Category Archives: Our Collections

Where we showcase material from our excellent collections.

Easter Hope

When researching our blog for Easter, the obvious collection to look in was the records of the Cadbury Family. Easter and Cadbury now go hand in hand but this is no new phenomena. Before the Second World War, Cadbury were making and decorating some splendid Easter Eggs and photographs in the collection not only show the production line machinery that was used, but also staff adorning the eggs with intricate decoration by hand.

Machinery used to create Easter Eggs, 1939
©Cadbury/Mondelez International [MS 466/41/Box 4A/81]

 

The mechanical techniques used to make the eggs were clearly advanced as the annotation on the photographs convey:  

‘Can it be that these fabulous Easter Eggs were issued as a production line? Such would seem to the case, and it is an indication of the high quality of Grade 1 products before the 1939 war brought the end to these expensive lines. When King George VI and Queen Elizabeth came to Bournville in 1939, one of the show pieces was the decoration by hand of even larger eggs. Sic transit Gloria mundi.’

Decorating Easter Eggs, 1939
©Cadbury/Mondelez International [MS 466/41/Box 4A/83]

Also in the Cadbury Family papers is an uplifting sentiment that Easter is full of hope. Published in Women’s Leader and Common Cause on 10th April, 1925, Mrs. George Cadbury wrote: Continue reading

William Hutton: The Birmingham Man From Derby who succeeded in Life Solely Through The Love Of Books And Books Alone.

Much has been written about William Hutton, including a range of works by William Hutton himself. My aim is to highlight a few of his inspiring achievements and a little more.

I first stumbled upon a quote from William Hutton on a plaque on Central Library, which read;

‘Descending a hill of eminence, I had a full view, under a bright sun, of Cader Idris. If I was asked what length would be a line drawn from the eye to the summit? I should answer, “To the best of my judgement one mile.” I believe the space is more than five; so fallacious is the vision when it takes in only one object and that elevated. William Hutton 1803’.

This quote was taken from his book called “Remarks Upon North Wales”. The text following this quote was something more understandable. It read;

Dolgelly

From the hill which I was now descending is a delightful view of a large valley, consisting of meadows, water, bridges and the town in the centre, which had an agreeable effect, and all this surrounded with rocks, woods and mountains.

There was an accompanying artwork on the adjacent wall but I was so struck by the statement by William Hutton that I cannot remember the colourful image of the metal artwork. The plaque is, I believe, now in the Collections Centre of Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery. So back in 2002 when I started work in the Central Library, I encountered this written quote but it wasn’t until I started working in Archives and Collections, that I discovered more about him. Here is what I have learnt so far:

William Hutton’s House    [WK/W6/5A]

Continue reading

The Old Meeting House

MS 1061-2-5-1

Copy of a sketch of Bull St. Quaker Meeting House (3rd building from the left) in 1702, n.d. [Ref MS 1061/2/5/1]

It is thought that a small Quaker community established in Birmingham in the 1650s. Initially meetings for worship were held in private houses but in 1661 a house and garden were bought in New Hall Lane for use as a meeting house and burial ground. New Hall Lane became known as Bull Lane (and later Monmouth Street) and was located at the end of what is now Colmore Row. The meeting house was located roughly where the entrance to the Great Western Arcade is today. Unfortunately, no plan of the meeting house has survived in the Central Area Meeting Archives deposited here, but there is a plan of the graveyard, drawn by the banker Charles Lloyd (1748 – 1828), with a key containing a list of names of those buried there.

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Plan of the Friends’ graveyard in Bull Lane drawn by Charles Lloyd, n.d. [Ref SF (2014-213) 1262]

SF (2014-213) 1262 d

Key to the plan of the Friends’ graveyard in Bull Lane, compiled by Charles Lloyd, n.d. [Ref SF (2014-213) 1262]

The meeting house on Monmouth St. needed frequent repairs, so in 1702, it was decided to build a new meeting house, paid for by members of the meeting. This was on Bull St., on the site of where the current meeting house entrance gates now stand. Land behind the meeting house was used as a burial ground.  Continue reading

‘Developing our own gifts and those of others’: the educational role of the Warwickshire North Women’s Conferences, 1895-1960

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Among the large collection of records of Central England Quakers are the minutes of the Warwickshire North Women’s Monthly Meeting beginning in 1729. They provide a fascinating insight into the mental and emotional worlds of Quaker women in Birmingham over several generations, and illustrate the concerns that were foremost in their minds.

The nature of the Women’s meetings and the records that relate to them changed in the late nineteenth century. In May 1889, a proposal from the men’s monthly meeting was put to the women, suggesting that they should hold joint monthly meetings in advance of their separate meetings. Women Friends agreed to trial this for twelve months. In October 1890, as most business was now done in the joint meeting they decided to hold women’s meetings four times a year, rather than monthly, and the role of the meeting changed. From 1897 three women’s Monthly Meeting ‘Conferences’ were held each year – in the spring to prepare for Yearly Meeting, in the summer to review and read papers from Yearly Meeting, and in November ‘to consider some General subject of interest to women’. In this piece I will be concentrating on this last conference in the period from the 1890s to the 1950s.

Notice of a Conference on 'The Child's Point of View', 1908 (ref SF/2/1/1/2/1/9)

Notice of a conference on ‘The Child’s Point of View’, 1908 (ref SF/2/1/1/2/1/9)

The subjects deemed to be of interest by the women ranged widely, from theological questions, women’s ministry and Quaker history, to the social and political issues of the day. Women Friends presented papers followed by a discussion, and external speakers were occasionally invited to present on particular subjects. The Conferences were well attended, and could attract anything from 50 to 150 women depending on the popularity of the theme. Many of the subjects, particularly in the early years, are those that we might consider to be traditional women’s subjects and we see the Conference functioning as a space of formal and informal education in very practical knowledge that was relevant to middle class wives and mothers.

There is a considerable interest, for example, in motherhood and the upbringing of children and in particular how children and young people should be nurtured in Quaker ways and beliefs. On 12 February 1895 when 70 women were present, the session focused on ‘Woman’s influence over Children and Young People in the Home’. Catharine Wilson spoke of the influence of Christian nurses and governesses working with the mother for the good of the children, a reflection of the class and socio-economic circumstances of many of the more prominent women in the meeting. Caroline Gibbins read ‘a valuable paper’ on the ‘Discipline of Younger Children’ which emphasised ‘moral suasion’ rather than ‘physical force’ and the wise mother’s role in avoiding conflict.

The People's Free Kindergarten, Greet, 1904 (ref MS 4095)

The People’s Free Kindergarten, Greet, 1904 (ref MS 4095)

Continue reading

I chuse thee now, my Valantine.

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MS 3101/C/D/83/1

In honour of Valentine’s Day, we have been searching the archives for a little romance.

Amongst the papers of the Galton Family (MS 3101) we found a curious verse addressed to ‘Howard’ – in this case John Howard Galton.

Howard, – long I’ve sigh’d for thee_!!!
Thou no Love has breath’d to me;_
Give me thy Love_ I’ll give thee mine;
I chuse thee now, my Valantine!
How long, alas! _ I’ve secret pined;
Thy graceful image fills my mind;
I’ve envied oft, that witching smile
Neglected whilst I sat the while;
Oft have I tried to catch thy glance;
I’ve watcht thee thro’ the mazy dance;
More favord Nymphs were always nigh,
And I was passd neglected by!!!_
I wish thee not to see me now;
My griefs o’ercast my sadden’d brow
My eyes, alas, are dim’d with tears,
My face, like Niobis, appears;
Give me thy vows!_ thoult see me then,
Array’d in all my charms again!_
My head with garlands all adorning,
I’ll meet thee then, dress’d like May morning!_
I’ll count my charms!_ I’ll tell each grace!_
That thou mayst know thy true-Love’s face;
Neglectful pass it not, again;
The Cynosure to other men!_!

The verses continue over four pages but sadly we don’t know whether true love blossomed as the sender remains unidentified.

For more inspiration for your Valentine’s Day, why not visit our Valentines galleries.

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

LGBT History Month 2017

lgbt-high-res

February 2017 marks LGBT History Month. The archive of the project Gay Birmingham Remembered (MS 2788) held here at the Library of Birmingham contains material relating to the history of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans people in the city. The focus of the project was to collect material and memories from Birmingham citizens about gay life. The project culminated in the transfer of the records to the Library so that gay people’s lives in the city could be documented for the future and made available.

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Badges from the Gay Birmingham Remembered collection. [MS 2788]

As well as the colourful campaign badges featured in the photograph above, a number of LGBT newspapers and newsletters circulated in the West Midlands in the 1980s and 1990s feature in the archive. In the Pink: West Midlands free Lesbian and Gay newspaper is one of these and we hold copies dating from late 1980s. The newsletters are important because they record developments in the history of LGBT rights and are a reminder that legislation and attitudes taken for granted now were by no means commonplace in the 1980s.

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In the Pink from the collection of Gay Birmingham Remembered [MS 2788]

Here are some snapshots from the newsletters:

Continue reading

Holocaust Memorial Day

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Every year, Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27th focuses on a different theme and this year, the theme is survivors. At the heart of Holocaust Memorial Day is a dedication to ‘learn something new about the past’.

How do people react in the immediate aftermath of unimaginable suffering? How can life be rebuilt after such trauma? Is justice after genocide possible? What role do we in the UK have towards individuals, communities and nations who have survived
genocide?
Holocaust Memorial Day is not only about commemorating past genocides and honouring those who died, but about standing with those who survive.

Holocaust Memorial Day Trust

This desire to learn is embodied in Zoe Josephs. Born in Manchester in 1915, Zoe moved to Birmingham and graduated from the University of Birmingham before marrying Dr. Harry Josephs in 1939. Zoe Josephs was the founder and leading personality, up until her death in 1998, of the Birmingham Jewish Historical Research Group. Between 1980 and 1998, she conducted research with the group on locally related Jewish history. Her research was acknowledged as extending the account of the Jewish population in England beyond London and into the provinces, and providing larger public access to these stories.

The papers of Zoe Josephs were deposited by the Birmingham Hebrew Congregation and are accessible by appointment in Archives and Collections at the Library of Birmingham. Many of the papers in the collection relate to the research for her book Survivors which includes a dedicated chapter of case studies, following the lives of refugees from the Holocaust (BCol 19.8, floor 4, Library of Birmingham). An extract of her book can be found on the Birmingham Images website, along with an article which describes her book as ‘a remarkable personal history of 89 refugees’. The full catalogue for the Zoe Josephs papers (MS 2524) can be accessed online through the Connecting Histories website, and for details of how to make an appointment to view items from the collection, please visit the Library of Birmingham website .

It seems only fitting that this year we remember Zoe Josephs, who worked so hard to remember the survivors.