Special collections in universities aren’t just dusty things in basements that are kept because they are nice or old. They’re part of the story of their institution, highlighting and documenting its distinctive qualities. For instance, the University of Bradford has peace campaign archives because of the radical history of the University and the City and collections on dyeing and textile industries because we grew from the City’s need for technical education. If properly cared for and catalogued, such collections are invaluable for research, teaching, community work, art and even student recruitment.
Classroom in Bradford Technical College Textile Department, circa 1911
Unique and Distinctive Collections, a new report co-authored by Alison Cullingford and published by Research Libraries UK aims to help university senior managers see the potential of their collections and encourage them to invest in making more of them.
For the first time ever, the wonderfully rich story of Bradford’s Technical College, its staff and students, and their links with local industries, can be discovered online – via a new catalogue of BTC’s archive (available in Word or PDF on its web page).
Half of a 200 H.P. compound engine made in the Engineering Department for its own use, on the back of an open horse-drawn cart (Archive ref: BTC 2/5/8)
The College was created to meet the training needs of Bradford’s textile industries in the mid-19th century. The first building of the Technical School was opened in 1882. Transferred to local Council control in 1899, the College grew and developed to supply high-level technological expertise nationally and internationally. A long-running campaign for University status paid off when the higher education side became Bradford Institute of Technology (a College of Advanced Technology) in 1957: this later became the University of Bradford.
The surviving records of the College tell its story and introduce us to many interesting people. Photographs illustrate its buildings, we see the activities and works of its staff and students, who received prizes, and the impact of war and changing society on the institution. We have enriched the original typescript 1970s finding aid for online publication, for instance by indexing many names. Revisiting the archive in this way has shown us how much the College was part of the city. There is so much still to discover.
Dr Munro Price, of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford, has published a book which explores the downfall of Napoleon. Napoleon: the end of glory. Oxford University Press, 2014. Using a remarkable range of under-explored European archive sources, Dr Price shows us how and why Napoleon failed to compromise with his enemies in the period immediately before his first exile. Contrary to popular belief, Waterloo was just a postscript to a career that had already failed. I won’t summarise all Dr Price’s arguments: you need to read the book for those & it well repays a read.
Beautifully produced and very well priced for an academic work, this book would make a lovely Christmas gift for anyone interested in military history, politics or reconciliation/peace studies …
Thrilled to announce that Special Collections at the University of Bradford has achieved Archive Accreditation! We are the first English university to reach this new standard. I’ll be writing about what this honour means for our collections and our users soon.
I’ll be introducing our wonderful Special Collections to the Friends of Senate House Library this Wednesday, 15 January 2014. My talk, From Hidden Gems to Greatest Treasures, is at 6pm. All are welcome! Here’s the poster: BradfordJan2014 (2).
And here’s the website for the Friends, featuring several other talks for fans of archives and rare books.
Drinks Reception, Gallery II, University of Bradford
Thursday 5 December 2013 5-6 pm. All welcome.
Arts on Campus and Special Collections invite you to join us for Christmas drinks and eats and a chance to see our new exhibition in the company of its curators.
Arts Curator Amy Charlesworth, with help from Special Collections, explores the growth and significance of the most fascinating and distinctive facets of the University’s story: the Arts and Issues programme. See the Hockneys from the 1979 University Challenge win, campus buildings that never were and amazing 1970s political collages.
Credit: mince pie pic from ayca13’s flickr stream, CC BY 2.0 licence.
Cohesion, Challenge and Critique
The “Arts and Issues” fellows at Bradford University, 1966-1982
14 November 2013-16 January 2014
A new exhibition in Gallery II at the University of Bradford brings together as never before the unique resources of special collections and the permanent art collection. Arts Curator Amy Charlesworth, with help from Special Collections, explores the growth and significance of the most fascinating and distinctive facets of the University’s story: the Arts and Issues programme.
Tom Nash, maquette, circa. 1969, University of Bradford permanent art collection
The programme encourages students to look beyond the subjects of their studies, links the University to local communities, and enriches the life of the University through visual and other artforms; the exhibition considers the early years of the programme to examine how and whether these aims are achieved.
For further information, see the Gallery II website.