Monthly Archives: August 2018

American Adventures Month: The Mountbattens’s honeymoon tour of the USA

This month is American Adventures Month, and to mark this occasion, we take a look at the Mountbattens’s honeymoon trip to the USA.

Edwina and Louis Mountbatten at the World Series Yankees versus Giants baseball game with player Bate Ruth [MS 62 MB2/L1/33]

Edwina and Louis Mountbatten at the World Series Yankees versus Giants baseball game with professional player George Herman “Babe” Ruth [MB2/L1/33]

After marrying on 18 December 1922, the Mountbattens spent the first nights of their honeymoon at Broadlands. They then travelled to Paris, Spain, and Germany, before boarding the Passenger Ship, the RMS Majestic, for the United States of America.

The RMS Majestic [MS 62 MB2/L1/30]

The RMS Majestic [MB2/L1/30]

Beginning with New York, the Mountbattens attended baseball games and the Ziegfeld Follies theatre productions. They were hosted by American composer, Jerome Kern, and American actor, screenwriter, and producer, Douglas Fairbanks.

Keen to see everything, the Mountbatten’s sightseeing tour was to include (following New York): Washington and Chicago; Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon and Hollywood; Florida; and the Far West. The aspiring tour was to be arranged for them by Colonel Robert M. Thompson, President of the Consolidated Arizona Smelting Company, who was a friend of Aunt Victoria’s.

Louis and Edwina Mountbatten with Freddie Neilson at the Grand Canyon [MS 62 MB2/L1/90]

Louis and Edwina Mountbatten with Freddie Neilson at the Grand Canyon [MB2/L1/90]

Following a trip to the Grand Canyon, the Mountbattens were taken to Hollywood, where they visited Paramount Studios. Here, Cecil B. de Mille showed them the sets for his new film.

Edwina Mountbatten with Cecil B. de Mille and Louis Mountbatten at Paramount Studios, Hollywood [MS 62 MB2/L1/134]

Edwina Mountbatten with Cecil B. de Mille and Louis Mountbatten at Paramount Studios, Hollywood [MB2/L1/134]

As well as having access to a private railway carriage, the Boston, Colonel Thompson also had a House Boat, which was used to give the Mountbattens a grand tour of Florida across the Atlantic.

A day’s catch on Colonel Thompson’s house boat trip across the Atlantic, Florida [MS 62 MB2/L1/203]

A day’s catch on Colonel Thompson’s house boat trip across the Atlantic, Florida [MB2/L1/203]

After visiting the Far West, the Mountbattens made their way back to New York and returned to England on 9 December 1922.

To find more about the Mountbatten papers, please click on the following link:

https://www.southampton.ac.uk/archives/cataloguedatabases/mb/index.page

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The abolition of the slave trade remembered

Thursday 23rd August is the UN’s International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition.

The University of Southampton’s Special Collections is home to many printed sources on slavery and the battle for its abolition. The Oates Collection contains over 220 books and pamphlets on the West Indies and the abolition of slavery, dating from the 18th and 19th centuries. While the Wellington Pamphlets cover a broader range of topics, the pamphlets on the abolition of slavery in the British West Indies complement those held in the Oates Collection.

The slave trade was formally outlawed within the British Empire by the Slave Trade Act 1807; meaning the buying or selling of slaves was no longer legally permissible, but the continued ownership of slaves, sometimes called ‘the institution of slavery’ remained legal in the British Empire for some years afterwards. The prospect of its total abolition energized debate across the country in the early nineteenth century including here in Southampton, as shown below by this handbill dated 1824 taken from our Cope Collection. The author complains that a meeting held in Southampton to discuss prospects for improving the conditions of slaves in the West Indies was disrupted by a group hostile to any notion of abolition:

…a gentleman present declared to the meeting… that the wretched “Slaves in the West Indies are in a far better condition than many of the lower orders of people in this country!” … such a declaration – so degrading to humanity – so humiliating to Englishmen – was hailed by a number of persons with loud acclamation… I will not condescend to argue the question as I might on the ground of comparative feeding, and clothing, and lodging, and medical attendance. Are these the only claims – are these the chief privileges of a rational and immortal being? Is the consciousness of personal independence nothing?

Handbill to the inhabitants of Southampton, 1824 [ff Cope handbills vol. 2 item 77]

Handbill to the inhabitants of Southampton, 1824 [ff Cope handbills vol. 2 item 77]

The argument that slaves in the West Indies enjoyed better standards of living than some of the poorer peasantry of Britain was attacked by the author of this locally produced handbill as well as the influential abolitionist Thomas Clarkson in his pamphlet on The argument that the colonial slaves are better off than the British peasantry: answered from the Royal Jamaica Gazette of June 21, 1823 (R. Kirby, Whitby, 1824) a copy of which is held in the Oates Collection and has been made available digitally on the Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/oates71082042. Clarkson’s pamphlet examines the contents of an edition of the Royal Jamaica Gazette with details of escaped West Indian slaves.

Thomas Clarkson

Thomas Clarkson The argument that the colonial slaves are better off than the British peasantry: answered from the Royal Jamaica Gazette of June 21, 1823 (R. Kirby, Whitby, printed for the Whitby Anti-Slavery Society, 1824) [Rare Books HR 1091]

Clarkson demolishes the argument on the comparative condition of slaves and the British labouring poor, noting that the British peasantry are not treated like cattle and branded multiple times with the initials of their masters; they are not made to wear chains or routinely flogged and separated from their loved ones with ‘the tenderest ties of nature forcefully broken asunder’; nor are they routinely locked up in jail for fleeing from their masters. Clarkson asks his readers to contemplate why, if the living-conditions of West Indian slaves were so comfortable, would so many attempt escape in the first instance? Clarkson argues that, even if we accept the spurious arguments of comparative material well-being, liberty ‘constitutes the best part of a man’s happiness’ and he asks us to consider the following scenario:

Tell a man, that he shall be richly clothed, delightfully lodged, and luxuriously fed; but that, in exchange for all this, he must be the absolute property of another; that he must no longer have a will of his own; that to identify him as property, he may have to undergo the painful and degrading operation of being branded on the flesh with a hot iron… and do you think that he would hesitate one moment as to the choice to make? [p. 16]

When the argument defending slavery on the basis of comparative material well-being began to falter, subsequent to scrutiny from Clarkson and others, those who stood to lose out financially were it to be abolished often fell back upon outright racism to justify the practice, as evidenced by the following letter discussing the preservation of slavery in Jamaica, written on 5 March 1830 to the first Duke of Wellington: details of which also can be found on-line through the Wellington Papers database: http://www.archives.soton.ac.uk/wellington/

WP1/1100/2

Letter from J.Neilson to Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington, discussing the preservation of slavery in Jamaica, 5 March 1830 [MS 61 Wellington Papers 1/1100/2]

Dire economic consequences were also threatened should slavery be abolished, but the moral outrage of the practice could not be endured by the British public indefinitely and in 1833 the Slavery Abolition Act was passed, which came into force the following year. This law prohibited slavery in the British Empire but exemptions were made for certain territories, including those administered by the East India Company where slavery continued for a further ten years until 1843. Furthermore, slaves who were ‘freed’ from 1834 were not immediately emancipated but were made to continue working as unpaid ‘apprentices’ until 1838. The British government took out a loan in order to compensate slave owners; the terms of which were finalised in 1835 and were equivalent to 5% of the nation’s GDP. The last instalment of this loan was paid in 2015.

Accessions Registers reveal library wartime cooperation

The news that the University Library is contributing to the programme to help restock the ransacked Library of the University of Mosul confirms the longstanding tradition of cooperation amongst libraries in times of crisis. By coincidence, an earlier example of this recently came to light in the Library’s accessions registers, where amongst the usual entries of ‘lost’ and ‘withdrawn’ some notes were found which recorded the transfer of books to other libraries. In this case the libraries were Plymouth Public Library and Birkbeck College Library and the dates were 1941 and 1942.

Extract from Library Accession Register

It is clear from this, that in addition to the many other ways in which University College, Southampton supported the war effort, it also played its part in helping to restock libraries devastated by enemy action during the Second World War. Plymouth Public Library had been destroyed in March 1941 with the loss of over 72,000 books and Birkbeck Library had suffered a direct hit. With many other libraries suffering the same fate, appeals were made for books to restock those most severely damaged.

The notes in the accessions registers suggest that transferring the books was also advantageous to the Library, enabling it to remove duplicates and free up space – sufficient space being the often unachievable ambition of most librarians. Library Annual Reports confirm that an overhaul of stock had begun in 1940/41 and in response to an appeal from the Universities Bureau of the British Empire, a list of 400 duplicates had already been offered to University College, London, which had lost 100,000 books as a result of fire and water damage following air raids.

The Annual Reports also record the involvement of Library staff in another wartime initiative, the National Book Recovery Appeal which began in 1943. The Appeal had developed from concerns that important books and documents might be destroyed as a result of the Ministry of Supply’s paper salvage campaign which was designed to alleviate the paper shortage caused by the cessation of imports. A Central Committee of Scrutiny was set up to oversee the process and local committees were established to run the ‘Book Drives’. Miss M.I. Henderson, the Librarian of University College, Southampton was appointed as one of the members of Southampton’s Scrutiny Committee and also assisted the New Forest’s Salvage Committee.

National Book Salvage Campaign. Books being examined by Miss H.M. Swift, Mr H.W. Belmore and Miss M. I. Henderson, February 1943.

Southampton’s first Book Drive ran from 6th-20th February 1943, with others being held in Winchester, Basingstoke, Portsmouth and Fareham. Book collection points were established in schools and shops with a central depot at Albion Hall, St Mary’s Street. Books brought in were to be sorted into those suitable for restocking devastated libraries, books for H.M. Forces and those which could be pulped without any loss to scholarship and society. Southampton’s Book Drive yielded over 160,000 books, which took about three weeks to sort. Of these, 3,188 were sent to the Inter-Allied Book Centre for restocking libraries, 16,581 were sent to H.M. Forces, for both recreation and instruction and 141,731 were pulped.

Detail of engraved title page of: John Britton The History and Antiquities of the See and Cathedral Church of Winchester (1817) Rare Books Cope q WIN 26

As an incentive to libraries to get involved in Book Drives, up to 5% of the total number of books collected could be retained locally and the accessions registers reveal that a number of books did make their way into the University Library’s collections. Amongst these was an 1817 edition of John Britton’s The History and Antiquities of the See and Cathedral Church of Winchester, which was added to the Cope Collection, as was C.R. Acton’s Sport and Sportsmen of the New Forest, which still bears a bookplate recording its presentation by Lyndhurst Salvage Committee in August 1943.

From: C.R. Acton Sport and Sportsmen of the New Forest (1936) Cope 97.794

 

 

The 1918 Education Act and Herbert A.L. Fisher

This week we mark the 100th anniversary of the Education Act (1918) by looking at material we hold relating to education in our Cope Collection. Often known as the Fisher Act, because it was drawn up by Herbert Fisher, it raised the school leaving age to fourteen and included the provision of additional services such as medical inspection, nursery schools and centres for pupils with special needs. It applied to England and Wales (there was a separate act for Scotland).

Photograph from the George Grantham Bain collection at the Library of Congress.

Herbert A.L.Fisher (1865-1940) was an English historian, educator, and Liberal politician. He was educated at Winchester College and became a tutor in modern history at the University of Oxford.  In his autobiography, he recalls his own school days with great fondness:

I enjoyed every moment of my life at Winchester; the work, the games, the society of my fellows and of the masters, and the compelling beauty of the old buildings, of the College Meads, and of the sweet water-meadows…

[H.A.L.Fisher, An Unfinished Autobiography, Oxford: 1940]

In 1916, Fisher was asked by David Lloyd George to join the coalition government as President of the Board of Education because “the country would take more educational reform from an educationalist than from a politician.”  Lloyd George assured Fisher that money would be available for reform and that he would have his full support.   Fisher describes how despite a largely conservative cabinet, the Prime Minister’s support ensured the acceptance of every plan.

In 1917 he submitted a memorandum to the Cabinet, detailing the deficiencies in public education and the appropriate remedies.  His maiden speech in the House of Commons introduced a new scheme of educational finance.  That same year he also obtained a second reading for an Education Bill that would curtail industrial labour and give local authorities the ability to promote education from nursery schools upwards.  It became apparent that his proposals were too drastic: there was concern on the part of local authorities who would have to administer the act plus from employers would be losing adolescent labourers.  However, in 1918 the Education Act was passed.  That same year, it was supplemented by the Teachers’ Superannuation Act which provided a pension for all teachers.

The University’s Cope Collection contains Proceedings of Education Committee from 1918 onwards for the administrative county of Southampton.  The minutes record how. in November 1918, several farmers in Overton and Micheldever Districts appealed for the release of children from school for potato digging.

One aspect of the Education Act was the provision of medical inspection and the Library also holds contemporaneous medical reports of the School Medical Officer.  One dating from 1922 states that medical inspection of school children had been in existence in Hampshire for 14 years: the County must have been ahead of the times in this regard.  What was not so advanced is the language used to describe those children we would today consider to have special needs.

The report describes how two groups of children were assessed: “entrants” aged 5 and “leavers” aged around 12 or 13.  There used to be a third assessment of an intermediate group, ages 8 or 9, but this had to be stopped due to lack of staff time: some things never change. During the year, 3,456 children were discovered to have “verminous heads”: any carer of a school-age child will tell you that head lice are still a big problem today.  It should be remembered that this report pre-dates the founding of the National Health Service.

Fisher’s Act had a significant impact on a whole general of children: education provision in the country was not significantly changed for another 26 years until the Butler Act of 1944.

“Be prepared”: Scouting in Special Collections

To mark World Scout Scarf day, we take a look at our material relating to Scouting in Special Collections.

Boy Scout troop at Hartley Witney, Hampshire, c.1910s-1930s [MS 6/16]

Boy Scout troop at Hartley Wintney, Hampshire, c.1910s-1930s [MS 6/16]

Scouting was born from Robert Baden-Powell, who was notable for his defence of the small South African town of Mafeking during the Boer War. A soldier and free-thinker, Baden-Powell wanted to give young people the opportunity to use the same initiative men were required to use during warfare. He had already written a handbook for soldiers, and was encouraged by his friends to rewrite this as part of his planned training programme for young people in Britain. The book was called Aids to Scouting.

Wishing to trial out this training programme, Baden-Powell organised a camp on Brownsea Island in Poole, Dorset, for 20 boys from different backgrounds. Following the success of the camp, he wrote the book Scouting for Boys, which was published in 1908. The book was released for 4d a copy in six fortnightly parts. The publication became the handbook of what was to become the Scouting Movement, which King Edward VII approved. This acceptance also led to the formation of the King’s Scout Award.

The Movement soon grew, with almost 108,000 participants recorded in in its first census in 1910, and over 100,000 being young people. In 1916 Wolf Cub groups were formed for younger Scouts, and in 1920 Rover Scouts for older Scouting members.

Scouting grew not only nationally, but also internationally. The first World Scout Jamboree was formed in 1920, and was held at London’s Olympia. Scouts from across the world came together to celebrate international unison and the growth of their Movement. Lord Baden-Powell died in 1941 but his legacy lived on. Scouting became a metaphor for adventure, usefulness and global friendship.

Our collections relating to scouting include a scrapbook containing photographs, newspaper cuttings, and programmes of Boy Scout activities at Hartley Wintney, Hampshire dating from 1913-31; and the Southampton Scout and Guide Organisation (SSAGO) archive.

Letter from Chief Scout Sir Charles Maclean to the University of Southampton Scout Club, 9 December 1964 [MS 310/59 A4018 2/1]

Letter from Chief Scout Sir Charles Maclean to the University of Southampton Scout Club, 9 December 1964 [MS 310/59 A4018 2/1]

Scouting and Guiding began to occur in universities as early as 1915, with the first units occurring at Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester, and London. In 1947, the Varsity clubs gathered at Beaudesert, Staffordshire, for a camp, which began the concept of rallies. Up until 1969, rallies were organised in the way of taking place over 7-10 days, with an AGM.

The first logbook for Southampton Scout and Guide Organisation dates from 1961, with entries covering activities such as freshers’ coffee evenings to attract new members, night hikes, and inter-varsity rallies in various cities across the country.

University of Southampton Scout and Guide Club logbook, 1961 [MS 310/59 A4018 2/1]

University of Southampton Scout and Guide Club logbook, 1961 [MS 310/59 A4018 2/1]

The log books also contain other records, such as dinner menus and souvenir programmes for key events, such as visits of the Chief Scout.

Hampshire County Scout Council souvenir programme to mark the visit of the chief scout, 1964 [MS 310/59 A4018 2/1]

Hampshire County Scout Council souvenir programme to mark the visit of the Chief Scout, 1964 [MS 310/59 A4018 2/1]

Along with camping, night hikes, and national rallies, SSAGO have also taken part in the university’s RAG week. In 1964, the Club decided to build an elephant float.

“ A couple of weeks before Rag, devious goings on were observed at the Rangers’ hut in Broadlands Road, and a metal structure weighing half a ton was seen to be constructed…We didn’t win a prize, but everyone (even those who got a blast from Nellie’s trunk) enjoyed themselves”. [MS 310/59 A4018 2/1]

Nelly the Elephant - RAG

Nellie the elephant SSAGO float at RAG week, November 1964 [MS 310/59 A4018 2/1]

Other SSAGO activities have involved horse riding and swimming; and visiting local authorities and organisations such as the Ordnance Survey, the Southern Daily Echo newspaper offices, and Southampton Police Headquarters.

“We were met by an officer with lots of shiny buttons, who I believe was an inspector, and he was to show us the various departments. After a general introduction, we started our tour with a call at the Information Room, which we were told is the ‘nerve centre’ of all the activities, and immediately scenes from “Z-Cars” sprung to mind.” [MS 310/59 A4018 2/2]

The SSAGO archive continues to grow with two logbooks recently added to the collection, dating 2010-2015, and 2016-2017.

SSAGO logbooks 2010-2015 and 2016-2017 recently added to MS310/59

SSAGO logbooks 2010-2015 and 2016-2017 [MS310/59]

For further information on SSAGO go to:

https://southampton.ssago.org/

https://www.susu.org/groups/ssago