Explore Your Archives 2017: Behind the Scenes in Conservation

This year’s Explore Your Archives week runs from Saturday 18th November to Sunday 26th November. The mini-campaign is to highlight the vital and highly-specialised preservation and conservation work of archive conservators.

Behind the scenes at Archives & Collections

Unlike the past two years when we have opened up our archive collections through pop-up exhibitions, this year we are offering the chance to look behind the scenes…

Ever wanted to know what the Conservator gets up to in the archives? Ever wondered what is in the gold part of the Library of Birmingham building? You can find out by coming along to this workshop about how we look after Birmingham’s most treasured documents, with a behind the scenes tour of the stores and Conservation Studio.

Spaces are limited to 12 people – so book early by e-mail at archives.heritage@birmingham.gov.uk to avoid disappointment!

 

There are two workshops:

Saturday 18th November 1pm – 3pm

Friday 24th November, 2pm – 4pm.

 

Venue:

Wolfson Centre for Archival Research, Level 4, Library of Birmingham, Centenary Square B1 2ND

 

For details of how to get to the library, please see the Library of Birmingham website for details.

For more about the Explore Your Archive campaign, please visit http://www.exploreyourarchive.org/.

 

 

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Beyond the Battlefields: Käthe Buchler’s Photographs of Germany in the Great War

Käthe Buchler, self-portrait, c. 1905

Beyond the Battlefields: Käthe Buchler’s Photographs of Germany in the Great War

20 October 2017 – 14 January 2018

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery

University of Birmingham

 

The Voices of War & Peace WW1 Engagement Centre is currently organising an exhibition of photographs by German amateur photographer Käthe Buchler (1876-1930), whose work forms one of the featured collections of the Museum of Photography in Braunschweig, Lower Saxony. This is the first time that her work has been displayed outside Germany.

Käthe Buchler, ‘Nurse with patient and Christmas tree in the military hospital’, 1914-1918

Buchler photographed the German home front during the First World War. Her black & white images depict her family and community, children contributing to the war effort, women working in traditionally male roles, wounded soldiers returning from the frontline and the nursing staff who treated them. There will be two exhibitions in Birmingham, at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, focusing on Buchler’s images of women and children, and at the University of Birmingham, where her photographs of injured soldiers will be displayed alongside material relating to the University’s role as a hospital during the War. Both exhibitions draw extensively on the collections of the Library of Birmingham.

Käthe Buchler, Children from the A.V.G. (waste recycling company) with Pickelhaube (spiked helmet) in front of a puppet theatre on Hindenburg’s birthday, c. 1915

Käthe Buchler

Käthe Buchler was born in Braunschweig, Germany, in 1876. At age 19 she married Walther Buchler and by 1901 the couple had moved to an affluent area of the town. In 1905 they set up a foundation which awarded local grants in arts and culture. As well as supporting the arts, Käthe also belonged to many women’s organisations and to the Red Cross. In 1901 she had turned her attention to photography and Walther gave Käthe her first camera, a binocular Voigtländer. While she successfully taught herself to use the camera, she also sought advice from local professionals and attended courses in Berlin that were open to female students. She later developed and produced her own prints in the attic of the Buchler home.

Käthe Buchler died in 1930, aged 54. In 2003 the Buchler family donated their collection of over 1,000 black and white prints and 175 colour autochrome plates to the Museum of Photography in Braunschweig. Continue reading

Chris Upton Memorial Lecture

On Monday 6th November 2017, the Library of Birmingham will be hosting the second annual Chris Upton Memorial Lecture.

Our speaker this year is George Demidowicz who will be speaking about Eureka Moments. Here is a preview of George’s own Eureka moments that you will be hearing about…

“For me researching and writing about the past is an extremely creative process. My interests are in landscape history, building history and archaeology and much of this involves reconstructing what has been lost, forgotten, misunderstood or distorted by myth and legend. To do what I do most effectively, I have combined work in the field with many visits to the archives. The motivation for the many hours spent in record offices is the reward of discovery – recovering something new or unknown about the past.

I am sure that Chris Upton was inspired by the same urge to discover and recreate the past.

 The process of discovery can be a long and drawn out one, but sometimes there are those moments when everything comes together and the last piece of the jigsaw snaps into place. Using another well-worn cliché, it’s comparable to a light suddenly being switched on, illuminating the darkness in which you had been stumbling, often for some time.

These moments can happen in the archives, when a document that you hoped existed is removed from its packaging or box, or a map or drawing is unrolled and laid out flat on the desk   – and suddenly the hunt is over. I am particularly interested in old maps and plans, as they can immediately provide the information you were seeking, information that would need to fill the equivalent of many, many manuscript pages.

The eureka moment can take place later at home or in the office; you pour over the material  laboriously copied or photographed in the archives, sifting and sorting, and suddenly something clicks into place. Sharing research with colleagues or fellow researchers can have the same result.

Despite these moments of discovery, the obscuring mist is not always lifted from the past and as many questions can be raised as answered. All our history is not recorded in the archives.

I have chosen here a sample of my most exciting breakthroughs in forty years of research and, with a few others, I hope to convey the thrill of the chase…

Lifford Hall, King’s Norton

Lifford Hall, King’s Norton. A gentleman’s residence of the 17th century? Why are there tunnels under the front lawn?

 

The Coin Cutting Out Room at the Soho Mint 1825

Why was locating this room the key to reconstructing the Mint at this time?

 

The Saracen’s Head.

How was the lost history of the Saracen’s Head retrieved?

 

Medieval Rental Rolls

How were the Birmingham medieval rentals discovered? This fragment records ‘in novo vico’,  (in New Street) 1296, its earliest reference.”

George Demidowicz

 

The memorial lecture will take place at 5:30pm on the 6th November 2017, Room 101, Level 1, at the Library of Birmingham. To book your place at the lecture, please e-mail archives.heritage@birmingham.gov.uk.

 

In addition this year, The National Archives are coming to present Archives & Collections with our Accreditation certificate. Achieving Accredited status shows that Birmingham Archives and Collections has met clearly defined national standards relating to the care of its unique collections, and the service it offers to its entire range of users. We are really proud of achieving Accredited status and in recognition, the presentation will be from 5pm – with the public lecture starting at 5:30pm.

 

 

Sporting Heritage Day 2017

Saturday 30th September is Sporting Heritage Day. It aims to celebrate the UK’s sporting heritage and the Sporting Heritage website brings together a list of all the sporting collections held across the country.

In honour of Sporting Heritage Day, we though we would highlight a very popular source which not everyone may be aware of – the Sports Argus.

Sports Argus, First Edition 6 February 1897

The first edition was published in February 1897 and was a Saturday paper that was available not long after the afternoon football games had been played. Sadly the newspaper ceased publication in 2006. The Sports Argus is available to view on microfilm without an appointment in our Heritage Research Area, and is definitely worth a look if you are researching not only local, but national sporting events. It’s certainly a very popular source in our department!

We also searched to see what archive collections we hold on a sporting theme…

MS 2458 Edgbaston Archery and Lawn Tennis Club (various papers)

MS 4757  Records of Thomas Padmore & Sons, Billiard Table Makers (various papers)

MS 1786 Harborne Lawn Tennis Club:

The club was apparently founded in or shortly before 1883, and at first rented land for courts at the corner of Harborne Park Road and St. Mary’s Road from Sir Henry Wiggin. It later moved to Tennal Road, where an enthusiastic member, Dr. F. W. Aston FRS, provided a site. The club closed in the early 1960s when Dr. Aston’s descendents sold the site for developement.

MS 2569 Anstey College and Anstey Association:

Anstey College of Physical Training was founded by Rhoda Anstey in 1897. It was the second women’s physical training college to be established after Hampstead Training College (later Dartford College) which was founded by the Swedish physical educationalist Madame Bergman Osterberg and was where Rhoda Anstey herself trained in 1893-1895. Anstey’s first location was at the Leasowes, a house in Halesowen, formerly the home of the poet and landscape gardener William Shenstone (1714-1763). In 1907 Rhoda Anstey moved the college to Yew Tree House on the Chester Road in Erdington, where it remained until 1981.

MS 1468 Birmingham Athletics Institute:

The Birmingham Athletic Institute [B.A.I.] was formed in 1889 with the object of promoting physical education and recreation in Birmingham and the surrounding district. A purpose-built building in John Bright Street opened in 1891 and provided the Institute with a gymnasium, lecture room, refreshment room, library and a council room for the use of the Birmingham Athletic Club.

MS 1862 Midland Sailing Club:

The Midland Sailing Club was founded in 1894 and is based at Edgbaston Reservoir (formerly known as Rotton Park Reservoir). Its main object as stated in the first set of rules of 1895 was to ‘encourage and promote racing and cruising by amateurs, in yachts, boats and canoes’ by means of holding lectures, arranging meetings for social purposes and organising races and cruises.

The Club continues to arrange races at Edgbaston and has hosted national yachting competitions, including the Royal Yachting Association/Dunhill Team Championship National Final in October 1977. Social events are still a regular feature of the Club’s activities.

MS 2056 Severn Street Swimming Club:

The Severn Street Swimming Club was founded in 1892 from the Class 17 Adult Division of the First Day School in Severn Street. By 1895 the club had 85 members and included a ladies division. By 1895 the club had also moved to Kent Street baths, moving again in 1977 to those in Monument Road. The Monument Road baths closed in 1992 and the club moved to the Tiverton Road baths. The club itself closed soon afterwards, in 1995.

MS 4835 Let’s Play, a Community Sports Heritage Project [badminton]:

The sport of Badminton has been played in communities over the last 40 years and this project captures people’s life stories and interactions through Badminton at a community level – demonstrating how Badminton has been used in communities where individuals have organised tournaments, clubs, and participated in Badminton related activities. Included is a collection of oral histories which highlight people’s stories of playing Badminton, making friends, and how the sport has been socially empowering individuals, communities and groups.

If any of these collections peak your interest, please do contact us via archives.appointments@birmingham.gov.uk to find out more.

The Sporting Heritage website also has a page listing where sporting collections are held: https://www.sportingheritage.org.uk/content/collections/england-directory/west-midlands.

O’Aargh me hearties!

Tuesday 19th September is officially Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Sadly as we have no actual pirates working in Archives & Collections that we can ask about pirating, we’ve done the next best thing and found some pirate themed treasures to give us some inspiration…

A History of the Lives and Exploits of the most remarkable Pirates, Highwaymen, Murderers, Street Robbers. 1742. [LS SA/2/39 224844]

The Life of Mary Read

Among our printed reference collection, we came across the perfect book to share with you  – A History of the Lives and Exploits of the most remarkable Pirates, Highwaymen, Murderers, Street Robbers etc. by Captain Charles Johnson, published in 1742. The volume contains biographies of many questionable characters, including Blackbeard himself! Also making the cut were women pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Read, although as they didn’t command any ships, it seems being a female pirate was enough to warrant inclusion on the list of dastardly individuals.

Engine for H.M. Pluto. [MS 3147/5/1224]

Pirates were not just on the High Seas. We also found numerous references to pirates in the papers of Boulton & Watt, for trying to steal and pirate their patented engine technology! One of their engines was made for H. M. Navy and used for the defence against pirates. Two 50 horse power side lever boat engines were made for the Navy Steamer Pluto in the 1830s.  The engines were made in 1826 but not appropriated to the Pluto until 1830.  In March 1832, Pluto was about to proceed to the African coast, her first service.  According to the Catalogue of Old Engines she was armed with two long 18 pounder guns for the suppression of pirates on the Bahama Banks.  Pluto was broken up in 1861. Continue reading

John Milton’s Paradise Lost, 1667-2017: 350th Anniversary Public Lecture

To celebrate the 350th anniversary of the publication of John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667), the British Milton Seminar is pleased to announce a free public lecture, sponsored by the Universities of Birmingham and Leicester, to be held at the Library of Birmingham at 6 pm on Friday 20th October 2017.

The lecture will be delivered by Professor Karen Edwards (University of Exeter), on ‘Slow Love in Paradise Lost’. The lecture will address the relationship between loving and attaining wisdom in Paradise Lost, between long-suffering love and ‘suffering for truth’s sake’. In his portrait of Adam and Eve’s relationship and of Satan’s degeneration, Milton shows readers how, precisely, love furthers and hatred frustrates the ability to know and to understand.

The lecture will be prefaced by a brief talk by Dr Hugh Adlington (University of Birmingham) about the Library of Birmingham’s Milton Collection.

Attendance at the lecture is free but spaces are limited and booking is essential: http://shop.bham.ac.uk/conferences-and-events/college-of-arts-law/school-of-english-drama-american-canadian-studies

A brief history of Paradise Lost

Paradise Lost, 1667. EC65.M6427P.1667aa, Houghton Library, Harvard University

Paradise lost, a Poem in Ten Books was first published, almost unnoticed, late in 1667. The small quarto volume, priced at 3s, notable for its stark, unadorned presentation, took time to find its audience. If it is true that Sir John Denham came into the House of Commons one day with a sheet of the poem wet from the press, and proclaimed it ‘Part of the Noblest Poem that ever was Wrote in Any Language or Any Age’, then no one seems to have taken much notice. At least, not at first.

Milton was paid an initial sum of £5 (worth about £875 today) on publication. Further payments, depending on sales, meant that Milton stood to earn a maximum of £20 on the deal (£3,500 today). Not to be sniffed at, certainly, but hardly a fortune for writing what many in the 350 years since have judged to be the greatest epic poem in the English language. And hardly to stand comparison with the £134,000 recently asked for a 1667 first edition of Paradise Lost (equivalent to about £765 in 1667, approximately five thousand times the book’s first asking price).

Continue reading

What are we up to during Birmingham Heritage Week?!

We’ve got a variety of things for you to do with us here in Archives & Collections during Heritage Week (which starts on Thursday), and we’d love you to join in!

 

Behind the Scenes: Conservation in the Archives

Friday 8th September, 2pm (booking essential)

Venue: Wolfson Centre for Archival Research, Level 4, Library of Birmingham, Centenary Square B1 2ND

Ever wanted to know what the Conservator gets up to in the Archives? Ever wondered what is in the gold part of the Library of Birmingham building? You can find out by coming along to this talk about how we look after Birmingham’s most treasured documents, with a behind the scenes tour of the stores and Conservation Studio!

Spaces are limited to 12 people – so book early to avoid disappointment!

 

Introduction to Archives & Cataloguing Skills Workshop

Saturday 9th September, 11-1:00 (booking essential)

Venue: Wolfson Centre for Archival Research, Level 4, Library of Birmingham, Centenary Square B1 2ND

This workshop will provide an introduction to Birmingham’s Archives, with a particular focus on how you can add to the collections through e.g. your heritage project. It covers the following: What does the Archives & Collections Service do? What are Archives? (with a chance to view and handle original archive material from the 12th to the 20th centuries!); Getting your collection into the Archives; and a practical introduction to cataloguing your Archive.

 

The Reality of Partition: Hand-over of Project Archive to Archives & Collections

Monday 12th September, 12-2pm (drop-in)

Venue: Wolfson Centre for Archival Research, Level 4, Library of Birmingham, Centenary Square B1 2ND

This project has focused on the heritage of the immigrant population that came to Great Britain in the first months and years after Partition, an event which marks its 70th anniversary in 2017.

What impact did Partition have on the Indian and Pakistani population already in Britain, and on those who decided to take up residency when independence was declared?  What do today’s British Asian population know about the history of the decision, how it took place, and the effect it had on their own families. Similarly, what does the wider British population know about this?  These are all questions the project has sought to address, especially since most of these stories are shared only amongst an intimate family group or other small number of people within a particular community.

The project archive will be deposited (handed-over) to Birmingham Archives & Collections between 12 and 2pm on the 12th of September – why not come along and observe, talk to the project managers, and watch the film –  ‘The Reality of Partition – Real stories told by Birmingham & Black Country residents’.

 

Heritage Research Area Familiarisation Session

Saturday 16th September, 11am-1pm (booking essential)

Venue: Heritage Research Area, Level 4, Library of Birmingham, Centenary Square B1 2ND

Would you like to learn how the Heritage Research Area on level 4 could benefit your genealogical research?

Meet experienced staff at this free event which will act as a general beginners’ guide to 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 archives.heritage@birmingham.gov.uk or speak with a member of staff on level 4 to make a reservation. Please note this session is not aimed at answering specific genealogical enquiries.

 

Let’s Play Traditional Bangladeshi Games!!

Saturday 16th September, 11am-1pm (drop-in)

Venue: Heritage Learning Space, Level 4, Library of Birmingham, Centenary Square B1 2ND

 

Traditional games are part of the intangible heritage and a symbol of the cultural diversity of our societies. Played for hundreds of years by children and adults in rural and urban Bangladesh, traditional games brought here by first generation immigrants are on the verge of disappearance. These toys and games are representative of Bengali culture and psyche. They signify our people’s creativity and imagination as well as the fun-loving spirit of family bonding. Having recently deposited our documentary oral history recordings from our Stories & Games project with Archives & Collections at the Library of Birmingham, we now invite you to come along to the Archives on the 16th of September to learn about and play these games!

 

Booking: A couple of activities are drop-in, and for others booking is essential via archives.heritage@birmingham.gov.uk  – see above for details!

 

Directions and maps: http://www.libraryofbirmingham.com/article/visitorguide/visitorguide-summary

 

There is so much going in Birmingham Heritage Week this year! Find out more here: http://birminghamheritageweek.co.uk/