Tag Archives: Students

SUSU Sport – making history

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ask an Archivist Day: Responding to enquiries

Archivists and curators of Special Collections possess a detailed knowledge of the collections in their care and are always delighted to share this. To mark Ask an Archivist Day we provide a brief breakdown of the process involved in responding to researcher enquiries…

Enquiries come by four main routes: by email, phone, via post, or in person. Perhaps unsurprisingly, these days the majority of enquiries we receive are by email. The Archives inbox is managed on a rota, with Archivists taking turns in dealing with enquiries. However, if there is a large volume they will be shared out among the team. Enquiries come from a range of users both national and international, including students, scholars, educators, authors, family historians, genealogists, and filmmakers. The nature of enquiries can vary dramatically and they continually highlight the richness of the resources housed in Special Collections. While some enquiries can take minutes to process, others can take significantly longer. Below are examples of two relatively straightforward enquiries: one relating to a broad topic and the other with a more specific focus.

Enquiry #1: I’ve found material relating to the slave trade listed on the Wellington Papers Database. What other material do you have on the slave trade in the 19th century?

The topic of slavery and the slave trade is covered by both our manuscript and Printed Special Collections. Turning first to the manuscript collections, material can be found among the papers of two nineteenth-century politicians: those of the first Duke of Wellington (MS 61) and of third Viscount Palmerston (MS 62).

Searching the Palmerston Papers Database

Searching the Palmerston Papers Database

As was noted by the researcher, material on the topic can be found listed on the Wellington Papers Database. The database contains item level descriptions of material from the collection, enabling the researcher to narrow their focus to specific letters or documents. Meanwhile, a look at the catalogue for the Palmerston Papers shows there is a series of letters and papers relating to slavery and the slave trade (MS 62 PP/SLT) among the Papers on Foreign Affairs. Having identified these, a search of the Palmerston Papers Database highlights other parts of the collection containing material on the topic. Again, the database contains item level descriptions for identifying relevant documents.

It is now time to turn to the Printed Special Collections. Two collections immediately spring to mind: the Oates collection and the Wellington pamphlets. 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.

An address to the inhabitants of Europe on the iniquity of the slave trade [Rare Books HT 1322]

An address to the inhabitants of Europe on the iniquity of the slave trade [Rare Books HT 1322]

Material from both of these collections can be searched on WebCat, the library’s online catalogue. As with the manuscript databases, this will help the researcher identify particular items relevant to their research. Additionally, a selection of pamphlets from the Oates collection have been digitised and can be accessed remotely on the Internet Archive.

On replying to the researcher’s enquiry, they are invited to visit to consult the collections and access details are provided.

Enquiry #2: My grandfather was a student at the university sometime between 1900 and 1905. Can you provide me with further details?

This is quite a specific enquiry and relates directly to a single manuscript collection: MS 1 Records of the University of Southampton. The first step is to examine the collection’s catalogue for listings of material relating to students covering the date range provided. PDF versions of catalogues for each collection are available to download on the Special Collections website.

Consulting the paper catalogues

Consulting the paper catalogues

At this point, it should be noted that the University manuscript collection does not contain personnel files for individual members of staff or students. However, a quick search of the catalogue provides a number of potential resources:

MS 1/3/476/3/1 Record of students, 1870-1900

MS 1/3/476/2/5 Register of students of the day training department, 1899-1915

MS 1/3/476/2/6 University examination results, arranged alphabetically by student name, 1905-36

Now it’s time to have a look at the records in the strongrooms! A location guide provides details of where items from the collections are located as there are several kilometres of shelving to navigate.

Accessing material in the strongrooms

Accessing material in the strongrooms

A search of the first volume doesn’t yield any results. The dates covered are possibly too early. The second volume, however, does contain an entry for the individual. Having graduated in 1905 their examination results are also listed in the third volume. As the individual is deceased, data protection rules do not apply and a response it sent to the researcher. They are invited to visit to consult the material themselves or, if they prefer, to order copies of the records (for the purposes of private study and research) through our reprographics service.

So please feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding our collections or service. We are always happy to hear from users! Contact details can be found on our website at: https://www.southampton.ac.uk/archives/contact.page

Student publications

With freshers’ week in full swing and semester one having officially begun, a hive of student activity has returned to the University after the summer break. We would like to welcome all new and returning students! With this in mind, this week’s blog post looks at examples of early student publications from the University Collection, a number of which have been digitised and are currently available to view on the Internet Archive.

College Magazines

Covers for the four titles of the college magazine

Covers for the four titles of the college magazine: Hartley College Magazine, March 1901; Hartley University College Magazine, Winter Term 1912; Southampton University College Magazine, Christmas Term 1922; and West Saxon, Autumn Term 1929.

The earliest student publication in the University Collection is the first issue of the Hartley College Magazine from March 1901. The editorial to the issue notes that:

On February 27th, a General College Meeting determined by a unanimous resolution to start a Magazine. It was decided that the General Editor should be a member of the Staff, and that the different sections of the College should each choose two representatives to serve upon the Committee, power being given to add to its members by co-option. […]

It was resolved to publish once a Term in the first instance, and to issue the first number without delay. The size of the Magazine, colour of cover, title, price, and general character of the contents were next discussed, and agreed upon. The result of the deliberations may be seen in the first number of “The Hartley College Magazine.” [Hartley College Magazine, vol. 1, no. 1, March 1901]

The magazine ran under various titles between 1901 and 1939, all the while maintaining essentially the same format found in the first issue: an editorial (covering recent news and events); columns on a range of topics contributed by members of staff and students; along with reports and updates from societies and sports clubs. Later issues also included contributions of prose, poetry, songs, and reviews, as well as columns by past students. The past students society, known as the Society of Old Hartleyans, would eventually have their own publication in the form of The Gobli (later The Gobli Minor and The Hartleyan), first published in 1923.

The title of the college magazine was changed to reflect the transition of the institution to a university college in 1902, becoming the Hartley University College Magazine. Shortly thereafter, more elaborately designed covers began to appear, including a series of issues displaying a photograph of the old Hartley Institution building on the High Street. June 1914 saw the grand opening of the renamed University College of Southampton at its new Highfield campus. Six weeks later the country declared war on Germany. As a result, the move to Highfield was postponed indefinitely with the College offering the buildings to the War Office for use as a hospital.

The editorial to the first issue of the renamed Southampton University College Magazine reflects on the situation:

In troublous times, amidst wars and rumours of wars, when the spectacle of the desolate, the wounded and the dead is ever present with those of us who have hearts and homes, the periodical of the old Coll. which still, thanks to those grim and grey spectres keeping watch and war along our coasts, in common with the rest of our land retains its blissful serenity undisturbed by the turmoil of the outside world, once again makes its appearance. It would be out of place to make more than a passing reference here to the conditions in which we find ourselves placed to-day, and we must be content merely to wish God-speed and a safe return to those of our number-good and true comrades all-who are devoting their lives to the service of their country, whether at home or abroad, in the barrack-room or on the field of battle. [Southampton University College Magazine, vol. 16, no. 42, Winter Term 1914]

Despite the setback for the institution, the college magazine continued through the war years with issues from the period providing details of staff and students in active service, including lists of those injured, missing, or killed in action. Meanwhile, the first issue of the University War Hospital Gazette was published in October 1917, intended as “a monthly magazine of humour, verse and interest by the patients and staff” at the Highfield site.

West Saxon: frontispiece from Autumn Term 1928 issue and cover of Spring 1939 issue.

West Saxon: frontispiece from Autumn Term 1928 issue and cover of Spring 1939 issue. The editorial to the 1939 issue reflects on recent events: “This year West Saxon is draped in black, in keeping with the age. This is the year of gloom, that began with a scare that shook our faith in the permanence of our civilisation. We find it impossible to shut ourselves in our academic ivory tower. The uncertainty of the world situation gives us a haunting feeling of insecurity: we feel the Sword of Damocles over us, yet we do not hear the “two handed engine at the door.” “Don’t work, you’ll never take Finals,” has become the shibboleth of the disillusioned.” [West Saxon, vol. 39, no. 1, Spring 1939]

To support the movement for a University of Wessex, the college magazine adopted a new title of the West Saxon in 1926. The editorial to the Christmas term issue notes that:

In view of the movement which is on foot to make this College the University of Wessex, we deemed it essential to adopt some name which had some connection, historical, geographical, or literary with the area which this College serves, the area which once comprised the kingdom of Wessex. The adoption of such a title would, we thought, have a two-fold, and possibly a three-fold, value. In the first place such a title would be of value in showing the university world of this country (and others) what this College is and hopes to be; secondly, it would kelp to keep before the minds of present students the ideal at which we are aiming; and, thirdly, it would ensure the continuity of the future history of the Magazine, if we could choose a title suitable for use by the University of Wessex. [West Saxon, vol. 27, no. 68, Christmas Term 1926]

Two years later the first issue of Wessex was published. Edited by V. de Sola Pinto, the chair of English, the annual was “a record of the movement for a University of Wessex”, to which members of staff contributed learned articles. Wessex survived for ten years, by which time the plan for a University of Wessex had foundered. By now enthusiasm for the West Saxon was also on the wane. Burdened by the weight of tradition, editorials from the 1930s highlight the struggle faced by the editorial staff. Despite the promise to be both enterprising and efficient, the editor to the Spring issue from 1939 confesses that:

This magazine should be the highest expression of representative literary work, or representative opinion, of the members of the Students’ Union […] We were financed by, and were appointed by, the Students’ Union to produce West Saxon, a magazine with a traditional tone and format, and not the magazine that we might in our heart of hearts desire to provide. And even this traditional West Saxon, could not be what we wanted it to be: we could have lino-cuts, photographs, and gay illustrations-but alas!-the financial position of the Students’ Union has demanded us to exercise the most rigorous financial stringency. Indeed, this traditional magazine seems to be fighting for its very existence. [West Saxon, vol. 39, no. 1, Spring 1939]

The number of issues published each session had decreased over the previous two years with only one (final) issue appearing during the 1938/9 session. A new magazine arrived in the form the Second Wessex in Christmas Term 1944. Maintaining a format similar to the previous publication, the preface to the first issue states that:

This Magazine is an attempt to preserve and foster the writings of the student of University College, Southampton. It includes the work of members of any Faculty, and thus realises the idea that the Undergraduate is concerned with wider education than the mere absorption of his own subject.

Its name is a connection with an older tradition, but the publication has no actual descent, and is indeed entirely separate from that tradition. It is concerned entirely with the culture, the ideas and the affairs of the student. [Second Wessex, vol. 1, no. 1, Christmas Term 1944]

The latest issue of Second Wessex in the University Collection dates from 1968.

Issues of Hartley College Magazine, Hartley University College Magazine, Southampton University College Magazine, and West Saxon are available to consult in the open access area of Special Collections on Level 4 of the Hartley Library. Issues have also been digitised and are available to view on the Internet Archive.

Wessex News

Covers of Wessex News, March 1973, and Small Wessex, 1964

Covers of Wessex News, March 1973, and Small Wessex, 1964

The first issue of Wessex News was published in 1936. Its front page contains a statement by K.H. Vickers, Principal of University College, Southampton, outlining the aim of the publication:

Very often it has been borne in upon me how difficult it is for various members of the College to know what is going on in departments of activity with which they are not intimately associated, and, indeed, I think very few have any appreciation of the large amount of valuable and interesting work that is done on behalf of the College as a whole, and the student body in particular, and of the extent and range of these activities which have all played their part in building up a sound esprit de corps, and a real basis of university life. I hope very much that from week to week “Wessex News” will be read by all those who are taking part in the activities of the College, and, further, as time goes on, by those who are interested in the College, but not closely associated with its work; it should bring home to them how many and various are the aspects of its life. [Wessex News, vol. 1, no. 1, 25 February 1936]

Published by the Southampton University Students’ Council (now the Students’ Union) the format of the publication was closer to that of a newspaper than the student magazine had been. Since its creation, the paper has provided students with regular news, reviews, and opinion pieces and remains the oldest student news provider at the University.

Wessex News became Wessex Scene in 1996 in order to reflect on the broader range of content being fed into the paper. It has evolved over the years and now takes the form of an online news site as well as a monthly printed magazine, available across the University’s campuses and Halls of Residence. Over the years the paper has also included supplements, including Small Wessex and The Edge. Individual issues of Small Wessex focus on specific topics, ranging from fashion, music, and books to rag, societies, and graduate careers. The Edge, a more recent supplement, was first published in 1995. Focusing on entertainment news, it has been published independently since 2011.

Editions of Wessex News (and Small Wessex) available in Special Collections date from 1936 to 1994. Issues of Wessex News from 1936 to 1940 are currently available to view on the Internet Archive.

Rag Mags

Covers of Rag Bag, 1929, and Goblio, 1957

Covers of Rag Bag, 1929, and Goblio, 1957

Rag has been part of University life since the 1920s. Rag day, traditionally held on Shrove Tuesday, consisted of a variety of activities aimed at raising money for charity, including the Rag procession and Rag ball. Other activities included the publication of a ‘Rag Mag’, a small booklet traditionally filled with politically incorrect humour sold in the lead up to Rag Day. The earliest Rag Mag in the University Collection is a copy of Rag Bag dating from 1927. Over the years Rag has been abolished and revived on a number of occasions. Its revival in 1948 was followed by the publication of Goblio, the longest running Rag Mag in the collection, with copies dating from 1949-64.

From 1967 the University’s Rag Mag took on a range of titles, including “Son of Goblio” or; Babel; Southampton City Rag; Flush; Dragon; and Southampton Students Stag Rag. Copies of the Rag Mags are available to access in the open access area of Special Collections.

The magazines mentioned above are just a sample of the publications available in the University Collection. They are a key resource for understanding the development of the institution, providing student perspectives on life at the University as well as insights into significant events in the history of the University and its region.

University balls and dances

With the academic year having come to an end and the celebration of summer balls having recently passed, we look back at a selection of the balls and dances which populated the University calendar in the decade following the University’s receipt of its royal charter.

Student social events have formed part of the University’s calendar since the early days of the institution. Looking at a student handbook from 1906 one can find a number of social functions listed for the session, including a series of soirées, a joint musical evening by the Choral Society, and a garden party. By the time the institution received its royal charter in 1952, becoming a full-fledged University, balls and dances had become a prominent feature of the student social scene.

Programmes for the Union Ball, 1939 [MS 310/78] and 1959 [MS 310/23]

Programmes for the Union Ball, 1939 [MS 310/78] and 1959 [MS 310/23]

One of the key events to mark the beginning of the academic year was the Freshers’ Dance. Specifically aimed at first year students, the dance was intended to provide a sample of University entertainment. However, as with many of the student dances held during the 1950s, the venue for the ball was the old Refectory (forming part of what is now Garden Court, Building 40). The venue proved inadequate, with the student newspaper the Wessex News noting that it was “not designed to accommodate two hundred and fifty whirling couples”. The result was often an overcrowded, hot and noisy event, with the behaviour of certain seniors leading to the annual dance becoming commonly known as “the cattle market”.  The late 1950s and early 1960s was a period of major expansion for the University and by the time of the 1960-1 session the Union was ready to move into the whole of the West Building, providing sufficient space for dances and live performances.

Next on the calendar was the Halloween Ball in October. Established by the Scottish and Old Time Dancing Society, the dance incorporated traditional Scottish music and was host to a selection of witches, devils, bats and similar nocturnal creatures. In 1956 an unexpected guest made an appearance: “Quite in keeping with the general atmosphere of diabolism was the sudden and unexpected entry of Kelly [the Engineering faculty’s mascot] surrounded by hooded engineers, bless their little cotton socks, furiously exploding Bangers.” [Wessex News, 6 November 1956, Univ. Coll. per LF 789.9]

Kelly the skeleton, the Engineering faculty’s mascot, was a regular guest at student balls and dances [MS 1/7/291/22]

Kelly the skeleton, the Engineering faculty’s mascot, was a regular guest at student balls and dances [MS 1/7/291/22]

A range of faculty and society balls populated the calendar throughout the decade. A description of the Interstellar Ball held by the Science Faculty in January 1957 reads:

“In front of the West Building stood a rocket ready for take-off, and inside the theme was carefully repeated with star-studded portholes, martian television sets, a flying saucer and various galaxies, not to mention a rather static mobile.” [Wessex News, 29 January 1957, Univ. Coll. per LF 789.9]

One of the most prominent social events on the University calendar was the Engineers’ Ball held in the late autumn. By the 1950s the ball had established itself as a tradition and was widely considered one of the most memorable events of the year. A great deal of effort went into planning and organising each ball. The refectory was decorated with gadgets and other mechanical wonders, bringing welcome relief from the “tedium” of its natural decor. Each year the venue was decorated to a particular theme, including the “Festival of Britain” in 1951, the “Brussels Exhibition” in 1958, and “Underwater” in 1959.

Photograph of students setting up the Engineers’ Ball, c. 1952 [MS 310/34]

Photograph of students setting up the Engineers’ Ball, c. 1952 [MS 310/34]

A review of the 1957 Engineers’ Ball in the Wessex News reads:

“No one who has not seen the Refectory when the Engineers have finished with it could believe that such a transformation of this monstrosity was possible. This year visitors found themselves in a fairground cum circus, with the usual appendages including, strangely enough, a Big Wheel. A large cage divided the bar in the annexe from the dancing room, an excellent idea, since it was mostly monopolised by the jivers who are always a nuisance to civilised dancers.” [Wessex News, 10 December 1957, Univ. Coll. per LF 789.9]

The Engineers’ Ball was considered more glamourous even than the Union Ball (though it lacked the gloss of officialdom that the latter possessed) with the same reviewer writing:

“The Engineers set themselves a very high standard, which they manage miraculously, year after year, to live up to. One can never judge an Engineers’ Ball by comparing it to other Union dances because they are not in the same class…” [Wessex News, 10 December 1957, Univ. Coll. per LF 789.9]

The popularity of the event meant that tickets were made available in order of precedence, as follows: Ball Helpers, engineering finalists, a limited number of other engineers, members of the Union, and even members of the University staff.

The spring brought two key events to the Union calendar: Rag day and the Union dinner and ball. Rag day was traditionally held on Shrove Tuesday and consisted of a variety of activities aimed at raising money for charity. It was seen as an occasion for “fun and high spirits” as well as being a means of bringing “pleasure, help and happiness to others”. Central to Rag day was the Rag procession which paraded through the city with all manner of floats accompanied by students in fancy dress. The day’s events culminated in the Rag ball which generally took place in the Guildhall in the city centre.

Route of the Rag procession, 1948 [MS 310/31]

Route of the Rag procession, 1948 [MS 310/31]

Rag day induced a particular atmosphere which some have described as “riotous”. This, on occasion, led to inexcusable acts of hooliganism which threatened the very existence of the Rag. Detailing the revival of Rag in 1948 after a lapse of many years, an article in the Wessex News notes that: “Over enthusiasm on the part of the students had caused the police to intervene in no uncertain manner, and the Rag machinery fell into disuse.” [Wessex News, 16 October 1951, Univ. Coll. per LF 789.9] A similar situation occurred in 1959 leading to the abolishing of the Rag for a number of years. While it was proposed that new University Arts Festival could act as a replacement, the Rag was reinstated again in 1963.

The Students’ Union held its own dinner and ball around the same time as the Rag (with an oversight in 1957 leading to the two events clashing). The event, regularly criticised as elitist, consisted of a dinner with speeches and toasts followed by a ball at the Guildhall. Looking at a programme for the Union Ball from 1939 one can find various ballroom dances listed, including quickstep, waltz, foxtrot, tango, etc., with the evening ending with a toast to “The King”. Fast-forwarding to 1959 we find both an orchestra, with traditional ballroom dances listed, alongside a jazz-band.

Photograph of students at the Union Ball, 1959 [MS 310/23]

Photograph of students at the Union Ball, 1959 [MS 310/23]

By the late 1950s, 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. While balls remain a standard of the University calendar, options for live music at the University broadened in subsequent decades as live jazz and rock became an integral part of many student’s lives.

Today, the Freshers’ Ball, Graduation Ball and Engineering Ball remain some of the most prominent social events of the University year.

An appointment with the Archives

The Special Collections  has a developing programme of events and visits designed to introduce students to both the collections and the work of the Division.   Last week a group of students joined the team for a behind the scenes visit and a taster session working with the collections.  As well as the opportunity to decipher Queen Victoria’ handwriting, the students assessed albums compiled by the Society of Old Hartleyans relating to student life from the first half of the 20th century, helping to choose items that we could use for promotional purposes.  Here are the choices of three of the group, Greg, Núria and Victoriawith their explanations of why the items appealed to them.

Greg 

As a photograph the striking contrasts of black suit and white shirt make the tone exciting and help to define the faces of the past by highlighting facial features.  Their finely combed hair and crisp collars show the evident attempt on their part to produce a smart picture, tarnished only by the bulb that somewhat hangs randomly on one side of the image as well as the reels of wire stacked in the left of the picture.”

Men's common room, 1918 [MS1/7/291/22/1]

Men’s common room, 1918 [MS1/7/291/22/1]

Greg’s second choice was a photograph of the football team, 1901-2:

Personally, with a keen interest in the history of football in England, this photo gives a sense of the amateur origins of the game of the time.  I love the lack of formality that is conveyed in the mish-mash of clothing on display.  It appeals to me as you are able to see the rugged leather boots and thick long sleeved shirts donned by the players, whilst also seeing the traditional ‛flatcap’ and suit style of the time being worn by gentlemen to the side of the team.  The rawness of the wooden terrace gives a sense of the crowd they played in front of, and the battered pitch an idea of the style of game!

Hartley College football team, 101-2 [MS1/7/291/22/1]

Hartley College football team, 1901-2 [MS1/7/291/22/1]

The early days of the University’s Football Club were on a modest and local scale.  Home matches were mainly played at the Shirley Ground.  The emphasis of the Football Club of 1900s was on “healthy recreation and vigorous exercise for men students” rather than on sporting prowess, hence the lack of formality in the clothing that Greg noted.

Núria

Swimming teams, 1933-6 [MS1/7/291/22/2]

Swimming teams, 1933-6 [MS1/7/291/22/2]

Núria’s choice of photographs of the swimming teams was inspired by both the gender balance in the teams and the costume they wore: “It’s mostly boys in the pictures, although there are 7 girls in one of them, which probably shows the start of gender equality in regards to swimming club membership.  I also like the gender equality in the swimming costumes: the men’s costumes are also covering their chests, like the women’s.  The swimming club photos are the ones where you can see the biggest fashion change!

The one-piece costume as worn by the men in these images was typical of the designs in the 1920s. In response to demand designs became more body-conscious and athletic abandoning long sleeves and replacing them with generously-cut armholes. This mass produced one-piece enjoyed a considerable chunk of the market in men’s swimwear in this decade.

Núria also was drawn to the images of the tennis club in the 1920s and 1930s, evoking memories of her experience of joining a sports club at the University.

Tennis players, 1927-9, 1933 [MS1/7/291/22/2]

Tennis players, 1927-9, 1933 [MS1/7/291/22/2]

The photo album I’m looking at is a collection of photographs from the sports clubs at university.  The tennis photos seem to be the only one where men and women appear together.  I really like the sense of inclusion that these photographs transmit, it reminds me of my own experience when I arrived at Southampton and joined the fencing club, where I made really good friends, both men and women.  I also find it curious that one of the ladies in the 1927 picture is wearing a tie.

There are other photographs in the collection which show women students wearing ties.  This was a period of formal dress codes when academic dress was still required when students attended lectures and exams.

Victoria 

Swimming club, 1951-2 [MS1/7/291/22/3]

Swimming club, 1951-2 [MS1/7/291/22/3]

For Victoria, it was the informality and realism that appealed in this photograph.  “It really looks as though two of the people have got the giggles when the photo was being taken.  The woman on the right is also pulling a face – this might not have been deliberate, but does add realism to the photo.

The second choice relates to the reunion picnic, in the New Forest, at Whitsun, 1951, of the Society of Old Hartleyans: this was the final event of the weekend programme, including a dinner attended by 226 the previous evening.  The minutes of the annual general meeting of the society noted that “11 members attended a picnic to Beaulieu Heath organised by Mr Glover-James”.

Victoria notes, “it is the informality that appeals to [me] more than anything and the fact that … people look happy…. The photo also provides an insight into the clothing… and even though this is a picnic, people are still fairly formally attired”.

Society of Hartleyans reunion picnic, 1951 [MS1/7/291/22/3]

Society of Old Hartleyans reunion picnic, 1951 [MS1/7/291/22/3]

The Special Collections will be running a number of drop in sessions focusing on different aspects of its holdings in the autumn.   So if you are interested, do keep an eye out for announcements.  We hope that you might be able to join us.

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.]