Our favourite things in Archives & Collections, Dawn Beaumont & David Potts

Orange Explored

Dawn and I decided to do a joint blog post, because we wanted to showcase all our collections – archives, local history printed collections, special collections, and photographic collections. We’re proud of our collections and believe they are relevant to so many people and appeal on many levels.

Dawn Beaumont and David Potts exploring their favourite things.

Dawn Beaumont and David Potts exploring their favourite things.

I’ve chosen a theme rather than a collection, ‘Football in the Archives’, because I am interested in how you can research a very specific subject in the Archives, but in so doing need to look at different (and unexpected) types of collections to get a fuller picture. Also, I really like football… I needed no excuse to go rooting around…

So I have chosen photographs, printed programmes, a scrap book from a hospital collection! I particularly like the photographs in the Warwickshire Photographic Survey Collection (MS 2474), in which there are various photos of the ground at Villa Park, the crowds, and the players. In them I can see the landmarks that I still pass when I go to the ground on match day (the gas towers, the church) and I remember standing at the Witton End when it was uncovered (as in many of the photos) although I didn’t attend my first game until around 1974, and, the photo was taken in 1952 (exactly thirty years before Villa won the European Cup in 1982!). There is also a great picture of the Birmingham City football team from 1931 when they were FA Cup finalists, plus programmes and news cuttings relating to various local teams, both professional and amateur. I really enjoyed looking at some of Birmingham & District Works Amateur Football Association match reports (MS 2658/3/3), particularly the report for the match played at the Latch & Bachelor ground at Hay Mills on the 14th December 1946 against Halesowen A&L, and which ended 15-1 to Birmingham & District Works… about which the report reads “Apart from just 20 mins when the Visitors showed speed & cleverness the Works side were as superior as the score suggest.”

Volume of miscellaneous papers and press cuttings relating to the establishment and immediate history of the Birmingham Children's Hospital, compiled by C. E. Matthews. [HC BCH/6/2/1 p250]

Volume of miscellaneous papers and press cuttings relating to the establishment and immediate history of the Birmingham Children’s Hospital, compiled by C. E. Matthews.
[HC BCH/6/2/1 p250]

The last collection I expected to find any information about football in was in one of the hospital collections… but I did, in the Children’s Hospital Archive, and in a ‘Volume of miscellaneous papers and press cuttings relating to the establishment and immediate history of the Birmingham Children’s Hospital, compiled by C. E. Matthews, Honorary Secretary 1862 – 1898’ no less! As you can see, on March the 10th 1890, the Villa first eleven played against “18 theatrical and equestrian gentlemen (in costume)”. Kick off was at 3pm, and the proceeds were going to the Queen’s and Children’s Hospitals. The team that made up the opposition included: a stout school boy, a policeman, a clown, and various military types amongst many others!

David Potts
Head of Library Resources


I have chosen one of the Special Collections as my favourite – The ‘Parker collection of games’, and it was very difficult to decide on which game to choose… so, like David, I chose several things! You can read more about the collection here: http://www.libraryofbirmingham.com/parkercollection

I chose this collection as a whole because it contains educational games, toys and puzzles including jigsaws, card games and writing games, and some of these wonderful things are so beautifully crafted and appealing, that I wanted to show them to you!

Riley's Historical Playing Cards c.1785 [087.1/070]

Riley’s Historical Playing Cards c.1785

So, to my choices, the toys and games are very various, with the earliest dating to c1750 and the most recent to 2001. To give you a flavour, I have selected four from across that date range, two of which are illustrated in this blog post. Firstly, Riley’s historical playing cards (c1785), which includes cards featuring historical figures from Roman history with something of a biography of each figure, designed to be instructive to children since “they cannot fail of becoming insensibly acquainted as it were with customs and characters of a people”! Cards include Tarquinius the Proud (whose associate in crime was Tullia, an “impious woman”), Lucretia who was “chaste and unfortunate”, and Camilla, whose tale you cannot read about without a “sympathising tear”, amongst many others! Each card is beautifully illustrated with small pen and ink portraits of all concerned.

Secondly I chose ‘Happy Families’, another card game, with this pack dating to 1900. In this game, players are dealt the shuffled cards (which feature family members based on an occupation such as Miss Chop the butcher’s daughter, and Mr Rolls the baker) and so end up with a mixture of characters from different families. The aim of the game is to reunite the families, which is achieved by players taking it in turns to ask other players for specific family members.

Happy Families [087.1/031]

Happy Families

I also chose An Alphabet History , (A 087.1/1978), and The Little Library (A P 087.1/1825) – well I had to choose this one, being in a big library!, and these will be on display at our pop-up exhibition – so please do come along.

Dawn Beaumont
Head of Library Services

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