History at the University of Southampton

This week’s blog post takes a look the development of the History department here at the University. The Special Collections maintains a close relationship with History, as you might imagine, and we’re delighted to be sharing their story.

Hartley Institution

The University started life in 1862 as the Hartley Institution. It had a library, reading room and museum and offered public lectures and evening classes; the first Principal, Francis Bond, produced a plan for classes which included History as well as English, French, German, mathematics, chemistry and mechanics.

Bond enlisted a number of part time teachers. The minimum age for admission was 14 but the classes were mainly intended for people who “having left school and being occupied in business” wanted to take the examinations of the Civil Service or Science and Art Department at South Kensington.

Outside view of the Hartley Institution, High Street, Southampton [MS1/7/291/22/1/3

Day training department

A Day Training department was sanctioned in July 1898: a maximum of 30 men and 30 women were admitted for 2 years training. They were all required to pass an entrance examination. Miss Eva Blaxley came to the College in 1897 as a lecturer in History and English. She also acted as Lady Superintendent for two adjacent houses on Avenue Place provided for the female students.

In October 1900, Professor F.J.C. Hearnshaw was appointed as a lecturer on English History. He stayed in Southampton for 10 years and was key in founding the Southampton Record Series.

The following is taken from the Appointment contracts book:

The Lecturer on English History will be required to undertake the work in English History as detailed in the College prospectuses. He will also be required to lecture to a few classes in English Language and to take charge of a class of beginners Latin. He will be expected to give instruction in both Day and Evening Classes. He will not, however, be expected to lecture on more than two Evenings a week.

The Lecturer will be required to lecture for not less than 20 or more than 25 hours per week.

The Lecturer will be expected to give his whole time to the work of the College, and be responsible to the Principal for the arrangement and efficient working of the Classes in the subjects which he undertakes.

The Salary of the Lecturer on English History will be £140 per annum, rising by yearly increments of £5 to £150 per annum. The engagement shall be terminable by a term’s notice on either side.

Applications giving particulars of age, training, qualifications and experience accompanied by copies of 3 recent testimonials must be sent to the Principal before 10 AM on Saturday Oct 26th 1900.

Appointment contracts book [MS1/MBK7/1]

In 1902 the Hartley Institution became a University College. In the 1904-5 session, History was one of nine departments, staffed by one person. At this point, the University College had a total of 20 full time teaching staff.

History class and tutor, c. 1913/1915 from an album belonging to G. Payme [MS1/Phot/39/ph3178]

In 1911, Edward S. Lyttel was appointed Professor of History on a salary of £300 per annum. He was still teaching here in 1925 and his salary had risen to £650. In 1912, Professor Lyttel was joined by History lecturer J.W. Horrock (£150 pa). A job description comes from the Appointment contracts book:

The Lecturer will be required to deliver lectures to and conduct classes for Day and Evening Students in History and generally to assist the Professor of History in the work of the Department of History. The Lecturer may be expected to give a few lectures in another of the Arts Departments.

Appointment contracts book [MS1/MBK7/1 p. 35]

The department of History, c. 1919. This photographs comes from a series which may have been taken for a promotional prospectus. The caption reads: “a lecture on history which is the data of past human experience, on which we must to a great extent base our theories of social, national and international conduct. The prevention of future wars will depend on the right interpretation of the causes of past war.”

The move to Highfield

Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth century the University College was located on the High Street in Southampton’s city centre but it was quickly running out of space. A new site was found to the north of the city in an area called Highfield. The buildings were completed by 1914 but relocation didn’t take place until after the First World War.

Miss I Plunket, M.A. joined the History Department in 1921. Her contract makes note of the Superannuation Scheme (pension) and the expectation she should engage in research:

The Council of the College agree to appoint Miss I Plunket, M.A., Lecturer in History and Miss I Plunket agrees to accept the office as from October 1st 1921 upon the following terms: The salary to be at the rate of £250 per annum plus the College contribution of 10% under the Superannuation Scheme. The holder of the office is expected to engage in some definite research or other original work in her spare time, but not to undertake any other paid work unless with the consent of the Council. The tenure of the office to be subject to a full term’s notice on either side, the Summer Vacation reckoned as a term.

Appointment contracts book [MS1/MBK7/1]

As the years passed, so the department grew. There were various new appointments including Mr Vincent T Harlow, BA., B Litt. who was appointed as assistant lectureship in Modern History in 1923; the University and Mr Harlow were required to contribute 105 and 5% respectively to the Superannuation scheme. Five years later, in October 1928, Mr James Rutherford BA (Durham), PhD (Mich) was appointed as assistant lecturer.

The Second World War

The advent of the Second World War brought changes as illustrated by the appointment contract book when on 1 October 1940 Miss A.A. Ruddock, Institute of Historical Research, was appointed as Temporary assistant lecturer in History for the duration of the War at a salary of £270 per annum (without superannuation benefit). Mr Hay had been called for service.

In 1942, Nicolai Rubinstein and Miss M. M. Morgan were both appointed as temporary lecturers in History.

Post-war expansion

The University College expanded significantly in the years following World War Two, and the History department was no exception. In 1945 the department gained a new chair when Dr H. Rothwell was appointed Professor of History. He was joined by Professor J.S.Bromley in the Chair as Professor of Modern History in 1959.

History study room in the Library, c. 1950. Can you spot where this space is in the current Hartley Library? [MS1/Phot/39/ph3448]

Although some records relating to the teaching of History date from the early days, for the first half of the twentieth century “the Arts” (in the broad sense of a BA) had been a small part of what was primarily a science, engineering and teacher training college.

In the 1960s, the General Degree was replaced with a new Combined Honours Degree. The decade also saw many new buildings designed by the architect Basil Spence as part of his “master plan” for the Highfield Campus. In 1963, Arts 1 Building was completed as part of the “Nuffield complex” (now Building 4, Law). Up until this point the faculty had been housed in the “main building” (what is now the Hartley Library); the new building meant the faculty was not only united but offered the possibility of expansion. A one-year MA programme was launched in 1966. Arts II building (Building 2, Management and Music since 1996) was built in 1968.

Students who wished to study History at the University of Southampton starting in the 1957-58 session could choose between medieval (400-1500) and modern history (1500-1940). They would have 3 hours of classes in the first year and 4 hours in the second and third. Applicants were expected to have an ‘O’ level in Latin. “Instruction will be primarily by the tutorial method and essay writing” and from time to time visits to sites and institutions of historical interest. The Final Honour examination consisted of 9 papers, each three hours long; candidates were also normally expected to present a prepared thesis.

Special subjects included:

  • The Age of Dante, 1265-1321;
  • England and France at War, 1422-53;
  • the town and port of Southampton in the 16th century; 
  • the age of the chartists, 1830-54
  • aspects of British Empire and Commonwealth Relations since 1880.

If we look again approximately 10 years later, we learn that entry requirements were now 2 ‘A’ level passes and ‘O’ levels in two languages other than English; one of these should normally be Latin, but exceptions could be made. The Special Subject options had become more varied and now included

  • the Third Reich;
  • the British Economy, 1919-1939;
  • the emancipation of Spanish America, 1808-1830
  • rural England in the 13th and 14th centuries.

Latin was still a preferred course requirement for those joining the University for 1979-80. “Acceptable alternatives to Latin” were General Classics; Latin with Classical Studies; CSE Grade 1 in Classical Studies (with Latin). By this point there was also an option to study Modern European and American History.

IBM visit concerning the “HIDES project”, December 1989 [MS1/Phot/3/25/1]

A significant change occurred in 1996 when the Faculty of Humanities, including History, moved to its Avenue Campus location, where it can still be found today.

In 2022 the History Department is ranked 3rd in the UK for the quality of its research (REF 2014). As well as writing new and challenging histories, the University’s staff advise governments, the media, and cultural institutions. Southampton History research happens at the university, but goes far beyond it.

Architectural Acoustics: Philip Hope Edward Bagenal

This week we examine the life and work of the pioneering acoustic architect (Philip) Hope Edward Bagenal (1888–1979), whose papers are held by the University of Southampton’s Special Collections. Born in Dublin, his family moved to England in 1890 and he was educated at Ipswich Grammar School, St Peter’s School in York, as well as Uppingham School. Bagenal studied engineering at Leeds University and, despite leaving without qualifying, in 1909 he became an articled pupil in the architectural practice of Niven and Wigglesworth, London. He also became a member of the Architectural Association. In 1911 Bagenal became an assistant to Edwin Cooper and worked on site at the Port of London Authority building. From 1914, Bagenal corresponded with and studied the seminal work of Wallace Clement Sabine at Harvard on architectural acoustics. Bagenal’s thesis for the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1914, for which Sabine was external supervisor, focused on this area of study. His first book, ‘Clifford Manor’, and a technical paper, ‘Robert Stevenson: a great architect engineer’, were published in 1914.

Bagenal served with the Royal Army Medical Corps on the Western Front from 1914-1916, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. Whilst there he wrote poetry and articles, some of which were reprinted in Fields and Battlefields after the war, published under his Regimental number of ‘31540’. In August 1916, after being seriously wounded at the Somme, Bagenal was sent to convalesce at the Eastern General Hospital, Cambridge, where he met the physicist Alex Wood. Many years later Wood and Bagenal co-wrote ‘Planning for Good Acoustics’ (1931), one of the earliest standard texts on the subject, it became the first textbook to be used on the curriculum in British and Irish universities. In 1917 Bagenal resumed his architectural career by joining Smith and Brewer, a leading London practice, as an assistant. Between 1919 and 1925 he worked as the Architectural Association librarian and editor of the AA Journal, whilst also developing a private acoustics consultancy. His efforts to maintain orderliness and quiet in the library, apparently led him to be depicted in the student journal of the Architectural Association as the Carpenter from ‘The Walrus and the Carpenter’. One of his first major commissions, in 1923, was as adviser to C. Cowles Voysey and Morgan on the design of the White Rocks Pavilion, Hastings.

Bagenal could claim to be the first independent acoustic consultant in Britain. His expertise became sought not only in the UK and Ireland but worldwide, including Australia, Africa, the United States and India. Bagenal’s appointment to the Delhi chamber in 1922 marked his first international commission.  It brought his career in architectural acoustics firmly into the public consciousness. The role of acoustic consultant was still in its infancy at this time, although by the time he worked on the Delhi chamber, Bagenal had already worked on lecture theatres at Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, and the National Museum, Cardiff.

Bagenal undertook the acoustic analysis in the first instance with recourse to ray-tracing: plotting sound beams and wave fronts to determine sound paths and identify sound points: described in detail in ‘Planning for Good Acoustics’.

MS340/A2064/31: Architectural sketch of the Delhi chamber, showing seating arrangements.

Bagenal advised on most of the major concert hall, theatre, and civic hall projects of the inter-war era as well as the post-war reconstruction. His overseas commissions included involvement in the New Delhi legislative chamber and in specifying the Sydney Opera House and New York Lincoln Center competition briefs. As his work in acoustics developed, so did Bagenal’s writing and teaching about architecture. He toured widely, drawing and photographing classical buildings and won a scholarship to study in Italy and Greece in 1925 and 1926. He collaborated with Robert Atkinson in writing the ‘Theory and Elements of Architecture’ (1926), which became a standard work.

In 1940 Bagenal joined the Building Research Station as a temporary scientific officer; he remained there until the end of the war. In the post-war years Bagenal divided time between his consultancy work, lecturing and writing. Among his most important acoustics projects were the Royal Festival Hall (1948–51), the Free Trade Hall in Manchester, and Fairfield Hall in Croydon.

Manchester Free Trade Hall was built between 1853 and 1856 in St Peter’s Fields on the site of the earlier Peterloo Massacre. This Italian Palazzo-style building was left an empty shell after being bombed during the Blitz of 1940. The new hall, on which Bagenal was to act as a consultant, was constructed behind the facade of two walls from 1950-51.

MS340/A2064/21: Interior of Manchester Free Trade Hall.

The Royal Festival Hall, the notable Modernist building on the London South Bank, is claimed as a landmark acoustic design of the 20th century as it is one of only a few large concert halls worldwide to be designed in the first half of that century. It was the only permanent building constructed for the 1951 Festival of Britain.

Sir Hugh Casson was Director of Architecture for the Festival and London County Council’s Architecture Department, led by Robert Matthew, designed the Festival Hall. The auditorium was on the upper level with reception and other levels below, to fit into the limited space on site. Acoustic requirements were two-fold: those of the auditorium and the requirement to reduce noise from the rail bridge and rail lines outside. Bagenal’s solution was a double skin for the whole building: two solid walls with a continuous air space between. The auditorium acoustics were tuned using a combination of reflective and absorbent wall and ceiling panels.

MS340/A2064/34: Axonometric view of the Royal Festival Hall.

In a letter dated 4th June 1951 from Robert Matthew (the architect for London County Council) Bagenal is complimented for his work on the new Royal Festival Hall, it being noted that the piano tone in the new South Bank concert hall was ‘exceptionally good’.

MS340/A2064/34: Leaflet on the organ to be installed at the new South Bank concert hall, Harrison & Harrison.

The acoustic architect Hugh Creighton, whose papers are also held by the University of Southampton’s Special Collections and whose working papers were documented in an earlier blog, was the son of Bagenal’s Uppingham housemaster, and Creighton joined Bagenal’s architectural acoustics practice in the early 1950s. As consultant to the Building Research Station during the 1960s, Bagenal investigated case studies of weathering of buildings in London.

Bagenal was awarded an OBE in 1956.  He was to become a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects and in 1975 was awarded an honorary fellowship of the Institute of Acoustics. He remained a prolific writer throughout his life and aside from the many works on acoustics, he also wrote on subjects such as theology, topography and history, as demonstrated by his work ‘Studies in the History of the Auditorium’.

MS340/A2064/45: Studies in the History of the Auditorium – Greek Theatre, by Bagenal

In addition to Bagenal’s papers, Special Collections also have a few other acoustics collections including: the papers of Dr Raymond Stephens and the British Acoustical Society (MS337); the Papers of Peter Parkin (MS 339); the working papers of Keith Rose (MS342); and some material for Professor Doak who was the consultant for the Turner Sims and who was mentioned in an earlier blog.

Bagenal was married to Alison Mary Hogg (1892–1981). He died at Leaside in May 1979.

2021 – a year in review

And so for another year we faced the challenges of the covid pandemic. But yet again this did not prevent us from completing important projects, as well as welcoming researchers and student groups into the Archives reading room when restrictions permitted.

New Archive catalogue

In October we formally launched the new Archive Catalogue.  We have worked with the Metadatis, the team that created Epexio, to deliver this archival discovery platform that brings together for the first time into one integrated online system all catalogue descriptions that Southampton has been creating in online databases since the 1980s.  The introduction of the new Epexio Archive Catalogue marks a significant change for online archive catalogues at Southampton and the development and enhancement of the catalogues, as well as of the archive management system, will be an ongoing element of work.

Epexio Archive Catalogue home page

And for anyone interested in a little bit of the history of automated archive catalogues this was covered in our launch blog in October.

Online resources

A second major project for 2021 was the Broadlands digitisation project.  Focusing on the private diaries of Lord and Lady Mountbatten, as well as correspondence between them, this project has seen the publication of this material online. Available are diaries for Lord Mountbatten, 1918, 1920, 1922-44, 1946-68, together with appointment diaries, 1956-7 and 1977-8, tour diaries 1969-78.  For Lady Mountbatten there are diaries 1923-42, 1944-50 and appointment diaries 1950-60.  There are correspondence files between the couple, 1921-60.

Containing over 50,000 images, this resource can be accessed either via the Special Collections website Broadlands digitisation page, or links in the new Archive Catalogue.

Special Collections has created a number of films, which it has made available online on its Hartley Special Collections YouTube channel to assist with using the new Epexio Archive Catalogue. 


In February, Karen Robson took part in an online panel discussion archives of East European Jewry, organised by the Parkes Institute, alongside Jonathan Brent, Executive Director of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York and Aleksander Ivanov of the Interdepartmental Center for Jewish Studies, St Petersburg.

During a Summer Festival in June, we ran a Historical Poster Art activity that used posters from the Special Collections to inspire participants to create their own, using their artistic imagination. The posters used were from MS73 papers of L.A.Burgess; MS116/85 design works of A.Games; MS348 David Kossoff collection; MS291 the Nuffield Theatre Collection; and the Cope Collection.

Historical Poster Art activity, 15 June 2021

And in November we participated in the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales Explore Your Archives week of virtual “snapshot talks with a film on the maritime archaeology collections at Southampton. All talks will become available in due course on the Royal Commission’s YouTube channel.

James Parkes in 1924 [MS60 A625/34/6 box 1 folder 1]

Finally, we worked in conjunction with the Parkes Institute this year for two exhibitions which drew extensively on the archive collections: the Kindertransport exhibition and also that relating to James Parkes to mark forty years since his death.

Social media and publicity

We have maintained an active social media programme throughout the year, with our weekly blogs and regular tweets on the Special Collections Twitter account. On Twitter we participated in national programmes such as History begins at Home and Explore Your Archives.

The blog programme also picked up on national or international campaigns or notable days throughout the year. For Women’s History Month in March, for instance, we celebrated the collections that we hold of four very different women. Those featured were Trude Dub (1910-2002) who was Leicester correspondent of the Jewish Chronicle for over forty years; the psychologist, poet and humanitarian Asenath Petrie (1914-2001); Miss Eleanor Aubrey, who was a key personality at University College in the early part of the twentieth century; and finally Charlotte Chamberlain (1878-1956), a major benefactor of the University of Southampton. 

Portrait of Miss Eleanor Aubrey [MS310/71/2/3]

May is local and community history month and for this we published features on the poetry of John Henry Todd; Romsey Abbey; Southampton Gordon Boys’ Brigade; The British Red Cross and Hartley Witney; and finally Middle Bridge, Romsey.

In June we drew on the Broadlands Archives for two very different blogs.  In the first we marked national immigrant heritage month in the USA with a feature on emigration from Ireland to North America in the nineteenth century. We then celebrated Father’s Day drawing on the correspondence of the second Viscount Palmerston to his children.

Blogs throughout the year shone a spotlight on the collections that we hold for an array of different individuals: the screen writer Norman Crisp; Selig Brodetsky and Cecil Roth; Walter Schindler and Eugene Heimler who worked in the fields of psychology and psychotherapy; Elinor A.Moore; Rabbi Solomon Schonfeld; the acoustician Hugh Creighton; Sir Donald Acheson, a former Chief Medical Officer and professor of Medicine at Southampton; S.H.Somper; youth worker Stanley Rowe; and Revd William Annesley and his interest in biodiversity.

Organisations featured in blogs included: Youth Aliyah; Leo Baeck College, London; Hutchinson House Club for Working Lads; the Jewish Youth Fund; the Maccabaeans; the Jewish Religious Education Board; and the Central Council for Jewish Religious Education.

A number of blogs related to the University: three blogs chronicled the early days of the institution from the Hartley bequest and opening of Hartley Institution in 1862; the years 1862-1902, and then for the period 1902 until just before the First World War. Others looked at a collection of material relating to the Southampton University Training Corps and University open days, whilst in another former student Jennifer Cooper reminisced about student life in the 1950s and 1960s.

A further series of blogs focused on Southampton and Hampshire: the Stella Memorial Southampton; Bevois Mount House; Queenwood College, Hampshire; guidebooks for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight in the Cope Collection; a nineteenth-century account of walking the Isle of Wight; and the experience of Vietnamese refugees in Hampshire.

We also explored the genteel art of knitting in April, when we tried out some of the patterns noted in a notebook of stitches held in the Special Collections; the art of pickling and preserving with material from the Perkins Agricultural Library; Board of Agriculture Surveys; and our final blog of the year looked at Christmas gift books.


During the last twelve months we have continued to add to the archival holdings, including with a range of material relating to the University and its history and three collections of significance added to the Anglo-Jewish Archives holdings. Amongst those University related items are the papers for the Southampton University Training Corps, described in a blog mentioned above and papers of two former University Librarians from different eras: Bernard Naylor and Mr Bland.

University College Southampton Dance Band, 1932, standing in the hut left over from the First World War used by the Music Department [MS416/32 A4258]

We also have been pleased to provide homes for papers of Rabbi Professor Jonathan Magonet, former Principal of the Leo Baeck College, London; material of Evelyn Friedlander, who ran the Hidden Legacy Foundation which focused on the research, preservation and exhibition of the history of rural Jewry in the UK; and papers of Leonard Kessler.

Correspondence from the Leonard Kessler collection [MS456 A4361]

Archives searchroom service

The Archives searchroom service re-opened again in the spring after the lockdown in the early part of the year.  We have been delighted to welcome a wide range of researchers making research visits.  And Southampton has been one of the institutions in the UK upholding democracy by supporting the research undertaken by the researchers for the Infected Blood Inquiry.

With on-site teaching during this autumn term, we have been able to host research sessions for undergraduate and MA history students and for Winchester School of Art MA students.

Looking ahead to 2022

We look forward to 2022 with optimism as we plan ahead for another busy year.  The Special Collections will be marking the seventieth anniversary of Southampton being granted University status with a social media programme celebrating this and the 1950s.  We shall also be drawing on the archive collections to create an exhibition and other online resources to mark the seventy fifth anniversary of the independence of India and Pakistan.

The Yerusha project to which we contributed in 2019 is due to be launched in spring 2022. This online platform will provide access and showcase Jewish archive collections across Europe and Southampton is delighted to be involved with this initiative.

Christmas Gift Books

With Christmas almost upon us, what could be better for that last minute present than a book? Not only easy to wrap but also a long-established part of the Christmas tradition, as can be seen from books in Special Collections. Some have inscriptions marking the occasion and there are also examples of the 19th century literary annuals or gift books, published to be given as presents at this time of year.

A development of the long-established almanacs of useful knowledge, the annuals first appeared in France and Germany, with Rudolf Ackerman’s Forget Me Not of 1823 being regarded as the first English-language literary annual. Such was its success that ten years later over sixty competitors had entered the market, the best known of these being The Keepsake, which ran from 1828 to 1857. At a time when many books were printed in runs of 500 to 1,500, The Keepsake is reported to have sold between 12,000 to 15,000 copies in its first year.

Forget Me Not, 1828 [Rare Books per P]

Initially aimed at young women, and providing a welcome contrast with reading matter such as manuals of conduct, the annuals featured poems, short stories and illustrations. Opinions varied as to the quality of the contents but few could have failed to be impressed by the list of contributors to the 1829 volume of The Keepsake.  It included Wordsworth, Coleridge and Scott, not to mention Shelley, whose posthumous contributions were obtained via Mary Shelley, herself a contributor. Such an array of talent represented a substantial outlay by the proprietors and with Sir Walter Scott being paid £500 for each of his contributions, it is easy to see why the line-up for this volume was unusual and why annuals generally relied on less well-known writers. 

From The Keepsake, 1829 [Rare Books per A]

The illustrations were as important to the success of the annuals as the literary contributions, and it was not unusual for them to be commissioned first, the stories and verse having to fit with the images rather than vice versa. The publishers of the annuals were able to take advantage of the new steel plate engravings of the 1820s which were of much higher quality than those printed from copper plates and also more cost effective – the steel plates being more hard-wearing. Charles Heath, the proprietor of The Keepsake and himself an engraver, was able to include illustrations by Turner and many other exhibitors at the Royal Academy and through the annuals reproductions of the works of famous artists became more widely circulated.

Illustration for Robert Southey’s ‘Lucy and her Bird’ in The Keepsake, 1829 [Rare Books per A]

Appearance was also a consideration for the publishers as the annuals were intended to be displayed and admired in the drawing rooms of their owners. The volumes of The Keepsake were bound in crimson silk (not a durable binding as the volumes in Special Collections testify) but again the publishers were quick to adopt new practices in books production and with the mechanisation of the binding process, mass produced, embossed or gold stamped coverings became an affordable option.

The Keepsake, 1856 [Rare Books per A]

A further decorative feature, this time found within the book, was the engraved or embossed inscription plate where the gift could be recorded.

From The Keepsake, 1831 [Rare Books per A]

The emphasis on sentimental stories led the annuals to be regarded with scorn in some circles, with even a contributor, Robert Southey, calling them ‘picture-books for grown children’, whilst for Alfred Tennyson they were ‘vapid books’. This view was taken up by The Illustrated London News which included in its issue for December 1842 a page of parodies of both the verse and illustrations to be found in annuals.

From The Illustrated London News, December 1842 [Rare Books quarto per A]

In addition to the literary annuals, others aimed at a broader audience were published during this period and amongst these, the satirical Comic Almanack, which appeared from 1831-1854 was a notable success. Featuring contributions from William Thackeray and Horace Mayhew its popularity owed much to the humorous drawings and political cartoons of George Cruickshank. That its humour continued to be appreciated after its demise is seen by the reprinting of the volumes in the 1870s and 1880s.

Illustration from The Comic Almanack, December 1837, from reprint of 1872 [Rare Books PR 1376]

Although annuals of all kinds continued to sell well throughout the second quarter of the 19th century, in the 1850s, their popularity began to wane. The new interest was in illustrated periodicals and in novels, which became more affordable, with the term ‘annual’ coming to mean the special Christmas volumes produced by the periodical publishers.

Spotlight on Collections: MS220 Papers of E.Heimler

This week’s blog post focuses on the MS220 Papers of E.Heimler, who was a Holocaust survivor and psychologist best known for his research into the primary prevention of social breakdown and into the development and use of a scale of social functioning, which became known as the Heimler scale.

Eugene Heimler [MS220/A859/3/1/11]

Eugene (John) Heimler (1922-90) was born in Szombathely in Western Hungary. He attended the local grammar school and matriculated from the Jewish Gymnasium in Budapest. In 1944, after the German invasion of Hungary, the Heimler family were deported. Eugene Heimler was sent to Auschwitz, Buchenwald and other camps. Heimler returned to Hungary after the war and studied for a diploma in social science at the University of Budapest.

Experiences at Auschwitz and counselling Holocaust survivors

Heimler drew upon his experiences at Auschwitz in a television interview in the late eighties/early nineties, and became a member of the steering committee for counselling survivors of the Holocaust. You can see quotes from the interview below [MS220 A859 2/1/4].

“When I got to Auschwitz I thought that I recognised the SS doctor – he was the man who got out of the lorry, selecting people for life and death by hypnotising them. Then I left one barrack, and during the night every other barrack was taken to the gas and I wasn’t. So that dream somehow forewarned me to be in a particular kind of, I like to call it, psychotic state”

“What my camp experience really taught me was that the horror is not just the physical degradation and torture and hunger, but also about what goes on inside you as a result of all these things”

“I really don’t think that I have done anything in my life which wasn’t in the direction which I felt was almost pre-destined for me. To choose this profession was right. To live the kind of life that I am living is right. Not to pressurise myself is right.”

“If I look through my life and say where I have turned the wrong way, it’s very difficult because it all seems to me as if it’s a continuous line. I’m not saying that as a result, my life was happier than yours or anybody else’s. In fact we have established that it probably was much worse than most people, both before, during and after the War. But it seems almost as if I could not do anything else. I had to do what I did and I still feel today that I have to do what I do. I think that what is very important is that I don’t live for other people’s expectations.”

“For some reason it was an extraordinarily painful life with extraordinary pleasures in it. And it may be very well that you can’t have one without the other; and that frustration is really the potential for satisfaction; and while nothing is permanent, loving and love is the nearest which can be.”

“I’ve learned to try to remember when life creates obstacles and difficulties that the other side is also there. So there is no absolute. People need not to talk about the Holocaust, but they have to learn lessons from it: and one of the most important lessons one can learn from it is to value life and value love.”

Eugene Heimler Counselling Survivors Notes [MS220/A859/2/2/1]

Counselling survivors of the Holocaust led to Survivors’ Centres being formed. This enabled those who survived the Holocaust to meet other survivors and talk; to gain mutual support; to gain individual therapy and welfare support, as well to gain information about existing facilities.

Below are quotes from the ‘Report on Planning for Second Gathering of Survivors’, 22 November 1988 [MS 220 A859 2/2/1].

“The aim is to provide a club, within the confines of the Sternberg Centre, with restaurant facilities, newspapers, chess and all things necessary to create an atmosphere in which victims can come together to talk. Increasing numbers of concentration camp victims are finding their pressing need is to vocalise their experiences together with others who have suffered similarly. Food is an important element and therefore the club must have restaurant/coffee shop facilities.”

“Of primary importance is the provision of skilled/professional leadership because the club will almost certainly throw up a need for individual counselling and referrals to agencies dealing with welfare needs.” 

A Survivors’ Centre newsletter, 6 Oct 1989 [MS220/A859/2/2/1]

Career in psychiatry

Heimler moved to England in 1946 and enrolled at the London School of Economics, from which he obtained a Certificate of Trade Union Studies in 1950. He trained as a psychiatric social worker in 1951-3, and became interested in working with the long-term unemployed. One of Heimler’s first professional appointments was as a Psychiatric Social Worker for the National Assistance Board on 1st December 1953. In this appointment he worked for six months with a sample of 50 unemployed men and their families in Hendon, which became known as the Hendon experiment.

The Hendon experiment and Hounslow project

The Hendon experiment involved research into long-term employment in conjunction with the National Assistance Board between 1953-1965. In 1955 Heimler reported on 41 cases referred by the National Assistance Board in Hendon. All referrals were non-employment cases. The conclusion at the time was that cooperation between the Board and the psychiatric social services of local health authorities could support the mentally ill that were being given National Assistance allowances, in order to reattain their position in society. The completion of the experiment resulted in half of the unemployed becoming employed. When Heimler repeated the experiment again with a larger sample, he achieved the same result. Wondering why he had failed the other 50%, he reinterviewed and re-examined the whole sample. Heimler found that satisfaction was high among the employed, and that frustration was high amongst the unemployed, providing two variables that could have a great impact on the social functioning of a person. Men were questioned about what satisfied them, which led to the foundations of the Heimler scale of Social Functioning, which was piloted in the Hounslow project.

“The study of these cases indicated that there was a need for widespread understanding of such people and their problems. It became clear that all those who deal with employment problems needed some ability to recognise those individuals who were emotionally disturbed.”

(A Course in Human Relations by Eugene Heimler 1960 [MS220 A859 3/2/1])

The Hounslow project involved people being asked how much common plight a family experienced, in terms of unemployment, death, serious illness, moving house etc. The results concluded that the average family experienced a substantial amount of change, and that these point of crisis could be a time where strong support could help prevent a long-term catastrophe. In working out the format of how this strong support could be provided, the establishment of the Heimler Scale of Social Functioning came into play.

The Heimler Scale of Social Functioning

The concept of Human Social Functioning “lies in the assumption that the quantity and quality of frustration and satisfaction experienced by the individual at any given time determine his success or failure to function in society.”

“The scale is a social work instrument which evaluates and measures the individual’s perception of his satisfaction and frustration as they affect him in the present.”

[‘Social Functioning in the Practice of Social Work’ Social Work Today by Eugene Heimler]

Heimler Scale of Social Functioning [MS220/A859/3/3/5 (part2)]

Here is an image of a Heimler scale of Social Functioning assessment form [MS220 A859/4/1/9].

Heimler scale of Social Functioning assessment form [MS220 A859/4/1/9]

This was completed after asking the patient about the areas of the basic satisfaction in their lives: Work and Interests, Finance, Friends, Family, and Personal. Further questions were also asked, which consisted of the following:

(1) How far do you feel you have reached your ambition in life?

(2) How far do you feel hopeful for your future?

(3) How far do you feel that your life has meaning?

(4) How far has life given you enough scope for self expression?

(5) When you look back, how far do you feel that life was worth the struggle?

These five questions were named the ‘Synthesis’, and could be entered on the form by the patient on a 20-point scale. The form’s content could then be used to identify the areas of frustration, and discuss how they could be mitigated with a therapist.

Heimler’s work on these cases led to a new course in human relations being introduced at the Board’s request by the extra-mural department of London University. He taught Human Relations and Social Functioning at London University for 20 years.

He was also appointed as Consultant (after he evolved his Scale of Social Functioning) to the World Health Organisation and to the Government of the United States. He was also Advisor (on issues concerning unemployment) to the Ministry of Social Security in Great Britain.

A leaflet promoting the Phase I, II, and III Human Social Functioning lecture series [MS220 A859 4/1/9]

The Heimler Foundation

In 1972 the Heimler Foundation was set up with money raised at Heimler’s 50th birthday. It was established to facilitate the works and ideas of Professor Eugene Heimler.

Its aims were to provide counselling and therapy for individuals and groups, using the Heimler approach, to provide basic and advanced training in the Heimler Method, to recognise advanced practitioners and lecturers in the Heimler Method, to sanction and collect bona fide research, act as a focal point, and publish books/tapes describing the Heimler Method. There were branches in several different countries in Europe, as well as in Canada and the U.S.A.

After Eugene Heimler’s death in December 1990, his wife Brigitte Heimler continued the work of the Heimler Foundation, which offered counselling, a Jewish Stress Advisory Service, consultations for individuals and groups as well as organisations; workshops for personal development and training for volunteers and those working in the helping professions.

The first Heimler Foundation newsletter [MS220/A859/4/1/1]

The collection

The collection contains poetry and short stories with other prose writing; correspondence with publishers; correspondence relating to articles; reviews; and copies of articles and publications relating to mental health from the 1950s-1990s.

For those wanting to study the development of Eugene Heimler’s concept of human social functioning, Heimler’s papers on psychology and human social functioning will prove incredibly useful, as well as his correspondence and papers on the Hounslow Project and the Heimler scales.

The collection also contains papers on conferences and courses attended and involved with, as well correspondence with Jewish charities and organisations, and papers relating to the foundation of the Holocaust Survivors’ Centre.

The latest accession, which has recently been catalogued, contains papers regarding the running of the Heimler Scale Foundation, as well as applications for use of the Heimler scale in research and recordings of Eugene Heimler discussing aspects of Human Social Functioning.

Eugene Heimler speaking at an event [MS220/A4352/1/12]

You can find out more about how the Heimler Method of Social Functioning is being used today by checking out the Heimler International website: https://www.heimler-international.com/

Spotlight on collections: the Central Council for Jewish Religious Education

Following on from our post of the Jewish Religious Education Board, this week’s blog post casts the spotlight onto the work of the Central Council for Jewish Religious Education. Its work can be divided into two key periods: the interwar years when it was headed by Herbert Adler and then post-World War Two when Harold Levy took the reins. However, as is customary, we shall start at the beginning…


The Jewish Memorial Council

The Jewish Memorial War Council was founded in 1919 with the aim to raise funds to establish a permanent war memorial to the Jews of the British Empire who had served in the 1914-1918 war. There were three main objectives:

1 The endowment of Jewish religious education
2 The building and endowment of a Jewish Theological College at Oxford or Cambridge
3 The making of further provision for the Jewish ministry

It was renamed the Jewish Memorial Council in 1931. While not all objectives were achieved, it did succeed in promoting Jewish religious education and welfare. Hebrew classes throughout the country were inspected and encouraged; it gave grants for teacher training and established the Central Council for Jewish Religious Education (CCJRE). 

The Central Council for Jewish Religious Education

Records from the Central Committee for Jewish Education organisation include Reports by the Director of Jewish Education, Mr Herbert M. Adler, following his visits to Jewish Educational institutions in Britain.

The Director’s schedule for April-September 1923 [MS157/AJ370/1]

Hull Hebrew Girls’ School

I visited this school on 21st January, 1924, but had to be content with a brief survey in order not to infringe on the hours allotted to secular instruction. The institution is a Jewish non-Provided School. There is a roll of 120 including a few small boys. The staff has recently been reduced and now consists only of the headmistress and two assistants

[Director’s report MS157/AJ370/2]

His hectic schedule meant he travelled all over the country:

June 19th Durham Hebrew School

June 19th Darlington Hebrew School

June 20th South Shields Hebrew Class

June 21st North Eastern Area Committee

June 21st Edinburgh Hebrew Class

June 24th Landside Hebrew Class, Glasgow

The collection also includes his extensive “notes of books” which provides reviews of potential texts for the Jewish scholar. Adler doesn’t pull any punches: “There are a number of illustrations [in Hillel’s Happy Holidays by Mamie Gamoran] though these are not particularly attractive…” [MS157/AJ370/19]

Adler’s comments on J. Steinberg’s text, In Those Days are as follows:

I have re-read this book and think on the whole that the slight objections can be disregarded. It is true that it is a little violent in parts, but it is well written and gives a good idea of Jewish life in Russia in the olden days. It is remarkably cheap at 2s/6d.

The Jewish Memorial Council: Central Committee for Jewish Education: Notes on books, H-M [MS157/AJ370/19]
Adler’s ‘Notes on books’ [MS157/AJ370/20]

Key to these collections is the Director Herbert M. Adler; unfortunately the records concerning him are limited but we do know he was an educated man, with postgraduate degrees: Master of Arts and Master of Laws.

During the extraordinary circumstances occasioned by the Second World War, activities of the Central Committee for Jewish Education were merged with other organisations to form the Joint Emergency Committee for the Religious Education of Jewish Children. We will examine the work of this organisation in a future post.

Post-War work

A new director, Harold Levy, was appointed in the post-war period, likely in the early 1950s, and he held this position for some twenty years. In his report from November 1955, he comments:

As always inspection of provincial Hebrew classes has been my most important task and in the past year I have visited just over 50 schools, the largest number I have managed to achieve in any year.

Central Council for Jewish Religious Education Inspector’s Report, 1954-1955 [MS245/A2094/2/12/17]
The Jewish Teachers’ Training College was one of the many institutions which provided returns to the CCJRE [MS179/AJ289/12/2]

Levy estimated that 7,500 pupils were enrolled in their provincial Hebrew classes, excluding withdrawal classes, non-orthodox institutions, boarding schools and pupils studying privately. In his report he comments on various matters including text books, the teachers’ conference and teacher training, summer schools and adult education.

Levy’s work as inspector took him all over the country, from Dundee to Plymouth. In a report following his visit to Southampton on 9 Jun 1963, he comments:

My visit to Southampton coincided with one of the most inviting and sunniest days of the year and I am grateful to the parents who brought or sent their children to the class. I was able to meet no fewer than eight of the nine children enrolled, six boys and two girls, from 7 to 11 years of age. Some had come as far as Lyndhurst, Hythe and Winchester.

The purpose of my visit was not to put the children through a gruelling examination. One of my subjects was to show the children that although they were few in number and living off the main stream of Jewish life in this country, nevertheless they were important to those of us who live in the centre of Jewish life. Every Jewish child is precious to us and we cannot afford to lose one or neglect one.

Report to parents Southampton Sunday 9 June 1963 [MS179/AJ289/8/1]

This blog post covers merely a fraction of the records held at the University of Southampton relating to Anglo-Jewish education in the twentieth century. Our most recent post relates to the Jewish Religious Education Board. These organisations were linked by the Jewish Higher Education Centre which was administered by the Jewish Religious Education Board but subsidised by the Central Council for Jewish Religious Education.

To find more about the varied resources we hold check out the “browse collections” feature in our Archive Catalogue which brings together both our education and Jewish resources.

MS 223: the Papers of Stanley Rowe

This week we take a look at MS223, the Papers of Stanley Rowe (1924-1992).

Stanley was born on 3rd September 1924 in Reading, Berkshire and came of age in a small town during the years of the Depression. He moved to London aged 14 and joined a youth club, soon becoming a senior member. It was around this time that he met G.P. Holden who ran the Duke of York camps for working-class boys, under the patronage of the future King George VI. Holden became a life-long friend and mentor until his death in the 1980s.

In 1942, during the Second World War, Stanley was called up to serve on Royal Navy destroyers, two of which were torpedoed and sunk. He later told stories of how he would save his daily rum ration (pouring it into an empty bottle) and then barter the rum for the other sailor’s leave permits. Whilst on leave he discovered Ireland, Malta and America. In 1947 he started working at a factory in Croydon and he was soon involved in their social club, organising whist drives and seaside outings for workers and their children. In 1948 he married Wendy Sieberman, who had hired him to work at the factory in the first place. Not long after they married, Stanley began studying at Nottingham University and qualified in youth and community work. Stanley’s first job after graduating was at the Kingsley Hall Settlement in the East End of London. He later worked as a leader at the Brunswick Youth Club in Chalfont St. Giles, remaining here until 1954.

It was in 1954 that, upon the recommendation of education officers of the Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ), Stanley was employed as a youth and community worker at Henriques House, home of the Manchester Jewish Lads’ Brigade and Club. As a non-Jew, Stanley’s employment by the JLB represented a break with tradition.

The Jewish Lads Brigade (JLB) was founded in 1895 by Colonel A.E.W Goldsmid; the idea was inspired by a chance encounter with a local unit of the Church Lads’ Brigade, during a jaunt through the Welsh countryside, which Goldsmid made accompanied by Lady Swaythling. The JLB grew very quickly in the East End of London; home at that time to many Jewish families who had emigrated from eastern Europe. A JLB presence had been established in Manchester by 1899. Soon after its founding the JLB was organising summer camps for boys and by the 1920s more than a thousand were in attendance.

Whilst at the JLB in Manchester, Stanley was busy organising numerous activities for the youth. Stanley’s 1966 report to the JLB Management Committee enumerates the following activities: a folk music group which played by candlelight; a social service group raising money for charities including Oxfam; an anti-apartheid discussion group; netball; judo and countless others activities and groups taking place.

From 1969 Stanley helped to run the South Manchester Jewish Youth Club; he was involved with organising holidays, drama groups, camping, swimming, judo groups, fund-raising groups, synagogue groups and football clubs as well as countless other activities too numerous to list. In a report he wrote for the Management Committee of the South Manchester Jewish Youth & Community Centre in August 1970, Stanley listed his day to day activities; he was busy every day of the week from dictating letters and attending committee meetings on a Monday; through to the counselling of young people with mental health concerns on a Friday and attending a bar mitzvah on a Saturday.

At this time Stanley was simultaneously the Secretary of the Youth Development Trust based in Manchester as well as a member of the Manchester City Education Committee. Stanley was active in politics and, amongst other positions, was elected as a Labour Party candidate to chairman of the Integration Committee of the Manchester and Salford Council of Jews; working for the mutual understanding of members of different religious faiths.

In 1972 Rowe moved to Belfast to lecture at Ulster Polytechnic on youth and community work. He returned to Manchester in the 1980s to become provincial development officer for the Association of Jewish Youth.

In a couple of letters written by Stanley and his family we learn that he died a few days before Christmas 1992, from cancer. In a very touching letter he wrote in November of that year, once his illness had worsened, he asked his friends not to phone the family to offer condolences but, if they felt the need to do something, to put some money in a charity box for the Third World. Pretty postcards of trees or flowers were also welcome; at least this would give him something to share with his grandchildren.

In June the following year a tribute event honouring Stanley’s memory was held at the Nicky Alliance Centre in Manchester with an exhibition of the life and work of Stanley Rowe, described in The Jewish Telegraph of 11th June 1993 as ‘Manchester’s best-loved youth worker’.

Spotlight on Collections: MS228 Papers of S.H. Somper

This week’s blog post focuses on the MS228 Papers of S.H. Somper, whose war work in the RAF took him to Egypt and Palestine, and he later became headmaster of the Solomon Wolfson Jewish School in Bayswater, and worked for a number of organisations, including as joint secretary of the Central British Fund.

Sidney Somper [MS228 A862/1/1]

Sidney Somper was born on 14 December 1908 in Whitechapel, London. He worked hard at school and earned glowing commendations from his teachers. Somper was a pupil at Owen’s School, Hertfordshire from 1925-1927 after being transferred from the Central Foundation School after Matriculation to take the Owen’s School advanced course in Modern Studies. He passed the London Higher School and Intermediate B.A. Examination in less than two years, although did not know a word of Latin when he entered this School. He was proposed for a scholarship to Cambridge, although he ended up studying History at King’s College London. After graduating in 1931, he then went on and studied for two years at Jews’ College. Thence returned to King’s College London and took a University Diploma in Pedagogy.

“Evidently he has excellent ability, he has any amount of energy and industry and he is an excellent man to get on with.”

(Letter from headmaster of Owen’s School, recommending Samuel Somper to the Sir Richard Stapley Trust, which supports the work of students of proven academic merit, and in financial need, who are pursuing further degrees or certain postgraduate qualifications in the UK, 27 April 1931 [MS228 A862/ 1/2])

Somper’s Owen’s School report, 1925 [MS228 A862/1/2]

On 1 August 1932, Somper was recognised as a Certified Teacher under Schedule 1.1 of the Code of Regulations for Public Elementary Schools. From the same year until 1941, Somper taught in senior schools of the London County Council and in General and Commercial Evening Institutes schools in deprived areas of London. He built experience with age groups 11-14 boys and girls and worked with students from age 15 upwards at the Evening Institutes schools. He taught Hebrew and Religious classes and prepared candidates for both O level and A Level Classical Hebrew. Over several years he also conducted an adult study group which was generally regarded as very successful.

“During his training year he has been practising at the Holloway School. In the class-room his manner is brisk, lively and confident. He takes effective control of his classes in a good-humoured way and no difficulties with discipline. The plan of Mr Somper’s lessons is always clear and systematic, while his careful preparation and workman-like development of the topics under review enable him to carry them through with energy and decisiveness. His work is above the average in competence.”

(Reference given by University of London King’s College Department of Education, Lecturer in Education H.T. Smith and Professor of Education J.Dover Wilson, 3 Jun 1932 [MS228 A862/2/2])

On 27 December 1936, Sidney Somper married Janie Manne at Dalston Synagogue, London, who also became a schoolteacher. He was warden of his synagogue until the outbreak of war necessitated him leaving London.

Involvement in the RAF

In 1941 Somper was enlisted in the RAF. He was commissioned Acting Pilot Officer in 1942. He also acted as Education Officer on various stations in the Command and in November 1944, volunteered for educational work and made application for an Education Vocational Training course. War service took him to Egypt and Palestine as a fighter controller in Radar and also as adjutant of a large station. For the last six months he was a staff officer at Headquarters Middle East and covered extensive areas in the capacity of a Vocational Adviser and organiser of this branch of the Service. One of the greatest treasures of the papers of S.H. Somper is his notebook diary while serving in the RAF, which as well as diary entries contains photographs and letters sent to him from his friend, Alex. Here are some quotes from the diary.

“Tom Tilley was another of the R.A.F. officers & I’m sharing a two-berth cabin with him. We have our stuff in our cabin & by lunchtime were washed & shaved & ready to learn our duties…” (April 1943, page 1)

“Today there has been some gunnery practice on board. The raw is deffening & the first shell always a little startling as there is never any warning given. Only casualties to date were some windows in the lounge shattered by vibration.” (April 1943, page 11)

“I’m really homesick & can’t think of anything more desirable than home & peace. Am not temperamentally tranquil, feel all the time that I ought to be somewhere else – for fear of missing something. Will now depart to do the odd letter before lunch.” (April 1943, page 13)

 Notebook diary of Sidney Somper whilst serving in the RAF, Sep 1943-Apr 1944 [MS228 A862/1/1]

In 1945 Somper was granted the Acting Rank of Flag Officer. In the same year he was granted Acting Rank of Flight Lieutenant. He was demobilised in 1946 and on his return to England took up teaching again at the Hammersmith Day College.

Somper with RAF colleagues [MS228 A862/1/1]

Acting Ranks letter to Somper, 29 April 1945 [MS228 A862/1/2]

Life after the RAF

From 1946-1953 Somper taught at Hammersmith Day College, with special responsibility for English and History students aged 15-18. He taught a variety of attainments, from semi literates to post school certificate classes. He taught Mathematics as well. The papers of S.H. Somper include letters from parents thanking him for the Hebrew tuition he provided to their children, like the one below.

Thank you letter for Bar Mitzvah preparation, 29 June 1950 [MS228 A862/1/6]

In 1953 Somper completed his Higher Academic Diploma and M.A. in Education at the University of London. Somper completed his dissertation on ‘The London school board and the development of evening education 1870-93’.

Somper’s MA dissertation [MS228 A862/2/1]

After completing his post-graduate qualifications, Somper took up the post of headmaster of the Solomon Wolfson Jewish School in Bayswater. Here he taught older students, mainly on part-time day release. He also did Bar Mitzvah tutoring. He remained in this post until his retirement in 1969.

Solomon Wolfson Jewish School [MS228 A862/2/4]

“I gather from the advertisement that you must be retiring at the end of this term. Please accept my wishes for a long, happy, & fruitful period of change of occupation… I have been an admirer of your excellent work at the S.W. and your efforts have been commended by all those inside and outside the service… Your pupils are a notable tribute to your leadership and by their carriage, demeanour & attitude to work are easily recognised.”

(Letter received by Samuel Somper from Edward S Convery on  his retirement from Solomon Wolfson Jewish School, 8 November 1968 [MS228 A862/1/2])

Letter received by Samuel Somper from Edward S Convery on his retirement from Solomon Wolfson Jewish School, 8 November 1968 [MS228 A862/1/2]

Career after education

In retirement Somper worked for a number of communal organisations, most notably as joint secretary of the Central British Fund. He retired from this role in 1977, and passed away in 1994.

About the collection

The collection contains personal papers, including correspondence and photographs, a diary and other papers relating to Somper’s service in the RAF during World War II; papers relating to the Dalston Synagogue, 1929-30, and the Edgware Synagogue, 1935-46. There are also professional papers, 1931-94, including material relating to Somper’s MA thesis; and papers for the Solomon Wolfson Jewish School.

For further material of the Bayswater Jewish Schools, later known as the Solomon Wolfson Jewish School, see collection MS211.

University Open Days

To mark the return of visitors to Avenue Campus for Hands-on Humanities Day this Saturday, we are taking a look at earlier examples of community engagement, the University Open Days.

Unlike today’s Open Days for prospective students, previous Open Days focused on promoting the University in the local community by publicising its work to businesses and organisations and enabling local residents to see inside the “ivory tower” at a time when fewer people had experience of university life.

selection of open day programmes
Open Day programmes [Univ. Coll. LF 788.8]

Most of the Open Day programmes in University Collection date from the 1960s and 70s but there are also examples from the 1920s – the copy of the 1926 programme having been handed in during the 1985 Open Day. By the later 1920s, University College, Southampton as it was then, was becoming more remote from the town in terms of governance and location. Its incorporation as the Hartley University College in 1902 had made it independent of the Borough Council, the beneficiary of the Hartley Bequest in 1850 and its 1919 move from the High Street to Highfield meant that it was in danger of becoming out of sight out of mind. With the College’s financial security relying in some part on grants from local authorities and its goal of becoming an independent university yet to be achieved (degrees were awarded by London University), the support of the town was an important consideration.

Exterior view of the University College, north wing, c. 1925 [MS1/Phot/39 ph3099b]

The Open Days of the late 1920s were part of the wider campaign for a “University of Wessex” which began in earnest at this time. There were interviews in the press and lectures by staff explaining the work of the College whilst Thomas Hardy’s endorsement of the plan shortly before his death in 1928, was well publicised. The campaign highlighted the advantages a University would bring to Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire and the Isle of Wight, “the four counties” in terms of educating young people, increasing the prosperity of the region and adding to its cultural life – all aspects of University life which might be demonstrated at an Open Day.

sketch plan of University College, Southampton
Plan showing location of Open Day 1926 activities in the main building and huts of University College, Southampton [Rare Books Univ. Coll. c LF 783.9]

So what was on offer in 1926? The programme shows that apart from some short concerts in the Music Hut (U.C.S. then being less of an ivory tower and more of a collection of wooden huts), the emphasis was on the sciences. There were demonstrations of oil, petrol and gas engines, displays of wireless receiving apparatus, not to mention exhibitions of slide rules and calculating machines. By the time of the 1929 Open Day, lectures had been added to the programme, including “Greek Art” (with lantern) by Professor Forsey, “Town Planning” by Percy Ford and “Poetry of the War” by Professor Pinto. In the Economics Room, charts and diagrams relating to housing, trade and transport were displayed, the Library exhibited its rare books, and tea was available at eight pence a head.

exhibits and demonstrations list
Programme for Open Day 1929 [Rare Books Univ. Coll. LF 783.9]

The next set of programmes begin in 1962, ten years after the University had achieved its ambition to become an independent institution, and when it was celebrating the centenary of its opening as the Hartley Institution. The following year, an Open Day was held as part of Southampton Education Week and thereafter for many years it was an annual event.

The programmes show that there was usually a central exhibition on the University, with the Departments choosing their own displays and themes. Not surprisingly the exhibition for the centenary Open Day was on “The First Hundred Years”. In subsequent years the architecture of the University was a popular theme, new buildings appearing in rapid succession on the Highfield site as Sir Basil Spence’s master plan Proposals for Development was implemented.

black and white aerial view of the west side of the campus
The west side of the campus from the programme for Open Day 1967 [Univ. Coll. LF 788.8]

Other perennial attractions were glass blowing demonstrations in Chemistry, the display of fossils in Geology, an exhibition of material from the Library’s Cope Collection on Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Civil Engineering’s working tidal model of Southampton Water, and the chance to see the latest University computer system – an ICT 1909 (designed for universities which found the ICT 1905 too expensive) in 1967. Buildings such as the Nuffield Theatre and even the boiler house were opened for inspection whilst University clubs staged displays and demonstration matches in the Sports Hall.

black and white photo of exhibition cases
Part of the Geology Museum from the programme for Open Day 1973 [Univ. Coll. LF 788.8]

The Open Days of the 1970s did not get off to a good start. Student unrest in the form of sit-ins, of the Administration Block in 1970 and the Nuffield Theatre in 1971 caused the event to be cancelled, and the 1972 Open Day had to be postponed from March to May for fear of power cuts resulting from the miners’ strike. Keen to put on a good show and improve its reputation, the University invested more in the Open Days of the early 1970s, producing glossy, illustrated programmes before worries about the costs saw the publicity scaled back and the introduction of a ten pence charge for the programme. Attractions of this period included demonstrations of the Language Laboratory, lung capacity and heart rate measurements in Physiology as well as the opportunity to beat both the breathalyser and the lie detector. Destructive tests of concrete were popular and by 1973 the computer on show was the ICL 1907 which allowed direct communication from as far away as Plymouth.

The ICL 1907 Computer in University Computing Service from the programme for Open Day 1973 [Univ. Coll. LF 788.8]

That the University was not entirely sure who was coming to Open Day is seen in a questionnaire in which suggested categories of visitor included current students, prospective students, members of staff, teachers and landladies of Southampton students. It was becoming clear that the all-purpose Open Day had run its course and with the financial difficulties of the 1980s there were moves to make it a biennial event. The last programme in the collection dates from 1993 and from the later 1990s annual Preview Days were instituted, providing a more focused introduction to courses and life at Southampton for prospective students.

three black and white photos from report on Open Day
Photos of (1) a microcomputer in the Faculty of Education, (2) demonstration of bearing stability (3) I.S.V.R. Data Analysis Centre in New Reporter 23 May 1985 [Univ. Coll. LF 787.62]

The University did not neglect the wider interest in its activities. For almost twenty years it has held a Science and Engineering Festival, coinciding with British Science Week and concluding with Science and Engineering Day, Social Science has the ESRC Festival of Social Science and this week the Arts and Humanities Festival is running. All these events would meet with the approval of earlier Open Day organisers whose focus was the University’s “continuing contribution to its hinterland” in terms of employment, links with industry and medicine, the positive contribution of students, continuing education and the many cultural and historical links.

Spotlight on collections: Sir Donald Acheson

Sir (Ernest) Donald Acheson was a physician and epidemiologist, who served as chief medical officer (CMO) from 1983 to 1991. He also played an important role in the foundation of the medical school at the University of Southampton and was the Foundation Dean.

Sir Donald Acheson [MS353 A1081/87]

He was born in September 1926 in Belfast, Northern Ireland, the younger son of Captain Malcolm King Acheson, MC, MD, and Dorothy Josephine Rennoldson. Acheson was educated at Merchiston Castle School, Edinburgh, and then studied medicine at Brasenose College, Oxford. After qualifying in 1951, he practised at Middlesex Hospital. Between 1957 and 1968, Acheson worked at the University of Oxford: as Fellow of University College, 1957-9; as Medical Tutor, Nuffield Department of Medicine, Radcliffe Infirmary from 1960; as Director of the Oxford Record Linkage Study and Unit of Clinical Epidemiology, 1962-8; and as May Reader in Medicine from 1965.

Sketch of the proposed Medical and Biological Sciences building from the South, 1960s [MS1/Phot/39/ph3228]

In 1968, he was appointed as Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Southampton and Hon. Consultant Physician, Royal South Hants Hospital, posts which he held until 1983. Acheson was the Foundation Dean of the new Medical School, University of Southampton, 1968-78. He was Director of the Medical Research Council Unit in Environmental Epidemiology, 1979-83, before his appointment as Chief Medical Officer in 1983.

Acheson has sat on a number of boards and committees, including the General Medical Council, 1984-91, the Medical Research Council, 1984-91, the Home Office Advisory Committee on Health of Prisoners from 1992. He has been President of the Association of Physicians of Great Britain and Ireland (1979) and of the British Medical Association (1996-7). For the years 1992-3, Acheson worked as a Special Representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in the former Yugoslavia and, in 1997, he was commissioned by the government, under Prime Minister Tony Blair, to chair an inquiry into inequalities in health; this led to the publication of the Acheson Report. He was awarded a KBE in 1986. He died in January 2010.

Donald Acheson’s notes for a speech on public health, 1991 [MS353 A1081/47]

The Sir Donald Acheson archive at Southampton focuses on the professional rather than the personal. Central to this is Acheson’s tenure of the post of Chief Medical Officer for which there are series of files, 1984-91. Other groups of papers include those for: Close the Gap committee, 1993-6; WHO’s European Centre for Environment and Health papers, 1994-8; relating to Yugoslavia and Acheson as WHO’s special representative in Yugoslavia, 1992-9; Chechnya, 1993-6; the Oxford Record Linkage Study, 1989-2000; and as Chairman of the Health Advisory Committee for Prisoners, 1990-9. As well as files relating to research on HIV and AIDS and BSE, there is further material on health inequalities, multiple sclerosis and nasal cancer. There are a series of Acheson’s speeches, 1984-97, and copies of publications, 1964-83.

Given Sir Donald Acheson’s role in raising the profile of public health, it perhaps is fitting that his collection is one of those archives in the UK being used to support the work of the Infected Blood Inquiry.  This independent public statutory inquiry has been established to examine the circumstances in which people treated by the National Health Service were given infected blood and infected blood products.  Lead investigator Mike Moore set out in the Inquiry newsletter the process of inquiry work in archives and their assistance in facilitating this work. The University is pleased to play its role in this process and in upholding democracy through providing documentation to support the Inquiry.