Friday, 18 September 2015

Hull's Great Educator - Sir Brynmor Jones (1903-1989)

You might have seen in the local media that this week saw the official opening of the University’s newly refurbished Brynmor Jones Library at the University campus on Cottingham Road. For the next month you can discover the history of the library and the famous names associated with its development (including Philip Larkin). The exhibition is on display at the Brynmor Jones Library and is free to anyone who wishes to see it.

Original layout of the Brynmor Jones Library, 1930s

In light of the occasion I thought there might be a captive audience for all things Brynmor Jones based – Or you can take this as a tenuous excuse for me to tell you what we are currently cataloguing at the History Centre! So here goes...

In 1990 (yes that is 25 years ago...) we received the papers of Sir Brynmor Jones, formerly the Vice-Chancellor of the University, and a strong advocate of education, research and learning. Recently, we have been revisiting existing collections as part of our master plan to tackle the backlog of un-catalogued material.

Sir Brynmor Jones (right) and Sir Roy Marshall, Vice-Chancellor, at the party to celebrate Sir Brynmor’s 80th birthday, photographed byAlan Marshall, 1983

One strand of this is to make the university’s own institutional records and associated collections available for research use. Amongst the 7 boxes of records we hold from Sir Brynmor Jones [U DBJ], we have so far found publications, degree certificates, correspondence and speeches.

The publications highlight Jones’ close association with another name you should now be familiar (and for whom we also hold records), that of George William Gray, Professor in the chemistry department from 1946 to 1990. The publications show that Jones and Gray worked very closely in the early days, co-authoring papers documenting their shared research findings.

The degree certificates are helping us to trace Sir Brynmor Jones’ academic career as well as the many honorary degrees he received over the years.

Teaching Certificate of Brynmor Jones, 1926 [U DBJ]

In relation to the speeches, I would not have thought it possible for one man to make so many in one lifetime. This is in spite of constant references we are finding, in Jones’ own words, that this was an aspect of his work that he did not find comfortable. One of the highlights so far is the typescript text of the speech he gave as Vice-Chancellor on the occasion of the Queen Mother’s visit to open the new library in 1960.

Speech given by Sir Brynmor Jones on the occasion of the Queen Mother's visit, 1960 [U DBJ]

I have yet to tackle the correspondence files (3 boxes full) so that is next. Watch this space for further updates when the whole collection is fully catalogued and available for general access.

Claire Weatherall
Assistant Archivist, HUA

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