In the wake of Explore Your Archive week (10th-16th of November) we thought now would be a good opportunity to reflect and celebrate the work that has been going on in Special Collections recently. Explore Your Archive week is a campaign promoted by The National Archives (UK) for raising awareness of the work that archives do and the great potential for exploring and discovering that archives offer to academics, researchers, family historians and everyone in between! Below is just a sample of some of the exploration that has been going on by academics, students and researchers; volunteers or placement students – as well as during outreach events; funded projects and as part of daily behind the scenes work.
The department is undertaking a Wellcome Trust funded cataloguing project on our impressive holdings of syphilis related texts. Work on our chapbooks has been on-going both in-house and by our academic colleagues, including an ambitious project to make them accessible online and our newly appointed Project Officer has recently started work on an Edwin Morgan Scrapbooks project, so work flourishing all over the Special Collections spectrum. The Incunabula Project is continuing apace and much progress has been made on describing and researching Glasgow’s incunables and creating a catalogue and dedicated website for researchers – the work due to complete on schedule we are now looking forward to the Ingenious Impressions exhibition of incunabula to be hosted at the Hunterian.
‘Your Theatre History’ has seen the department’s Scottish Theatre Archive working with Theatre, Film & Television Studies, The Mitchell Library and Paisley Central Library to host two events aimed at celebrating, exploring and discussing the local history of Glasgow and Paisley theatres. These well-attended and lively events saw local people engaging with their local history and discovering new stories.
Prior to the Encountering R D Laing: Mental Health, Care and Creativity conference, supported by the Wellcome Trust, the department hosted a creative writing workshop. Using material from R.D. Laing’s archive as source of inspiration the event showcased the importance of Laing’s archive in understanding the man and his work and set the scene for the conference to follow.
During the World Congress of Scottish Literatures Special Collections, in collaboration with academic colleagues, invited visiting scholars to come and view Scottish literature in our collections, ranging from the 15th to the 21st centuries, featuring material in Latin, Scots, Gaelic and English. The selection included well-known ‘Scot Lit’ names – Robert Burns, Walter Scott, Alasdair Gray, Liz Lochhead – as well as highlighting lesser-known figures, including the poet and playwright Joan Ure and the novelist Jane Duncan.
In the hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of World War 1, Connie Eggers, a Museum Studies postgraduate student has been interning in Special Collections to assess our World War 1 holdings. In her hugely productive time with us Connie has created a foyer display, Flickr sets, blog posts, draft Tweets and create a handlist of relevant research items – a valuable and appropriate task in this year of remembrance.
The Hunterian Associates Programme has provided the means for postgraduate researchers to spend time looking at works held in our collections. This year we have researchers studying our Silver Fork novel collection; our Hunterian collection, in particular MS Hunter 3, and material from the Edwin Morgan collection.
However, all this doesn’t even begin to cover the wealth of research undertaken by individuals in the reading room, whether they be student, staff or a visitor to the library, whether they belong to the University of Glasgow, other UK institution or further afield. Highlights from the reading room recently include researchers consulting our copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio, The Northern Looking Glass, the Whistler archive, and any number of manuscripts or printed books from our wonderful Hunterian collection.
Behind the Scenes
As well as running the public reading room service, the day to day work that goes on behind the scenes involves a variety of tasks. Accessioning, cataloguing and record updating continues on our early printed books and manuscripts. Our conservation department is hard at work completing condition surveys and varying levels of conservation treatment on manuscripts, incunables and alchemical texts for exhibition. Not least, the department also prepares collection material for use in classes and engages with workshops and teaching regularly.
Working with our colleagues at the University of Glasgow Archives we strive to care for and build upon our excellent heritage material and create a resource for people that embodies the history of the university and helps to support the current teaching and research interests of the university, its students and many more. We hope to continue to build on this and urge anyone interested in the potential of our collections to get in touch, visit us, and start exploring!
Categories: Special Collections