Author Archives: krspecialcollections

2018 – Year in Review

As we move in to 2019 and new endeavours, we take a moment to reflect on some of the Special Collection activities of the previous year.

Exhibitions and events

2018 saw a programme of very different exhibitions hosted by Special Collections. The first exhibition of the year in the Special Collections Gallery and Level 4 Gallery was Print and Process, 1 March to 8 June. The exhibition, which revealed and identified a broad range of print processes, included prints from the Library’s Special Collections, from the University Art Collection and from Fine Art students at the Winchester School of Art.

Print in Process exhibition

Print and Process exhibition

In late June, we held a conference on Basque child refugees together with the Basque Children 37 Association and the University’s School of Modern Languages. In conjunction with this Special Collections played host to the exhibition In Search of the Basque children: From Bilbao to Southampton by the Salford based artist Claire Hignett. Inspired by the archives of the Basque child refugees, Claire Hignett’s exhibition used the properties of domestic textiles to explore memory and the items we keep as souvenirs of our lives.

Floor game from Claire Hignett exhibition

Floor game exhibit from the Claire Hignett exhibition

The autumn exhibitions under the title The Great War Remembered formed part of the University’s Great War, Unknown War programme marking the centenary of the end of the First World War. My War, My Story in the Special Collections Exhibition Gallery drew on the Special Collections to present a range of stories from the First World War, including of the University War Hospital at the Highfield campus. We were delighted to have on loan as part of this exhibition the oil painting The Shadow of Cross of War, A Night Scene in University War Hospital, 1918 by William Lionel Wyllie. On show in the Level 4 Gallery were John Garfield: Armistice 1918 – The Cost a photographic journey through cemeteries and memorials of the Great War, and My Ancestor, Their Story which drew on family material from members of staff and students at the University.

Soldier of the Great War

In addition to the research sessions and visits for our own students – such as that mentioned in a blog by Dr Jonathan Conlin – we have an on-going series of events and visits for external visitors. These have included themed drop-in sessions on local history and nineteenth-century society and sessions showcasing British culture for Chinese teachers in June. Special Collections took part in Hands-on Humanities for the second year in a row in November 2018, running interactive events relating to handwriting and printing and creating a digital mosaic image from the items created on the day.

Writing and printing activities at Hands-on Humanities Day

Writing and printing activities at Hands-on Humanities Day

We hosted a visit by the Hampshire Archives Trust, including a talk about the history of the University War Hospital and a private view to The Great War Remembered exhibitions, on Saturday 1 December. Special Collections also ran workshops on promoting collections as part of the Southern University Libraries Network training day on Tuesday 11 December.

Social media

As well as the on-going programme for the Special Collections blog, highlights of which are mentioned below, autumn saw the move from using Facebook to the new Twitter account@hartleyspecialc Features on Twitter so far have included tweets about unusual items in the collections and a glimpse behind the scenes for the national Explore Your Archive campaign and extracts of a student account of armistice 1918.

Sample of knitted spaghetti, one of the unusual items featured on Twitter for Explore Your Archive

Sample of knitted spaghetti, one of the unusual items featured on Twitter for Explore Your Archive

The past year marked a range of anniversaries tied to the collections and blog features have included: the 35th anniversary of the arrival of the Wellington Archive at Southampton on St Patrick’s day 1983; the coronation of Queen Victoria in June 1838; the anniversary of the birth of Isaac Watts, father of English hymnology and son of Southampton; and the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the NHS. Some of the commemorative days featured have been International Women’s Day; Knit in Public Day; National Sporting Heritage Day; Dear Diary Day; Read a Book Day focusing on the dangerous art of reading for women in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; and British Polo Day.

During May we ran a series of blogs on resources relating to Ireland in Special Collections, such as the poem Farewell to Killarney. Heywood Sumner; the celebrated Hampshire naturalist Dr Canning Suffern; William Mogg, a Southampton-born sailor who was involved in Arctic exploration in the 1820s; Richard St Barbe Baker; Charlie Chaplin and, to mark the start of the World Cup, Lord Mountbatten and his association with football organisations, were some of the individuals to be the subject of blogs. The art of watercolours, cooking for court and countryside, China in the 1880s and botanical treasures of Stratfield Saye are some of the other subjects that have featured. University related blogs focused on the student societies – the Boat Club and the Scout and Guide Club – the University as a War Hospital and what the library accession registers showed about cooperation during the Second World War.

New collections

There was an increased volume of new archive material acquired by the Special Collections during the year. Of particular significance was the Honor Frost Archive, which provides a fascinating insight into the work of a pioneering figure in the field of maritime archaeology. We also were fortunate to acquire a small collection of material relating to Sir Denis Pack, one of the Duke of Wellington’s generals in the Peninsular war, and additional collections of papers of Basque child refugees.

Another significant new collection that arrived during 2018 was the Rollo Woods music collection. Rollo Woods (1925-2018) was a former Deputy Librarian at the University of Southampton, but also a leading expert on folk music who wrote several books on the subject. He was a founder member of the Madding Crowd, the Purbeck Village Quire and the West Gallery Music Association. In 2015 Rollo was awarded the gold badge of the English Folk Dance and Song Society for a lifetime of work promoting the folk arts. His collection includes manuscripts of music that he acquired and his working papers relating to his research on West Gallery Music.

Pages from a Dorset carol book, 1803: part of the Rollo Woods music collection [MS 442/1/2]

Pages from a Dorset carol book, 1803: part of the Rollo Woods music collection [MS442/1/2]

The most recent acquisition has been the papers of Gertrude Long. This collection contains a wealth of hitherto unseen images of the University War Hospital, complementing the papers of Fanny Street, another VAD who worked at the Hospital, and whose papers are another recent arrival.

Fanny Street (centre) with her fellow VADs Jennie Ford and Ethel Taylor

Fanny Street (centre) with her fellow VADs [MS416/13/4]

Looking ahead to 2019

With the imminent arrival of further acquisitions, new cataloguing projects, a programme of exhibitions – opening with The Leonardo Link: Image-Making from Anatomy to Code on 18 February 2019 – the Wellington Congress 2019 on 12-13 April and Jewish Archives Month in June, it is already looking to be an active year. 2019 is also the centenary year of the move of the University to the Highfield campus and Special Collections will be contributing to celebrations for this. Look out for the first Highfield Campus 100 blog at the end of the month.

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The Gertrude Long collection

The Special Collections is delighted to have acquired a new collection of material that sheds further light on the University as a war hospital. This follows the recent exhibition My War, My Story in the Special Collections Gallery in late 2018, that included a notebook of Gertrude Long from her time as a laboratory assistant at the Hospital.

Gertrude Long (2nd from right at back) and colleagues

Gertrude Long (2nd from right at back) and colleagues [MS101/8 A4303/1/2/2]

Gertrude Long, along with her sister, were members of the Volunteer Aid Detachments (or VADs) who provided various auxiliary as well as nursing support at the University War Hospital. Born in Campton Pauncefoot, Somerset, in 1892, Gertrude Long worked in the capacity of chief laboratory assistant at the Hospital from June 1916 until March 1919. She was to continue working in laboratories for the remainder of her career. Captain William Fletcher, RAMC, the pathologist, who is featured in the photograph above, highly rated her organisational ability and credited her with ensuring that the work at Southampton ran more smoothly than in any other laboratory in which he had worked.

Certificate granted to Gertrude Long in recognition of her services during the war [MS101/8 A4303/2/7]

Certificate granted to Gertrude Long in recognition of her services during the war [MS101/8 A4303/2/7]

The new collection, which contains numerous photographs of the staff and patients, provides a valuable new resource that documents the work at the University War Hospital during the First World War.

Work at Hospital Laboratory [MS101/8 A4303/1/3/2]

Work at Hospital Laboratory [MS101/8 A4303/1/3/2]

The University War Hospital was only a ten-minute run from the docks and designated VAD staff met each ship and were responsible for the process of disembarkation and transportation of the wounded to the hospitals in Southampton. A number of women VADs were part of the team who drove ambulances transporting the patients to the War Hospital.

VAD driver with one of the Red Cross ambulances used to transport patients [MS101/8 A4303/1/29]

VAD driver with one of the Red Cross ambulances [MS101/8 A4303/1/29]

Professional nurses employed by the Hospital were assisted by VAD nurses who did much of the less technical tasks in caring for the patients. The work was extremely hard and nursing staff generally worked shifts of up to 12 hours. The Hospital facilities could be cramped and rather spartan.

Wounded being treated at the University War Hospital [MS101/8 A4303/1/35]

Wounded being treated at the University War Hospital [MS101/8 A4303/1/35]

With the original buildings for the University College soon unable to house the quantity of wounded that were being sent for treatment, a number of wooden huts were built to the rear of the main buildings to act as wards.

Sister Paling and patients from hut 13 [MS101/8 A4303/1/28]

Sister Paling and patients from Hut 13 [MS101/8 A4303/1/28]

The wounded treated at the Hospital came from units drawn from across the UK and from overseas. The photograph below is signed from the “New Zealand rowdies, Hut 1”.

New Zealand soldiers treated at the University War Hospital [MS101/8 A4303/1/54]

New Zealand soldiers treated at the University War Hospital [MS101/8 A4303/1/54]

The cessation of hostilities in November 1918 did not mean that the Highfield site immediately stopped functioning as a hospital. The buildings were not formally handed back to the University until well into 1919, making 2019 the centenary of the move of the University to the Highfield campus. Special Collections will be posting monthly blogs documenting the development of University life at Highfield from 1919 onwards. Look out for the first of these later this month.

Letting the violin sing: the acoustics of auditoriums

Possibly one of the best known and most widely distributed musical instruments, the violin is honoured on National Violin Day held on 13 December each year. Recognised early for its singing tone, it developed in the Renaissance from earlier bowed instruments, including the medieval fiddle, the lira da braccio and the rebec.

Students at a study day at the Turner Sims Concert Hall, 1994

Students at a study day at the Turner Sims Concert Hall, 1994 [MS1/Phot/19/299]

Creating the perfect acoustics for concert halls or auditoriums, that allow the violin to sing, depends on factors such as reverberation or the avoidance of echo. The stimulus of reverberation had been recognised as far back as ancient Rome, with Horace writing of poets who recited their poems at the Roman baths: “How sweetly the enclosed space responds to the voice”. It was the American physicist Wallace Clement Sabine (1868-1919) who developed Sabine’s law, which stated that the product of the reverberation time multiplied by the total absorptivity of the room is proportional to the volume of the room. He thus created a formula that architects and engineers could use when designing a concert hall to achieve the best reverberation time for their particular venue.

Construction of Turner Sims Concert Hall [MS373 A3048/3[

Construction of Turner Sims Concert Hall [MS373 A3048/4/1]

The Turner Sims Concert Hall at the University is much valued for recording due to its fine acoustics. In 1967, Miss Margaret Grassam Sims had left the University a bequest which enabled the building of a concert hall to be named Turner Sims in honour of her father. The Concert Hall that opened in 1974, after many revisions to the project, was, according to Professor Peter Evans of Music, “a most effective and attractive auditorium for music”. The acoustics of this hall were the work of the Institute of Sound and Vibration at the University with Professor Philip Ellis Doak acting as a consultant.

The Special Collections holds a small collection of material for Professor Doak (MS373) that relates to his work as consultant on the Turner Sims Concert Hall, including questionnaires relating to tests for the reverberation times of the hall.

Questionnaire from reverberation test on Turner Sims Concert Hall [MS373 A3048/3]

Questionnaire from reverberation test at Turner Sims Concert Hall, c.1974 [MS373 A3048/3]

The Special Collections holds further archive collections relating to acoustics: (MS337) Dr Raymond Stephens and British Acoustical Society; (MS339) Peter Parkin who had a long career in an advisory role at the British Research Establishment; (MS340) the architectural theorist and acoustician (Philip) Hope Edward Bagenal (1888–1979), amongst whose important acoustic projects was the Royal Festival Hall, London; (MS341) Hugh Creighton, who acted as consultant on a range of acoustic projects in the UK, including for the Barbican Centre, London; and (MS342) Keith Rose, who was a consultant for the BBC.

So the next time that you attend a concert or a lecture in an auditorium, spare a thought to those hardworking individuals who have contributed to the perfection of the acoustics.

Donkeys, Chintzes and a Mysterious Fragment: eighteenth-century trade and politics in Special Collections

In this week’s blog Dr Jonathan Conlin discusses a group visit by undergraduate History students to the Special Collections.

From the slightly soapy feel of vellum to the sweet smell of laid paper, seventeenth- and eighteenth-century archives are a feast for all the senses, not just sight. This week eight third-year history undergraduates joined me at Special Collections for a hands-on session looking at the economic life of eighteenth-century Britain and Ireland. The visit formed part of a year-long Special Subject addressing the great economic thinker Adam Smith (1723-90). In first semester we engage in a lot of close reading of Smith, in search of tools to help us answer the big questions: what is wealth? what is happiness? how can a process of development Smith called “the progress of opulence” make us better as well as richer human beings? Smith’s world can be an alien place, however. Special Collections allows us to touch, smell and even read vestiges of the trading activities which we discuss in the seminar room, week-in, week-out.

MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR4/1/1

MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR4/1/1

Starting with grand adventures in pursuit of profit, a 1695 contract [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR4/1/1] records Henry Temple’s £100 stake in a £6,000 entreprise: a round-trip voyage to India. Worth around £14,000 today, this was a significant investment in the cargo of two ships, the Scarborough and Rebecca, who would probably have returned with spices and printed cottons. Over the following century the Industrial Revolution would see such chintzes being woven at home in Britain, on machines, rather than handlooms – a process which in turn helped bring about the “Great Divergence” in the economic fortunes of Europe and Asia. These are all big questions we return to again and again in the course. Holding the paper in your hand, however, more urgent questions spring to mind: did the ships complete their perilous journey?

MS 155 AJ144/5A/1

MS 155 AJ144/5A/1

Fifteen years on and the War of Austrian Succession has broken out, with Britain and her allies fighting France in Spain and elsewhere. For government contractors like Joseph Cortissos there was no business like war business: large fortunes were to be made supplying armies in the field with donkeys, wine, horses, bread and other goods. Given the healthy margins, competition was tough, and Cortissos (a former diplomat) would have had to pull every string in his reach to get this prize. Written in Portuguese and English, his accounts of goods provided to allied English and Portuguese armies [MS 155  AJ144/5A] are clearly working documents, as the columns of scribbled sums on the back attest. Contracting was a risky business, however, and just as controversial as it is today in warzones like Iraq (heard of Halliburton, anyone?). Cortissos’ bills were never fully paid.

Detaiil from MS 64/3/1

Detail from MS 64/3/1

A collection of papers [MS 64/3] from Portlaoise (Ireland) dating from the late 1770s shows the grubbier side of Georgian “democracy” in all its glory. The Irish parliamentary seat had been controlled by the Earls of Drogheda, but in 1776 control partly passed to the Parnell family, whose papers are at Southampton. “Management” of elections required keeping close tabs on voters. Voters had first to be created: any Freeman of the Corporation could vote, so borough patrons simply created hundreds of (hopefully!) loyal voters, men (women did not get a look in) who could be trusted to place their vote (in public – no secret ballot then) for the right candidate. Once created, voters had to be watched, as long lists of votes with worried crosses next to the names of voters considered “doubtful” demonstrate. This machine ran on patronage, outright bribery and lots and lots of beer, consumed by the barrel over the week-long poll. Political life was lively and everyone had their part to play: but was it democracy?

And so to the vellum. Tucked at the back of the file is a long thin strip of vellum with what appears to be a list of names partly discernable on it. This clearly is (or rather was) a roll; you can see the join where the sheets of vellum were stitched together. But where is the rest? Is this the electoral roll of the borough? If so, why is it here in Southampton? Someone seems to have snatched it and then attempted to shred it. Why? And, having lost most of it, why did they keep one long, narrow, twisted piece? As a relic? A prize? The most exciting finds are those which defy description.

Dr Jonathan Conlin teaches modern history at the University of Southampton. His books include a biography of Adam Smith, for Reaktion’s Critical Lives series.

 

They came from near and far to do their patriotic duty – staffing the University War Hospital

Staff at the University War Hospital [MS 1/Phot/39 ph3104]

Staff at the University War Hospital, 1918 [MS1/Phot/39 ph3104]

11 November 2018 marks the centenary of the end of the First World War. To commemorate this, we take a look at the contribution of the staff of the University War Hospital at the Highfield campus site.

Under the command of Dr Lauder, who had been the Medical Officer for Health for Southampton, the Hospital was staffed by professional nurses and members of the Volunteer Aid Detachments (known as VADs). As well as nursing, VADs also worked in a range of auxiliary capacities from driving ambulances bringing the wounded to the Hospital, to laboratory assistants, clerks, cooks, housemaids and laundresses.

With the start of the war, Southampton hospitals recruited every nurse, VAD and others who could be spared from auxiliary hospitals in the surrounding counties. But as the war progressed, the need for further staff increased.  Gwynnedd Lloyd, a friend of the daughters of Dr Lauder, was considered too young as a 17 year-old to volunteer in 1914. However, in the aftermath of the battle of the Somme, she was invited to join the VADs and to work at the University War Hospital.

The VADs lacked the training and skill of the professional nurses and tended to perform duties that were less technical. As a new VAD, Gwynnedd Lloyd noted that her duties consisted of “making beds and waiting on sister” as well as taking trolleys around and twice a day collecting rubbish. But as time went on, with the flow of the wounded into the hospitals and the demands it placed on the staff, the line between the professional and the volunteer became far less distinct, leading to recognition that the VAD and nurse differed little beyond the level of training. Gwynnedd Lloyd was assigned to assist with one of the hutted wards at the Hospital and even as a relatively untrained VAD was expected to cover shifts of around 10 hours.

Hutted ward decorated for Christmas, c.1915 [MS1/Phot/39 ph 3108]

Hutted ward decorated for Christmas, c.1915 [MS1/Phot/39 ph 3108]

The women who volunteered as VADs saw their work as a patriotic duty and a useful contribution to the war effort. Whilst some were local to Southampton, others who served as nursing staff at the University War Hospital came from all across the UK, the Channel Islands, Ireland and Canada. It is estimated that somewhere in the region of 4,500 Irish women served as VADs during the war effort, and amongst the staff of the University War Hospital were women from a number of Irish counties including Counties Kilkenny, Limerick, Longford and Tyrone. Canadian VADs were initially only employed in their homeland working in convalescent hospitals. However, as the war dragged on, it became apparent that they were needed overseas and the staff at the Hospital in 1918 included a number of nurses from New Brunswick in Canada.

Amongst the ranks of the VADs were not only nurses, but a myriad of auxiliary roles such as orderlies, stretcher bearers, clerks, cooks, housemaids and laundresses. Most of the women who served in these roles tended to be from the local area. Fanny Street and her two friends, Jennie Ford and Ethel Taylor, who feature in current Special Collections exhibition My War, My Story, were from Southampton. All three worked in the laundry of the University War Hospital for the whole duration, with Fanny Street becoming the Head Laundress by 1917.

Fanny Street (centre) with her fellow VADs Jennie Ford and Ethel Taylor

Fanny Street (centre) with her fellow VADs Jennie Ford and Ethel Taylor [MS416/13]

And we find that members of the same family all worked together at the hospital. Three members of the Trodd family from Southampton and members of the Bailey family from Eastleigh worked as maids and cooks. Annie and Hettie Needham from St. Denys were both employed as clerks. And Barbara and Gertrude Long, who lived in Freemantle, worked as a clerk and a laboratory assistant respectively. The Archives holds a notebook and three scientific reports kept by Gertrude Long during her time at the Hospital (MS101/8).

Notebook of lab assistant Gertrude Long [MS101/8]

Notebook of lab assistant Gertrude Long [MS101/8]

And so, as we come to the centenary of the end of the First World War, we remember all those who made a contribution, not least the young women who, in some cases, crossed an ocean to help staff the War Hospital here at the University.

Sir Denis Pack: a Wellington ally

As we enjoy this year’s annual Wellington Lecture today, it is fitting that we announce the acquisition of a new collection of material relating to the career of Sir Denis Pack, one of Wellington’s generals. The collection, which includes maps relating to military actions in which Pack fought, complements both the current collection of his papers held by the Division (MS296) and material within the Wellington Archive (MS61).

Sir Denis Pack [MS296 A4298]

Sir Denis Pack [MS296 A4298]

Major General Sir Denis Pack, K.C.B (d.1823) entered the army in 1791. He served in Flanders, 1794-5, Cape of Good Hope, 1806, and subsequently in South America. He fought at Roliça and Vimeiro, 1808 and Corunna, 1809. Having served on the Walcheren expedition and at the siege of Flushing in 1809, he returned to the Iberian Peninsula to serve with the Duke of Wellington. He commanded a Portuguese brigade, part of Marshal Beresford’s Portuguese forces, at Busaco in 1810 and Almeida in 1811.

Detail from map of Battle of Busaco [MS296 A4298]

Detail from map of the battle of Busaco [MS296 A4298]

Pack took part at the siege of Ciudad Rodrigo and the battles of Salamanca, Vitoria and Orthes. In 1815, he commanded a brigade of Sir Thomas Picton’s Fifth Division at the battles of Quatre Bras and of Waterloo. Pack was Lieutenant Governor of Plymouth, serving alongside Wellington as Governor, from 1819 until his death in 1823.

Pack served with distinction at the Battle of Salamanca, 22 July 1812, and was mentioned in the official despatch of the battle written by Wellington to Lord Bathurst of 24 July. He also honourably mentioned for his part in the operations against Burgos later in 1812.

Amongst the maps in the new acquisition is a hand drawn one of the battle of Salamanca, with handwritten notes, providing us with a valuable new resource to supplement and illustrate the written descriptions of this battle.

Manuscript map of the battle of Salamanca, 1812 [MS296 A4298]

Manuscript map of the battle of Salamanca, 1812 [MS296 A4298]

Cooking for court and countryside

Held in the autumn, at the same time as harvest festival, British Food Fortnight (22 September to 7 October this year) is the biggest annual, national celebration of British food and drink.

A selection of confections from The Court and Country Cook (1702)

A display of confections from The Court and Country Cook (1702)

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, France set the style of upper-class dining and employing a French cook was the height of fashion amongst aristocratic families (including by Lord and Lady Palmerston at Broadlands). François Massialot was one of the most influential French chefs of the time. His combined works were translated into English as The Court and Country Cook (Westminster Hall, 1702), a copy of which is part of the Rare Books held in Special Collections, and was an influence on subsequent cookery books published in Britain.

Recipe for "burnt cream" in The Court and Country Cook (1702)

Recipe for “burnt cream” in The Court and Country Cook (1702) Rare Books TX 707

Massialot, born in Limoges in 1660, served as chef de cuisine to the French court and aristocracy, including to Philippe I, Duc d’Orléans, the brother of Louis XIV. He described himself as “a cook who dares to qualify himself royal”, since the meals he included in his book “have all been served at court or in the houses of princes, and of people of the first rank.” Massialot’s book contained the first alphabetical listing of recipes. He also is credited for crême brulée, or “burnt cream” as it is referred in the English translation of his book.

William Ellis A Country Housewife's Family Companion (London 1750)

William Ellis A Country Housewife’s Family Companion (London 1750) Rare Books Perkins TX 151

As the eighteenth century progressed,  the growth of the middle classes led to a proliferation of manuals written in plain and accessible English on the art of plain cooking aimed at newly literature social groups, in particular servants and women. William Ellis’s A Country Housewife’s Family Companion (London, 1750) is one such example of this move from courtly to country cooking.  While it might be described as more a manual of country living than a cookery book, it provides much information on the product of English country kitchens. The British love of pudding is well provided for in the book with recipes for both sweet and savoury varieties, including such things as apple or rice as well as black and white “hogs” puddings.

We wish you an enjoyable British Food Fortnight, whatever you might be inspired to make or bake.

In the kitchen: illustration from The Girl's Own Indoor Book

Illustration from The Girl’s Own Indoor Book

The dangerous act of reading

6 September is Read a Book day.

The image of women as readers became common in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as literacy rates improved and women began to take part in the literary market. With this, however, came the idea of the danger of reading both in terms of appropriate reading matter and reading as an activity.

Illustration from The Lady's Monthly Museum vol. 8 (1802)

Women reading together from The Lady’s Monthly Museum vol. 8 (1802)

What was permissible for women to read was a matter of intense debate. Indeed, anything might be considered inappropriate since all books could be read subversively. Why books might be inappropriate was based on a range of arguments: that they might corrupt women’s minds and diminish them as women or that women might be unable to cope with emotionally provocative material. The case was also made that reading distracted women from their domestic duties as they learned about the world outside the home: a good and ideal woman should resist the pleasures of reading and take care of her husband and home.

Philosophy and metaphysics were subjects that women were most actively told to avoid, although it was the novel, which was written and read by women in increasing numbers in the late eighteenth and nineteenth century, that caused the most cultural anxiety. As soon as novels came to represent a significant share of the literary market, they became the subject of opposition. One accusation was that they created expectations which could not be fulfilled in life.

How women read books also became a matter of concern. Silent reading was considered dangerous and solitary reading self-indulgent and potentially rebellious. Reading aloud to others was encouraged as a defence against the “seductive” dangers of sentimental novels.

Solitary reading [MS 242 A800]

Solitary reading [MS 242 A800]

Mary Mee was the second wife of the second Viscount Palmerston and mother of the future British Prime Minister, Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston. Described as a lively and charming women and elegant society hostess, she shared with her husband an interest in literary enquiry. The catalogue of books in the Book-room at Broadlands during Lady Palmerston’s time shows the range of material available for her to read, included were not just the works from the Classics, but relating to history and travel, poetry, literature and a range of novels, together with many works in French arrayed along the South End.

Catalogue of the Book-room at Broadlands, 1791 [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR101/26]

Catalogue of the books in the Book-room at Broadlands [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR101/26]

What Lady Palmerston read, which included of history, travel writing and poetry — types of works considered acceptable reading for women — can be seen from her own poetry (“To a lady with Plutach’s works” being one example) and by references in her correspondence.

“I am now going to read Memoires du Comte Joseph Puisaye and when finished attack Barrow’s second volume [relating to his travels in Africa]. Fine time to improve one’s mind.  You will have at last one of the deepest read mother’s that son ever could boast of,” she noted in a letter to her son Henry, 28 May 1804 [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR21/10/28]

And in another letter to Henry, 9 July 1804, she discussed  the multi-volume set of the correspondence of Samuel Richardson published that year: “They are sad .. But interesting to me having … heard so much of most of the characters who are friends and correspondents … and much [is] said of my poor aunt and uncle Godeshall. I wish they had been published in their live, it would have amazed and gratified them.” [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR21/10/42]

Aside from Richardson, the success of whose novel Pamela might be said to mark the start in the growth of novels within the literary market, Broadlands held novels by a number of women authors, including Charlotte Lennox’s The Female Quixote (1752), Frances Sheridan’s Memoirs of Miss Sidney Bidulph (1761), Frances Burney’s Evelina (1778) and Cecilia (1782), Charlotte Turner Smith’s Emmeline (1788), Ethelinde (1789) and Montalbert (1795) and Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho (1796). In Frances Burney was a writer who could produce the comic and satirical energies of Smollett or Henry Fielding. Charlotte Turner Smith has been credited with influencing Jane Austen and particularly Charles Dickens. Sheridan’s novel was one of the most popular of the period and focused on the story of a female rake. Yet while it challenged female characterisation and explored the possibility of free choice, the heroine was ultimately to have her freedom quashed.

If Lady Palmerston was to see the idea of free choice for women thwarted in novels, she maintained her own choices in her own life. Writing to her husband on 13 May 1792, after reading a copy of Mary Wollstonecroft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792) she noted “I have been reading the Rights of Women so you must in future expect me to be very tenacious of my rights and priviledges.” [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR11/18/5]

Listing of novels, including Joseph Andrews at north end of Book-room [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR101/26]

Listing of novels, including Joseph Andrews at north end of Book-room [MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR101/26]

Amongst the array of the works of male novelists available at Broadlands were those of Tobias Smollett, Daniel Defoe, Laurence Sterne and Henry Fielding. Writing to her friend Emma Godfrey, 14 February 1803, Lady Palmerston extolled the merits of Fielding’s Joseph Andrews:

“I believe you have read a new work called Joseph Andrews. It certainly has not many equals. Surely no writer possessed a clearer knowledge at the human heart, of characters or their various casts, and so uncommon a share of wit and humour so ingeniously brought forward as Fielding, that the reader thinks [he] has some penetration in discerning it, for the author appears to assume no merit for the possession of his talents. His introductory chapters, his reflections are perfect of their kind and I hope if any time has passed since you made Mr Joseph Andrews’s acquaintance that you will immediately renew it.”

[MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR18/5/5/115-18]

And on this Read a Book day we hope that you will be similarly inspired to renew the acquaintance with a book that you have enjoyed reading.

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.

The notable art of watercolours

Redhill, August 1876 by Sissy Waley [MS 363 A3006/3/5/4 page 37 1]

Redhill, August 1876, by Julia Matilda Cohen [MS 363 A3006/3/5/4 page 37 number 1]

For any young woman to consider herself accomplished, according to the snobbish Caroline Bingley in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, she required the following skills:

“…a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages….; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions…”

Such accomplishments marked out women as belonging to a certain class and were part of what made them marriageable. Drawing and embroidery were part of a conventional education for young women in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and manuals such as Bowles’s Drawing Book for Ladies were produced to provide images for copying.  It has been suggested by some critics that encouraging women to copy from already-existing works of art was a way of constraining originality, thus ensuring that women artists remained amateurs rather than professionals.

Watercolour of view in the garden at Northcourt, 18-- [MS 80 A276/5]

View in the garden at Northcourt, 18–, by Lady Gordon [MS 80 A276/17/5]

As July is World Watercolour Month, we look at some examples of watercolours produced by women held within Special Collections.

Watercolour of garden just made at Northcourt, 1843 [MS 80 A276/17/3]

Garden at Northcourt, 1843 [MS 80 A276/17/3]

The Gordon family collection (MS 80) contains some fine examples of watercolours of the family home and garden, Northcote on the Isle of Wight. These are the work of Julia Isabella Louisa Bennett, Lady Gordon (1775-1867) and possibly also by her daughter Julia Gordon. Lady Gordon was an accomplished artist, remembered as one of J.M.W.Turner’s few known pupils, who also studied with David Cox and took lessons from Thomas Girtin. Other examples of her work are held at the Tate in London and in National Trust collections.

Pride of India, Cape Province, 1932, by Charlotte Chamberlain [MS 100/1/3]

Pride of India, Cape Province, 1932, by Charlotte Chamberlain [MS 100/1/3]

Charlotte Chamberlain was a member of the Chamberlain family of Birmingham, one of seven daughters of the industrialist Arthur Chamberlain. She was a graduate of Newham College, Cambridge, and of the University of Birmingham, the foundation of which her uncle, the politician Joseph Chamberlain, had played a leading role. On the death of their father in 1913, Charlotte and her sister Mary moved to the New Forest and they both became closely involved with the development of and notable benefactors of what was later to become the University of Southampton.

Red gum, Cape Province, 1932 [MS100/1/3]

Red gum, Cape Province, 1932, by Mary Chamberlain [MS100/1/3]

A member of one of the prominent Anglo-Jewish families, Julia Matilda Cohen née Waley (1853-1917) married Nathaniel Louis Cohen in 1873 when she was 20 years of age. The Waley Cohen collection (MS 363) includes Julia’s sketchbooks for the period 1874-81 and 1895.

From Beddgelert [MS363 A3006/3/5/4 page 37 number 2]

View from Beddgelert, June 1875, by Julia Matilda Cohen [MS363 A3006/3/5/4 page 37 number 2]

The earlier sketchbook was an album given to her as a repository for her sketches by her Aunt (Elizabeth) and Uncle (Jacob Quixano Henriques) in September 1874 to mark her reaching her majority. It contains sketches of places she visited around Britain and Europe including: Perthshire, Scotland; Windsor Castle, Chichester and Bournemouth, England; North Wales; and Simplon, The Tyrol, Domodossola, Venice, Verona and Lake Como, Italy.

View from Cricceth Castle, 1878, by Julia Cohen [MS 363 A3006/3/5/4 page 45 number 2]

View from Cricceth Castle, 1878, by Julia Matilda Cohen [MS 363 A3006/3/5/4 page 45 number 2]