to offer another one in March, date yet to be confirmed. Please check out the blog, the Lob website and twitter as well as posters located in the library nearer the time for confirmation of the date. 

Winter pastimes: The Ice Slide

The Ice Slide from A Picturesque Representation of the Manners, Customs and Amusements of the Russians, in one hundred coloured plates, with an accurate explanation of each plate in English and French in three volumes [AE 096/1803]

“Sliding down an artificial hill of ice is a favourite diversion of the Russians in the winter. Not a village or a hamlet is without them, particularly during the week of the Carnival. The ice hills at St. Petersburg are built upon a large scale. A scaffolding is made of balks about thirty-five feet high: a staircase of steps which leads to the top of it; on the parts opposite to the stairs, a slanting descent is managed, which forms an angle of about forty-five to fifty degrees with the surface of the ice. Two small doors lead to this descent: the ice is smoothed very carefully in a straight line about one hundred fathoms long and twenty feet wide. At the end of this sliding place another hill of the same size is built, from which the sliding place runs parallel again with the other. Guides are appointed at each hill, who sit upon small sledges of wood, about eighteen inches long, eight or ten inches broad, and a few inches high, with iron shoes or skates under them on each side. The person who wants to take a slide down the hill, sits upon the lap of the guide with his legs close together between those of the guide, who shoves himself forward with his hands to the brink of the precipice, from which he rushes down with great velocity to the end of the sliding place.”

This comes from ‘A Picturesque Representation of the Manners, Customs and Amusements of the Russians, in one hundred coloured plates, with an accurate explanation of each plate in English and French in three volumes’, by John Augustus Atkinson and James Walker. (London, 1803), part of our Early & Fine Printing Collection.

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