During the Christmas holidays I had the pleasure of collecting a major donation of Wilfrid Wilson Gibson material from Mr John Chirgwin. Gibson is one of the Dymock Poets and hails from Hexham in Northumberland, where fate had it I was on my way to, with both myself and Mr Chirgwin originally from the area.
The donation of all but four of Gibson’s published works includes his personal copy of Highland Dawn, some rare first and inscribed editions, and some American copies we did not previously house in the collection here. There is also some insightful ephemera including contemporary articles on Gibson and features from the local newspaper the Hexham Courant. This donation makes our Gibson collection one of the most comprehensive in the country.
Last week I visited the John Masefield Society Archive in Ledbury. It is always nice to get out from behind the desk, and having been a fan of Masefield’s The Midnight Folk and The Box of Delights since childhood I found myself driving to Ledbury with some excitement.
The John Masefield Society Archive is based at the wonderful Master’s House. The building was originally a fifteenth century mansion, and has been lovingly converted into Ledbury’s public library (and incidentally is the nicest public library I’ve ever visited). I was warmly greeted by Bob Vaughan, who spent the next two hours showing me the collection and giving me a fantastic overview of Masefield’s life and works.
Masefield was born in Ledbury in 1878 to a middle-class family. After being orphaned at a young age he attended King’s School in Warwick before being sent to join HMS Conway as a young mariner. The influence of the sea can be found throughout his work, in poems such as his Salt-Water Ballads (1902)to pirate rats in The Box of Delights (1935). His maritime career ended abruptly after he discovered he suffered from seasickness, and Masefield abandoned his occupation on arrival in New York in 1895. He then lived as a vagrant in New York State, working in bars and even a carpet factory, which he describes in detail in his autobiography In The Mill (1941). Masefield returned to England in 1897, after deciding to become a writer. He initially found employment as a bank clerk in London, but went on to form an enduring friendship with W. B. Yeats and published his first volume of poetry (Salt-Water Ballads) in 1902. Masefield continued to publish both poetry and prose alongside writing for the Manchester Guardian. His publication of The Everlasting Mercy (1911) became an instant hit.
Masefield went on to complete war work in a British Red Cross hospital on the Western Front during the First World War, then took charge of a motorboat ambulance service (despite the seasickness). He completed a lecture tour of the United States, and in 1930 became the 16th Poet Laureate after a nomination from Labour Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald. He continued to write, including subjects from children’s novels to social issues. Masefield died in 1967, aged 88.
The Archive is a fantastic resource, incorporating just about all of Masefield’s published works along with original letters, photographs and objects. As archives have a way of doing, I’m inspired to find out more about the man, his works and life, and I can think of no better place to start than this collection. We also hold a selection of Masefield’s publications in our Gloucestershire Poets, Writers and Artists Collection at the University of Gloucestershire (being a contemporary of the Dymock Poets and from just over the border in Herefordshire), and a set of John Masefield Society Journals. Get in touch if you’d like to find out more.
We recently purchased some new John Drinkwater material to add to our extensive holdings on the Dymock Poets. These plays and speeches were once part of John Drinkwater’s own personal library, and includes a cancelled edition of the play ‘Puss in Boots’. All items are signed and accompanied by handmade slip-cases.
The new titles are:
Puss in Boots (1911). Cancelled version. Includes colour illustration “for John”
The Only Legend: A Masque of The Scarlet Pierrot (1913)
Rebellion: A Play in Three Acts (1914)
Robin Hood and The Pedlar (1914)
The Storm (1916)
The British Academy Warton Lecture on English Poetry XIII: Some Contributions to the English Anthology (With special reference to the Seventeenth Century) (1922)
“The Other Point of View”: The Oration Delivered by Mr John Drinkwater” (1928)
John Drinkwater (1882 – 1937) was a playwright and poet who went on to become manager of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre. His first major success came in the form of the play ‘Abraham Lincoln’, first performed in 1918. He was a member of the Dymock Poets, and published in their journal ‘New Numbers’. He was an associate and friend of many actors and writers during the early half of the twentieth century.
The Dymock Poets were Lascelles Abercrombie, Rupert Brooke, John Drinkwater, Robert Frost, Wilfrid Gibson and Edward Thomas. They lived in and visited Dymock in the months leading up to the outbreak of the First World War, gaining inspiration from each other and the surrounding Gloucestershire/ Herefordshire landscape.
The Special Collections and Archives service has moved from Francis Close Hall to Delta Place, where all of our collections are now located.
Over the summer we’ve transformed an open-plan office into a repository for the University Archive and several special collections. We also have two new collections; the ITN News Archive and an Artists’ Books Collection.
Nine lorry-loads of shelving and boxes were gradually delivered and the space began to take shape.
Delta Place is now home to thirteen diverse and engaging collections that encompass literary giants such as the Dymock Poets; vast resources on local and national history in the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society Library; archives of artists and sculptors in our Whittington Press and Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail collections; documentary photographs charting national and international news during the later twentieth century in the ITN News Archive; and of course the rich history of the University of Gloucestershire covering the past 170 years.
The service is open to staff, students and members of the public. Archivist Louise Hughes is on hand to help with your research, whatever topic big or small. Academic staff are also encouraged to contact the Special Collections and Archives for module-specific archive sessions using our wealth of material.
Our online archive catalogue continues to grow as our collections are catalogued and made available to search online. All collections are also accessible in-person by making an appointment.
Open Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, 10am – 6pm:
We’re excited to announce that this year the University of Gloucestershire will again take part in Heritage Open Days, a national initiative that sees places of historic interest open their doors to the public for free.
On Sunday 10th September 2017 we’ll be hosting tours of Francis Close Hall (from The Chapel) at 10am and 11am, and Park Campus (from Elwes Reception) at 1pm and 2pm.
Francis Close Hall opened in 1850 to accommodate the male students of Cheltenham Training College. Designed by Samuel Daukes, it is one of Cheltenham’s best examples of a Victorian-Gothic building. The tour will take in the grounds and buildings, recounting the history of both and the students who have studied here.
The Park Campus was originally planned as a zoological garden by Thomas Billings. Despite opening on Queen Victoria’s coronation day, 28 June 1838, the enterprise failed and Billings sold the site to Samuel Daukes, who operated it as a pleasure garden and built the villas that still border the campus today. The tour of the grounds will uncover the history of the site and how we came to own it.
Tickets for both tours are free and can be booked via Cheltenham Tourist Information Centre, based at The Wilson Art Gallery, in person or be calling 01242 237431.
The University of Gloucestershire Special Collections and Archives are currently involved in a project with other AtoM catalogue software users to make our descriptions available on the Archives Hub. Archives Hub brings together catalogues from hundreds of higher education and specialist archives in the UK, making all their descriptions searchable in one place. Having a presence on Archives Hub will increase the audiences for our collections both in the UK and via Archives Portal Europe.
Jen Mitcham of the Borthwick Institute at the University of York is co-ordinating the project, working with Artefactual, the developers of our online AtoM catalogue. AtoM (Access to Memory) is open source archive cataloguing software, meaning it is free to download and set up. We’ve been working hard to make our collections available online since setting up AtoM in summer 2015. So far three of our collections are catalogued and searchable, encompassing almost 5,000 descriptions.
Jen has written a blog explaining more about the project here.
Today I had a visit from 2nd year Creative Writing students and their tutor Lania. We looked at material from our Dymock Poets Special Collection and U A Fanthorpe Archive, even listening to an audio recording of Robert Frost reading his own poetry. It was lovely to listen in on how the students used the material to inspire their creative processes.
Last month I attended the Beyond the Lecture Theatre conference at the University of Aberdeen. It was both the furthest north I’ve travelled and my first time in the city, and after braving the winds off the North Sea I really enjoyed visiting such a vibrant place. The conference brought together staff and students from the archive and museum sector in higher education to discuss cross-disciplinary working and innovations. It was hosted in the beautiful Sir Duncan Rice Library located in Old Aberdeen, with views out over the coast from the 7th floor. The conference was run in collaboration with University Museums in Scotland and the Scottish Universities Special Collections and Archives Group.
I was treated to speakers from across the UK and Europe talking about their experiences of cross-sector and discipline working with the aim of increasing the reach and potential of museum and archival collections to students and other audiences. This is an area I’m particularly interested in and am always looking to introduce new ways of working with students and collections here at the University of Gloucestershire.
Each speaker brought a new dimension to the discussion and it was fascinating to hear of all the innovative outreach work taking place in university archives and museums. Anna McNally from the University of Westminster described her experience of co-teaching on a dedicated MA Art and Visual Culture module which used collections from their in-house archive. Students took part in various archival orientation activities such as cataloguing, description and background reading on archive theory whilst also conducting their own research to produce tailored exhibitions. Other embedded approaches included Middlesex University’s collaboration between academics and the university museum’s design collection to engage students with magazine collections, whilst Maastricht University’s On Exhibition course saw two students travelling to China to re-trace the footsteps of Jesuit scholars found in travelogues in the Special Collections.
The essential links between using collections to aid teaching and digitisation of material were evident. Giovanna Vitelli from the Ashmolean Museum discussed integrating text and object teaching at Oxford University with their new Cabinet software. This tool allows items from museum collections to be digitised, made available online and become part of teaching by allowing staff and students to annotate and manipulate the digital image. Staff can add new objects to discuss in an online forum each week.
There were also inspiring talks on using student placements from the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Glasgow and University of Stirling. All were examples of stimulating and relevant internships which were mutually beneficial to both students and organisations. A lively ‘PechaKucha’ session saw PhD students from the University of Glasgow discussing their experiences of using museum and archive collections in their research. It was a really enjoyable two days and which left me feeling inspired to try new ideas here.
Last week I was involved in a session with second year Radio Production students recording in our very own Chapel of St Mary and St Paul at FCH. As part of their module MD5401 Radio Genres and Cultures, the students read and recorded their own religious broadcasts in the chilly but beautiful Chapel.
They listened to archive recordings of student choirs and events from the 1950s – 2000s over the Chapel PA system to get an idea of the types of recordings made over the years. These recordings are held in the University Archive. They also practiced reading the sermons of Reverend Francis Close, who in the 1840s helped establish the institution that went on to become the University of Gloucestershire.
Student and Frome FM DJ Alex Hawkins has made the recordings available here:
The Special Collections and Archives service will be closed to researchers from Wednesday 21 December 2016 – Monday 2 January 2017. Appointments will be available as usual (10am – 4pm) from Tuesday 3 January 2017.
Last night saw the successful launch of the new Special Collections and Archives online catalogue. Three of the University’s archive collections have already been catalogued – the University Archive Miscellaneous Donations collection; the Cyder Press Collection and the Dymock Poets Special Collection.
Last night focused on the Dymock Poets collection – a unique gathering of material on famous poets such as Rupert Brooke, Robert Frost and Edward Thomas who lived in and visited the Gloucestershire village of Dymock during the summer of 1914. The collection not only documents this “brief idyll”, but covers the lives of the poets and the ensuing century of interest they have generated.
Archivist Louise Hughes says “We are so lucky as an institution to have such a fantastic archive dedicated to these world-renowned poets and their Gloucestershire connections. Not only do we have a wealth of published material by and criticism of the poets, we have original drafts of poetry, unpublished letters and private photographs – completely unique and held here at the University. Our new online catalogue has enabled this and other collections to be opened up to researchers both here and all over the world. It is a major milestone.”
Staff and students read poetry by the Dymock Poets and were joined by members of the Edward Thomas Fellowship and Friends of the Dymock Poets. The great turnout, mulled wine and festive treats made it a fitting celebration.
To celebrate the launch of our new online catalogue the Special Collections and Archives are hosting an evening of poetry and seasonal refreshments, giving you the chance to discover our newly catalogued Dymock Poets Special Collection. Please come along and discover more about the poets, why they were in Dymock and what gems the special collection contains. See you there!
For anyone who missed the Roll of Honour display at Park Campus last Friday, it is now available to view in the Special Collections and Archives (QU024) at Francis Close Hall. This year’s display documents those who perished between September 1916 – August 1917.
The Roll of Honour tells the stories of our 264 alumni members who lost their lives during the First World War. They include members of Cheltenham Training College and St Paul’s Practising School. Special Collections and Archives staff use sources such as the University Archive, Commonwealth War Graves Commission and local publications to produce individual case studies. The plan is to make these available online via a searchable database.
I was filmed recently by second year screen production student Sophie and her course mate Chloe as part of her assignment to film a short staff profile. She did a fabulous job of editing around all the mistakes I made and producing a coherent 60 second video! Here is the end result.
There are currently two new internship opportunities on offer in the Special Collections and Archives. These are open to University of Gloucestershire students and you can apply via the Future Plan portal on the student/ MyGlos homepage.
University Archive – Remembrance Project
The Special Collections and Archives are continuing a four-year project to research and create a roll of honour for our 264 pupils and students who lost their lives during the First World War. So far we have documented those from 1914 to August 1916, and this year will tell the stories of the 57 who perished between September 1916 and August 1917.
We are looking for a student to produce mini case-studies for these 57 alumni. This will involve research in the University Archive and via the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. There will also be an opportunity to visit Gloucestershire Archives to research photographs of some of the men in the Cheltenham Chronicle and Gloucestershire Graphic publications from the 1910s.
The result of this research will be a physical display for the University’s Remembrance activities on 11 November plus inclusion of the information on the forthcoming virtual roll of honour.
The successful student will be shown how to conduct research using the University Archive and relevant online archives. It is an ideal internship for anyone wanting to gain experience of conducting a historical research project.
Proposed End Date for this project is 11 November 2016 so we need a student who can start as soon as possible.
University Archive – Maps and Plans Project
The University Archive houses historic records relating to the University and related colleges dating back to the 1820s. It is a rich and informative resource covering student life over the past two centuries. The University estate has covered various locations across Cheltenham and Gloucester over the years and our current campuses have long histories. Did you know that Francis Close Hall opened in 1850 to accommodate 100 male students? Or that before we bought Park Campus in the 1930s it had been home to both a zoo and Ursuline nuns?
The Special Collections and Archives are looking for a student to conduct an audit of the maps and plans held in the University Archive. These have not been sorted before so this is a real opportunity to uncover potential gems in the archive. The successful student will carry out a detailed audit of our maps and plans, recording what they are and the physical condition of the documents, onto Excel prior to cataloguing onto the Special Collections and Archives online catalogue. Training will be given on how to appraise and handle historic documents, what archivists look for when describing material and which archival cataloguing conventions to follow. This is an excellent opportunity for hands-on archive experience and would be perfect for someone interested in a career in archives or records management but who has not had any prior experience.
‘Forest Dialect’ is a Heritage Lottery funded research project which aims to uncover and describe the linguistic heritage of the Forest of Dean. The project is run by Dr Michelle Straw, Department of Humanities in collaboration with the Foresters’ Forest.
What are the main tasks the intern will be involved with?
To undertake preliminary research identify relevant documents related to the Forest of Dean – dialect, history of its speakers and its geography.
You will develop a number of skills to help with this work, bibliographic and referencing skills to produce a bibliography of archive materials, online sources written and spoken examples of the Forest of Dean dialect and its speakers.
Working with digitized oral histories of dialect speakers, you will edit and enhance sound quality, uncover speakers’ backgrounds and identify examples of Forest Dialect.
You will prepare blog posts or Facebook/Twitter entries showcasing some of the interesting things you have found.
What skills, training and ‘added value’ can the student gain from this opportunity?
Academic bibliographic and referencing skills
Information management and organization skills
Digitisation and sound editing skills
Communication skills – using written language for academic audiences, for general interest and developing engaging materials for social media audiences
Attention to detail, this work will help you develop excellent analytical skills
What qualities or skills are needed to take on this internship?
You may have some connection with the Forest of Dean. You may have lived, worked or visited or may just have an interest in the area. You will also have an interest in language, dialect or oral history work. Other qualities sought:
Able to work independently
Cataloguing of the Dymock Poets Special Collection is reaching the final stages with only the material from Myfanwy Thomas (Edward Thomas’s youngest daughter) left to sort. The rest of the catalogue is now complete and available to search online.
The cataloguing project has uncovered a wealth of interesting and unique material charting the poets’ lives (Lascelles Abercrombie, Rupert Brooke, John Drinkwater, Robert Frost, Wilfrid Wilson Gibson and Edward Thomas), their time in Dymock and the wider academic and popular interest they have generated over the last century. Original letters by Edward Thomas sit alongside a vast array of articles, essays, event information and photographs.
Highlights from the collection include:
Annual Christmas greetings cards from Robert Frost
Original letters from Eleanor Farjeon to Rowland Watson
Original manuscript of the poem “Walking Tom” by Clifford Bax and Herbert Farjeon
Eleanor Farjeon’s notes on meeting Robert Frost for the final time in 1957
Handwritten lecture notes by Lascelles Abercrombie
Audio interviews with Abercrombie’s wife, Catherine
Original letters from Helen Thomas to Jo Dawson
Many photocopies letters from Edward Thomas [to Robert Frost and others]; Lascelles Abercrombie, John Drinkwater, Wilfrid Wilson Gibson [to Rupert Brooke and Edward Marsh]; John Freeman and Wilfrid Wilson Gibson [to John Wilton Haines] where the originals are held in other repositories
Personal First World War papers belonging to Wilfrid Wilson Gibson
Rupert Brooke’s assignment of copyright signed by his mother Mary Ruth Brooke
Original letters from various sources and manuscript “Memories of Edward Thomas” compiled by Rowland Watson using these original accounts
Handwritten poetry by John Drinkwater
Handwritten poetry and original letters of Edward Thomas, some unpublished
Framed pencil drawing of W H Davies [1871 – 1940] by John Wheatley [1892 – 1955], ARA
The last series of documents to catalogue was received from Myfanwy Thomas via The Edward Thomas Fellowship. The material continues the trend of offering a vast source of information, this time on Edward Thomas, lovingly curated by Myfanwy during the later years of her life. The material was received over a period of time and as there was no original order it falls to archive staff to sort the documents prior to writing the catalogue descriptions.
One of the boxes the material arrived in unknowingly paid tribute to Thomas:
It is sad to think work on cataloguing this collection is drawing to an end as it has been a fascinating experience but great to know that everyone can now access the delights it holds.
The 600th donation to the University Archive was added to the online catalogue this morning. It forms part of the Miscellaneous Donations or “D-Number” collection, being material donated to the University Archive by former students and staff members. It is a rich and vivid collection that tells the personal stories of our past alumni.
D600 is a deposit relating to Reg Sims, a student at St Paul’s College from 1932 – 1934. It is a collection unique to Reg’s time as a student.
Material includes a 1930s prospectus, variety of photographs including sports teams and initiation activities, student concert programmes, student magazines, coursework and even a rugby sports cap. Although personal to Reg, the donation is a typical example of the other 599 donations currently on the catalogue and is a great example of the diversity of material in the University Archive.
I wonder what the next 600 donations will uncover…?
Archive staff were very privileged to be involved in this year’s graduation ceremonies at Cheltenham Racecourse. Working with first-year students from the School of Media, we ran a Memory Booth at two of the ceremonies on 26 and 27 November, where past and graduating students were able to share their most memorable student experiences.
The ceremony on the morning of 27 November paid homage to both our graduating Education students and members of the Old Students’ Association, many of whom were present at the ceremony. As an institution we have been educating teachers in Cheltenham for nearly 170 years and old students from as far back as the 1940s were present last week to share their memories.
Radio Production student Alex Hawkins interviewed old student Martin Fry (1975-1979).
I knew that I wanted to be a teacher at the beginning. The interesting thing was at that time the first four weeks we went straight out into schools. And we went into a primary school, infant school sorry, then a junior school and then a secondary school. And after those four weeks there were a number of students who decided it wasn’t for them. You were already teaching, and don’t forget here I was at 18, just left school and then in front of a class and in the Royal Forest of Dean Grammar School I was teaching music the second week, having not any real skills in music, to sixth-formers who were literally six months younger than I was. That was obviously a great test and I think it was a real good point that you knew you wanted to be a teacher or you didn’t after that, and I did.
We hope to make these recordings available on the Special Collections and Archives catalogue very soon.
The cataloguing of the archival and ephemeral material in our Dymock Poets Special Collection has begun. The collection is unique, telling the story of the commune of poets who settled in Dymock just before the outbreak of the First World War and the proceeding century of interest they have created. We have original documents by literary giants such as Edward Thomas, and those who were well-known and respected figures of their time like the Northumbrian poet Wilfrid Gibson.
Published material such as volumes of poetry and critical studies are already catalogued and available to view on the University’s library catalogue. The remaining 13 linear meters of documents, correspondence, photographs and ephemera will be catalogued onto the Special Collections and Archives catalogue, meaning the whole collection will be accessible online for the first time.
We are very lucky to have benefited from 20 years of links with the Edward Thomas Fellowship and Friends of the Dymock Poets, and through them have received material for the collection from various sources, not least the descendants of the poets themselves. Our students have also worked with the material in the past, most recently our MA Creative and Critical Writing students who used the collection to create new pieces of dramatic writing inspired by the poets, which premiered at the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham in June 2015.
The catalogue is scheduled to be completed by May next year, and progress updates will be available on this site.
Special Collections and Archives Internship Opportunity:
Remembrance Memories Co-ordinator
During World War II, the University’s Francis Close Hall campus was the site of St Paul’s College, a male teacher training college. A practising school for local boys was also located in what is now the Bodley Building. The University Archive holds material such as photographs, eyewitness accounts and other memories from this era. The wider St Paul’s community is still home to some residents who lived here during the conflict, which included bombing raids on the area. Gloucestershire Archives and Cheltenham Local Studies Library hold newspapers from the time that detail the unfolding conflict and the impact this had on the community. This internship will utilise both material held in the University Archive and the wider community to produce a memories display for this year’s remembrance commemorations on 11th November.
The intern will be fully briefed and work alongside special collections and archives staff as part of a small team. The project will involve researching material held both in the University Archive and Gloucestershire Archives/ Cheltenham Local Studies Library. There will also be the opportunity to liaise with members of the St Paul’s community to gather material and memories for the display, and promote this through local media channels.
WHO WE ARE LOOKING FOR
This internship would suit any University of Gloucestershire student interested in a career in archives and/ or research, or with a general interest in social history and the St Paul’s area. The internship will run from September – November 2015, and the student can go on to complete a Degreeplus Award. Other useful personal attributes can include:
An interest in social and cultural events
Creative and inquisitive
Motivated and able to work without direct or constant supervision
Accurate and detailed
Research and analytical skills
Good interpersonal skills
THE SKILLS YOU CAN GAIN
Communication – both written and personal
To apply login to the Degreeplus portal via the student homepage and search “Remembrance Memories Co-ordinator”
The University is once again taking part in Cheltenham’s Heritage Open Days initiative. This year we’re offering tours of both Park and Francis Close Hall campuses, where you’ll be able to find out about the history of the sites and the students who have studies here.
The Park Campus remains a remarkable example of the early development of Cheltenham’s green spaces. Solicitor Thomas Billings bought the land in 1831 and had ambitious plans to open the “Gloucestershire Zoological, Botanical and Horticultural Gardens” to entertain the town’s pleasure-seekers. Today the campus is home to some of our 10,000 students plus a herd of Canada geese. Come along for a tour of the grounds and find out how it’s inhabitants changed from elephants to Ursuline nuns to female trainee-teachers over the years (plus a visit by the Queen Mother!).
Thursday 10 September. Tours 1pm/ 2pm/ 3pm from Elwes Reception
Francis Close Hall campus is one of Cheltenham’s best examples of a Victorian-Gothic building. Opened in 1850, it originally housed 39 male teacher-training students at Cheltenham Training College. Today FCH is one of the University of Gloucestershire’s thriving campuses for our 10,000 students. Come along for a behind-the-scenes tour of this Cheltenham landmark and discover what life was like as a student over the past 165 years. Who was Francis Close? Who burnt down part of the campus in 1914? Just how many ghosts are there at FCH?
Friday 11 September. Tours 1pm/ 2pm/ 3pm from the Chapel
To book email email@example.com or call 01242 714851
The Artists’ Books Collection was established in 1998 following the exhibition Books As Art held at Cheltenham Museum and Art Gallery, Cheltenham Town Hall and the Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education’s Pittville Campus.
Artists’ Books are created by fine artists and are also known as book art or bookworks. They come in all shapes and sizes, covering diverse topics from Trump to the Trojan War. They can use traditional book bindings or other material, and are often published in small or even single editions.
Our collection includes works by Andrew Bick, Melanie Council, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Hamish Fulton, Robert Lax, Chris Ophili, Terry Smith and Andy Warhol.