Borderlines VI: Showcasing our performance-related collections

Following on from our previous post, conference season is clearly underway as we created two bespoke displays in one week. After the Photographic History Research Conference we dived straight in to ‘Borderlines VI: performing across the frontiers of fear’ where we showcased some of our amazing performance-related collections.

To complement the interdisciplinary range of the conference we selected three collections with themes relating to diversity, inclusivity, and the navigation of difficult situations.

Items on display are from People Dancing (Foundation for Community Dance), an organisation devoted to providing opportunities and participation in dance for everyone; the Papers of Peter Streuli, stage director and producer, and the Papers of Bryony Lavery, a feminist playwright who challenges gender stereotypes and patriarchal norms through her adaptations and re-visions of well-known genres and stories.

The conference was organised by Dr Alissa Clarke, Senior lecturer in Drama (third from the right), seen here with some of her postgraduate students and Dr Natalie Hayton from Special Collections.

Hope we’re back for Borderlines VII next year!


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Showcasing our photographic history collections

Special Collections was pleased to be invited to prepare a pop-up display for the Photographic History Research Centre annual conference. The conference theme is Material Practices of Visual History.

The case includes a brochure from the Kodak Collection library; a Japanese tourism board glass slide and UNESCO world heritage brochure and 35mm slides from the National Art Slide Library collection; slides, negative and transparencies from DMU’s own photographic collections; a contact sheet from Iona Cruickshank’s Mapping the Fading Light, and photographic prints from the Ski Club of Great Britain collection.



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Norwegian Constitution Day

A special two for one Folklore Thursday and Norway’s National Day

As well as being a sports-themed #FolkloreThursday today, 17th May, is Norway’s national day! An official public holiday, the day celebrates Norway’s recognition as an independent kingdom from when the constitution was declared in 1814.

The archives team here has fond memories of Norway and so to mark the day we thought we would share this beautiful headscarf from the Ski Club of Great Britain Collection.

Skier detail

 As the accompanying text, written by Arnold Lunn, explains, the scarf was presented to the wife of the president of the Ski Club in 1946 at Holmenkollen ski resort, at the first ski gathering to be held there after liberation from Nazi occupation. The text is incredibly poignant, moving, and evocative of a significant moment in history at a local, national and international level.

Text accompanying the headscarf

And for our folkloric link from the same collection here is a charm featuring Ullr, the god of skiing mentioned in Norwegian saga. The charm is based on a drawing from 900 A.D. Ullr was an excellent archer, hunter, skater, and skier. He was a son of Sif and stepson of Thor; handsome, warlike, and often invoked before a duel [H/T to Norse Mythology for the information].

Skiing charm featuring Ullr

Kat and Nat

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Citations, references and footnotes, oh my!

We’ve recently had a rush of readers finalising their coursework and dissertations, and one question we are often asked is how to cite archive documents in their work.

References are used to:

  • Enable the reader to locate the sources you have used;
  • Help support your arguments and provide your work with credibility;
  • Show the scope and breadth of your research;
  • Acknowledge the source of an argument or idea. Failure to do so could result in a charge of plagiarism.


Of course the way you reference is going to depend on the manual of style that is used by your specific course and you should always refer to your module handbooks for advice in the first instance.

The information required is fairly standard:

  • descriptor of the item itself (photograph, letter, minute book, this can be taken from the title in the archive catalogue)
  • date of the item
  • creator of the item, if known
  • identifier used by the archive (D/033/B/023)
  • further identifying details, such as page numbers, box number, folder number, if available
  • collection to which the item belongs (Personal Papers of Benjamin Fletcher)
  • name of repository (De Montfort University Special Collections)
  • location of repository (Leicester, UK)

In the Chicago style you will need: title/description of the specific archival record, followed by the date (day, month, year), identifier (box/folder/item number), name of collection, name and location of repository.

For example: City of Leicester Training College prospectus, 1951, D/039/05/006, Papers of the City of Leicester Training College for Teachers, De Montfort University Special Collections, Leicester, UK.


In the MLA style you will need: Author (last name, first name). Title/description of material. Date (day month year). Call number, identifier or box/folder/item number. Collection name. Name of repository, location.

City of Leicester Training College. Prospectus. 1951. D/039/05/006. Papers of the City of Leicester Training College for Teachers. De Montfort University Special Collections, Leicester, UK.


In the Harvard style you generally need: Author, Initials., Year. Title of document. [type of medium]. Collection, Document number. Geographical Town/Place: Name of Library/Archive/Repository.

City of Leicester Training College, 1951. Prospectus [brochure]. Papers of the City of Leicester Training College for Teachers, D/039/05/006. Leicester, UK: De Montfort University Special Collections.


Both MLA and Harvard use in-text citations. These need to provide enough information to allow readers to match the citation with the full source listed in the Works Cited page. You would usually give the author and year (Smith, 1998). For example:

Courses on the teaching of art, music and dance were all added to the curriculum in the academic year 1951-52 (Training College, 1951).


Not all of our archival material is yet catalogued with a reference code (the D/039/05/006 part in the examples above)! If you access material that is uncatalogued you can put ‘uncatalogued’ in place of the reference code. Or the material might have a temporary number on the box or wrapping. For example (using Harvard style):

Ski Club of Great Britain, 1903. Executive Committee Minute Book [manuscript volume]. Ski Club of Great Britain Archive, uncatalogued. Leicester, UK: De Montfort University Special Collections.

Hinson, Adrian Paul, 1922. Brienz in Spring [painting]. Ski Club of Great Britain Archive, Bundle 14. Leicester, UK: De Montfort University Special Collections.

The archives sector is currently running a project on citation practices, please do contribute:

Calling all academics, archivists, librarians and publishers! As part of a project to find out more about citation practices for archives or special collections, Jisc, The National Archives and Research Libraries UK have launched a survey. More details about the project and to complete the survey:

The following sources were used to prepare this blog entry:


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RAF at 100

April 1 marks 100 years since the formation of the Royal Air Force. To celebrate we’ve had a look through our press cuttings albums to find associations between the RAF and the Colleges of Art and Technology during the Second World War.

Many students and staff signed up to the Armed Forces, including the RAF. Several tales of bravery, as well as loss of life, were recorded in the local press. Click on each image to read the article:

The Colleges of Art and Technology played an active role in the training of RAF personnel, including courses for the operation of radar technology. These top secret classes were not revealed till after the war.

In 1941 the College of Art hosted an exhibition of RAF photography:

The Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) also established links with the Colleges, whether it was the provision of ‘brainy girls’ or as competition in sports events.

For more information or to view the press cuttings please contact – we are open to everyone, free of charge.


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The Ski Club of Great Britain Collection comes to DMU!

Special Collections is delighted that the Ski Club of Great Britain have deposited their collection of winter sports documents, artefacts, artworks and books with us. We celebrated the new partnership at a launch event last week.

Ian Holt, Treasurer at the Ski Club of Great Britain, proposes a toast to the partnership

The collection traces the history of UK skiing, in particular the development of Alpine skiing as a sport and the rise of package tours. The large collection contains marvellous photographs, administrative documents such as minute books, circulars and race results, and a variety of artefacts including skis, ski-poles, clothing, ski goggles, ski boots, cups and trophies, medals and badges. There are many artworks and a large number of books, magazines, year books and journals known as the Arnold Lunn Library when held by the Club.

Items from the collection on display

Clothing from the collection on display










Professor Martin Polley and Dr Heather Dichter from the International Centre for Sports History and Culture spoke of the importance of archives to historians and scholars, and described how the collections would be used in student projects.

Professor Martin Polley, DMU’s Director of the International Centre for Sports History and Culture

Dr Heather Dichter, DMU’s Associate Professor of Sport Management










Indeed we were pleased to be able to showcase the work of our student volunteers in the repackaging of the collection – some before and after images below.

The badge collection before sorting

The badge collection re-housed








Repackaging postcards from a crumbling album









For more information about the launch see:

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New Catalogues on the Archives Hub

Graduate Champion Gursharan Hayre








Thanks to the efforts of our Graduate Champion, Gursharan, we have several more new catalogues available on the Archives Hub. Here’s a round up – remember all of these collections are available for anyone to view in our reading room in Kimberlin Library.

Art Collections

A05: Engravings after Raphael

Engravings of Raphael (1483-1520) works in the Vatican palace, published by Angelo Biggi, 1870.

A06: Democracy Street artwork by Jon Adams

Artist Jon Adams was commissioned by the 2015 Parliament Anniversaries Programme to create works that celebrate constitutional history, in particular the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. Adams created the ‘Democracy Street’ app which allows people to explore the history of the parliamentarians commemorated in street names. Adams held talks and exhibitions at De Montfort University in 2016, showcasing his ‘Democracy Street’ artwork. This collection comprises 8 postcards with different abstract art designs, inspired by different streets including Wilberforce Road, Shaftesbury Avenue and De Montfort Street.

A07: Soviet Propaganda Posters

Reproductions of Soviet propaganda posters and posters for theatrical performances.

DMU Collections

D/005: Student Fee Registers

Fee Registers for various predecessors of De Montfort University, including Leicester Municipal Technical and Art School, the Leicester College of Technology and the Leicester College of Art. The registers provide information on how much fees each student paid and which students have gained scholarships. 1912 – 1960.

D/012: Ceremonial Stave Heads, Leicester Polytechnic

Stave heads in the form of the letters L and P intertwined, standing for Leicester Polytechnic. According to contemporary Degree Award ceremony brochures, the Leicester Polytechnic staves were designed by Neil Harding and made in-house by Neil Harding, Czes Bernacki and John Kitto. Leicester Polytechnic become a university in 1992, and changed its name to De Montfort University at which point the staves were replaced with a new design.

D/048: Fundraising Brochure

Brochure produced as a way to appeal for funds in order to provide for equipment in the 1925-27 extension of the Hawthorn Building. Contains statistics for enrolment and attendance at Leicester Colleges of Art and Technology from the years of 1911-26. Also contains a brief history on the colleges, as well as the links they had to many of Leicester’s manufacturing industries. The front cover contains the archway entrance of Hawthorn, with the title, ‘The Gate of Opportunity’.

D/055: Toasting Fork

Frank Watson studied engineering at the Leicester Municipal Technical and Art School. He was required to design a toasting fork as part of the course. His design is meant to make it easier to toast bread on both sides by including a ‘flipping’ mechanism rather than having to manually turn the bread.

D/060: Study Tour of Cuba

Between 22nd February and 8th March 1997, De Montfort University and the Henry Doubleday Research Association visited Havana, Cuba. Henry Doubleday Research Association is an UK charity dedicated to research and promoting of organic, farming and food. It is now known as Garden Organic. This trip was designed to obtain an understanding of the organic horticulture in Cuba. The trip included informal talks at the Ministry Of Agriculture, a visit to the National Institute for Investigation into Tropical Agriculture, and visits to tobacco plantations.

The collection comprised the papers of Mr and Mrs Owens, members of Henry Doubleday Research Association, relating to the trip, including a typed diary of the visit and correspondence from people they had met on the trip, background notes on Cuba, prepared by Dr George Lambie, lecturer at De Montfort University, photo albums, videos of the trip, and leaflets and books in Spanish about agriculture.

D/070: Papers of John Bandtock

John Bandtock was a Senior Lecturer in Organic Chemistry at Leicester Polytechnic. Bandtock joined the Polytechnic in 1977 and also gained his P.H.D from the Polytechnic in 1986. Prior to this, he was a lecturer at Leicester College of Education. Items include 4 pocket diaries, handbook guides for staff which were produced by the Polytechnic, personal documents such as payment claim forms and his wallet.

D/072: Ephemera from the Montreal Expo

The 1967 International and Universal Exposition, held in Montreal, Canada, was a world fair in which nations showcased their achievements. The theme for 1967 was ‘Man and his World’. It appears that a delegation or staff member from Leicester Colleges of Art and Technology (now De Montfort University) attended the fair, bringing back newspaper cuttings, periodical journals, photographs and handouts from the Expo.

Leicester Local History Collections

L/006: Insurance Maps of Leicester and Leicestershire

Detailed maps of Leicester city centre and surrounding areas, produced by the Goad company to show insurance risks. One set of maps are largely focussed around factories in the city. Many of these maps were revised in the 1960s to include information on shops. The second set of maps are from 1995 and show shopping centres in the following areas of Leicestershire: Ashby De La Zouch, Coalville, Hinckley, Leicester, Loughborough, Lutterworth, Melton Mowbray, Oadby, Oakham, Wigston.

L/008: Development Plans for Holy Cross Priory, Leicester

Application for reconstruction of Holy Cross Priory, Leicester, 1947, including information on the planning of development and sketches of what the building could look like post reconstruction. Also contains ground plans.

L/012: Cathedral and Guildhall Conservation Area

Student project exploring the buildings in the conservation area around Leicester’s Guildhall and Cathedral. Close attention is paid to the buildings along Loseby Lane and Grey Friars, the Guildhall and the Cathedral. The author also briefly explores the historical background of Leicester and the history of the buildings in this area. The folder contains over 50 images of the Guildhall/ Cathedral area from the 1970s/80s. This essay was created by P. Vyse-Widdlecombe, a student of the School of Architecture, Leicester Polytechnic.

L/013: Architectural History of St Nicholas Church, Leicester

St Nicholas Church, situated on Holy Bones beside Jewry Wall, is an Anglican Parish Church, and is considered the oldest place of worship in Leicester. The Church was partly built out of Roman material taken from ruins, while other sections are Norman. It was extensively renovated in the 1870s. This leaflet was produced at the request of the Vicar and wardens as a guide for visitors to the church, c.1936.

L/014: Armour from Trinity Hospital Chapel

Armour and weaponry from the English Civil War (1642-1651) including:

  • Back plates
  • Breast plates
  • Gorget (neck plate)
  • Morion (type of helmet)
  • Zichagge (type of helmet)
  • Buckler with Vembrace (small shield attached to an arm guard)
  • Vembrace (arm guard)
  • Funerary Sword, featuring a painted wyvern on the hilt
  • Halberds

Photographic History Collections

P/008: International Museum of Photography exhibition posters

Poster for exhibition dedicated to the work of Walker Evens. Evens was an American photographer, known for his photographs of America during the great depression. The poster features the photograph ‘Roadside stand near Birmingham, Alabama’ 1936 by Walker Evens. Image of a road side shop in Alabama. The shop is covered with advertisements for fish and watermelons are placed outside the shop.

The second poster was for the ‘Blacks in America; A Photographic Record’ exhibition. This exhibition was based on Robert A. Mayer’s book, Blacks in America; A Photographic Record . Mayer was a director of the George Eastman Museum and the President of the Museum Association of New York. Images were taken by Gordon Parks, American photographer who was known for his photographic essays in Life Magazine. The poster features the photograph ‘Pittsburgh Grease plant March 1944′ by Gordon Parks.

P/009: Leitz Slide-Projector: Prado 150

One compact Prado 150 projector with slide changer or film strip holder. It has a 150w lamp for cine fitting and a rotating front lens. C. 1953-1967

P/010: Photographs of European Architecture

Nineteenth century photographs of buildings from various European countries. These include a large collection from Italy and Greece, and a few from France, Germany and the UK. There is one image from the USA. The photographs focus on Classical, Renaissance and Neo-Classical styles.

Fashion History Collections

F/022: Foundation of Fashion Exhibition Poster

The Symington Collection owned by Leicestershire Museums Service comprises corsets and foundation-wear created by the Market Harborough company R and W.H Symington. The collection tells the story of the Symington company, and provides insight into the development of corsetry, foundation garments and swimwear. In 1981 the museums held an exhibition of items from the collection, this poster for exhibition ‘Foundation of Fashion’ featuring a painting of three women in corsets and information about the exhibition such as opening times.


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#FolkloreThursday 08/02/2018: “the course of true love never did run smooth”

For this week’s #FolkloreThurdsay #Love theme we thought we’d add an extra dimension of our own by sharing some of the symbolic representations of love we found while exploring our collections.

As we know from any contemporary perfume advertisement, a pleasing aroma is key to attraction and romance but its association with courtship can be found in ancient writings. According to George Barbier, author of The Romance of Perfume, 1928, the Greek biographer Plutarch, said “the soul of a man in love is full of perfumes and sweet odours”

Judging from the illustrations then, women are not blessed with the innate gift of their love giving off a sweet odour and instead had to rely on the perfume seller!

Now on to medieval times, when the ladies would present knights with their jewels as tokens of their affection before their loved ones went into battle, as William Jones explains in Precious Stones Their History and Mystery, 1880.

Precious Stones: Chapter II

The story of the Lady of Astolat who later dies from unrequited love was the inspiration for many artworks and literature, including Tennyson’s 1833 poem The Lady Of Shallot, and John William Waterhouse’s painting of the same name, 1888.

What discussion of romance and love symbolism would be complete without considering plants and flowers. The Flora Symbolica or the language and sentiment of flowers by John Ingram c 1870 acknowledges that there are many different types of love: bashful, pure, hopeful, silent, concealed, unrequited, etc. etc. and they can all fortunately be  symbolised with the presentation of a specific flower.

The rose is the flower most associated with romantic love.

The Rose

Shakespeare Sonnet from The Book of Perfume, 1865

And of course, the secret to true love, according to Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream also lies in a potion that can be extracted from the purple, yellow and white flower known as love-in-idleness:

Character Costumes for ‘A Midsomer Night’s Dreame’ 1924

If nothing else writing this post has highlighted the history of traditional Valentine gifts: flowers, perfume and jewellery – I just needed chocolate for a bit of completionism!


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#FolkloreThursday meets #NationalStorytellingWeek

Today’s #FolkloreThursday theme is favourite fairy tales, in honour of #NationalStorytellingWeek! We were absolutely spoiled for choice with this theme, as we have such a wonderful collection of beautifully illustrated children’s stories.

To start, a Walter Crane illustration for Sleeping Beauty which adopts a Germanic woodcut feel appropriate to the Grimm Brothers origins of the tale (from The Art of Walter Crane, 1902)


These illustrations of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast and Snow White are from Six Old World Fairy Tales, illustrated by J.K. Wilkinson, c.1920

Next are a couple of more modern interpretations of classic fairy tales Puss in Boots (1975) and Little Red Riding Hood (1976):


Finally some images by Edmund Dulac: scenes from Aladdin from Sinbad the Sailor and other stories from the Arabian Nights, 1911; Puss in Boots escorting the King and Fortunata and the Hen from A Fairy Garland, 1928.


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New Catalogues, January 2018

Thanks to the sterling efforts of Gursharan, our Graduate Champion, we have eight new catalogues live on the Archives Hub this month! They are a wide ranging selection of items relating to the history of DMU, fashion, and art.

L/011: Brochure for the Royal Visit to the city of Leicester, 1958, when the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh visited the city to open a new building at the University of Leicester. The brochure was designed by Leicester College of Art staff.

D/071 portrait photograph of Queen Elizabeth II from 1992, gifted to the University to commemorate two visits by The Queen in 1993 – one in March to open the Milton Keynes campus and one in December to open the Queens Building

D/069: Ephemera relating to the visit of The Queen to De Montfort University in 2012

A/08: Engravings after paintings by Ford Madox Brown, depicting scenes from Shakespeare: ‘Cordelia’s Portion’ and ‘Romeo and Juliet’

D/073: Cartoon presented to De Montfort University to mark the formal launch of a ‘compact agreement’ with the Sir John Gleed Technology School. The compact system allowed a pupil to study at a designated college, making them ‘compact’ with the university to have automatic entry to a degree course.

F/023: Colour sketches of Bakst designs for ballet costumes, possibly cut out from a publication, and mounted on card. The sketches include designs for plays such as ‘Scheherazade’ and ‘La lampe d’Aladin’

F/021: Fashion Drawings from 1938 show designs for a tweed suit, summer clothes and swimwear

F/020:  Cartoon showing a man looking at four different corsets in a shop window, which remind him of the women he has had in his life

Gursharan is working away on more descriptions so watch this space!


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