Digital Detox 2019

From 16th – 21st January 2019 as a part of the #HealthyDMU campaign we will be closing all our social media channels in support of the #Digital Detox to promote an awareness of the impact of unrestrained social media use on mental wellbeing. For more info on the campaign and a DMU campus wellbeing schedule click here

Take this opportunity to be like Nelly doing a spot of bird watching: ‘Glad are the robins up in the trees, having a good time swayed by the breeze.’ Not a phone in sight!
























As our DMUVC says, this is about recalibrating our relationship with social media rather than giving it up altogether.

Enjoy and see you Tuesday,


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Come and work with us!

Come and join our team!

We’ve secured a Wellcome Trust Research Resources Grant to catalogue an exciting set of collections relating to sports history including skiing, boxing, football and the Special Olympics!

If you have any questions or want to discuss the role please contact me on, with the caveat that with the holidays I may not respond immediately, but will aim to do so in good time before the application deadline.

Assistant Archivist (Cataloguing)

Reference: D-60540821-02

Faculty/Directorate: Library & Learning Services


Salary Info: Grade E, £ 27,025 – £ 33,199


Contract Type: Fixed Term (26 months), Full-time


Advert Closing Date: 07 January 2019

Interview date: 16 January 2019


To act as cataloguer for the ‘Unboxing the boxer: cataloguing papers relating to sport at De Montfort University Special Collections’ project funded by a Wellcome Trust Research Resources Award.

-Assist the Special Collections Manager in accordance with the objectives,policies and procedures of Special Collections.

-Produce ISAD(G) compliant catalogue descriptions of collections included in the project scope, including relevant background research, arrangement, and making the catalogues available online with appropriate indexing.

-Ensure that any sensitive material is catalogued in compliance with relevant legal or data protection requirements.

-Undertake preservation tasks ensuring that collections are handled, packaged and stored according to best practice and the requirements of PD:5454.

-Promote the project both within and beyond the institution, including delivery of displays, talks and newsletter or social media content.

-Take on any other duties that might be required in the team.

Ideal Candidate

Candidates will have or be able to demonstrate:

-A first degree in a relevant subject; post-graduate qualification in archive studies or demonstrate significant progress towards gaining said qualification or demonstrate significant work experience in archives roles is essential

-Experience of working with library or archive cataloguing and collection management systems

-Understanding of best practice and standards in cataloguing of archives and their care

-Commitment to team working to deliver a high quality service

-Excellent verbal and written communication skills.

-Experience of using archive cataloguing software is desirable but not essential, Special Collections uses Epexio.

To apply:


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Review of 2018

What a year it’s been! Here’s a summary of some of the highlights…


We had some wonderful new collections including Leicester Riders Basketball Club, Leicester Area National Union of Mineworkers, the papers of David Batchelor, community and youth work lecturer, and fabric samples from the Stibbe company.



We are so fortunate in Special Collections to work with wonderful student volunteers and interns. In February Graduate Champion Gursharan did a large amount of cataloguing, improving researcher access to our collections!


In March we had a jolly knees-up when we launched our partnership with the Ski Club of Great Britain. We’re delighted to be looking after their amazing collection of skiing archives and artefacts!


In April we were kept busy with the daily hashtags of #Archive30


Also, we were very proud when our student volunteer Molly was published in ARA Magazine discussing the project she worked on with us!


In May we were pleased to feature a guest post from student Alex Marlow discussing his work on the Ski Club archives. Our partnership with the Business Management in Sport MSc was one of the first times archival work has been so deeply embedded in a module, and we hope it will be a model that is copied by other courses!


In June our archivist was kept busy participating in filming for a documentary about screenwriter Andrew Davies. As well as being part of stock footage in the archive (pushing trolleys around and rolling stacks), she was filmed discussing the collection with Andrew himself which was a great chance to ask him to clear up some questions we had about parts of the collection! The documentary will be aired on BBC4 on December 30 2018, see for more information.



We’re always busy in the summer break with our annual stocktaking! This year we tackled our vast National Art Slide Library and finally achieved an overall list of the contents of this wonderful collection.

Also in July the fabulous Natalie Hayton secured a permanent post as Assistant Archivist in the team!


In August archivist Katharine was privileged to attend the Archives and Records Association conference in Glasgow – and gave a paper entitled: “I didn’t know you were here! Increasing the visibility of a university archive among staff and students”. This blog was of course featured!


In September, to coincide with the new academic year, we piloted new opening hours. We’re now closed on Mondays to allow us to get behind the scenes work done. We’ve also added Saturday opening on the first Saturday of the month, which has already been popular with those whose lives mean weekday visits are impossible to arrange!


In October our archivist was off to another conference, this time in the beautiful town of Salamanca in Spain! She presented a paper at the International Council for Archives University Archives Group conference, this time talking about establishing the identity of a new archive in a new university! It was a wonderful experience to meet colleagues from all over the world and learn how similar our archival challenges are.


November is always super-busy in Special Collections. As well as the usual round of assisting researchers, answering enquiries and teaching our students about the collections, it’s also Explore Your Archive week, an annual national celebration of all things archive. We contributed to the daily hashtags through our blog and our Twitter feed, and also had a travelling exhibition relating to the First World War which moved around campus throughout the week.

November also saw us launch our Appeal for Archives with City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby:


This month we have launched our new catalogues on their very own website! We’ve moved to a new system, Epexio by Metadatis.

We also had some wonderful news from the Wellcome Trust regarding funding… but more on that next year!

We’d like to thank all our supporters, researchers, collaborators and well-wishers for their interest in 2018 and wish you all the best for 2019!

Katharine, Natalie and David


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The Oronto Douglas Collection

We are pleased to announce an exciting new collection – papers of Oronto Douglas, Nigerian environmental rights lawyer and alumni of DMU!

Oronto Douglas was born in Okoroba, Nigeria. He attended the University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt, Nigeria, where he studied law. A speaker of Ijaw, Igbo and Yoruba, Douglas began to work as an environmental rights activist and was instrumental in the creation of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria. In 1994 he was introduced to environmental scientist Nick Ashton-Jones and assisted him on a baseline ecological survey of the Niger Delta. The trip resulted in the publication The Environmental Rights Action Handbook to the Niger Delta (published 1998, available here).

Detail of one of the field notebooks

Douglas was a friend of activist Ken Saro-Wiwa and was involved with the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), which aimed to protect the Ogoni people from environmental destruction caused by oil companies, in particular Shell.

Publications by Ken Saro-Wiwa

Douglas was a member of the legal team that represented Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni activists at their trial under General Sani Abacha’s government in 1994-95. Saro-Wiwa was executed in November 1995 in what was described as “judicial murder” and caused international outcry.

Protest flyer by Oronto Douglas

In 1995 to 1997 Douglas attended De Montfort University, graduating with a Masters in Environmental Law. During his time in Leicester he remained an active campaigner against the oil industry, organising protests at Shell petrol stations.

Douglas later became a special adviser to Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on research, documentation and strategy. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2008 and died in April 2015.

The papers comprise twelve field notebooks from the survey of the Niger Delta conducted by Oronto Douglas and Nick Ashton-Jones in 1994. The notes record conversations with villagers detailing their lives and circumstances. Also three folders of notes, research, press cuttings and essays dating from Douglas’ studies on the MA in Environmental Law at De Montfort University, including activism around the trial of Ken Saro-Wiwa.

Please contact us on if you would like to know more.


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New website for Special Collections catalogues

Special Collections is delighted to announce that we have moved to a new cataloguing system with a dedicated new website! The system, Epexio by Metadatis, will give us more behind-the-scenes functionality that will enable us to improve the catalogues we present to you, the researcher.

We’re still tidying up some of the data so you might notice the odd broken link but we’ll have it straightened up in no time.

You may notice that some entries are very brief and described as ‘stubs’. Like many archives we are behind with our cataloguing – it’s a meticulous process that takes more time than we have! However, we decided to go ahead and make very brief entries for ALL of our holdings. That way researchers can identify material of interest even if we haven’t yet catalogued it.

Go to and give the catalogues a browse!


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Explore Your Archive day 9 – #InternationalArchives

DMU is rightly proud of its #DMUGlobal scheme, an international experience programme for our students, which aims to enrich studies, broaden cultural horizons and to develop key skills valued by employers. For today’s #InternationalArchives theme I chose a couple of years from the 1980s at random and looked through our press cuttings collections to explore the international activities of DMU’s predecessor Leicester Polytechnic. The cuttings fell into four broad themes: visits and trips; celebrating the contributions of international students and academics; explorations of multiculturalism and diversity; and charitable fundraising. Click on any of the images below to explore them in more detail.


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Explore Your Archives day 8: #SportingArchives

Today’s theme is #SportingArchives and for this theme I have gathered together images of various sports and athletes from all over the world from various collections within our archive. Trying to get as wide a variety as possible I have collected these images to show just how varied sport is and just how many nations are involved with the global phenomenon that is sport.

A game of Baseball in 1964 America

Children playing cricket on the streets of India

Chinese synchronised diving team at the 2000 Olympics

The start of the 1965 Indianapolis 500

Gymnast Svetlana Khorkina at the 2000 Olympics

Tan Yee Khan Malaysian badminton player

Austrian Skier Karl Schranz 1964

And finally Here’s some sport from Leicester to bring it back home:

An article on a women’s 100 yard race from 1935

The Leicester Polytechnic Sailing Club on Rutland Water

Special Collections has a growing number of collections relating to sport, including skiing, boxing and the Special Olympics!




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Explore Your Archive Day 7 #ArchiveAnimals

The theme of animals is particularly significant to the symbolism of both Leicester and De Montfort University as the DMU lion featured in the university’s logo has a long history that is connected with the city’s heraldry. Taken from a previous post exploring the DMU logo and Leicester Coat of Arms the following features the animal-related  highlights:

Pictured below, Leicester’s city arms have two lions holding up a shield which is decorated with a cinquefoil (a French word meaning ‘5 leaves’). A helmet with decorative mantling sits on top of the shield, crested by a wyvern. Often mistaken for a dragon, the wyvern is similar but only has two legs. The motto ‘semper eadem’ means ‘always the same’.

When the school transitioned into a Polytechnic, it was given its own coat of arms, which incorporated elements from the old coat of arms including the lion and the cinquefoil. A kestrel was added and the motto changed to ‘excellentia et studium’, meaning ‘excellence and zeal’.

At the creation of DMU in 1992, a new logo was designed but still maintained continuity with the old coat of arms. Therefore a lion was chosen, with the cinquefoil embedded in his mane, echoing the previous logo and the Leicester coat of arms.

Such a fascinating story and one that has developed over the years to include animal descendants one of which is our very own Kimberlion – the lion mascot for the Kimberlin Library.


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Explore Your Archive day 6 #DiversityArchives

There are many ways to think and talk about diversity in the archives and this post will illustrate some of the conversations we regularly have in Special Collections on this topic. Three core concerns that we are asked about or keep returning to include our seemingly eclectic, diverse and disparate holdings, our lack of diversity in terms of records about the student body and the importance of making visible the hidden experiences of minority groups with the aim of representing all members of the DMU and local community.

‘What a diverse collection of stuff!’

Anyone who has spent any time in Special Collections often comments on the diversity of our holdings, their seemingly disparate nature and the variety of formats as we not only  acquire and preserve archival documents but we also have rare books, film and audio reels, and a range of artefacts. An example of this range can be seen in the records of the institution itself as well as in material relating to its subject areas.

Paper documents include prospectuses, campus development plans, board minutes, and one of my most favourite items, the first ever student register:












We also have a selection of photographs of classes for various schools and periods, such as this 1977 business seminar.










Artefacts in our collections are hugely varied and as well as being linked to the development of the university have often been acquired because of their connection to DMU’s subject strengths and research centres, such as photography, sporting history and fashion and textiles as well as the numerous projects undertaken by staff which have then been donated:


Ceremonial stave head for Leicester Polytechnic

The International Centre for Sports History and Culture have been particularly instrumental in acquiring some of our most prestigious collections, including England Boxing from which the following item is taken:

Diascope rockets each containing an image of a cosmonaut from our Russian Space Exploration collection donated by lecturer, Andy Thomas.














Gaps in our holdings: (not) representing the student body

While our mission to preserve the institutional history of DMU and its predecessors has been very successful since Special Collections was officially established in 2013, we are painfully aware that our holdings are decidedly unbalanced in terms of how that story is represented. As seen above, we have many items that depict the development of the organisation but very little that documents staff and student experience – an elitist narrative all too often seen in organisational collections. We are lucky enough, however, to have some material that offers an alternative perspective:

These beautiful scrapbooks from the City of Leicester Teacher Training College which would later merge with Leicester Polytechnic (DMU). 1945-47.

This magnificent cardigan made by a student on the fashion and textiles course, c 1990.

Going forward, this is a situation we are hoping to rectify as we have now officially launched our Archives Appeal in a drive to collect material from previous staff and students or anyone who has documents, photographs or ephemera relating to DMU, the local area and its activities over the years.

Hidden Histories, Representation and the Democratisation Process

Most importantly, celebrating and understanding diversity in the archives is very much a part of other events geared towards raising an awareness about the achievements and struggles that comprise the experience of hidden, obscured or underrepresented people and their stories through campaigns such as Black History Month, and LGBTQI History Month.

The National Archives includes a very useful website explaining why these events are so important, and we regularly use our collections to contribute to them, as seen in a number of our outreach activities, such as conference exhibitions, blog posts for International Women’s Day, and lots of Tweets!

We are also very proud at DMU to have been awarded the first ever University of the Year for Social Inclusion by the Sunday Times Good University Guide.

And last month, as a part of the vigil to launch DMU’s Sustainable Development Goals, our chancellor, Baroness Doreen Lawrence with Archives Manager Katharine Short led a preview of the Stephen Lawrence Research Centre which along with the accompanying archival collection will be open to the public in spring 2019.

While accessing the collection is still a while away you can read more about the Centre’s aims and work in this article from the Black History Month magazine, 2018 featuring an interview with Dr Kenetta Hammond Perry, the Centre’s Director:

The role that archives and archivists can play in challenging elitist frameworks through representation can not be overstated as it is through outreach that dialogues begin, that collections can become more visible, and that catalogues become more inclusive. In this way the creation and preservation of archives ensures events and people are not forgotten, but remembered while asserting that archives are for everyone.


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Explore Your Archive day 5 #Maritime

A #MaritimeArchives theme may seem like a particularly tricky #exploreyourarchives topic for an archive located in the Midlands but you will be surprised!

DMU Maritime Links

To mark the WWI centenary year our travelling exhibition highlights the impact of the Great War on College staff and students. As a part of the research for this and our online exhibition one of those stories includes the work of Engineering Master, Ernest Edward Brooks. An expert on magnetism and electricity, Brooks taught at the Technical School from 1884 to 1936.

Inspired to join the war effort after the sinking of the Lusitania on the 7th of May 1915, Brooks developed anti-submarine technology which the Admiralty said had been ‘of the greatest assistance’ in the war effort. Submarines were considered the greatest threat during the First World War as British ships had no way of knowing where they were.

Maritime Poetry

Also in the collections here at DMU, and potentially bought for its beautiful illustrations and used as an art resource is an edition of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s longest major poem ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, illustrated by Hungarian artist Willy Pogany. The poem tells the story of a mariner recounting the tale of a long voyage to a man on the way to a wedding ceremony, what the sailor saw and how the journey changed him.



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