Category Archives: Recommended

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.

 

 

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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).

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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/

 

In Concert

In Concert is the new blog from the Music Library at the Library of Birmingham. It allows you to get a flavour of the music collections here – quirky, practical, historical, and contemporary. Often, there is a local connection as well, beyond the fact that it is part of the collections here.

A recent post, Souvenirs? looks at two different scores (from Norway and Canada) and wonders how they came to be part of our collections. The one before, Songs from across the centuries 2 looks at how two individuals from Acocks Green published a song during WW1 to raise money for the war effort.

We can highly recommend it! https://lobmusiclibrary.wordpress.com/ 

Pavel Brázda Is Here

The Library of Birmingham is welcoming the first UK exhibition by leading contemporary Czech artist Pavel Brázda. 

The exhibition is organised by the Embassy of the Czech Republic, Birmingham City Council and the Ikon Gallery and will be open to the public from Friday, 2 June, and will run until 1 July 2017.

The exhibition presents a selection of works from the artist’s colourful Human Comedy cycle, in celebration of a career which spans more than seven decades.

The Human Comedy cycle is a parable in images – a testament to the world we live in, to human joys and predicaments – and in the series, good and evil get equal treatment. The primary theme is the age-old discord between masculinity and femininity. Although autobiographical, the parables are universal. The artist deals with intimate themes from his own life, yet with a detached perspective.

Pavel said: “This series is structured into individual chapters, each with a beginning and end. It all begins with birth and youth. Then it spans across a range of erotic themes to more dramatic and existential topics – such as old age or death.”

In the 1940s, the artist invented his own art movement called “Hominism”, which he defined as ‘art about people and for people’.

Further details can be found on the Library of Birmingham website.

This got us thinking here at The Iron Room about how many references we had in our collections to Czechoslovakia and there are a few!

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National Vegetarian Week 15th – 21st May 2017

As it is National Vegetarian Week, I’ve ‘tucked into’ our collections and uncovered some recipes to present you with a delicious veggie friendly menu.

I’m going to put the chive in archives! (I’ll never make it as a comedian.)

For starters (adopts her best waitress voice) we have some mushroom patties. Dear diners, these are seasoned with a little salt and pepper and are served over some beautifully crusty pastry.  No soggy bottoms here.

Mushroom Patties

This recipe is taken from one of a number of cookery books collected by an Emily S. Thomas and Miss Walker. [MS 4082 (Acc 2011/149)]  It comes in particular from The Home Mission Book of Recipes, Vol II, 1909. I like that the recipe is clearly marked up as vegetarian, and the patties sure seem tasty, although, I am unsure about the teaspoon of sugar. Perhaps it’s that old balance of sweetness to salt which will make these savoury delights zing!

Onto mains (readopting her waitressing voice) *coughs* your entrée; I couldn’t resist a nice ‘dole or dholl’ curry. (I tend to spell it dal.) This one originates from a recipe and knitting pattern book collected/written by an unknown person, dated as 19C in our catalogue. [MS 1158/1]

Dole curry

The volume has a number of enclosures and this particular recipe is included in a section based around curries. It also gives instructions on how to boil rice, and, as the below shows, make pillaw [pilaf?] rice – the perfect accompaniments.

Perfect rice

For afters, I’ve chosen something that looks simple enough to bake (no electronic mixing bowls here!) and that would be equally as nice the day after with a cup of tea. The recipe comes from another orphaned book (but one with a fine inscription: ‘Nora with Love from Both, 12 Willow Avenue, Christmas 1937′.) [MS 1170] Anyone have room for a slice of tasty date and walnut cake? Continue reading

A Project we like

I love finding out about interesting projects that reinterpret and bring archives to light in imaginative ways. One local project that I am enjoying following is the work of Sarah Moss the artist in residence at Winterbourne House and Gardens.

tbc

Sarah is currently working on a series of linocuts depicting moments from the life of the Nettlefold family who built Winterbourne and lived there in the early twentieth century. John Sutton Nettlefold was a member of the prominent local manufacturers Nettlefold and Co. (later Guest, Keen and Nettlefold) as well as being the managing director of the ammunition manufacturer Kynoch Ltd for many years. He was also a local councillor concerned with social reform and urban planning; in his role as first chairman of the local housing committee he extended the slum clearance programme and established the Moor Pool Estate in Harborne. John and his wife Margaret (nee Chamberlain) were part of the interconnected group of Unitarian families in Birmingham at the time. The family archive which is housed at Winterbourne is a rich resource for understanding domestic and personal experiences of life in a middle class Edwardian family.

img_sam_3289-carving

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