Some big changes are on the way for Special Collections.
I (Alison) will be leaving the University at Christmas to take on the role of Head of Collections at Durham Cathedral. I am sad to leave Bradford and grateful for the many opportunities I have had there. However the new role is too wonderful to pass up and I am thrilled to work with manuscripts, early printed books and objects in their historic, distinctive setting. Martin is also moving on, taking up a subject librarian role in the J.B. Library: he has been a huge asset to the team and will be much missed.
We are hoping to minimise disruption to the service during these changes. We are already recruiting a new archivist and are hoping to have someone in post as soon as possible. If you’re planning to visit us in 2019, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org so we can keep in touch with you about the prospects for your visit.
12 April 1991. As part of the celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the University of Bradford, a time capsule was sealed into the foyer of Richmond Building. University staff had been asked to suggest “sensible but imaginative objects” (the winners received bottles of sparkling wine) which were put into the capsule before it was locked by Vice Chancellor David Johns and Chair of Council Roger Suddards.
12 April 2016. As part of the celebrations of the University’s 50th anniversary, the time capsule was opened at a special event for staff and students. Watch the event, including a “show and tell” by Alison Cullingford the Special Collections Librarian (me!), on this Youtube video:
We were delighted that Professor Peter Excell was able to attend: his talk covered his choice of object (the super-conductor) and his memories of 1991. A large and lively crowd clearly enjoyed finding out more about the objects and the story of the University: thanks to all involved in organising or participating: it was fun!
You can see photographs of the objects on the Time Capsule’s webpage. The media then (and now) were most interested in those representing University Chancellors. Our Chancellor at the time, industrialist and TV personality Sir John Harvey-Jones, contributed this huge tie: he often wore such a tie when he visited the University. Sir Harold Wilson, the first Chancellor (1966-1986), was by then too frail to attend, but sent one of his iconic pipes. It still has the faintest trace of tobacco.
Other favourites included:
- Menu from the University refectory, featuring a sponge pudding for 30p;
- Calculator – which still worked when we switched it on. Impressive!
- Score of Jubilate, a piece written by the then Fellow in Music Graham Coatman and performed as part of the celebrations;
- Disposable surgical retractor, developed by David Sharpe of the Burns Research Unit. This innovative design was awarded the Prince of Wales award for best invention in 1988;
- and lots lots more (the capsule was as full as it could be. Clearly staff then, as now, were inspired by the capsule idea).
The objects are now part of the University Archive in Special Collections; everyone is welcome to arrange a visit to see them. Colleagues at the University, please contact me (Alison) if you would like a mini-opening in your own department.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
From Alison and Martin, Special Collections, University of Bradford
We had fun choosing sturdy green and red books for our Christmas book-tree. The Reading Room looks very festive! Please note that the Special Collections service is closed for the Christmas holidays from 24 December 2015-3 January 2016 inclusive. We hope this won’t cause any inconvenience to our readers.
2016 will be an exciting and busy year: we will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the University of Bradford. You can find out more and see some lovely images from our archives on the anniversary webpage.
On 5 November Special Collections and our Library colleagues said farewell to our Project Archivist, Emma Burgham. Here we are eating cake (Emma is second from the right).
Emma’s leaving do, 5 November 2015
Emma joined us in July 2014 for the Mitrinovic/New Atlantis Archive cataloguing project. This large archive was created by the philosopher Dmitrije Mitrinovic and his circle and greatly enhances knowledge of inter-war society, politics, culture and ideas. As an experienced archivist, Emma has been able to make sense of this complex collection and create a catalogue which will make it useful to researchers worldwide. Here’s one of our favourite images from the collection, a postcard showing Dubrovnik in the 1920s.
NAF 6-5-3, Postcard of Dubrovnik, c1920s
Emma also organised a wonderful Symposium to share news of discoveries in the archive, and has worked closely with students and other volunteers on transcribing letters and cleaning documents. We are very grateful to Emma for all her hard work and wish her all the best for future. You can find out more about the archive and Emma’s work on the project webpage and the Eleventh Hour blog.
NAF 3-2-3-2, Eleventh Hour flyer
Rat! Vomit! Slippery! Squab! Moist!
Do certain words give you the creeps? The One Show on Friday 16 January 2015, filmed in locations around Bradford, explored the strange phenomenon of “word aversion”.
You can see the programme on BBC IPlayer until 15 February (feature runs from 02:21-06:27 minutes).
Watch out for Special Collections books (backgr0und of interview), our students and catering staff, and some great shots of Centenary Square.
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.