Edinburgh Research Archive downloads: August 2020

Edinburgh Research Archive: August 2020 downloads infographic

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Discoveries in the Charles Lyell Collection

“[Charles Lyell’s] cultivated mind and classical taste, his keen interest in the world of politics and in the social progress and education of his country, and the many opportunities he enjoyed of friendly intercourse with the most leading characters of his age, make the letters abound in lively anecdotes and pictures of society, constantly interspersed with his enthusiastic devotion to Natural History.” -Katherine Lyell, Life, Letters and Journals of Sir Charles Lyell, Bart, 1881

To mark 7 months working with the Lyell collection, I’d like to share some discoveries I’ve made while cataloguing these amazing notebooks, and researching Lyell’s published works. Lyell today is known for his great discoveries of the Earth, and the elevation and establishment of the science. Here, we see Lyell’s other interests.

Discoveries:

  1. Charles Lyell was deeply interested in the role of universities and education in society. He writes in his notebooks extensively about the religious requirements at Oxford and Cambridge, to which he objected. In  Notebook 4 he  makes  this  list:

An image of a notebook page written in pencil or light pen in which Charles Lyell writes his thoughts on University education. Transcript: What is the portion of those who ought to have a Univ[ersit]y Ed[ucatio]n in England. Who really have one? 1. Learn number Att[ourn]ys & their cle-rks. Barristers not Oxf[or]d or any Univ[ersit]y men - Dissenter who an barrister, attournies, or spe-cial pleaders &c [etc] 2. Engineers, Architects, Surveyors 3. Physician dissenters how many Surgeon d[itt]o. Discipline was intended. ought not those below 16 to be required to go to church.

Notebook No 4, p. 106, one instance of Lyell’s notes on Universities and education.

Transcription: “What is the portion of those who ought to have a Univ[ersit]y Ed[ucatio]n in England. Who really have one? 1. Learn number Att[ourn]ys & their cle-rks. Barristers not Oxf[or]d or any Univ[ersit]y men – Dissenter who an barrister, attournies, or spe-cial pleaders &c [etc] 2. Engineers, Architects, Surveyors 3. Physician dissenters how many Surgeon d[itt]o. Discipline was intended. ought not those below 16 to be required to go to church.”

 

2. Dante’s Inferno was a constant reference in Lyell’s notebooks, though it’s not clear yet for what purpose, other than the Geologist’s keen interest. In the midst of notes on other subjects, Lyell often makes brief abbreviated citations of the parts and lines of Dante. These must have been important to him, because he references these citations his table of contents. His father being a Dante scholar, this is intriguing for further research to understand how Dante’s poetry influenced Lyell’s understanding of the earth.

Excerpts from Notebook No. 4 (1827), where Lyell cites Dante.

3. Lyell wasn’t the only naturalist in his family, his sisters and father were keen on insect collecting and naming. In those days, much of the flora and fauna of Scotland had no official name, and therefore budding lepidopterists “discovered” and named the insects they caught. We hope to describe illuminating family letters like this in the newly acquired papers of Lyell.

Letter to Marianne from Charles Lyell concerning the Lyell sisters’ prowess and interest in identifying insects

4. Lyell’s eyesight is known for being poor and limiting his abilities all his life, but the reason why is now contested. Most biographies cite that his eyesight worsened while studying the law by candlelight, but in a letter to Murchison in preparation for their Grand Tour to France and Italy, Lyell writes that his eye injury was caused by the long days in the Tuscan sun on holiday with his family. On that Grand Tour, to appease his father, Lyell brought with him a clerk named Hall to aid him in his work and treatment of his eyes – though no detail of the treatment has yet been found.

Excerpt from a letter to Murchison, April 29, 1828, explaining his father’s wishes for Lyell to bring his clerk with him, to make up for his troubles with his eyes.

 

References:

Lyell, C. (2010). Life, Letters and Journals of Sir Charles Lyell, Bart (Cambridge Library Collection – Earth Science) (K. Lyell, Ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511719691

Bailey, E., 1962. Charles Lyell, F.R.S., (1797-1875). Edinburgh: Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd.

Charles Lyell Notebook No. 4, digitised here: https://images.is.ed.ac.uk/luna/servlet/s/rc0vc5

 

 

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Edinburgh Research Explorer downloads: August 2020

Edinburgh Research Explorer: August 2020 downloads infographic

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Bicentenary of Sir Walter Scott’s ‘The Abbot’

This week marks the bicentenary of Sir Walter Scott’s twelfth novel The Abbot, published in Edinburgh on 2 September 1820 and in London two days later. Alone among the Waverley Novels, it was presented not as a stand-alone narrative but as the sequel to an earlier volume, The Monastery, which had appeared just six months earlier. Set in the early years of the Scottish Reformation, The Monastery had sold well but had disappointed many readers and reviewers. Criticism was directed, in particular, at the pivotal role played by the ghostly White Lady, guardian spirit of the House of Avenel. Contrary to widespread belief, Scott rarely resorts to the supernatural, and his use of the White Lady struck many as an incongruous Gothic throwback.

The White Lady appearing to Halbert Glendinning, engraved by Charles Heath after Richard Westall (Corson P.3000)


Genesis

Scott later hinted that the decision to set a second novel in the Reformation stemmed from frustration with the relative failure of The Monastery and a determination to show that the period provided fertile subject-matter. Accepted by most of his biographers, this account has been called into question by Christopher Johnson, editor of the recent Edinburgh Edition of The Abbot (2000). Johnson shows that the contract for a sequel was signed before the completion of The Monastery, and that Scott had simply found that he had enough narrative materials for two novels. The idea of depicting the imprisonment of Mary Queen of Scots at Loch Leven Castle—The Abbot’s central episode—had occurred to Scott as early as summer 1817.
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Qurʾan Gateway – database trial

The Library has arranged a database trial for Qur’an Gateway. The database can be accessed from https://web.qurangateway.org/auth/login.php on the University network or via VPN for off-campus access. The trial can also be accessed from the E-resources Trials website.

The trial is valid until 30 September 2020.

Qur’an Gateway is a digital tool for the critical study of the Qurʾanic text and its early manuscripts. Based on the latest academic research, the tool allows you to explore and analyse data from thousands of records. Features include the ability to examine linguistics and formulaic construction, track scribal changes from hundreds of original manuscripts, check meanings and references from the original Arabic and much more.

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New! Kenya and Zimbabwe under colonial rule, in Government reports

I’m happy to let you know that the Library now has access to two digital primary source collections covering colonial rule in African countries in the 20th century. The two databases are Kenya under colonial rule, in Government reports, 1907-1964 and Zimbabwe under colonial rule, in Government reports, 1897-1980. Between them they contain 290 documents with over 158,000 pages of original primary source material.

You can access both of these databases via the Digital Primary Source and Archive Collections guide, the Databases A-Z list or the African Studies subject guide. Read More

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New to the Library: African American Newspapers

I’m pleased to let you know that the Library now has access to African American Newspapers Series 1 and 2 from Readex. These fascinating databases provide online access to approximately 330 U.S. newspapers chronicling a century and a half of the African American experience.

You can access African American Newspapers Series 1 and 2 via the Newspapers, Magazines and Other News Sources guide, the Databases A-Z list or Black Studies databases list. Read More

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New! British Labour Party and Independent Labour Party Papers

I’m happy to let you know that the Library now has access to 3 British Online Archive digital collections of primary source documents relating to British political history in the 20th century:

  • British Labour Party Papers, 1906-1968
  • British Labour Party Papers, 1968-1994
  • Independent Labour Party Records, 1893-1960.

You can access all 3 databases via the Digital Primary Source and Archive Collections guide, the Databases A-Z list and the Politics and International Relations subject guide. Read More

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New to the Library: Scottish nationalist leaflets, 1844-1973

I’m happy to let you know that the Library now has access to the database Scottish nationalist leaflets, 1844-1973 from British Online Archives. This digital primary source database collects together pamphlets relating to Scottish nationalism printed by the Scottish National Party (SNP) and their predecessors.

You can access Scottish nationalist leaflets, 1844-1973 via the Digital Primary Source and Archive Collections guide and the Databases A-Z list. Read More

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Digital Wall Student Experience Internships

Student browsing images of Library and University Collections on the Digital Wall

This past Winter 2019/20 the Digital Imaging Unit and Centre for Research Collections Museums teams hosted two student interns to support the development of the new Digital Wall, which opened in the University of Edinburgh’s main Library in September 2019. The students, Dario Lucarini (Napier University) and Tom Hutton (Edinburgh College of Art), were tasked with Read More

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