Category Archives: Printed Collections

Jane Austen’s Southampton

Jane Austen’s association with Southampton is often overlooked — it does not provide as picturesque a backdrop to her life as Bath or Winchester, nor is it a setting for any of her novels. Nevertheless, Southampton was briefly her home as a schoolgirl and again from October 1806 until early 1809. Although much of the town that she knew no longer exists, glimpses of it can be seen in many of the Cope Collection’s older prints and in contemporary publications such as The Southampton Guide (1806).

It was after the death of Rev. George Austen, that Jane, her mother, her sister Cassandra, and friend Martha Lloyd, moved to Southampton to set up home with her brother Frank and his wife. At first they lived in lodgings, but in March 1807 moved to 2 Castle Square, a house rented by Frank from the Marquis of Lansdowne, the owner of the mock gothic castle nearby.

Tobias Young A near view of Southampton in 1819; taken from the banks of the canal near the tunnel (1819) in Cope, Sir W.H. Views in Hampshire, v.4: illus. 116 [Rare Books Cope ff 91.5]. Castle Square is thought to be the large house with tall chimneys in front of the castle.

Tobias Young ‘A near view of Southampton in 1819; taken from the banks of the canal near the tunnel’ (1819) in Cope, Sir W.H. Views in Hampshire, v.4: illus. 116 [Rare Books Cope ff 91.5]. Castle Square is thought to be the large house with tall chimneys in front of the castle.

Jane described preparations for the move in letters written to Cassandra, who was visiting their brother in Kent. She appeared especially pleased with the garden, in which the town wall formed a terrace overlooking the river. Her remark that “We hear that we are envied our House by many people and that the Garden is the best in the town” is confirmed in the contemporary guidebook by Sir Henry Englefield, who described the view from the gardens in Castle Square as “commanding an enchanting view of the bay, from the town to the village of Millbrook, and the river beyond it quite to Redbridge”.

T.H. Skelton All Saints Church (Southampton, 1811) [Rare Books Cope c SOU 26 pr.832]

T.H. Skelton ‘All Saints Church’ (Southampton, 1811) [Rare Books Cope c SOU 26 pr.832]

Something of the life led by the Austen family in Southampton can be seen in later letters to Cassandra. They attended All Saints Church, the comparatively new church at the corner of the High Street and East Street, visited the market near the Audit House and no doubt the pastry-cook Mr Webb, whose house was badly damaged by a fire which Jane Austen witnessed. Dealings with silk dyers were mentioned, spruce beer was brewed and books read each evening, much time was also spent receiving and paying calls.

Southampton in 1806 in The Southampton Atlas (Southampton, 1907) [Cope ff SOU 90.5]

Southampton in 1806 in The Southampton Atlas (Southampton, 1907) [Cope ff SOU 90.5]

The streets of Southampton must have become very familiar to Jane Austen. A “regular walk” took in Bellevue, the large house towards the northern end of London Road and the Austens also enjoyed the pleasant walk through the suburb of Above Bar to the Polygon. A certain amount of stamina was needed to visit the Lances of Chessel House, Bitterne, which involved walking to the ferry to cross the Itchen, continuing to the house which was in the vicinity of Chessel Avenue and returning home via the new Northam Bridge. After such a walk in Dec 1808, Jane described herself and Martha Lloyd as “scarcely at all fatigued”.

T. Younge A view of the New Bridge at Northam (c.1797) [Rare Book Cope c SOU 43 pr.845]

T. Younge ‘A view of the New Bridge at Northam’ (c.1797) [Rare Book Cope c SOU 43 pr.845]

There were occasional visits to the theatre, apparently not well thought of – “Martha ought to see the inside of the Theatre once while she lives in Southampton & I think she will hardly wish to take a second view” and also to the Ball. Only attendances at those held at the Dolphin during the winter months are recorded, Jane attending one in December 1808 and also the Queen’s Birthday Assembly Ball in January 1809.

The Southampton Guide (Southampton, 1806) [Rare Books Cope SOU 03.5 1806]

The Southampton Guide (Southampton, 1806) [Rare Books Cope SOU 03.5 1806]

The Austens hosted a number of family visits during their years in Southampton. A visit in September 1807 by Edward Austen Knight, his wife Elizabeth and children William and Fanny was recorded by Fanny, then aged fourteen. On Sunday, after going to Church there was a walk to the Polygon, Monday included a visit to the theatre and Tuesday brought a boat trip to Hythe. On Wednesday everyone except Mrs Austen senior took a boat to Netley Abbey and according to Fanny, they ate some biscuits which they had taken, and returned quite delighted. Later the same day she and her Aunt Jane walked in the High Street till late. On the final day, all except Aunt Jane went on a drive through the New Forest to Lyndhurst and Lymington.

John Hassell Netley Abbey (London, 1807) [Rare Books Cope c NET 26 pr.669]

John Hassell ‘Netley Abbey’ (London, 1807) [Rare Books Cope c NET 26 pr.669]

Jane Austen’s letters record little of her views on Southampton itself, but some of the residents did not escape her judgement. Of Mrs Lance of Chessel House she wrote, “they live in a handsome style and are rich, and she seemed to like to be rich”, of a Mrs Bertie, “Mrs Bertie lives in the Polygon, & was out when we returned her visit – which are her two virtues” and of the Marchioness of Lansdowne and Mr Husket, the painter employed by the Marquis, “I suppose when the Walls want no touching up, he is employed about My Lady’s face”.

In recent years, Jane Austen has been reclaimed as a famous former resident of Southampton, there is now a Jane Austen Heritage Trail and her remark on the “stinking fish of Southampton” has not only been forgiven but also adopted as the name of the festival with which the City is marking the 200th anniversary of her death.

Bibliography

Austen, Jane Jane Austen’s Letters ed. Deidre Le Faye 4th ed. (Oxford, 2011)

Englefield, Henry A Walk through Southampton 2nd ed. (Southampton, 1805)

Le Faye, Deidre A Chronology of Jane Austen and her Family (Cambridge, 2006)

Preserving and conserving illustrations from the Printed Collections

In this week’s blog post Archives Assistant Emily Rawlings details her recent work rehousing illustrations from the Printed Collections.

As well as several hundred manuscript collections, and over 10,000 rare books, the Archives at Southampton is home to numerous prints of engravings, lithographs, etchings and woodcut illustrations from the 18th and 19th centuries. There are two collections of these: the Cope illustrations were part of the original bequest from William Cope (http://library.soton.ac.uk/cope) and provide an important visual record of the history of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. The Main Library sequence of illustrations was acquired by the Library of the Hartley Institution in the late 19th century, and covers a wide range of subjects, including portraits, landmarks, wildlife and interpretations of Biblical scenes.

The illustrations were originally housed as loose sheets in plan chests, for anyone to consult in the Special Collections Open Access reading room. This arrangement resulted in mechanical damage from poor handling as drawers were rifled through, so the decision was made to move them to the environmentally-controlled archives strongroom in the early 1990s.

Original folders stored on archives shelving

Original folders stored on archives shelving

Once moved into the secure accommodation the illustrations were assessed for preservation needs. The resulting treatment involved surface cleaning and rehousing in inert polyester wallets to protect them from further damage during handling. The original long-term proposal was to mount all the illustrations and store them in bespoke boxes. In the short-term, watercolour collections which had previously been separated by subject were reunited as collections, conserved, mounted and boxed; photographs were also removed and the prints and drawings were stored in their original folders flat on archive shelving. As an interim measure this was not successful as the folders were not rigid enough to adequately hold the slippery polyester sleeves, items that were larger than the folders were vulnerable to damage, and the folders were too large and unwieldy to move securely.

The folders provided inadequate protection for larger items

The folders provided inadequate protection for larger items

Over time individual illustrations were conserved and mounted, often for exhibition, but the plan to mount all the illustrations proved too costly in both time and materials. It was decided instead to re-house the collections in acid-free archival print boxes. These provide rigid enclosures for the prints and are lightweight to enable easy handling, as well as being easier to label and identify than the large, flat folders. Two sizes were chosen to represent the variety of supports, meaning that each collection of illustrations could be divided into two sequences according to the size of the individual prints and therefore held more securely, with less risk of damage to the smaller prints from slipping about in boxes that were too big.

Just like library books, the illustrations are classified according to subject, and they are stored in classmark order with a corresponding manual index. Re-housing the illustrations involved creating a running print-number sequence of illustrations in order of classmark, dividing up the prints into two sequences according to size, placing the prints into boxes in classmark order, and giving each box a number. As the project progressed, I maintained lists of which print numbers are in which box and made labels for each box detailing the class mark range held within.

The illustrations are now housed in the boxes, and are much easier to locate and handle safely.

Acid-free print boxes on archives shelving

Acid-free print boxes on archives shelving

The re-housing project was also an opportunity to carry out a simple condition survey of the collection to identify items requiring conservation treatment. This survey allowed a thorough inventory of the collection, which enabled cross-referencing with the manual index to check that the correct information for each print was recorded. It also gave a simple description of the condition of the collection so that a conservation plan for the illustrations could be formulated. Common examples of damage found in the collection include insect damage, surface and ingrained dirt, surface abrasion, staining and discolouration often due to acidic degradation of the paper, foxing caused by mould or bacteria, tears and lacunae to the object and damage caused by adhesion to poor quality paper supports and mounts.

Tears, dirt and discolouration to an interpretation of Passio Domini Nostri Jesu, engraved by K. Oertel [cq N 8026, print no. 440].

Tears, dirt and discolouration to an interpretation of Passio Domini Nostri Jesu, engraved by K. Oertel [cq N 8026, print no. 440].

Stains and discolouration to a lithograph of Miss Fanny Kemble, drawn on stone by R. J. Lane [cq PN 2598.K28, print no. 525]

Stains and discolouration to a lithograph of Miss Fanny Kemble, drawn on stone by R. J. Lane [cq PN 2598.K28, print no. 525]

There are many ways to treat damaged artefacts, and all treatment decisions are made after careful examination and analysis of each item. A stained and discoloured print can be washed in water and/or solvents to both reduce and remove the cause of the staining. Tears and losses can be repaired using suitable tissues and papers and conservation-grade adhesives, most commonly wheat starch paste. Conservation treatments are both time consuming and expensive: the re-housing project and the basic conservation condition survey have allowed us to plan for this as well as ensuring the preservation needs of the illustrations are met.

The alphabetical subject/author index to the illustrations can be found in the Open Access area of Special Collections, accessible whenever the Library is open. The illustrations are available for researchers to consult in the Archives and Rare Books reading room.

‘Hampshire people and places’ event

On Monday 31 July 2017, the Special Collections, Hartley Library, University of Southampton, will host the latest in its “explore the collections” events.

Why not join us between 15:30 and 17:00 to discover more about the resources we hold for Hampshire ranging from topography to details of everyday life.

On show in the Archives and Manuscripts reading room will be an array of printed sources from the Cope Collection, as well as material from our manuscript collections. There will also be an opportunity to investigate the Cope Collection in Open Access Special Collections.

Space is limited. To reserve a place, please go to: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/hampshire-people-and-places-tickets-35816201222


Visitors to the Special Collections, summer 2017

From June to late September the access route to Special Collections will be altered owing to the Hartley Library Refurbishment Project. Access will be up the main stairs to Level 3, following the signs across this floor to the fire stairs at the back of the building and then up to Level 4.

Please note that access to the lifts in the Hartley Library will be restricted for the period of the refurbishment project: please contact staff about access arrangements.

Development of the University Library

This summer will see further refurbishment taking place in the Hartley Library, the University’s main library and home to its Archives and Special Collections. Further information regarding its impact on the Special Collections Division can be found on our website.

While the University Library today has a presence on all seven campuses of the University, for this week’s blog post we will be taking a look back at the development of the University’s main Library on the Highfield Campus.

The “old Hartley” Library (1860s-1910s)
The University of Southampton has its genesis in a bequest left by Henry Robinson Hartley, a studious and reclusive character and heir to a family of Southampton wine merchants. In his will Hartley bequeathed a large proportion of his estate to the Corporation of Southampton and called for “a small building to be erected…to serve as a repository for my Household Furniture, Books, Manuscripts, and other moveables”. Out of this the Hartley Institution was formed.

Hartley University College Library, c.1910

Hartley University College Library, c.1910

The original Hartley Institution building, located on the High Street, below the Bargate, was declared open by Lord Palmerston on 15 October 1862. It comprised of a library, museum, and reading room, together with a lecture hall and classrooms. While the Library was initially only accessible to members of the Institution, it was made freely open to the public in 1873. As a result, it acted as both the Institution’s academic library and the town’s public library.

Over the subsequent decades the institution increasingly focused on meeting the demands for popular and industrial education. This resulted in its transition to a university college in 1902, when it became Hartley University College. By 1910, further developments in this direction emphasised the need for premises more fitting to the institution’s ambitions. This prompted a move from the cramped accommodation on the High Street to the Highfield Court Estate on the outskirts of town. However, the move was not welcomed by everyone. Some of the townspeople resented the loss of the privilege of access to the Library, which “they had continued to value in spite of the existence of a free Borough Library since 1889.”

Moving to Highfield (1910s-20s)
The grand opening of the renamed University College of Southampton by Lord Haldane took place in June 1914. The new buildings at Highfield consisted of two separate wings housing an arts block and a range of single story laboratories for biology, chemistry, physics and engineering. However, a lack of funding meant that the construction of the administration and library building, which should have filled the gap between the two wings, was postponed.

Early photograph of the University’s Highfield site. The building in the foreground is now the south wing of the Hartley Library.

Early photograph of the University’s Highfield site. The building in the foreground is now the south wing of the Hartley Library.

Six weeks after the official opening the country declared war on Germany. As a result, the move to Highfield was indefinitely postponed with the College offering the buildings to the War Office for use as a hospital. As the war progressed, the main building proved too small to accommodate the increasing number of wounded soldiers and extra wards were constructed in temporary wooden huts to the rear.

Aerial photograph of the Highfield campus with the wooden huts at the rear of the main buildings, c.1932

Aerial photograph of the Highfield campus with the wooden huts at the rear of the main buildings, c.1932

The War Office eventually gave up the buildings in May 1919 and University College of Southampton began the session of 1919-1920 in its new home, continuing to make use of the wooden huts. Since it had originally been intended to form part of the central block between the two wings, none of the existing buildings had room specifically set aside for a library. A large room on the first floor in the northern wing of the main building served as a reading room and also housed a selection of the books most in use. However, these were only a fraction of the 35,000 volumes which the Library now possessed, with the majority of the books dispersed through the corridors and huts.

The Turner Sims Library and Gurney-Dixon Building (1930s-50s)
The completion of the central block had to wait until the 1930s when the construction of the Turner Sims Library was made possible by the donation of £24,250 by the daughters of Edward Turner Sims, a former member of Council. The Turner Sims Library, which now forms the front of the present Hartley Library, was opened by H.R.H. the Duke of York (later King George VI) in October 1935. The new building filled most of the gap between the two parts of the original building (which now make up the north and south wings of the Hartley Library).

Photographs of the Turner Sims Library, opened in 1935

Photographs of the Turner Sims Library, opened in 1935

While this was welcomed as a long overdue improvement, space remained an issue. Planning began for a much larger extension in 1947 but it wasn’t until 1959 that the Gurney-Dixon Building at the rear of the Turner Sims Library was finally declared open. The extension was named after Sir Samuel Gurney-Dixon who was chair of Council for 21 years. To mark the occasion he presented to the Library six rare editions of Divina Commedia, including a copy of the Brescia edition of 1487.

Photographs of the interior and exterior of the Gurney-Dixon Building, 1959

Photographs of the interior and exterior of the Gurney-Dixon Building, 1959

Developments in collections and services (1960s-80s)
In addition to its main stock, the Library had by now acquired a number of valuable printed special collections. These included the agricultural library of W. Frank Perkins, acquired in 1945. This trend continued with the transfer of the private library of Reverend Dr James Parkes to the University in 1964. Focusing on Jewish/non-Jewish relations, the Parkes Library originally consisted of 4,500 books, 2,000 pamphlets and sets of periodicals. Since that time the collection has expanded significantly and has led to the development the University’s special interest in Anglo-Jewish archives.

Opening of the Parkes Library, 1964

Opening of the Parkes Library, 1964

By 1969 the Library already housed over a quarter of a million books leading to a critical space problem. An extension to the first floor, for the Special Collections, was completed the same year and was followed by an extension to the north wing and mezzanine in 1970, with an ‘attractive and welcoming entrance’ ready by the end of the session. However, the Library’s stock continued to grow. The decade saw the arrival of the Ford Collection of British Official Publications. Originally brought to the University by Professor Percy Ford and his wife Dr Grace Ford, the collection formed the basis of the Parliamentary Papers Library which opened in 1971. Further efforts were undertaken to alleviate space issues in 1978, including the addition of a mezzanine floor to the Turner Sims part of the Library, creating a new area of 500 square metres.

During the same period, the Library was modernising its services. Between 1966 and 1968 the Library was one of the first in the country to introduce a computer-based issue system, employing punched cards. A decade later, this was replaced by a Telepen-based circulation system in 1979-80, making possible a complete up-to-date loan file at all times. An online circulating system was introduced in 1984, eventually replacing the off-line system entirely.

Opening of the Wellington Suite, 1983

Opening of the Wellington Suite, 1983

A new chapter in the development of the Library’s Special Collections commenced with the arrival of the Wellington Papers in 1983, when the papers of the first Duke of Wellington were allocated to the University under the national heritage legislation. This led to the conversion of a part of the Library to provide an archives reading room and storage area, with the Wellington Suite being officially opened on 14 May 1983. The arrival of the Wellington Papers was to stimulate the acquisition of further significant manuscript collections which continues to this day.

The creation of the Hartley Library (1980s-2000s)
In the autumn of 1987 the University celebrate the 125th anniversary of the opening of the Hartley Institution. A special event of this jubilee was the opening of a remodelled Library, renamed the Hartley Library, by Countess Mountbatten of Burma.

Opening of the Hartley Library, 1987

Opening of the Hartley Library, 1987

The Hartley Library was in effect a new Library. It included new strongrooms and reading room for the Special Collections, which was now ready to accept the papers of Earl Mountbatten of Burman from the archives of the Broadlands estate in Romsey. As a result of such major acquisitions the Library developed an additional role, becoming an important centre for primary historical research. Further collections followed, including additional material from the Broadlands archives (notably the papers of third Viscount Palmerston) and the Anglo-Jewish Archives in 1990.

The Hartley Library as it appears on a map of the Highfield campus. The Turner Sims Library is listed as building 12, the Gurney-Dixon Building as building 36, and the wings of the original University building as buildings 10 and 14.

The Hartley Library as it appears on a map of the Highfield campus. The Turner Sims Library is listed as building 12, the Gurney-Dixon Building as building 36, and the wings of the original University building as buildings 10 and 14.

Prior to the 1990s extensions largely focused on accommodation for stock and improving the range of seating available, but from this period increasing attention was being paid to developing workstation and IT provisions in the Library. A small refurbishment project in 1998 saw workstation provisions doubled and a new IT training suite created. The same project saw the south wing of the original 1914 building integrated into the Library.

Further refurbishment projects (2000s-2010s)
Printed collections grew steadily throughout the 1990s and by 2001 the Library was effectively full in terms of stock. By now, the University had grown considerably, as had student numbers, resulting in the need for a major increase in accommodation. Patterns of learning and teaching had also begun to shift with electronic resources growing in importance.

Extension at the rear of the Hartley Library’s Gurney-Dixon Building

Extension at the rear of the Hartley Library’s Gurney-Dixon Building

The aim of the 2002-4 extension project was to create a research-oriented library that provided a high quality, flexible, study environment, with good quality seating, small study rooms and access to networking. The project saw the largest addition to Library space since the University moved to Highfield. The main elements included new reception, security and help desks; a student-centred foyer; improved access to all floors; increased and improved shelving; and an expansion of space for Special Collections, including a new exhibition gallery. Externally the extensions were a mixture of brickwork, steel framing elements, curtain walling, general glazing and rendered walls.

Since 2004 the Library has undergone further refurbishment, as it continues to develop its services and learning environment.  Details on the current Hartley Library Phase 2 refurbishment can be found on the Library website at: http://www.southampton.ac.uk/library/news/2017/03/30-hl-phase2-refurbishment.page

Jazz Club at the University of Southampton

To mark International Jazz Day which takes place on Sunday, 30th April we have decided to take a brief look at the early days of the Southampton University Jazz Club.

Image from a photo feature on ‘Jazz Club’ written by Jerry Palmer with photographs by Bernard Bailey from Wessex News, 10 October 1961

Image from a photo feature on ‘Jazz Club’ written by Jerry Palmer with photographs by Bernard Bailey from Wessex News, 10 October 1961 [Univ. Coll. per LF 789.9]

Live music has formed a part of the University’s life since the early decades of the 20th century. This initially consisted of concerts and performances by musical societies such as the Choral and Orchestral Society. By the 1950s Southampton had become a fully-fledged university – receiving its royal charter on 29 April 1952 – marking the beginning of a golden era of live music, particularly in the form of jazz and rock.

A short history of British Jazz
Jazz as a genre of music began life among African-American communities during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Amalgamating African and European music sensibilities, early jazz drew on a range of influences. Throughout its history it has continually evolved, giving rise to many distinctive styles. A difficult genre to define, it is most broadly recognised for its use of musical improvisation, contrasting rhythms, and syncopated notes.

‘Music hath Charms, A Survey of a jazz club with comments from poets’, Goblio, 1955 [Univ. Coll. per LF 789.9]

‘Music hath Charms, A Survey of a jazz club with comments from poets’, Goblio, 1955 [Univ. Coll. per LF 789.9]

Prior to the 1930s, the influence of jazz in Britain remained limited. However, the arrival of American jazz musicians such as Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington meant that British musicians, as well as the British public, were becoming increasingly jazz-aware. By the 1940s all kinds of jazz and jazz-flavoured dance music flourished in London nightclub while the latter part of the decade saw the jazz scene divide into two distinct movements: modern and traditional. Modern jazz in Britain was influenced by American bebop, a new style characterised by a fast tempo together with complex harmony and rhythms. A movement in the opposite direction was revivalism, which sought to re-engage with traditional Dixieland and Ragtime styles. Both styles remained popular throughout the 1950s, a decade which saw the popularity of British jazz continue to flourish, particularly across university campuses.

Southampton University Jazz Club
Formed in 1955, the Southampton University Jazz Club (S.U.J.C.) quickly established itself as the University’s biggest student society. This was largely thanks to weekly live sessions with local and visiting bands. Performances were affordable and provided different styles for different tastes, with traditional New Orleans Jazz performed in the Refectory and Modern Jazz in the Terrace Room.

Entry for the Jazz Club from the Students’ Union Handbook, 1958-59 [Univ. Coll. per LF 789.8U6]

Entry for the Jazz Club from the Students’ Union Handbook, 1958-59 [Univ. Coll. per LF 789.8U6]

At the same time, the University was producing a number of its own jazz bands, including Group One, an eight piece band who won the Southern Semi-Finals of the International University Jazz Festival competition in 1960, and the Dudley Hyams Quintet and Apex Jazzmen, who took first and second place in the Regional Semi-Finals at Bristol in 1962.

‘SUJC plays Home and Away’, recordings of the Southampton University

‘SUJC plays Home and Away’, recordings of the Southampton University
Jazz Club, 1960 [MS 224/25 A870]. The record contains performances
by the University jazz bands Group One and Apex Jazzmen.

Concerning the impact of the Jazz Club, a report by the President of the Students’ Union from 1960-1 reads:

“Many societies suffered undeservedly from bad attendance. No one knows the reason for this, but one explanation might be the extraordinary success of the Friday night Jazz Club. Easily the most popular activity with an average of five hundred a week ‘dancing’ around the Refectory and adjoining rooms. Nearly eight hundred sat down in the Refectory for the semi-finals of the Inter-University Jazz Competition in February. The three Southampton bands – Group One, Epic and Apex – competed against bands from Imperial College, Queen Mary, Reading and Oxford. Taking last turn, Group One played themselves brilliantly into first place.” [Report of the Proceedings of the University, 1960-61 Univ. Coll. LF 786.4]

By the early 1960s, jazz had established itself as an integral part of the student social scene with nearly all dances and socials featuring jazz groups, either as support or as the main attraction. The programme for the first University of Southampton Arts Festival in 1961 lists a series of jazz performances alongside a lecture on the place of jazz among the arts.

Today’s University Jazz scene
While the British jazz scene continued to develop and innovate throughout the 1960s, and beyond, there was a significant decline in the popularity of jazz at the University by the middle part of the decade. However, this did not mark the end of the vibrant music scene which continued into the 1960s and 1970s with a range of big names in rock performing at Southampton.

The 1970s also saw a major development in live music at the University with the construction of the Turner Sims Concert Hall. Since opening it has acted as a venue for concerts by an array of professional musicians as well as for masterclasses and teaching activities. Performances cover a range of musical genres, including classical, folk and jazz. Upcoming jazz performances include Courtney Pine and Omar. In the 80’s Pine was one of the first black British jazz artists to make a serious mark on the jazz scene. For further details and to find out about other upcoming performances, visit the Turner Sims website.

There are now a wide range of jazz and other music orientated groups and events at the University. Learn more about these on the Arts at University of Southampton website.

For more information on the history of music and the arts at the University be sure to check out our online exhibition.

A passion for plants

This week we anticipate Earth Day 2017 with an environmental theme, and highlight some botanical items in the Special Collections at the University of Southampton.  These include printed herbals and floras, dried plant specimens, and a rare example of a 19th-century herbarium. Often charming and beautifully illustrated, they demonstrate that our interest in plants and their habitats is age-old. As a historical record, they have gained in significance over time: we now appreciate that there is a historical perspective to ecological change:

William Curtis, The Botanical Magazine, or Flower-Garden Displayed, vol. 4 p.297 (London 1795) Rare Books Per Q

The botanist William Curtis (1746-1799) brought out the first issue of his Botanical Magazine in 1787.  It was an immediate success with the ‘Ladies, Gentlemen and Gardeners’ for whom it was intended – there were over 3,000 subscribers.  It tapped into the public passion for newly imported exotic plants – an essential feature of the fashionable garden – and much of its success was due to the beauty and scientific accuracy of the illustrations.

W.H. Fitch and W.G. Smith Illustrations of the British Flora: a Series of Wood Engravings, with Dissections, of British Plants, 7th ed. (London, 1908) Rare Books QK 306

This volume was used by Althea Monck, who acquired it in 1909, to create a personal botanical record. The wood-engravings of the plants she observed have been hand-coloured with great delicacy and the date and location noted. The plants identified on these pages were seen at Ash Priors in Somerset and Crowthorne in Berkshire.

Hemp Agrimony, Eupatorium Cannabinum, collected at Shawford, near Winchester in July 1838, from vol. 7 of 8 volumes of a herbarium containing pressed flowers and plants collected and mounted by Emma Delmé Radcliffe, c.1837-52 MS 219 A819/7.

This is an example of hemp, found at Shawford in Hampshire in 1838, from a 19th-century herbarium.  There are eight surviving volumes of this herbarium – from an original eleven – which contain 839 specimens of pressed flowers and plants, gathered principally between 1837 and 1840, mainly from Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and Hertfordshire, but with specimens from elsewhere in the south of England and occasional examples from Scotland and Ireland.

The volumes contain plants collected and mounted by Emma Delmé Radcliffe, née Waddington (?1811-1880), the daughter of John H.Waddington of Shawford House, near Winchester. In 1831 she married Frederick Peter Delmé Radcliffe of Hitchin Priory, Hertfordshire, which became her home – a sizeable minority of the specimens are from Hitchin and neighbourhood. Emma mounted these on single sheets of paper, giving their Linnaean class and order, their Latin names (according to the Natural system of classification) and common English names, together with a location and, in many cases, a date. The collection was arranged into volumes later in the nineteenth century, perhaps as late as the 1880s.

While almost all of the specimens were gathered by Mrs Delmé Radcliffe, a few came from other herbaria: detailed research by the late Pete Selby (Recorder for south Hampshire) demonstrated that a few of the Isle of Wight specimens bore the initials of Miss Georgina Elizabeth Kilderbee (1798-1868), who lived at Cowes, and who “features in Flora Vectensis (Bromfield, 1856) as the most prolific contributor of localised records after the author himself.” It seems that Emma and Georgina were cousins and friends who worked closely together on their collections.  While there are references to a Kilderbee Herbarium – this has not survived – and so Emma’s herbarium gives a tantalising glimpse of her cousin’s work as well as a record of botany in Hampshire over 150 years ago.

For more details about the herbarium visit: http://www.southampton.ac.uk/archives/cataloguedatabases/webguidemss219.page

Earth Day 2017 is on Saturday 22nd April: http://www.earthday.org/

International Children’s Book Day

To mark International Children’s Book Day which is celebrated on Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday on April 2nd, we take a look at some of the children’s books in Special Collections.

Although children’s literature is not a focus of the collections at Southampton, examples of children’s books, both educational and recreational can be found amongst the Rare Books. There are schoolbooks belonging to Henry Robinson Hartley, to whom the University owes its existence, books of instruction in farm life in the Perkins Agricultural Library and in the Salisbury Collection, examples of ‘botanical dialogues’, which take the form of a series of questions and answers. In Maria Edgeworth’s Dialogues on Botany for the Use of Young Persons (London, 1819) the children, Fanny, Emma and Cecil “were so much interested in the structure and growth of vegetables that they seldom let a day pass without soliciting some instruction from their Aunt”.  There are also books on history and geography, and in Letters Written from London (London, 1807) the young visitor’s description of the street traders, their wares and their cries gives an insight into daily life in the capital.

Letters Written from London (London, 1807) Rare Books DA 678

Letters Written from London (London, 1807) Rare Books DA 678

As well as the educational books, there are also examples of the picture books or ‘toy books’ printed by Edmund Evans (1826-1905), the leading woodblock colour printer in London. Although early nineteenth-century children’s books often included illustrations, these were usually black and white engravings or woodblock prints, and if coloured, the quality was generally poor. Colourful picture books, recognisable to children of today, appeared only after the mechanization of printing and advances in colour printing techniques. These changes, coinciding with a growing market for well-produced children’s books amongst the middle and upper classes meant that picture books became a profitable line for many publishers.

Evans had perfected the technique of reproducing the colours of original illustrations by using as many as sixteen woodblocks and eight to twelve colours for a single illustration. In his toy books fewer blocks and colours were used, but the results were a vast improvement on existing coloured illustrations. Having printed a series of toy books for Routledge in the mid-1860s, Evans went on to set up his own business, commissioning illustrations from Walter Crane (1845-1915), Randolph Caldecott (1846-1886) and Kate Greenaway (1846-1901), now regarded as amongst the greatest children’s illustrators of the Victorian period.

The Baby’s Opera (London, 1877) Rare Books PZ 8.3 CRA

The Baby’s Opera (London, 1877) Rare Books PZ 8.3 CRA

Crane’s The Baby’s Opera (1877) was something of a deluxe toy book. It included the music as well as the words of nursery songs and demonstrated Crane’s approach to book illustration as a decorative art, encompassing the book as a whole, rather than focussing individual illustrations. A member of the Arts and Crafts Movement, he was influenced by his study of Japanese colour prints, emulating their sharp outlines and flat or very deep perspective in his own work.

The Baby’s Opera (London, 1877) Rare Books PZ 8.3 CRA

The Baby’s Opera (London, 1877) Rare Books PZ 8.3 CRA

Randolph Caldecott had already contributed illustrations to a range of publications, including Punch and the Illustrated London News before he was engaged by Evans in 1878 to illustrate two picture books each Christmas, an arrangement which continued until his early death in 1886. The books featured nursery rhymes or fairy tales and in Sing a Song for Sixpence (1880) Caldecott’s detailed yet vigorous drawings, show the appeal of his work to children. Caldecott also illustrated a number Juliana Horatia Ewing’s books for Evans, these being published by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

Sing a Song for Sixpence (London, 1880) Rare Books PZ 8.3 CAL

Sing a Song for Sixpence (London, 1880) Rare Books PZ 8.3 CAL

In 1879 Evans engraved and printed Kate Greenaway‘s collection of poetry and drawings Under the Window, after which she rarely entrusted her work to anyone else. In Little Ann and Other Poems (1883) Greenaway illustrated the poems of the early nineteenth-century poet Jane Taylor, the children being dressed in her characteristic interpretation of the fashions of the early nineteenth century. Such was her popularity that Liberty’s of London introduced a line of children’s clothes, based on her drawings.

Little Ann and Other Poems (London, 1883) Rare Books PZ 8.3 TAY

Little Ann and Other Poems (London, 1883) Rare Books PZ 8.3 TAY

The picture books in Special Collections have come from a variety of sources, some having been donated and others having been part of the Library of La Sainte Union College of Education. As well as the original nineteenth-century publications, there are modern facsimiles of early children’s books in a selection of titles acquired for the School of Education from the Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books at Toronto Public Library. More recent publications of classic children’s books can be found in the Children’s Fiction Collection on the open shelves of the Hartley Library.

The trade in slaves and its abolition

On 25 March 1807 the royal assent was given to an Act of Parliament abolishing the slave trade. To commemorate the bicentenary in 2007 many events took place in the UK, including an exhibition in the Special Collections Exhibition Gallery. In this week’s blog post we draw on material from the exhibition to explore some of the key issues surrounding abolition.

The origins of slavery and the case for abolition
Why had there been slavery in the first place? To late eighteenth-century Englishmen, the notion that their own countrymen might be slaves was abhorrent. Slavery had been widespread in the Roman empire, and there had probably been slaves in Anglo-Saxon England. The unfree villeins of medieval England had a status that was in some ways similar; but the idea that humans might be chattels had been put aside after the Black Death, in changed economic circumstances. Slavery was uncommon in northern Europe, but it was not so in southern Europe and Africa. Here it had a different basis and it may be closely linked to the growth in the trade in tropical commodities, especially those of great value — sugar, coffee, chocolate, tobacco, rice and cotton. Some of these crops were grown in Europe in the Middle Ages: for example, the cultivation of sugar moved westwards through the Mediterranean during the medieval period. Slave labour, at least on a small scale, had been used in cultivating these commodities before the European discovery of America. On the Cape Verde Islands (about 300 miles west of Senegal), in the 1460s, a Genoese, Antonio da Noli, failing to attract European settlers to these territories, recently discovered by the Portuguese, established a sugar plantation that was entirely dependent on slave labour. The extension of this enterprise westwards — and the slave economy with it — first by the Spanish and the Portuguese, and then by northern Europeans, was not an inexplicable step.

Illustration from an album containing anti-slavery tracts and pamphlets, late 1820s [Rare Books HT1163 71-082284]

Illustration from an album containing anti-slavery tracts and pamphlets, late 1820s [Rare Books HT1163 71-082284]. During the 19th century, examples of the outrages of the trade served to maintain anti-slavery as a cause at the forefront of the public mind. Among the contents of this album were passages drawn from the works of Granville Sharp and Charles James Fox.

The slaves of the Mediterranean derived from a long-standing trade in humans as chattels especially within Africa, but also within Ottoman and Asian territories. In the medieval period, slaves had been brought up to the Mediterranean from sub-Saharan Africa; from the sixteenth century, a direct trade was opened up between the West African coast and the Americas. Slavery was usually the result of legal and other penalties, and resulted as well from capture in warfare. It was a trade of many nations and was an established part of many societies. The exception was northern Europe, and it was from here that the challenge to slavery came. If it was reprehensible for there to be slaves in Britain, why should there be slaves in British colonies?

Slavery and the West Indian economy: Jamaica
Between the seventeenth century and Abolition in the region of 12.5 million slaves were traded from Africa. The numbers and pattern can be established with some certainty, especially from financial records. These point to significant differences in the use of slaves. Many worked with tropical goods: some 3.5 million slaves, for example, went to Brazil, whereas as few as 500,000 went taken to North America. The disparity arose partly because of the type of work undertaken: in tropical climates, the slaves were used for hard manual labour, particularly with sugar cane, and they had a low life expectancy — here the slave population could be sustained only by continued import of labour. In North America, on the other hand, where the slaves were primarily used for cotton and tobacco growing, the dynamics of the slave population were similar to the white population, even increasing modestly.

In 1788, there were on Jamaica some 250,000 slaves, who provided heavy labour crucial to the success of the plantation economy. The West India merchants constituted a powerful interest, to which governments might defer. The resolutions of the Jamaican House of Assembly, faced with the prospect of abolition, refuted charges of improper and inhuman treatment of slaves. They noted, however, that the labour force would be reduced; that it was impossible to cultivate the West Indies with white labour; and that the wider economy of Great Britain and its empire was closely bound to the West Indies. Credit, mortgages and annuities required stability. The property and slaves on Jamaica were valued at £39 million: ‘The whole profits and produce of which capital, as also of the various branches of commerce to which it give rise, center in Great Britain, and add to the national wealth; while the navigation, necessary to all its branches, establishes a strength which wealth can neither purchase nor balance.’ Changes in slave ownership would require compensation.

‘Trelawney Town, the chief residence of the Maroons’

‘Trelawney Town, the chief residence of the Maroons’: plate from B.Edwards History of the British West Indies … with a continuation to the present time (5 vols., and plates, London, 1818-19) [Rare Books F2131 52-045439]. The Maroons were in origin free or runaway negro slaves. After the British captured Jamaica from the Spanish in 1655, the Maroons remained at liberty and were able to harass the British for sustained periods of time. Their numbers were never large, but their effectiveness at guerrilla warfare forced the British to conclude a peace treaty with them in 1739, which guaranteed them land and some freedoms, including exemption from taxation.

Abolition brought severe economic consequences to the West Indies, where new slaves had been important to maintain the size of the labour force. Prohibition on the importation of slaves into the United States of America, in 1808, however, had a very different impact, as new slaves were not continually required to replenish the work force, which was already self-sustaining.

Abolition: 1807
Despite considerable parliamentary support in 1792 — in that year the Commons resolved that the trade should be gradually abolished, concluding in 1796 — there were significant setbacks. The climate engendered by the outbreak of revolution in France and slave revolts, particularly in St Domingue (Haiti), a French colony, made the early 1790s unpropitious for the cause. There was some anxiety that the anti-slave trade movement was a cloak for sedition and radicalism, and there was a real concern at the destabilising effect that might be brought by abolition. Although these fears were allayed, the political climate at the turn of the century was not one fertile for the aspirations of the abolitionists. It was not until 1804-5 that the balance of interests in Parliament had shifted sufficiently far for Wilberforce to bring an abolition bill successfully through three readings in the Commons; but it proved too late in that parliamentary session for it to be taken through the House of Lords. Pitt was able to promote the cause of abolition in other ways: significantly, at this point, in September 1805, the government made an Order in Council which put an end to the slave trade in the former Dutch Guiana, a precursor of later orders managing the condition of slaves in the West Indian colonies. A procedural measure in mid-1806, designed to enable Parliament to confirm the Order in Council, passed both Houses; and on 10 June 1806 Fox, the leader of the government in the Commons, moved a resolution for the general abolition of the trade, which Lord Grenville (the Prime Minister) also moved in the House of Lords. An Abolition Bill followed in early 1807, receiving the royal assent on 25 March.

Substance of the debates on a resolution for abolishing the slave trade (1806)

Substance of the debates on a resolution for abolishing the slave trade … (London, 1806). [Rare Books HT1163 71-082480] After nearly twenty years of debate in Parliament, Lord Grenville was able to move in the House of Lords the order of the day, the resolution of the House of Commons for the abolition of the African slave trade. A further resolution was carried, as in the Commons, for an address to the Crown, to invite other powers to concert with Great Britain the best means for abolishing the trade.

After 1807, there was continued pressure for further measures against slavery. Parliament increased the severity of penalties for British involvement in the slave trade: in 1811, a bill introduced by Brougham made it a felony, for which the punishment was transportation; and, from 1824, it was a capital offence. Other measures involved slave registration, to curb interisland traffic in the West Indies, starting with the creation of a registry for Trinidad in 1812, and culminating in an Act of 1819 which established a central registry in London. Bilateral agreements were concluded with other powers, European, American and African, in order to bring the trade to a halt. This was a long process and little progress was made until after the defeat of Napoleon. Typical was the Treaty of Ghent, 24 December 1814, between Great Britain and the United States, which declared:

Whereas the traffic in slaves is irreconcileable with the principles of humanity and justice, and whereas both His Majesty and the United States are desirous of continuing their efforts to promote its entire abolition, it is hereby agreed that both the contracting parties shall use their best endeavours to accomplish so desirable an object.

Not all countries believed that British altruism was a credible explanation for what was happening. Some alleged that motivation centred on British concern at the numbers of slaves, which, given unrest and rebellion, might have placed her colonial empire in jeopardy. That notwithstanding, work to suppress the trade continued in the international congresses that followed the Napoleonic wars. Thomas Clarkson was present to apply pressure at both the Congress of Paris in 1814 and the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1818, and the theme was revisited at Verona in 1822.

The process of abolition: the 1820s
The formation in 1823 of the Society for the Mitigation and Gradual Improvement of Slavery Throughout the British Dominions, popularly known as the Anti-Slavery Society, assured continued public interest in the cause in Britain. Its establishment defined two contrasting approaches: ‘gradualism’, the Anti-Slavery Society’s aspiration, seeking an on-going amelioration of the position of the slaves, a stance criticised by those who believed this was in the interest of the plantation owners in the colonies; and ‘immediatism’, favoured by those who wanted an immediate end to slavery — a position which drew together the younger and more radical supporters of the cause, especially from the early 1830s.

Copy of a letter from Wellington to Sir George Murray, Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, about instructions to the governors in the West Indies, the slave trade and the colonies in Africa, 20 August 1828: contemporary copy [MS 61 Wellington Papers 1/951/14]

Through the 1820s, the British government put in place practical measures to assist slaves, to address the questions of compensation of slave-owners. Progress could also be made through administrative measures; Orders in Council could direct local governors, where they had authority, to advance reform in colonies; elsewhere colonial legislatures might be encouraged to adopt measures that ameliorated the position of the slaves. The government of the first Duke of Wellington, 1828-30, made a number of direct contributions to this end. The Royal Navy might also be employed more effectively to enforce the ban on the slave trade.

Abolition: 1830 to 1865, and beyond
The Jamaican House of Assembly and the West Indian planters overplayed their hand in failing to embrace the Orders in Council. In 1833 the British Parliament passed legislation to emancipate the slaves of the British West Indies, and the Jamaica House of Assembly adopted the Act with considerable ill grace, rather than lose its share of the £20 million compensation that had been provided for slave owners. The institution of slavery was thereby abolished in the British West Indies, with compensation for slave owners — but not for slaves. Apprenticeship systems effectively delayed economic changes in the plantation systems. Further pressure, particularly from Daniel O’Connell and Joseph Sturge, brought apprenticeship to an end in 1838.

Letter from Stratford Canning to Palmerston on Ottoman actions against the slave trade

Letter from Stratford Canning, the British ambassador at Constantinople, to Palmerston on Ottoman actions against the slave trade, 3 January 1851 [MS 62 Palmerston Papers GC/CA228]

Slavery had not been abolished outside the British empire. Anti-slavery societies, the British government, the Royal Navy, enforcing anti-slavery conventions, and the governments of other Western powers continued to work for general abolition into the second half of the nineteenth century. Cases of British subjects in slavery continued to cause widespread outrage, a litmus test of the commitment of government to abolition of slavery wherever it occurred. A guide for naval officers set out for them the legal framework that was created for abolition, listing some twenty-seven groups of treaties, conventions, engagements and declarations from 1817 to 1842, with European and American states, and African kingdoms and chiefdoms. Putting this into operation was complex. By about 1865, however, very substantial progress had been made; the trade to South America was largely stopped. If the British government had been able to make progress by compensating its slave owners, however, the United States faced a much larger problem; and without a central government that was able to resolve the issue, the ordeal of civil war almost destroyed the country. The Atlantic trade abolished, the British government turned from the 1870s onwards to the trade from the east coast of Africa. The European powers came together in Brussels in 1889-90 and their conference produced a general act suppressing the trade, not only at sea, but also within Africa.

International observances
In 2007 the United Nations designated the 25 March the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, offering an opportunity to honour and remember those who suffered and died at the hands of the brutal slavery system. The International Day also aims to raise awareness about the dangers of racism and prejudice today. Other international observances include the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition on 23 August and the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery on 2 December.

Material on the slave trade can be found in two of the archive collections nineteenth-century politicians held at Southampton: that of the first Duke of Wellington (MS 61) and of third Viscount Palmerston (MS 62). The most notable printed collection is the Oates collection of over 220 books and pamphlets on the West Indies and the abolition of slavery, dating from the 18th and 19th centuries. The 1820s and 1830s are particularly well represented as are works of prominent abolitionists such as Thomas Clarkson and William Wilberforce.

Maps and Cartography Exhibitions and Events

Beyond Cartography poster

Beyond Cartography: safeguarding our historic maps and plans
Special Collections Gallery

This exhibition showcases maps from the University of Southampton Library’s Special Collections, illustrating the challenges that these objects bring to conservators before conservation or long-term preservation takes place.

Conservation of maps and plans is affected by various factors. They come in differing formats and sizes, ranging from large rolled maps, with or without rollers, to small sketches, or folded into books. They may be printed or hand drawn, with inks, pencils and watercolours as main media or as annotations, on supports of paper, parchment, tracing papers and tracing linens. All these factors present individual challenges to the conservator, whether this be the physical size of a large-scale map, fugitive pigments and inks, or the loss of dimensional stability of the support, which is of particular significance to maps made up of many sections joined together and can affect the accuracy of measurement in those drawn to scale.

The maps and plans displayed in this exhibition were chosen not for their content but for their materiality and the challenges they pose to conservators.

The exhibition runs from 20 February – 28 April during which time the gallery is open weekdays, 10am to 4pm.


Cartographic Operations poster

Cartographic Operations
Level 4 Gallery

In Bernhard Siegert’s ‘The map is the territory’, he refers to the idea of ‘cartographic operations’. The suggestion is that our way of seeing the world is not simply represented in maps, but that map-making is itself a play of competing signs and discourses producing our subjecthood. These are the coordinates we come to live by, which in turn influence the marks and signs at our disposal when we seek to make and share representations of the world.

This exhibition brings together three alternative cartographic operations:

Jane Birkin’s 1:1 is a direct mapping of infrastructure behind the white space of display. Electric current and metal are plotted using a DIY store metal/voltage detector and the information transferred simply to print. Although 1:1 is an impassive engagement with the rule-based activity of cartography, it simultaneously performs an affective act of display.

Sunil Manghani and Ian Dawson’s Not on the Map is an image-text installation built into the gallery space. It draws upon maps held in the University’s Special Collections, picking out details from a volume of Spanish maps from the Ward Collection and military maps of Portugal taken from the Bremner Collection. These details are placed in dialogue with tracings from early and recent figurative works by Jenny Saville.

Abelardo Gil-Fournier’s Marching Ants draws upon historical photographic sources of landscape transformations driven by the building of large water irrigation infrastructures as part of 20th century Spanish land reforms. The work is a reminder of the use of forced labor to transform the lines of maps and diagrams into tunnels and channels in the earth.

https://level4gallery.wordpress.com/2017/02/13/cartographic-operations-on-level-4/


Private view – all are welcome to attend!

A private view for the exhibitions will take place in the Level 4 Gallery on Tuesday, 28 February, 5 – 8pm.

Please note that during the private view the Special Collections Gallery will open from 5.30 – 7pm. Visitors may be asked for proof of identity at the Library reception.


Exploring maps event poster

Exploring Maps in the University of Southampton Special Collections
Archives and Manuscripts reading room

On Tuesday, 28 February 2017, Special Collections will be hosting an open afternoon highlighting a range of map material from the collections.

The afternoon will include a talk by Chris Woolgar, Professor of History and Archival Studies at the University of Southampton.

The event will take place alongside the private view for the new exhibitions. All visitors to the open afternoon are invited to attend.

Programme:

1615-1700: Opportunity to view resources from the Special Collections: Archives and Manuscripts reading room, Level 4, Hartley Library

1715-1800: Talk by Professor Christ Woolgar: Library Conference Room, Level 4, Hartley Library

Tickets for this event are now sold out.

Testing Times

MS310/9 A816 Photo showing University students sitting final examinations in St Mary’s Drill Hall, Southampton, 3 June 1959; from the scrapbook of Isabel Syed, 1958-60. Due to the large increase in student numbers in the ‘50s there were too many finalists to seat in the University Assembly Hall; exams were sat off-campus in 1958 and 1959.

MS310/9 A816 Photo showing University students sitting final examinations in St Mary’s Drill Hall, Southampton, 3 June 1959; from the scrapbook of Isabel Syed, 1958-60. Due to the large increase in student numbers in the ‘50s there were too many finalists to seat in the University Assembly Hall; exams were sat off-campus in 1958 and 1959.

This week we post an Archive photo for all those students commencing Semester 1 exams. It’s a familiar scene:  final examinations at St. Mary’s Drill Hall in Southampton, almost 60 years ago.  Note the dress code – shirts and ties for the gentlemen – quite formal by modern standards but positively relaxed compared to earlier times.  The University College of Southampton ‘Rules of Conduct and Discipline’ from 1924-5, required all students to wear full academic dress at lectures and written examinations [LF 783.2]  At that time the academic gown was the uniform of the student – not the badge of success reserved for graduation day.

With sartorial considerations out of the way, how to succeed at examinations?

WP1/984/9 f.3v. Printed ‘Standing Order of the Master-General and Board of Ordnance, dated 21st July 1824’, from the papers of Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington, Master General of the Ordnance from 1818-27. The Ordnance Department was a very large government department employing many staff.

WP1/984/9 f.3v. Printed ‘Standing Order of the Master-General and Board of Ordnance, dated 21st July 1824’, from the papers of Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington, Master General of the Ordnance from 1818-27. The Ordnance Department was a very large government department employing many staff.

We find some helpful tips in this 19th-century standing order of the Master General and Board of Ordnance.  It states that every person nominated to a post in the Ordnance Department must undergo examination, which should include the following points:

1st  – His* handwriting must be clear and legible in every respect, of which a specimen is to be produced.  [* no equal opportunity at the Ordnance in 1824!!]

2nd  – It is expected that he will be perfect in the common rules of Arithmetic, viz. – Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, and Division; and when the Office to which he may be nominated shall particularly relate to Accounts, he will be required to pass a further examination of his abilities in the Rule of Three and Fractions.

3rd  – Every person nominated as above, will be required to write grammatically in the English language and to be correct in his orthography.

Handwriting, mental arithmetic and spelling apart, the final hurdle was age: candidates should produce a certificate “in order to verify that the age of 16 years has been attained, and that he is not beyond thirty, though in the latter case, a latitude of a few months will be allowed, and not considered a disqualification for the Office”.

We can see these rules as part of the rise of professionalization in the 19th century – it was now accepted that employees should be competent – and a reminder that the history of examination and education is long and interlinked.  Exams are a test and a rite of passage; a shared experience that ties together students past and present.

Strenuis Ardua Cedunt   [The heights yield to endeavour – University motto.]