A glimpse of China

To mark Chinese New Year 2018, this blog catches a glimpse of China as seen by Prince Louis of Battenberg, on board HMS Inconstant in 1881-2.

Decorations for Chinese New Year, February 1882

Decorations for Chinese New Year, Hong Kong, February 1882 [MS 62 Broadlands Archives MB2/A20 p. 81]

A career naval officer, Prince Louis of Battenberg (1854-1921) became a cadet in the British navy at the age of 14 years in October 1868. The following year Battenberg joined the Royal Alfred as a midshipman, achieving pr0motion to the rank of lieutenant in 1876. In August 1881, he was appointed to HMS Inconstant, the flag ship of Rear Admiral Lord Clanwilliam, and part of the “Detached Squadron”.

HMS Inconstant [MS 62 Broadlands Archive MB2/A20]

HMS Inconstant [MS 62 Broadlands Archives MB2/A20]

HMS Inconstant was one of only three steam-assisted but also fully masted frigates that were built by the Royal Navy. Designed by Sir Edward Reed, who was Director of Naval Construction, in response to faster American frigates, the ship carried a crew of 600. The “Detached Squadron” left Spithead in October 1880, eventually arriving at Shanghai on 23 November 1881. From there it called at Amoy (Xiamen) in December and remained in Hong Kong from December until February 1882, although it left before Chinese New Year. The Squadron arrived back in Spithead in October that year, almost two years to the day from its departure.

Pagoda near Shanghai [MS 62 Broadlands Archives MB2/A20 p.71]

Pagoda near Shanghai, 1881 [MS 62 Broadlands Archives MB2/A20 p.71]

English quarter, Shanghai, 1881 [MS 62 Broadlands Archive MB2/A20 p.76]

English quarter, Shanghai, 1881 [MS 62 Broadlands Archives MB2/A20 p.72]

Shanghai and Amoy (Xiamen) were among the treaty ports opened to foreign involvement from the 1840s onwards. Shanghai grew at a phenomenal rate in this period, changing from a village into a city which contained enclaves administered by the British, French, and Americans, each with it its particular culture, architecture, and society.

Xiamen, known as Amoy, 1881 [MS 62 Broadlands Archive MB2/A20 p.76]

Xiamen, known as Amoy, 1881 [MS 62 Broadlands Archives MB2/A20 p.76]

Xiamen, or Amoy, as it was known in its Romanised form in the nineteenth century, being the primary international port for Fujian, became a centre of China’s tea trade, with hundreds of thousands of tons shipped yearly to Europe and the Americas. European settlement in the port was concentrated on Gulangyu Island rather than in Xiamen: here as in Shanghai these foreign enclaves had their own particular architectural style.

Further information on Prince Louis of Battenberg or other material in MS 62 the Broadlands Archives can be found at the online resources.

We wish you a very Happy and Prosperous Year of the Dog!

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Color our Collections 2018

Calling all colourers! This week sees the annual festival of colouring organised by the New York Academy of Medicine, when libraries, archives and other cultural institutions create downloadable colouring books based on images in their collections. Southampton has joined in this year with a colouring book of images of woodcuts found in the rare books. So step back from the stresses of daily life, follow your creative instincts and share the results on social media using the event hashtag #ColorOurCollections.

woodcut of a ship

Woodcut of a ship from Holinshed’s Chronicles, 1577

Woodcuts lend themselves well to colouring – the bold black lines of the design make a contrast with the white background and lack the tone of later illustrative processes. To make a woodcut, the design was either drawn in reverse or traced onto the plank side of a block of wood, before the surface was removed with a knife or graver so that the lines of the design stood out in relief. This meant that both woodcuts and type could be printed at the same time which was highly advantageous for the book printers of the 15th and 16th centuries. Although a negative image could also be created, with the background printing in black and the design in white, this was less common owing to the difficulty in printing large areas of black uniformly. In Holinshed’s Chronicles (London, 1577) the woodcuts, such as that of the ship, above, are re-used many times throughout the text – Cordelia also appearing as the King of Scotland.

By the end of the 16th century the woodcut had declined in popularity, and copper-engraving became the standard means of illustrating books. This intaglio process allowed finer detail to be shown in maps and topographical sketches, which outweighed the disadvantages, for book printers at least, that the plates could not be printed at the same time as the text and that they wore out quickly.

Copper-plates were themselves replaced by steel engravings as different methods of book illustration developed, but the late nineteenth century saw a revival of the woodcut as members of the Arts and Crafts Movement, returned to the materials and techniques of the early years of printing in their pursuit of the ‘book beautiful’.

Initial letter from Charles Ashbee’s Psalter (1902)

Charles Ashbee, who founded the Essex House Press in 1898, drew inspiration from the language, literature and illustrations found in the books of 16th century England – the Library’s copy of the 1577 edition of Holinshed’s Chronicles, having been part of his collection. For the Essex House Psalter (1902), he designed a woodcut initial, decorated with a pictorial scene for each of the psalms.

To find out more about the different techniques used to create illustrations, come along to the forthcoming Special Collections Gallery exhibition on printmaking processes. Details will appear on the Special Collections website.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948)

‘The light has gone out of our lives and there is darkness everywhere.’
(Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, in a broadcast on the death of Gandhi, 70 years ago.)

The assassination of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, known to many as Mahatma – “great soul” – on 30 January 1948, brought thousands to the streets of New Delhi in silent mourning. He had been shot at point blank range by a young Hindu, Nathuram Godse, who held Gandhi responsible for the partition of his country.  Gandhi had in fact been a passionate supporter of a united India, and believed it would be a serious error for the British to partition the country.  The mourners included Mountbatten, then Governor General, and his wife Edwina, both of whom subsequently attended Gandhi’s funeral.

Mountbatten’s “first meeting with Gandhi”, 31st March 1947 MB2/N14/8

Mountbatten’s “first meeting with Gandhi”, 31st March 1947 MB2/N14/8

This photo, from Mountbatten’s papers, dates from his first meeting with Gandhi, prior to Partition, on 31st March 1947.  As newly appointed Viceroy, Mountbatten embarked on a series of interviews with Indian leaders, details of which were recorded as soon as they were completed.  According to his biographer, Mountbatten was “fascinated and delighted” by Gandhi’s personality – and they met again on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd April at Viceroy’s House:

Gandhi’s first ever meal eaten at Viceroy’s House, 1 April 1947 MB2/N14/10

Gandhi’s first ever meal eaten at Viceroy’s House, 1 April 1947 MB2/N14/10

Mountbatten’s papers include conference papers, minutes of meetings and records of the interviews which took place over the following months, as well as his official correspondence as Viceroy.

On 2 June 1947, Lord Mountbatten’s plan for Partition was presented to the Indian leaders. Immediately afterwards, he had a meeting with Gandhi and, apprehensive of the disruption that his opposition might cause, was enormously relieved that he chose not to break his day of silence. To the Viceroy’s amazement, Gandhi wrote on the back of some envelopes:

“I am sorry I can’t speak. When I took the decision about the Monday silence I did reserve two exceptions, i.e. about speaking to high functionaries on urgent matters or attending upon sick people. But I know you don’t want me to break my silence.”

one of the envelopes on which Gandhi wrote notes at his meeting with Mountbatten, 2 June 1947 MB1/E193

One of the envelopes on which Gandhi wrote notes at his meeting with Mountbatten, 2 June 1947 MB1/E193

Independent India and Pakistan came into being on 14/15 August 1947.

The assassination of Gandhi in January 1948 tested the character of the new India. ‘The father of the Indian nation’, he had not invented the nationalist movement, but he had shaped it into a force that was wholly different from any other anti-colonial struggle faced by the British.  As his biographer notes, he remains “an international symbol and inspiration… a towering figure of the twentieth century.”

 

Holocaust Memorial Day 27 January 2018

The Power of Words – the theme of this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day – is a conviction which was shared by James Parkes and one which was instrumental in the creation of his Library. Parkes set out ‘to get a picture of past centuries from their actual works’ when researching the history of Jewish-Christian relations in order to confront the anti-Semitic student groups he found in Europe during the 1930s. To this end he began collecting books on the subject and welcomed others working to combat anti-Semitism to the Parkes Library, based at his home in Barley from 1935 to 1964.

Holocaust Diaries and Testimonies

Holocaust Diaries and Testimonies

Books on the Holocaust now form a large section of the Parkes Library and alongside those by historians are the published letters, diaries and testimonies of victims and survivors. These amply demonstrate the power of words in providing both a record of individual experiences and the evidence to confirm that such events did indeed take place. The motives of the writers varied; some sought relief in creating a personal diary, whilst for others the intention was always to document the crimes committed in the hope that in the future, justice would be served on the perpetrators. Great efforts were made to ensure the survival of the manuscripts, some being given to other people for safekeeping, whilst others were buried or hidden within buildings.

Herman Kruk (1897-1944), was one who did his best to ensure the survival of his writings. On 17 September 1944 he made his last diary entry and buried the papers in front of six witnesses, one of whom survived to retrieve them – Kruk and the other inmates of the Lagedi Camp being shot the next day. Published in English as The Last Days of the Jerusalem of Lithuania: Chronicles from Vilna Ghetto and Camps 1939-1944 (2002), Kruk’s writings include diaries, narratives and poems recording his own experiences and providing an eyewitness account of events in the Vilna Ghetto, where he estimated that 29,000 Jews were living in an area previously occupied by 4,000 people.

Cover of Last Days of the Jerusalem of Lithuania

Cover of Last Days of the Jerusalem of Lithuania

Not only does the diary provide evidence of the destruction of a Jewish community, it also stands testament to the importance of the written word in Jewish culture, at such a dark period. Formerly Director of the Yiddishist Grosser Library at the Cultural League in Warsaw, Kruk ran the Vilna Ghetto Library, the popularity of which is apparent from his report for 1942 in which he records a stock of 39,000 books and 200 users a day – a celebration being held to mark the 100,000th loan. Kruk described how the book acted as a ‘narcotic’ for those seeking an escape from their daily existence and ‘carries them over the ghetto walls to the wide world‘. Kruk was also a member of the ‘Paper Brigade’ the members of which risked their lives to preserve the Jewish cultural heritage by hiding books and documents in the Ghetto, whilst ostensibly working for the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, a Nazi organisation which transported such material back to Germany for study or destruction.

It is fitting that the Memorial Museum of Holocaust in Lithuania and Vilna Ghetto, which will hold Holocaust documents including collections of diaries, is to be established in the building which once housed the Vilna Ghetto Library, bringing into reality a hope which Kruk expressed in a poem, these being the final lines of the English translation:

And let it remain though I must die here

And let it show what I could not live to tell.

And I answer my neighbors:

Maybe a miracle will liberate me.

But if I must die, it must not die with me

To mark Holocaust Memorial Day there is an event at the University of Southampton on Sunday 28 January, Jewish Spaces, before, during and after the Holocaust Study Day, organised by the Parkes Institute.

 

Honor Frost Archive weighs anchor in Southampton

The Special Collections is delighted to have recently added to its manuscript holdings the Archive of Honor Frost (1917-2010).

Honor Frost was described as a woman of many talents – artist, ballet designer, scholar and writer – with a consuming passion for the world beneath the oceans. Honor Frost was a pioneer in the field of underwater archaeology and in its pursuit as a scientific discipline.

Honor Frost

Honor Frost

Honor Frost studied at Central School of Art, London, and the Ruskin School of Art, Oxford, and then worked as a designer for the Ballet Rambert and director of publications at Tate Gallery before moving into the realm of archaeology.

In her account of her early experiences as a maritime archaeologist Under the Mediterranean: travels with my bottle (1963) Honor wrote of how she was introduced to the delights of diving in a garden well in Wimbledon. Thus began a lifetime’s devotion to underwater discovery. In the early 1950s, she began training at Cannes with the Club Alpin Sous-Marin, where she met Jacques Cousteau, the inventor of the aqualung. Cousteau’s assistant, Frédéric Dumas, became her close friend and mentor. It was under Dumas’s guidance that she dived to her first wreck, that of a Roman ship at Anthéor, later know as the Chrétienne A.

Honor Frost subsequently worked as a draftsman for an archaeological expedition led by Kathleen Kenyon at Jericho in 1957. Realising that terrestrial archaeology was not for her, Honor moved to Lebanon where, under the auspices of the Institut Français d’Archéologie in Beirut, she began to explore the ancient harbours of Byblos, Sidon and Tyre. This also marked the start of her interest in stone anchors: anchors being a key to identifying wrecks and showing trade patterns.

Artefacts from wrecks surveyed by Honor Frost in Turkey [HFA/1/13/5]

Artefacts from wrecks surveyed by Honor Frost in Turkey [MS 439 HFA/1/13/5]

In 1960, Honor was involved in the first season of the excavation off the coast of Turkey of a Bronze Age Phoenician ship. This was the first excavation of a shipwreck using techniques under the direction of underwater archaeologists, marking the genesis of scientific underwater archaeology. Between 1966 and 1967, Honor surveyed and partially excavated a Roman shipwreck, in Mellieha Bay, Malta. Among her most important projects was an expedition, sponsored by UNESCO, in 1968, which surveyed the Pharos (lighthouse) site in the Port of Alexandria. She confirmed the existence of ruins representing part of the Pharos, as well as the remains of submerged buildings representing the lost palace of Alexander and the Ptolemies, thus establishing the site’s importance.

In 1969, the Sicilian authorities and the British School at Rome appointed Honor to direct the underwater survey of an area off the coast of western Sicily near Marsala. In August 1971, her team discovered a Punic shipwreck believed to have been a “longship” (perhaps an auxiliary military supply vessel) used by Carthage in the Battle of the Aegates Islands (241BC), the last battle of the First Punic War. For several years Honor and an international team of marine archaeologists worked on the site, before eventually restoring the wreck for display in a local building requisitioned for its museum display.

Honor Frost was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1969. She was awarded a medal for pioneering submarine archaeology in Egypt by the French government in 1997, and, in 2005, the British Sub-Aqua Club presented her with the Colin McLeod award for furthering international co-operation in diving.

The Honor Frost Archive (MS 439) provides a comprehensive and meticulously collated record of Honor Frost’s archaeological work. It includes significant material for her maritime projects in France, Sicily, Malta, Egypt, and in the Eastern Mediterranean (Lebanon, Syria and Turkey), together with material relating to Honor’s research on stone anchors and photographic material recording her excavations and travels. Most importantly the archive has an especially complete record for the Marsala ship expedition.

Honor published and lectured prolifically and the archive contains original drafts and offprints of all her key publications on maritime archaeology, together with a comprehensive set of drafts of lectures, c.1961-2007.

Archaeological drawings and sketches from Lebanon and early ballet set designs from 1940 to the mid-1950s beautifully illustrate Honor Frost’s artistic skill.

Sketch by Honor Frost of buildings in Lebanon [HFA/1/9/1/1]

Sketch by Honor Frost of buildings in Lebanon [MS 439 HFA/1/9/1/1]

A prolific letter writer, the archive contains a series of correspondence that Honor maintained with other key figures in the field of underwater archaeology, including Frédéric Dumas, Lucien Basch and Paul Adam. Due to her practice of keeping drafts or carbon copies of letters sent, there is often outgoing correspondence to supplement that of letters received.

The Honor Frost Archive provides a fascinating insight into the work of a pioneering figure and will be available to researchers from 30 March 2018: See the access arrangements for the Archives and Manuscripts.

Honor Frost Archive

Honor Frost Archive

The Honor Frost Foundation seeks to promote the advancement and research of maritime archaeology.  The Centre for Maritime Archaeology provides a focus for maritime archaeological research at the University of Southampton.

 

2017: Year in Review

This week we take a look at posts from the past twelve months highlighting key activities, events, and anniversaries from 2017.

Due to refurbishment work taking place in the Hartley Library, 2016 only saw a single exhibition appear in the Special Collections Gallery. While refurbishment continued this summer, we were able to provide a full programme. Our first exhibition of the year was Beyond Cartography: safeguarding our historic maps and plans which ran from 20 February to 28 April 2017. Showcasing maps from the Special Collections, it illustrated the challenges that these objects bring to conservators before conservation or long-term preservation takes place. This was accompanied by Cartographic Operations in the neighbouring Level 4 Gallery. Running from 20 February to 10 March, the exhibition brought together three alternative cartographic operations.

Visitors at the Wellington and Waterloo exhibition

Visitors at the Wellington and Waterloo exhibition

The early summer saw a rerun of the Wellington and Waterloo MOOC (originally run in 2015). To coincide with the MOOC, Special Collections ran a number of related events in June. These included a Wellington and Waterloo exhibition, drawing heavily on the Wellington Archive, and a special Wellington and Waterloo revisited event on 17 June, which included a private view of the exhibition, a lecture on the Waterloo Despatch by Chris Woolgar (read by David Brown), and dancing with the Duke of Wellington’s Dancers.

The autumn brought Between The West and Russia, running from 23 October to 15 December 2017. The exhibition considered impressions of pre-revolutionary Russia from western perspectives and revolutionary ideas and influences.  The following month saw the arrival of this year’s Istanbul Biennial, titled A Good Neighbour, in the Level 4 Gallery on 20 November. Curated by the artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset, the exhibition explores notions of home, neighbourhoods and how private spheres have changed in recent years. It runs until 4 February.

In addition to our exhibition programme, we also continued our ongoing series of Explore Your Archives events. To tie in with the map related exhibitions in the spring, our first drop-in session was Exploring Maps in the Special Collections on 28 February. The event included a talk by Chris Woolgar, Professor of History and Archival Studies, discussing a range of map material from across the collections.

While the galleries were closed for summer refurbishment, we hosted a drop-in session with a local focus on 31 July. Hampshire people and places provided the opportunity for visitors to discover more about the resources we hold for Hampshire ranging from topography to details of everyday life, including an array of printed sources from the Cope Collection.

Visitors to Hampshire people and places

Visitors to Hampshire people and places

In addition to taking part in Hands-on Humanities day on Saturday, 18 November, our last drop-in session of the year took place during Humanities Week on 22 November. The topics covered in Exploring Protests, Rebellion and Revolution in the Special Collections varied greatly, from the Peasants’ revolt of 1381 to the Swing riots in Hampshire of 1830, from the English Civil War to the European revolutions of 1848.

As ever, cataloguing remains a key activity of the Archives with cataloguing projects over the past year focusing on a broad range of material from across the collections. Blog posts highlighting recent cataloguing activities included a look at volumes relating to Sir David Salomons, baronet, and his nephew and heir, Sir David Lionel Salomons, second baronet, and papers relating to the author Pamela Frankau. Meanwhile, February saw descriptions for an additional one hundred archive collections added to the Special Collections website, including collections relating to Anglo-Jewish institutions and individuals, the Duke of Wellington, Alan Campbell-Johnson, Frank Temple Prince, and knitting! Recent acquisitions include papers relating to the pianist, and celebrated child prodigy, Solomon Cutner and Honor Frost, a pioneer in underwater archaeology (with more details on the latter to come!)

Rehousing illustrations from the printed collections

Rehousing illustrations from the printed collections

Behind the scenes posts included the rehousing of illustrations from the printed collections and a look at the procedure for answering researcher enquiries for Ask an Archivist Day. User perspectives included reflections on MA History Research Skills sessions (including the discovery of a cook by the name of Mary Berry at Broadlands!) as well as post graduate work on the Nuremberg trials and the discovery of a unique copy of Oscar Wilde’s Ballad of Reading Gaol.

The past year marked a range of anniversaries which tied in with the collections, including: the Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth; the arrival of Basque child refugees into Southampton; the accession of Queen Victoria; the creation of the House of Windsor (and Mountbatten); the deaths of Jane Austen, Siegfried Sassoon, and Princess Charlotte of Wales; the publication of Florence Greenberg’s Jewish Cookbook; the Balfour Declaration; and the birthday of Jonathan Swift. Posts on commemoration days included International Women’s Day; International Children’s Book Day; Earth Day; International Jazz Day; and World Baking Day, while University related posts tied in with Southampton Science and Engineering Week, and explored student balls and dances; student publications; the history of the University’s Library; and the University’s sports heritage.

Netball team, 1928-9, MS1/7/291/22/2/62

Netball team, 1928-9, MS1/7/291/22/2/62

With the arrival of new acquisitions, a full programme of exhibitions, and preparations already underway for next year’s Wellington Congress, it looks to be another busy year ahead. Be sure to keep an eye on the blog to keep up to date on all our latest activities!

Happy New Year

As we ease our way into 2018, we raise a toast to a very Happy New Year.

MS 242 A800 page 51

MS 242 A800 page 51

And to help us celebrate, we have a few lines of poetry for the New Year composed by Mr Lewis for Anne, Lady Palmerston, Broadlands, 5 January 1734:

“If life’s a blessing, as we hold it dear,
‘Tis just to greet you on our new born year….
And if the skies retain in all their store
Some kindlier beams than e’er they shed before.
Be’t with peculiar joys to crown your days,
On you & yours descend those blissful rays!…”

[MS 62 Broadlands Archive BR3/81]

Happy 2018!

Christmas wishes

Watercolour from a commonplace book, 1820s, MS 242 A800 p.77r

Watercolour from a commonplace book, c. 1820s,
MS 242 A800 p.77r

We wish you all a very merry Christmas and share a snowy scene from 200 years ago. This little watercolour appears in a lady’s commonplace book, which records the author’s travels to Scotland and the East Indies, c. 1820-1825. It is filled with beautiful sketches and watercolours of places and scenes that she had visited.  Perhaps these children were playing in the Scottish snow at Christmas?

The giving of gifts has always been a priority at this time of year – and not just in modern times – as shown by the following examples from the Broadlands Archives:

BR11/24/6 Mary, Lady Palmerston, to the second Viscount Palmerston, 23 Dec 1797

Mary, Lady Palmerston, to the second Viscount Palmerston, 23 Dec 1797 MS 62 BR11/24/6

In 1797, Mary, Lady Palmerston, wrote a letter from her home at Broadlands to her husband, sending a list of Christmas presents that he might buy for their children in London. The letter is dated “Saturday night, 23 Dec 1797” so this was to be a last-minute shopping spree!!

“With respect to the children’s presents, the things they would like the best I believe would be as viz. – Harry a small tool box, Fanny a small writing box, Willy the same, and Lilly a little gold necklace. If these are too expensive, then Harry a Spanish Don Quixote, Fanny the same, Willy the Preceptor [a book of instruction] and Lilly an atlas …. with a clasp.  They know nothing of your intention but we were supposing that if we were to have the offer of presents, what we should all like.

I will not trouble you to buy any thing for me except some shoes and a book which I shall write to Walsh about – without you see a nice plated nutmeg grater which would be a great treasure.”

The list gives an insight into the characters of Mary and the children. (Was the “nutmeg grater” the fashionable gift of the day?!) And we all know how difficult it is to buy the perfect present – and keep it a secret at the same time!

Twenty years later, the question of Christmas presents was also on the mind of Emily, Countess Cowper, (who later married the third Viscount Palmerston). This time it was her brother, Frederick Lamb, who had been charged with the shopping:

Emily Cowper, Countess Cowper, to her brother Honourable Frederick Lamb, 4 January 1820, MS 62 BR29/3/1

Emily, Countess Cowper, to her brother, the Honourable Frederick Lamb, 4 January 1820, MS 62 BR29/3/1

“My dearest Fred. I got a letter from you today and a large collection of cards, some very pretty, and last week I received a very pretty gold cup, the saucer of which puzzled us a great deal.  We could not think what it was meant to represent till by daylight next day we saw the reflection in the gold. Thank you for all these things. I am sorry George sent my letter of commissions after you and that you should have taken any trouble about it for they were really not things I absolutely wanted but I could not let people go to Paris and return empty handed.  I thought it was too good an opportunity to let escape and was obliged to sit down and think what I could want, however, if they come I shall be very glad to have them and particularly the ormoulu candlestick: three candles is handsomer but I said two because I had just then seen one of two which Lady Jersey generally uses….”

I wonder what he made of that letter from his sister – and how much trouble it had been to buy all the gifts?!

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a very happy 2018.

The not so commonplace – commonplace books

Commonplace books have been described as the ancestors of our blogs or our list of favourites. They are essentially handwritten notebooks or scrapbooks that contain collections of quotations arranged in some way, perhaps topically or thematically, for easy retrieval and as an aid of reference for the compiler. Despite their name, there was nothing commonplace about such books, as each was unique to its compiler, reflecting their particular interests and providing an insight into people’s habits of mind.

Illustration and poem from A lady's commonplace book, 1820s [MS242 A800 p.32]

Illustration and poem from A lady’s commonplace book, 1820s [MS242 A800 p.32]

Commonplace books had their origins in antiquity in the idea of loci communes, or “common places,” under which ideas or arguments could be located in order to be used in different situations. They flourished in early modern Europe and continued to develop and spread during the Renaissance period, as scholars were encouraged to keep them. By the seventeenth century, commonplacing had developed into a recognised practice that was taught to university students.

John Locke

John Locke

The philosopher John Locke began keeping his own commonplace books in 1652, the year that he became a student at Oxford University, and in 1685 he published “Méthode nouvelle de dresser des recueils,” which appeared in 1706 as A new method of making a common place book. In this Locke explained his method of indexing and gave advice on how to arrange material by subject and category, using a ‘head’ word.

Commonplace book of poetry "Poems on several occasions by several celebrated authors",c.1739-19th century [MS7]

Commonplace book of poetry “Poems on several occasions by several celebrated authors”, c.1739-19th century [MS7]

The production of commonplace books continues to the present, providing a rich and diverse array of examples, from the uniquely individual to the ready-to-use commonplace books that could be bought with topics and categories already written at the tops of pages just waiting to be filled in. Whilst some examples, such as the volume MS 7, focused exclusively on poetry, others were much more wide ranging in terms of subject matter and formats used.

‘Personalia’ commonplace book of Revd F.N.Davis [MS269 AO155/3]

‘Personalia’ commonplace book of Revd F.N.Davis [MS269 AO155/3]

The ‘Personalia’ commonplace book kept Revd Francis Neville Davis (1867-c.1946), rector of Rowner, Hampshire, between 1919 and the late 1930s, included not only literary material, but extracts from newspaper articles, family history, brief extracts from diaries, lists of manuscript volumes of Revd Davis, obituaries and a list of receipts from fetes. The focus here reflected the interests and preoccupations of Revd Davis as he considered his family and its antecedents, his legacy and his role in church life.

The lady’s commonplace book compiled between 1820 and 1825 [MS 242] illustrated a preoccupation with the literary and artistic. The volume contains poems, short stories, watercolours, pencil and pen and ink sketches of plants, landscapes and individuals. With entries in a number of hands, it was probably compiled for an individual who spent time in Scotland and in the East Indies.

Illustration from A lady's commonplace book, 1820s [MS242 A800 p.56v]

Illustration from A lady’s commonplace book, 1820s [MS242 A800 p.56v]

The commonplace book has played a role in the way that we organise information. And whether we are aware of it or not, the techniques that they engender continue to influence us as we move into the digital world of information organisation.

SUSU Sport – making history

Are you a member or supporter of Team Southampton ? You are making history!

Generations of students and staff – men and women – have built a strong sporting tradition at Southampton and you are following in their footsteps. In 2017, SUSU has 93 sports teams competing at a national level.  How will your team be remembered?

Netball team, 1928-9, MS1/7/291/22/2/62

Netball team, 1928-9, MS1/7/291/22/2/62

Team photos record more than names and faces – they often detail trophies, mascots, special occasions and successes, the sports-wear and sports equipment of the day. Are they formal or informal? What do they show about team spirit and pride? What about the setting – they may be taken on the pitch or show University locations and sports facilities. How does the past link to the present?

In Special Collections we hold many records relating to University teams and their achievements, from the earliest days of the Hartley Institution at the end of the 19th century – to the modern sports teams of today. They include photos, programmes, fixture lists, match reports, accounts and papers – even a rugby shirt worn by R.E.Brown, captain of the first XV in 1933-4!  Together they tell the story of sport at Southampton – an important aspect of University life.

The University Boat Club, 1962-3. MS1/7/291/22/4/125

The University Boat Club, 1962-3. MS1/7/291/22/4/125

This is the University Boat Club, 1962-3. The caption reads: “1st VIII were placed 12th out of 150 crews in the Reading Head of the River, and for the first time the University entered for Henley Royal Regatta in the Thames Cup division” MS1/7/291/22/4/125.

We have recently contributed to a project to celebrate the UK’s sporting heritage.

The aim is to bring together information about sports archives and the people who care for them. By adding details of our collections to this website we are helping to build a national list of all the sporting heritage collections in the UK.  You can use it to search by sport or location; discover what’s on; read featured articles, and more.

The Special Collections also holds manuscript and printed material relating to sport in the county of Hampshire; the sporting interests of individuals – such as Earl Mountbatten of Burma (a famous polo player) – and the sporting activities of Anglo-Jewish youth groups. You can see details of our sporting collections here:

https://www.sportingheritage.org.uk/content/collection/special-collections-hartley-library-university-southampton