Tag Archives: Archives & Collections

Birmingham Heritage Week 2018

It’s not long now until Birmingham Heritage Week 2018, and we’ve got a wide variety of things going on here at the Library of Birmingham!

8th September

PICTURE BIRMINGHAM

Saturday 8th September 2018, 11:15am-4:15pm

Venue: Heritage Learning Space, Level 4, Library of Birmingham

Booking: Pre-booking essential! To book, click here.   

Birmingham is an ever-changing city, and its changing nature has been documented through Archives in various formats for centuries, a relatively recent format being photography!

This family-friendly workshop is about capturing the city, photographically, on one day (Saturday 8th September 2018) as seen by you.

After a brief introduction by Michael Hallett, an explanation of the activity, and guidance on how to make the most of using your mobile device (mobile phone or tablet – no “proper” cameras!), and a walk around the Gallery where a photography exhibition will be on display, you will be sent out into the city to take photographs that, for you, represent the city or a moment in the city.

You will then return to the Library of Birmingham where we will look at your photos on a screen with all the other people attending to discuss them (so you absolutely must bring the cable you have for your device so that we can connect it to our hardware and download them!). Of the photographs submitted, a selection will be exhibited at the Library of Birmingham in late 2018/early 2019, and deposited in the City’s Archives for permanent preservation.

A Dancer’s Tale

Saturday 8th September 2018, 11:30am-1:00pm

Venue: Library of Birmingham

Booking: Pre-booking essential!  To book, contact Library of Birmingham on 0121 242 4242 or email childrens.library@birmingham.gov.uk

Inspired by Birmingham’s theatrical heritage and the ‘Year of Movement’, we will be offering a creative writing workshop for children aged 12-17. We will be using movement, music and images to spark your imagination and help you to create your dancer’s tale.

14th September

Creative Writing using First World War Archives with Fiona Joseph

Friday 14th September, 11:15am-4:00pm

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

Booking: Pre-booking essential! To book, click here

Join Birmingham historical novelist and biographer, Fiona Joseph, for a hands-on Creative Writing session around the theme of the First World War. Archive material at the Library of Birmingham has been specially selected by Fiona Joseph in conjunction with Corinna Rayner, Archives & Collections Manager. This writing workshop will give a unique opportunity to explore some of the many archival treasures themed around Women at War (Home Front, Industry) and Conscience at War (Quakers, patriotism and pacifism). You will be able to browse items such as family letters, photographs, posters, postcards, news items and memorabilia from the period and use these as a springboard for your own creative response. Writers at ANY level, including beginners, are welcome. Just bring some writing equipment – pen and paper or laptop.

During the afternoon there will be an opportunity to read your work to the group for reaction and feedback. (Please note that this is strictly optional!) Fiona Joseph will be able to offer professional guidance on shaping and editing your writing. You will also be able to submit your piece for possible publication on the Library of Birmingham Archives & Collections blog.

15th September

Heritage Research Area Familiarisation session at Archives & Collections

Saturday 15th September, 11am-1:00pm.

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

Booking: Pre-booking essential! To book, click here.

Meet staff at this event which will act as a beginners’ guide to resources such as maps, parish registers along with digital resources on Ancestry Institution and software for reading local newspapers.

Spaces are limited to 12 people per session and booking is essential.

There is so much going in Birmingham Heritage Week this year! Find out more by going to the Birmingham Heritage Week website.

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Pageant of Birmingham 1938: Costumes

The Pageant of Birmingham 1938, held in July, was planned to mark the centenary of Birmingham’s Borough Charter and the intended Royal visit of George VI and Queen Elizabeth to the city.

The Iron Room Blog has covered the Pageant of Birmingham before. Egbert, the giant smoke breathing dinosaur, plus his smaller companions, Ogbert and Little Sidney, have become the most memorable (perhaps as the largest) of the characters included in the event held 80 years ago.

With such spectacles in mind, it must have been easy to forget the sheer number of costumes created for the multitude of other characters which appeared over the course of the event.

In Archives & Collections we have four volumes of costume designs, designed under the direction of Jean Campbell, who was Mistress of the Robes. The designs include basic sketches, ideas which do not appear to have made the final selection, designs painted in great detail, plus fabric swatches of material intended to be used on the final garments.

Episode I: Prologue

William the Conqueror, Pageant of Birmingham 1938 Costume Designs, Vol 1 SE 7

This episode began with the ‘strange monsters’ (e.g. Egbert,) of the prehistoric times, and passed through eras, to William the Conqueror. Above is the image of his robes – nice cape!

Episode II: The Granting of the Market Charter of Birmingham, 1156

Pageant of Birmingham, Illustrated Souvenir Booklet, shelf ref: BCOL 22.41

The illustrated booklet to the event sets out the scene when King Henry II and Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine visit to confirm the charter. Eleanor of Aquitaine’s outfit and make-up in the design are beautiful – very Disney!

Eleanor of Aquitaine, Pageant of Birmingham 1938 Costume Designs, Vol 1 SE 7

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A glimpse into the history of the Indian Subcontinent

Photograph of Gandhi and title page in Mahatma: Life of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi by Dinanath Gopal Tendulkar (Ref 954.03 GAN)

The Library of Birmingham has a large collection of books in the Black History Collection relating to the history of the Indian Subcontinent, including the South Asian countries of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The majority of the materials are held in Archives & Collections. An initial open access area for this collection is near the map cabinets within the Heritage Research Area, where customers can read the books as reference material. Further books from this collection can be requested for reference from the “stacks”.

The collections policy underpinning the purpose of the Black History Collection can be found by clicking here. Built up over a number of years, the collection consists of many rare books, covering a broad range of subjects such as the births of nations, the Bengal Province, the Kashmir struggles, the separation of Pakistan, Bombay “The City of Gold” and Calcutta “The City of Joy”, the Maratha Empire, the Maharajas, major official gazetteers, travel memoirs, royal memoirs, the history of Bengal, royal visits to India, Akbar the Great Mogul and many more. It will be of interest to researchers, degree students, organisations and others with an interest in Indian history and the Indian Subcontinent.

With a colleague from the Archives & Collections team, I am currently busy with the checking, updating and uploading of entries from this collection into the library’s online catalogue. This update will make it possible for customers to view more listings online and the project also enables us to learn more about this fascinating collection.  As I am progressing with this project, I am drawn to the many titles by writers with a unique connection to India. Here are few examples: Continue reading

Heritage Research Area familiarisation session

Following on from the great success of our previous  events, Archives & Collections are now offering another chance to get to know the sources available in our Heritage Research Area on level 4 of the Library of Birmingham.

At this free event, staff will guide you through our 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 and booking is essential. Please email archives.heritage@birmingham.gov.uk or speak with a member of staff on level 4 to make a reservation.

Wednesday 1 August 2018, 11 am – 1 pm.

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

We are sorry to announce this event is now cancelled. Details of any future sessions will be revealed at a later time.

Messages from the Ocean Floor

A recent accession to the archives which has piqued interest amongst colleagues and public alike is the Trans – Atlantic Cable Chart  (MS 2680 Acc. 2017/079) from the records of Webster & Horsfall Ltd., now Webster, Horsfall, Latch and Batchelor, the oldest continuously running Birmingham company, manufacturers of spring steel wire who won the contract to supply the telegraph cable in the 1860s.

Background to the laying of the cable

Prior to the 1860s, communication between the UK and the USA was largely made by letter. The popularity of telegrams in the nineteenth century led to developments in laying underwater cables. In the 1850s, the Telegraph Construction & Maintenance  Company was formed by an American businessman, Cyrus Field and a Manchester cotton manufacturer, John Pender in an attempt to lay a cable across the Atlantic. In 1866 after several failed bids, a successful attempt was made with Horsfall & Webster supplying the cable.

Trans – Atlantic Cable Chart, ref MS 2689 (Acc 2017/079)

The Trans  – Atlantic Cable Chart

The chart was published by the Hydrographic Office of the British Admiralty of Deep Sounding and shows the bed of the Atlantic overlaid with daily written accounts of messages sent from the Great Eastern, the vessel responsible for laying the cable, back to Greenwich providing news of progress on completing this perilous task. The chart is believed to be the only one in the UK, the only other copy is held in the papers of Cyrus Field at the Smithsonian Institute in America.

Heritage

The chart is representative of the technological work taking place in the nineteenth century and the part played by Birmingham and other British cities in engaging with pioneering techniques. The chart also contains a far more human quality in the record of daily messages from the vessel back to Greenwich. One can only imagine how arduous a task it was for those working on the laying of the cable, on work which today has burgeoned into a world of global inter-connectivity.

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Birmingham Kynoch Press – Notebook & Diaries

Kynoch Press Notebook and Diaries 1951 – 1963. (Ref MS 1422/62/7/7/24)

Since joining the Library of Birmingham Archives and Collections team back in 2016, I have embraced the opportunity to gain the skills and knowledge of the inside workings of an Archives department, and the diverse range of unique collections held. Having used the services of archives throughout the completion of a Visual Communication degree, I have a particular interest in materials relating to early and fine printing, graphic design, illustration and all printed ephemera.

Kynoch Press NoteBook & Diary 1936
Octavo hardback diary for 1936, 2 pages per week. Additional information specific to printing, paper, editing and postage. Small woodcuts of natural life by Agnes Miller-Parker at head of each week; different illustration for each month. (Ref L07.2/KYN)

For my first contribution to the Iron Room, I decided to take a browse through the Local Studies, Birmingham Printed Books collection for inspiration, where I discovered a series of wonderfully illustrated and designed notebook and diaries, produced by Birmingham’s Kynoch Printing Press.

The Kynoch Press was a Birmingham printing press based in Witton, initially established as the in-house printing team for the large-scale industrial manufacturing group, ICI.  The press also produced printing for a range of external clients, with its high quality printing services gaining it the reputation as ‘one of the foremost British printing houses of the period’, throughout the 1930s and 50s.

Kynoch Press Notebook & Diary 1958, cover, page spread & detail. Illustrated by Robert Tavener, with scenes of Eastbourne Beach through the seasons. (Ref MS 1422/62/7/7/24)

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Celebrating 70 years of the NHS!

To celebrate 70 years of the NHS, we thought we’d do a bit of rundown of the wonderful health and caring-related collections we have here in Archives & Collections at the Library of Birmingham.

Below we cover some of the main archive sources for research in hospitals, health and poor relief. It is a starting point rather than an exhaustive list of collections and further sources will be found by checking the online catalogues, the Wolfson Centre paper catalogues and card indexes, and, you will be able to find printed sources (e.g. annual reports of institutions and charities) in the local studies catalogue.

It is worth remembering that many of these collections are incomplete and the survival of records for particular periods or particular institutions can be patchy – check the catalogues to individual collections for details of survival and access (naturally records of this nature are sensitive and do have access restrictions placed on those of a more recent date).

Guardians of the Poor collections

Six boys standing in Sutton Park, Birmingham, on summer outing provided for poor children by the Birmingham Cinderella Club [WK/B11/445]

Until the nineteenth century poor relief was a function of the parish and documents such as apprenticeship indentures and settlement certificates will be found in these collections – see our separate source guide for Faith and Religious Records here. Continue reading