Explore Your Archive day 4 #HairyArchives

For today’s #exploreyourarchives theme it’s the all time winner – #HairyArchives and I’ve found some wonderful images featuring my favourite hairy companions, dogs!

This year we thought we would mix it up with images of more than just hairy humans but hairy canines as well! Here we have a hunter with his catch and his loyal hairy companion beside him.


Our second dog photo is much more photogenic as it poses with its owner for the perfect shot in a photo studio, with a very believable country background.

And lastly we have a lovely image of two children and their dogs having their photo taken from 1910! As the best (in my opinion) hairy animal out there we hope you enjoy these old pictures of dogs and their humans as much as we do! However, if you are wanting something a little more people-based and Movember-themed then you can check out our post from last year in which we look at facial hair and hairstyles throughout the decades.



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Explore Your Archive day 3 – #ArchiveAnniversaries

There have been many significant anniversaries during 2018, not least the 100 year anniversaries of the end of the First World War and of the passing of Representation of the People Act allowing (some) women to vote. It has also been 50 years since the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr and Robert F Kennedy.

For this post I wanted to focus on a different but no less significant milestone: the 1918 Education Act. Known as the Fisher Act, this raised the school leaving age from 12 to 14, abolished fees in state elementary schools, and introduced more special needs education. Most significantly for the history of DMU, it promoted a system of part-time continuation day classes for those aged 14 to 18. This was an early form of  secondary technical education, aimed at allowing teenagers who had to enter the workforce to continue with some education, usually relevant to their trade.

At this date, the Leicester Municipal Technical and Art School provided a mixture of day time and evening classes, with the majority of students attending part time. Classes were aimed at all levels and fell into what we would consider a broad range of secondary, further, higher and adult education. LMTAS was exactly the kind of institution which was geared towards the provision of continuation day classes, and in response to the Act the Junior Day Craft Classes and the Junior Technical School were established. The prospectuses provide more detail about the work of the schools:

The 1918 Education Act recognised that young people entering the workforce needed to have the opportunity to learn and improve their skills as much as those fortunate enough to go to a grammar school and undertake a classical education. DMU’s predecessors were focused on providing vocational courses that would benefit the industry of the town, and their junior classes proved to be very successful.


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Explore Your Archive day 2: #Religious Archives

Today’s Explore Your Archive hashtag relates to #ReligiousArchives. For this theme I have selected some work by our architectural students of the 1930s, who were required to produce ‘measured drawings’ of local Leicester and Leicestershire buildings. Special Collections holds a set of images taken of student work, which includes a number of churches. You can find out more about this collection here: https://specialcollections.catalogue.dmu.ac.uk/records/L/010

Drawing of the West and North elevations of St Peter’s, Langton, by Howard Hickman.

Plan of St Peter’s, Langton, by Howard Hickman.

Drawing of the tower and west elevation of Ashby Folville church by WH Prince, Feb 1932

Details of the stonework in Holy Trinity, Normanton-le-Heath

The south aisle of St Margaret’s, Stoke Golding, by G Christie


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Explore Your Archive day 1 #musicarchives

Today’s #exploreyourarchive theme is #MusicArchives. While not one of our collections subject strengths when looking through some student work from the Leicester Municipal School of Art, we came across these two fantastic examples of concert posters created by lithography students. 

Made in the early 20th Century (1907 and 1908) the posters were for two concerts in Leicester and display detailed designs which showcases the now much rarer art of lithography.

Additionally, we found sheet music from two plays written by the award winning play-write Bryony Lavery. Lavery’s plays often feature music and the original sheet music allows a look into early versions of the songs and lyrics that would eventually become part of her plays.

This example from the play ‘The Drury Lane Ghost’ shows off some of Lavery’s fantastic lyrics and is a great example of music within archives.


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World War I Centenary: Remembrance Day 2018

Events taking place across the country on Sunday 11th November will mark Armistice Day when in 1918 World War One finally ended.

#DMUHeritage has a travelling pop-up display commemorating the contribution of DMU’s predecessor, the Leicester Municipal Technical and Art School, to World War One.

The exhibition describes the contribution of the School to the war effort, and tells the heart-breaking stories of some of the students named in our Roll of Honour.

The display will be available at the following locations:

Monday 12th to Sunday 18th: Kimberlin Library Foyer

Monday 19th to Tuesday 20th: Hugh Aston Atrium

Tuesday 20th to Wednesday 21st: Vijay Patel, outside the Gallery

Thursday 22nd to Friday 23rd: Campus Centre foyer

Sunday 25th:  Trinity Chapel during Meet the Archivists event (open to the public, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) 

For an online version of the display, see Impact of the Great War .

For last year’s Remembrance Day post, which considers the symbolism of the poppy, see: Remembrance Day 2017

“Lord, bid war’s trumpet cease; Fold the whole earth in peace.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

Katharine and Natalie

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Explore Your Archive 2018

Special Collections Manager Katharine during the 2017 Explore Your Archive campaign

It’s November which means … it’s nearly time for Explore Your Archive!

Explore Your Archive is a campaign that showcases the best of archives and archive services in the UK and Ireland. The campaign is owned by the sector itself and delivered by the Archives and Records Association (UK & Ireland). By providing a range of marketing and information templates and materials, it aims to help professionals, volunteers, interns and students celebrate the unique potential of archives to excite people, bring communities together and tell amazing stories.

The campaign aims to open the phenomenal archival collections held by organisations – public and private – across the UK and Ireland, whatever their size and scale, and wherever they are. The campaign week is 17-25 November 2018.


This year DMU Special Collections has chosen to celebrate our institutional collection in particular, coinciding with our forthcoming 150th anniversary and the launch of our Appeal for Archives.

We will be contributing to the campaign’s social media hashtags with blog posts and Twitter posts. The overall hashtag is #ExploreArchives and the daily schedule this year is:

Saturday 17 November 2018 – #MusicArchives

Sunday 18 November 2018 – #ReligiousArchives

Monday 19 November 2018 – #ArchiveAnniversaries

Tuesday 20 November 2018 – #HairyArchives

Wednesday 21 November 2018 – #MaritimeArchives

Thursday 22 November 2018 – #DiversityArchives

Friday 23 November 2018 – #ArchiveAnimals

Saturday 24 November 2018 – #SportingArchives

Sunday 25 November 2018 – #InternationalArchives

Look out for our blogs on these interesting topics – each one will have some connection to our theme of the history of DMU!

Artwork by student Julian Gould, killed during the First World War

We will also have a travelling pop-up display commemorating the contribution of DMU’s predecessor to the First World War. The display will be available at the following locations:

Monday 12th to Sunday 18th: Kimberlin Library Foyer

Monday 19th to Tuesday 20th: Hugh Aston Atrium

Tuesday 20th to Wednesday 21st: Vijay Patel, outside the Gallery

Thursday 22nd to Friday 23rd: Campus Centre foyer

Sunday 25th:  Trinity Chapel during Meet the Archivists event (open to the public, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) 

Sunday 25th is the last Heritage Sunday of the year. As well as the Meet the Archivists event mentioned above, we’ll have an activity trail and crafts for children in Leicester Castle and a chance to see the current Heritage Centre exhibitions: the Art of Healthcare and A Heritage of Healing .

Craft activities on Heritage Sunday 2017

We hope to engage with many of you during Explore Your Archive week – although we are of course available any other week too!



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Conference Round-up: Part II

Following my trip to Glasgow to attend the Archives and Records Association annual conference, I was delighted to also be able to attend the International Council on Archives Section on University and Research Institution Archives conference, this year held in Salamanca in Spain.

The conference focused on three themes: the identity of university archives, archives in the university community and the management of university archival records. The conference was held at the University of Salamanca, which is celebrating its 800th anniversary this year! They have developed a brand just for the anniversary, and have this countdown clock outside the main gate of the university:

Over the three days of the conference we heard from colleagues across Europe, the Middle East, Asia, North and South America and Africa, all responsible for managing archives in very different universities. Yet there were many areas of shared concern: widening access, the impact of new technologies and the digital record, the challenges of collecting records from diverse organisations with many mergers and name changes, the importance of engagement and ensuring that people are aware that their records could be deposited with archive facilities.

Some of the most striking papers reflected on how the archive has the responsibility to tell the full story of an institution, even if this reveals uncomfortable truths. Wendy Scheir of The New School in New York gave examples of researchers using the archive to challenge legends that the School has constructed about itself, and argued that as it is part of the ethos of the school and its founding mission to challenge the status quo and question the past, by facilitating such research the archive is playing a key role in producing critical thinking and underpins this mission.


Several archivists from North America spoke about the role of archives in uncovering connections to the slave trade and to the suppression of indigenous peoples, including Megan Sniffin-Marinoff (Harvard University), Erika Gorder (Rutgers University) and Heather Perez and Courtney Stewart (Stockton University). The tweet below refers to Rutgers, see their Scarlet and Black project for more information: 


Shelley Sweeney of the University of Manitoba offered some ideas for ways archives can begin the process of reconciliation and ensure that they adopt sensitive practices when working alongside indigenous communities, including moving away from ‘colonial’ collecting practices:


Shelley also mentioned the importance of getting cataloguing language right:


The importance of cataloguing was echoed by Lauren Zuchowski-Longwell of Loyola Marymont University. The university was formed by the merger of two separate institutions: Loyola University (all male) and Marymount College (all female). Lauren found that the catalogue structure subsumed Marymount College and did not give it due prominence as an organisation in its own right.


Another interesting area that many papers discussed was how university archives can make themselves relevant to the whole university, so that we are not viewed as just a niche research facility useful to only a handful of academics. Maggie Shapely of the Australian National University identified areas of the university which had interest in archives from an administration point of view, with the aim to embed archives in the university and make it indispensable to university functions including corporate governance, marketing, media office and facilities & services. Ruth Bryan from the University of Kentucky spoke about the limitations of the state university model retention schedule and how she adapts it to bring in Faculty papers, which are a mix of public and private papers and technically not within the remit of the archive. By collecting faculty papers the archive can document areas of university life that might otherwise be lost. Other papers discussed the difficulties of incorporating records management and digital preservation activities into the work of the archive service.

I also presented a paper at the conference, on the theme of university archive identity. I am planning to work the paper into a journal article – watch this space!


Of course the conference venue had its own perks – I did take the opportunity to enjoy the warm weather and do some sightseeing in beautiful Salamanca!


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Conference Round-Up: Part 1

At the end of August I was fortunate to attend the Archives and Records Association annual conference, this year held in Glasgow with the theme “People Make Records”. In this blog post I want to round up some of the key points and interesting discussions I heard at the event. The conference felt like a rousing call to action for the sector, encouraging us to expand access to our profession and to ensure that our collections reflect the full variety of our society. What we need to do next is to ensure that we act on the discussions that were had, and do not come back to conference in a year’s time to find that nothing has changed.

Despite getting the first flight from the Midlands I arrived too late to hear the opening keynote on “Cultural Enclaves” by Professor Gus John, but checking the (very lively) conference hashtag #ARA2018 showed me how much people were engaging with his challenging subject.


The first session I attended was on ‘representation’ and was started by Adele Patrick from the Glasgow Women’s Library speaking on the formation of the GWL and the inclusive approach they take to all their work. Adele emphasised that their equality and diversity policy isn’t a box-ticking exercise that sits on the shelf but a living document which inspires staff across the organisation. She described the high levels of ownership that GWL users feel in the collections, through projects such as the Community Curator’s Group and the Young Critics. She also emphasised the important role that creatives and artists can play in opening up collections and making them accessible to new audiences.



Next Hiu Kam Rachel Wong spoke about her research into the experiences of Chinese community groups in London who have archived their materials. She spoke of the dangers of the archive imposing their authority on the community, taking away items to catalogue them in what looks from the outside to be an arcane system, which she likened to the archives ‘disappearing into a black hole’. She also referred to the dangers of assuming homogeneity within a community group, explaining that many of the archive collections do not reflect the experiences of all members of the group but only certain sections – in this case usually educated males. Rachel recommended a power-sharing model where the community retain equal control over their material and do not put blind trust in the authority of the archive institution.

The post-lunch session on “People Are Records” included a fascinating discussion of PIPS – personal instance papers. Gillian Mapstone of National Records of Scotland described the problems of PIPs – they include such materials as medical records, immigration documents, etc – which contain a high level of personal information and are usually very bulky series. This presents two problems for the archivist – one of access and data protection, and one of size and storage. Such records are often weeded or sampled – in both cases Gillian argued that the result is silencing or undermining, removing the person and the value from the record and leaving us falling short of our mission to document society. PIPs have an enduring value beyond the individual stories, revealing much about social change for example.

After this Robin Scott of Loreto Australia spoke philosophically about truth and illusion in archives. Records can be twisted and distorted, memories are elusive and narratives can be manipulated. Archivists often fall prey to the impulse to curate collections to fit a particular narrative – or indeed they are forced to do so in order to hide truths. Archival ethics should always ensure that a collection is authentic but this is not easy. Dawn Sinclair of HarperCollins Archive had a similar message when she spoke of the bias of the archivist and how we must be aware of our own biases and how these affect the decisions we make about our collections.

The final panel of the day was organised by the Community Archive and Heritage Group. The key message from the engaging speakers was that the community must maintain control and ownership of the process of archiving. Jack Latimer described his experiences assisting community groups to develop catalogues. The technicalities of ISAD(G) tend to fade in importance beside the experience of coming together as a group to look through collections and write descriptions. Marion Kenny spoke movingly about the Qisetna online archive telling traditional Syrian stories and allowing displaced Syrian peoples to remain connected through their shared culture. Finally Alan Butler of Plymouth LGBT Archive echoed the morning’s panel when he warned of the danger of treating a set of diverse individuals as one community, “as if all gay people live on the same street”.


The following morning came the second keynote from Michelle Caswell, Assistant Professor of Archival Studies at the University of California Los Angeles. For me this was the standout talk of the conference, and one which has been occupying my thoughts since I heard it. Michelle spoke about how our social systems enforce white supremacy and heteropatriarchy and how all too often archives reflect this and marginalised groups are silenced. She called for archives to become sites of activism and new political activity, allowing lessons to be learned from the activism of the past and stopping history repeating itself. She called on us to challenge the white dominance of our profession and described an exercise she had undertaken with one of her classes to map the privilege we enjoy in archives as white people, and then generate ways of dismantling these privileges (see http://gracenbrilmyer.com/dismantling_whiteSupremacy_archives_WHOLE.pdf). She ended by decrying the concept of ‘more product less process’ as a product of neoliberalism, and called for more process when dealing with communities.



I next heard Janice Tullock discussing research she has conducted into archive audiences. She painted a rather bleak picture of falling visitor numbers, lack of engagement, and lack of coordination in the keeping of statistics across the sector. The average archives researcher is white and over the age of 65. Even audiences who attend other cultural or heritage sites, such as museums or galleries, feel that archives are ‘not for them’, ‘locked away’, ‘only for people studying’. She ended by discussing some ways that archives can expand their audiences and break down these barriers – such as giving them a compelling reason to visit such as an exhibition, having more participation, and asking people what they would like to do rather than assuming interest. Barriers were also identified by Sarah Hayes-Hickey of Limerick Archives in her lightning talk that afternoon, which elaborated on the concept of ‘archives anxiety’ and had one of the most entertaining PowerPoints of the conference! On the same panel Erin Lee of the National Theatre spoke about the difficulty of archiving performance and outlined the concept of the “embedded archivist”, someone who could be a fly-on-the-wall during development and rehearsal of a piece, record the process and advocate for the archive.



On the final day of the conference, the third keynote was delivered by disability campaigner Martyn Sibley. His speech was warm and funny but also challenged us not to think that there is nothing we as individuals can do to break down barriers faced by disabled people – we can all play a part. Martyn described environmental, attitudinal and organisational barriers which disable him. If a restaurant has a ramp access and good customer services, then he is fine. It is only if there are steps which prevent access and no assistance from staff that he then becomes disabled. His thought-provoking talk made me think hard about our reading room arrangements and how we could make adjustments to make the space truly inclusive.


I then attended three presentations on volunteers in archives. Tamara Thornhill of Transport for London spoke about using the knowledge of recently retired staff to add context to records, especially those that use a lot of railway jargon! Heather Forbes spoke about the challenges of working with multiple collaborators at Gloucestershire Archives, where she has recently been involved in the development of the Gloucestershire Heritage Hub, bringing different heritage groups together with shared facilities. Finally, Caroline Williams spoke about the many positive benefits that volunteering has both for the volunteer and the archive – provided the relationship is well-managed.


The last session I attended before heading back to the airport was an excellent panel discussion on “Widening the Circle”, focusing on how best to support community archive groups. Heather Roberts of HerArchivist, Gail Heath of The Pankhurst Centre and David Smith of the University of Huddersfield spoke engagingly about the various challenges community groups face when they work with archivists – we tend to be intimidatingly official and use too much jargon, for a start! The key message was to work WITH the groups we want to help, develop partnerships, utilise existing networks and skillsets, and always, always bring cake.


The Archives and Records Association have made several of the conference sessions available to view here: http://conference.archives.org.uk/glasgow-2018-presentation-videos

I have neglected to mention my own presentation at the conference – I will look at that in another blog post!


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National Sporting Heritage Day 2018

Held on 30th September every year and organised by Sporting Heritage, the day, established in 2014, is a campaign geared towards celebrating and raising awareness about all sporting collections held in the UK.

By way of celebrating the day here is a sports heritage round-up showcasing some of our sporting blog posts that capture the diversity of our prestigious sporting collections, how they are used across the university and some highlights of the past year — which has seen this section of our holdings grow considerably thanks to our close collaboration with the International Centre for Sport History and Culture at DMU. Click on the links for more details and images.

First up, is the fabulous launch event, held in March 2018, celebrating the official arrival of the Ski Club of Great Britain collection to DMU:

SCGB Launch

This wonderful collection has already started to feature in our teaching events and was the focus of a postgraduate project for the Sporting Heritage module for an MA programme ran by the Faculty of Business and Law. An assignment produced by one of its students is featured on our guest blog page, which you can read here.

In addition to the collection being used for teaching and scholarly research, we now contribute to a regular back page feature called ‘From the Archive’ in Ski + Board magazine that is dedicated to showcasing  an item and relaying to its readers SCGB’s amazing heritage. This month’s focus was on the collection’s move to DMU and Dry Slope Skiing 1950s style!

Ski + Board October, 2018

Next up is a post about how our England Boxing collection, formerly known as the Amateur Boxing Association, has featured in teaching workshops for postgraduate students on the MA programme. This collection was also used for a pop-up exhibition in the Heritage Centre.

Highlights from the England Boxing collection

Another sporting highlight for Special Collections this year was the arrival of the papers of the Leicester Riders Basketball Club, the oldest operating team in the UK.

Leicester Riders Basketball Club Collection

The Special Olympics was held in Leicester in 2009, and as such we are fortunate to have a a selection of documents, photographs and ephemera associated with the event.

Special Olympics 2009

Other archival collections include Sports in Leicester (papers relating to Chris Pyatt), the Papers of Norman Chester, deputy chair of the Football Trust and boxer, Jack Greenstock.

As well as our archival collections we also have the library of Malcolm Tozer, a housemaster and author of books on Physical Education, and a large selection of sports magazines, such as Cycling Weekly, Athletics Today, Runner’s World and World Sports:

World Sports, 1962

All in all, our sporting heritage collections are an amazing resource for students, scholars and enthusiasts. If you would like to know more about any of these collections then please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Blog posts within blog posts!


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#exploreyourarchives through the decades, 10’s

Continuing with ARA Scotland’s #exploreyourarchives event, for this week we are looking at the 1910’s. Our selection this week is a fantastic double page spread featuring some amazing outfits and hats from a 1912 issue of Femina magazine.

This is just the start as there’s plenty more weeks to go! Check back next week when the theme will be the 1920’s.


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