Category Archives: Events

Sharing information on relevant exhibitions, lectures, and other events, etc.

Why not come along to our second Heritage Research Area Familiarisation Session?

The Heritage Research Area on Level 4 of the Library of Birmingham

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.

Saturday 16 September 2017

11 am – 1 pm

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

 

Heritage Research Area public familiarisation session

Staff in Archives & Collections showing how to use genealogy resources

Wednesday 28 June, an otherwise drab and overcast summer’s day was witness to the inaugural Heritage Research Area public familiarisation session between 11 am – 1 pm. The Heritage Research Area is typically the first port of call when visiting Archives & Collections based on level 4 of the Library of Birmingham. It’s the area where you are able to access the vast majority of the section’s printed resource materials without an appointment, at any point during the library’s core opening hours of 11 am  – 7 pm Monday & Tuesday and 11 am  – 5 pm Wednesday to Saturday.

The session was amongst many things an opportunity for Archives & Collections to reach out to the community and raise awareness of the services we offer and their relevance to the wider community. Such opportunities have been few and far between since the library experienced a restructuring of its staffing levels back in 2015, but the event was a means of raising our profile and making people aware we are still here with a commitment to offer a professional, dedicated and friendly service.

The session was well attended with up to 15 participants although we had originally planned for 12 attendees, such was the level of demand. We relied upon the Library of Birmingham website – www.libraryofbirmingham.com along with Twitter, literature on display around the library and good old word of mouth to promote the event.

Some of the resources guests will be more familiar with following the session

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Looking after the golden jewels in the Library of Birmingham’s crown

As one of the UK’s most iconic contemporary buildings (currently being honoured by appearing on a first class stamp no less!) the Library of Birmingham contains some amazing, precious and unique things. Some highlights include Shakespeare’s first folio, Audubon’s Birds of America, a small drawing of a kettle by James Watt, photos of models from Pre-Raphaelite paintings to our oldest surviving document from 1150’s , but have you ever wondered how these items are cared for? What the ‘Gold’ part of the building is? Conservator Lucy Angus explains.

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As part of the Archives & Collections team my job is to care for the archival and special collections. A major part of my role is collections care. Collections care, which is sometimes called preventive conservation, involves any actions taken to prevent or delay the deterioration of cultural heritage. This could be anything from advising people on the handling of original documents, to making sure environmental conditions such as temperature and Relative Humidity (RH) are stable and are at the correct levels, to how something is packaged!

The collections held here are varied and vast containing every material type and size you can imagine! This ranges from miniature books to enormous maps, parchment and seals, photographs, paper and even a sitar! Therefore storage is a very important and vital part of keeping the collections safe for the future.

Watt’s Kettle. One of the priceless treasures held in the archives

 

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Exciting Photography Exhibition in Birmingham!

Virtual reality and Archives? Maybe not so far away – indeed, maybe right here in Brum in the Waterhall of Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery!

An intriguing exhibition, Thresholds, curated by Pete James and Matt Collishaw enables you to experience the exhibition of William Fox Talbot’s photogenic drawings at the Annual Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science held in Birmingham at King Edward’s School, New Street in August 1839.

Charles Barry’s drawings of Birmingham Free Grammar School on New Street, Birmingham, 1833.
[MS 575 Acc 2012/013]

Put on the headset and backpack and you’re standing in the school hall, can view the drawings in display cases – and even lift them to look closer, feel the fire, hear and see the Chartist protestors outside the window – amazing. Chartist riots had taken place in the Bull Ring just a few weeks before and Fox Talbot requested that the Birmingham Literary and Philosophical Society acquire the display cases in order to protect his drawings from possible protestors.

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Connecting Stories, Our British Asian Heritage – Behind the scenes

Have you ever wondered why exhibition spaces are sometimes a little bit dark? Why objects are displayed in the way that they are? How an exhibition is even put together in the first place? Conservator Lucy Angus will explain the stages of preparing and installing our current exhibition ‘Connecting Stories.

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Six months ago I met the British Library Curator Penny Brook who had the difficult task of choosing over 100 objects from collections held at the British Library and Library of Birmingham which would help tell the story of our British Asian heritage. Once Penny had come up with her wish list of objects for inclusion for the exhibition, I was then presented with the objects which included a rare 19th century board game reflecting Britain’s trading interests in Asia, 1940s police reports on meetings of the Indian Workers Association and India League in Birmingham, photographs showing protests and counter-protests in 1960s and 1970s Britain amongst others.

Before and after conservation treatment
[MS 3147/5/ 616]

Upon looking at the objects I had to determine whether the objects were fit for display and what conditions would need to be in place to make sure that the objects were cared for and did not potentially suffer from being displayed. Some factors I considered were the condition of the objects, whether the objects were to be displayed in a case or framed and the potential exposure to light over the course of the exhibition.

Most objects I was shown were thankfully in a good condition and required no conservation treatment. Only a few objects required minor repair with a colour drawing of an Engine House for His Highness the Nabob Vizier of Oude (MS 3147/5/616) requiring the most conservation treatment which included surface cleaning, repair and filling in losses with a sympathetic paper to the original. Continue reading

Heritage Research Area Familiarisation Session

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 representative of staff on level 4 to place a reservation.

Wednesday 28 June 2017

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 on a Saturday in September, 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. 

 

Connecting Stories: Our British Asian Heritage

To celebrate International Archives Day on 9th June 2017, with a theme this year of “Archives, Citizenship and Interculturalism”, we wanted to tell you about Utsav and our upcoming exhibition ‘Connecting Stories, Our British Asian Heritage’!

Throughout 2017 Birmingham will be celebrating ‘Utsav, South Asian Culture’ and the contribution that South Asian communities have made to the city. Utsav, meaning festival/celebration, was officially launched on 18 January 2017 and will feature a wide variety of professional and community events and activities throughout the year.
The Library of Birmingham and the British Library have won Heritage Lottery Fund support to stage a major exhibition and public programme celebrating South Asian culture, called ‘Connecting Stories, Our British Asian Heritage’, a partnership project celebrating the important role South Asian culture has played in forming Birmingham’s history and identity, and which will feature archives from the wonderfully rich collections held here in Archives & Collections at the Library of Birmingham and the British Library.
A selection of the material that will feature in the exhibition!

A selection of the material that will feature in the exhibition!

At the heart of the project is a major exhibition, Connecting Stories: Our British Asian Heritage, which will open on the 15th of July at the Library of Birmingham. This will explore Britain’s South Asian heritage, examining the contribution made by South Asian people to Birmingham and the UK, and featuring contributions from local communities as they are invited to share their stories in their own words.

Visitor to the Library of Birmingham being photographed for
BrumPeeps, a digital display presenting the people of Birmingham.

The exhibition will reflect on the political context of Britain’s long relationship with South Asia, recognising turbulent times in our shared history, as well as celebrating the contribution of South Asian culture to the UK’s heritage, with a particular focus on Birmingham. It will explore Britain’s enduring connections with South Asia, from historical trading links stretching back 400 years, to the impact of migration and settlement in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Connecting Stories will focus on the countries of present day India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

The rich and intertwining history of South Asia and the Midlands will be illustrated by photographs, letters, posters, paintings, documents and ephemera, showing how libraries and archives can reveal untold and forgotten stories. Highlights include:

• The first list of subscribers in the earliest East India Company minute book, 1599, the starting point of close connections between Britain and South Asia.

• A letter signed by Mahatma Gandhi and a group of other South Asian people in Britain, pledging their support during World War I.

• Maps of South Asia dating back to the 17th Century.

• A rare 19th century game reflecting Britain’s trading interests in Asia and elsewhere.

• Pictures of South Asian people of all classes who came to Britain, including ayahs (nannies) a Suffragette princess and Sake Dean Mahomed who set up the Hindoostanee Coffee House in London and became Shampooing Surgeon to George IV.

• 1940s police reports on meetings of the Indian Workers Association and India League.

• Community publications and campaigning materials charting the history of South Asians in the UK in the twentieth century.

• Photographs showing protests and counter-protests in 1960s and 1970s Britain.

• Poetry and art of Nobel prize-winner Rabindranath Tagore who visited Birmingham in 1930, the year his work was exhibited at the City Museum and Art Gallery.
Help us to celebrate “Archives, Citizenship and Interculturalism” this year – come and see our exhibition!

Tom Epps, Cultural Partnerships Manager
Library of Birmingham