Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Fictional Hull and Hull in Fiction: Part 1

This autumn, 2016, the BBC along with the Society of Chief Librarians has been running a ‘Love to Read’ campaign throughout the country. You might have seen some of the radio and television programming already.

Here at the History Centre we thought we would join in and take this opportunity to give you a taster of some of our fiction books. Yes, we do have fiction as well as our vast array of books on the local area! 

The scope of our collection extends to books set in Hull and the surrounding area, and covering all aspects of life. Whilst reading a good novel is always enjoyable, don’t you find you can engage with a book more if you can directly relate to either the subject matter or the setting? Lots of our fiction books use local figures, stories and street names, and evoke intriguing images of Hull in print. 

Our collection ranges from 1813 to the present day, with a good many books from the 19th century. Just some of the topics covered include morality and justice, crime, historical mystery, and family sagas.

Some of our authors are already well known and loved in Hull...

Daphne Glazer, born in Sheffield, was long ago adopted by the people of Hull as their own. Many of her stories have been set in Hull, like 'Goodbye Hessle Road' and 'Three Women'.

Winifred Holtby is another local literary celebrity you've probably heard of. She was responsible for 'South Riding' which has been made made into a TV series on two separate occasions. However, there are some other titles by Holtby you might like to try. 'Anderby Wold', for example, and 'The Crowded Street', which was allegedly based on Cottingham.

Then of course we have Val Wood, nationally famous author within the 'family saga' genre. Very popular with our regular users, Wood's books include 'The Door Step Girls', 'Rich Girl, Poor Girl', and her latest book 'No Place for a Woman' which begins in 1897 and is mostly set during WWI.

As for the less well known local authors within our collection, you will have to join us again next week for part 2 of this blog to find out more. In the mean time you can explore our titles for yourself, by searching the History Centre Catalogue under the reference L.823. And happy reading!

Elaine Moll, Librarian and Archivist

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Hull History Centre secures a National Cataloguing Grant Award

From Dock Company to Humber Ports: Records of the Humber Ports of the British Transport Docks Board, 1772-1982

Hull History Centre has secured £37,000 from the National Archives National Cataloguing Grants Programme to employ an archivist for 15 months to catalogue the extensive records of the Humber Ports of the British Transport Docks Board, later known as Associated British Ports. 

As well as the growth of the ports, once catalogued this collection will offer an invaluable study of the development and influence of the railways and the role they played in urban development during the nineteenth century. 

The extensive drawings of the docks and dock installations allow an almost full impression to be gained of the development of the port from 1778 to 1914, supplementing the surviving industrial archaeology.

St Andrews Dock (Ref CTSP/3/623-8)
St Andrews Dock (Ref C TSP/3/623-8)

Important for the understanding of the history and development of Hull and the wider Humber region, this collection includes records relating to:
The Hull Dock Company
The Humber Conservancy Commissioners and Board
The ports of Goole, Grimsby and Immingham
The Aire and Calder Navigation
The Dock and Harbour Authorities Association
Hull and Barnsley Railway
Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway
North Eastern Railway/London & North Eastern Railway/Waterways and Ports

Critical to the understanding of the growth and development of the Port and City of Hull, this project will allow us to catalogue the wealth of resources held within the collection and encourage use of it for personal study or academic research.

We hope to start the project by spring 2017 and will post regular updates on our progress.

Carol Tanner
Access and Collections Manager, Hull City Archives

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Basecamp Week

The National Archives building, Kew, Richmond
Earlier this month we travelled down to The National Archives, near Kew Gardens. This is the official home of the UK government archives and holds over 11 million records in its collection, from 10th Century manuscripts to copies of government websites, and just about every kind of document and record in between.

The basecamp was the first opportunity to meet all of our Transforming Archives cohort in one place as our host archives are spread all over England and Scotland. Getting to know the trainees over many coffee breaks and dinners brought home just how diverse a group we are – our backgrounds range from photography to maritime engineering to TV production, all now bringing these skills to the archive sector.

In the National Archive reading rooms,
even the reference directories are historical documents.
The training week consisted of five days of talks and workshops from National Archive curators on the theory behind acquiring and maintaining a collection, and conversations with archivists willing to share their experiences on recent projects. 

Mixed in amongst the professional skills development was plenty of advice and support for personal development coaching that will help our careers long after the traineeship is over.

Behind the scenes in the
National Theatre props department
We were also able to visit other archives around the city to see how they cope with the specific challenges faced by their collections and their circumstances. Our first visit was to The National Theatre Archive – a small collection, but one that comes with its own special challenges. A large chunk of the archive is made of bulky props, posters and stage models which need specialist care and which don’t fit into a “normal” archive structure. The National Theatre Archive also holds a vast collection of audio-visual recordings stored on all kinds of film reels, cassettes, DVDs and video files. Digitising and cataloguing these collections is a continuously transforming process as hardware and software change or become obsolete; talking to the archivists (including Pavel, one of last year’s Transforming Archives trainees!) we better understood the problems the archive faces to preserve these materials in the best and longest-lasting formats.

Samuel Rolle’s account of the Great Fire of London, written in 1667.
The next day included a visit to the London Guildhall Library, probably the oldest civic library in the UK. Its collection is dedicated to the history of the city as well as its legal and business records.

The Guildhall also houses the new City of London Police Museum, which was set up after the closure of the City of London Police’s own small museum. We spoke to the librarian and manager at the Guildhall Library that put the exhibition together, and who explained the process of creating the exhibition with limited space and limited time. They showed us the results of a collaboration with the nearby design school to create 3D replicas of weapons that the police would not normally allow on public display.

An introduction to reading medieval manuscripts.
Probably the biggest advantage of the basecamp was that we could see first-hand the work going on in archives much different to the Hull History Centre – from small, focused institutions like the National Theatre Archive to the vast public repositories of the National Archives. 

Big or small, the recurring theme amongst every archive we visited was the drive to make their collections accessible to the public through direct outreach and through digitising the records.

It was really great to meet all the archivists, record managers and curators at The National Archives and to speak with them about both upcoming projects at the Hull History Centre, and our future careers in the archives sector.

This basecamp has given us plenty of new ideas and approaches which we can use at the Hull History Centre, and to see where we can take the centre’s collections in the future. We can’t wait to meet up with the cohort again at the Edinburgh basecamp in March 2017!

Tom Dealey and Francisco Castanon
Transforming Archives trainees

Thursday, 10 November 2016

October History Bakers: Shrewsbury Cakes

October was my turn to make something for History Bakers, and I decided to make Shrewsbury Cakes. I found the recipe in our collection of Sykes family papers. Not being much of a baker myself, my choice was based solely on the apparent simplicity of the recipe:

Recipe taken from 18th century recipe book [U DDSY/104/54]
Transcription: Take a pound of fresh butter, a pound of double refin’d Sugar sifted, a little beaten mace and 4 Eggs, beat them all together with your hands till it is very light, then put thereto a pound and 1/2 of Flower and roul them out into little Cakes.

How hard could that be? I decided to halve the quantities in the recipe, as I didn’t feel I needed a kilo and a half of biscuits, and gathered my ingredients (I didn’t have any mace so I used nutmeg instead). I also gathered my bat-shaped biscuit cutter in homage to Halloween.

Ingredients required

I creamed together the butter and sugar, mixed in the eggs and nutmeg, and added the flour. I wasn’t sure how much nutmeg to use so went for “until I got fed up of grating it”, as I was concerned that the biscuits would be a bit flavourless. As it turned out, “until just before I got fed up of grating it” might have been better, as they did come out rather over-represented in the nutmeg department.

At this point I surveyed the mixture and realised that my lack of experience in biscuit-making was about to trip me up. I can’t recall making any biscuits since my school days, which are some time ago now, and I had no idea what the mixture was supposed to be like. What I had was akin to a thick cake batter, and there was no way I was going to be able to 'roul' it out into little cakes, let alone cut it into little bats.

I should probably have asked the internet what to do next (can one live chat with Mary and Paul?) but instead I ploughed on, adding more flour to try and produce a rollable dough. Eventually I was successful, and used my bat to cut out 26 biscuits. I baked them on gas mark 4 for about 20 minutes per batch. They were then left to cool on a wire rack.

Hot out of the oven!

Inspired by my regular watching of The Great British Bake Off, but entirely unencumbered with skill, I had decided to ice the bats with suitably spooky Halloween patterns. I shall gloss over what happened next as it is all too painful, but suffice to say the sorry episode ended with me squeezing orange icing from the piping bag straight into my mouth in a bid to hide the evidence.

The final biscuits taste strongly of nutmeg (my fault) and have a dense and rather chewy texture (probably my fault, although may have been the recipe). They do make quite an acceptable snack though.

Ready to be eaten in the staff tea-room!

If you’ve been inspired by this post to make your own Shrewsbury cakes, may I suggest making a nice Victoria sponge instead? But if you insist, here is my updated recipe:

225g sugar
225g butter
450g (ish) flour
2 eggs
some nutmeg

Cream the butter and sugar together, then mix in the beaten eggs and nutmeg. Add the flour, and keep adding more until you get a dough you can roll out to about 0.5cm thick. Cut into shapes of your choosing. Bake the things at 180C/gas mark 4 for 15-20 minutes or until they look cooked. (I think maybe they should be turning golden at the edges? Not really sure.) Cool on a wire rack, then eat. Icing optional, based on inclination and skill.

Verity: Subtle flavour, lovely biscuit :)
Laura: Crisp and crunchy, perfect with a cup of tea
Claire: Perfect biscuit texture, delicately spiced
Elaine: Lovely spicy biscuit
Elspeth: Good biscuity texture and crunch but not a great deal of taste
Paul: Right crunchy with subtle undernotes!
Pete: Very nice with a hint of nutmeg

Sarah Pymer, Assistant Archivist (HUA)

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Police Leadership, Then and Now

Cataloguing of the ACPO papers is now over 95% complete, and in order to celebrate and promote the collection last Friday the History Centre hosted a small conference in conjunction with the University of Hull’s Centre for Criminology and Criminal Justice (CCCJ). 

The day started with Clive Emsley, Professor of History at the Open University and author of many books on the history of the police, talking about the first hundred years of police leadership. He touched on some characters who will be appearing in his new book, Exporting British Policing During the Second World War: Policing Soldiers and Civilians. Doctor Sarah Charman, from the University of Portsmouth spoke about her past research into the emergence of the ‘senior police voice’ during the late twentieth century illustrated by the transition from private, to public through to a persuasive phase. 

After lunch Professor David Wall of Leeds University, author of The Chief Constables of England and Wales: The socio-legal history of a criminal justice elite (1998) spoke about the recruitment of police leaders, and shifting expectations into the late twentieth century.

The day ended with a lively panel discussion, chaired by Doctor Simon Green of CCCJ, and featuring Claire Davis whose PhD research is concerned with senior police officers’ understanding of police leadership, Doctor Chris Williams of the Open University, an expert in police history and the long-term evolution of policing practice, Doctor Mark Littler of CCCJ whose research interests focus on extremism, radicalisation, counter-terrorism policy and trust in the criminal justice system.

At least ten different Universities were represented by delegates at the event, and the interest in the collection was great to see. Delegates also had a chance to look at a display of material from the ACPO archive and many promising to make a return visit to Hull once the cataloguing is completed and the collection publically available.

It also marked my final day at the History Centre, and felt like a fitting end to the project. It’s been a real privilege working with the collection, and I look forward to the catalogue going live in the new year. 

A piece about the ACPO archive was also written for the Archives Hub blog

Alex Healey
ACPO Project Archivist