The Japanese Garden

Journey with us to 1908 as Patrick Geddes and Frank Mears’ look to Japan and the East for urban planning inspiration.  Archives volunteer and MSc Library and Information Studies student, Tara Copic, shares with us her collection highlights from the Patrick Geddes Archives.

Archives cataloguing volunteer, Tara Copic, reading one of her favourite discoveries from the Patrick Geddes correspondence, a letter from Frank C. Mears to Patrick Geddes, 1908.

Archives cataloguing volunteer, Tara Copic, reading one of her favourite discoveries from the Patrick Geddes correspondence: A letter from Frank C. Mears to Patrick Geddes, 22 Jan 1908, which discusses the Japanese Garden. (Ref: T-GED9/818).

Since October 2019 I have been volunteering with the Universities of Edinburgh and Strathclyde’s collaborative archives cataloguing project ‘Evergreen: Patrick Geddes and the Environment in Equilibrium’. I am an MSc Library and Information Studies student at the University of Strathclyde and I volunteer with the project for a few hours once a week at the University of Strathclyde Archives and Special Collections. When I started volunteering, I received training on how to use professional archive description standards and cataloguing software AToM.

After 5 months of volunteering with the project, I am now familiar with and have practical experience in working with professional archive catalogue standards and systems.  I have enjoyed working with a series of correspondence, identifying correspondents, correcting inaccuracies and adding content.  In total, I have helped to enhance over 120 catalogue descriptions, making the collection more accessible and easy to navigate.

Working through this series of correspondence (currently I’m in 1908!), has given me a fascinating insight into the rich life and work of Patrick Geddes.  I am getting to know better his wide network of friends, colleagues and associates, that range from teachers and academics, to scientists and more. One of my favourite discoveries is a letter from Geddes’ son-in-law, the architect and town planner, Sir Frank Charles Mears (1880-1953) to Patrick Geddes at the Outlook Tower.  In the letter, Mears discusses the beauty of the Japanese garden in relation to Japanese Town Planning Practice:

Extract from a letter from architect and son-in-law, Frank C. Mears (1880-1953) to Patrick Geddes (1854-1932) discussing the Japanese garden.

Extract from a letter from architect and son-in-law, Frank C. Mears (1880-1953) to Patrick Geddes (1854-1932) discussing the Japanese garden.

“I don’t think the idea of a Garden City could occur to a real Japanese, since with them every garden, and even flower vase is a microcosm, embodying their land and philosophy in one:- so, one would assume their towns are laid out in the same way.”

“The so-called irregularity of the Japanese lay-out seems to me to be of a high coordination, far above that of either the haphazard, or the formal methods of the West today.  I think therefore that a great deal could be learned there which would be useful to the “Cities” movement here – ”

Frank C. Mears (1880-1953) to Patrick Geddes (1854-1932), 22 January 1908. (Ref: T-GED9/818).

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Two new films on Charles Lyell and his notebooks

Professor Withers and others viewing a selection of Charles Lyell notebooks, University of Edinburgh’s Playfair Library, February 2020

There are two new films on Charles Lyell and his notebooks: The Travels of His Own Mind – Travels of His Own Mind where Professor Charles Withers, Emeritus Professor of Geography, University of Edinburgh and Geographer Royal for Scotland, discussing the importance of Charles Lyell’s notebooks.

Also ‘Two Hundred and Ninety Four Notebooks, One Thousand One Hundred Donors’ – 294 notebooks, 1,100 donors where Professor Withers and Jacky MacBeath, Head of Centre for Research Collections and Head of Museums, University of Edinburgh, on why we are excited about Lyell!

 

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Edinburgh Research Archive Statistics: January 2020

Edinburgh Research Archive: January 2020 downloads infographic

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On trial: Paris Peace Conference and Beyond, 1919-1939

Thanks to a request from HCA staff the Library currently has trial access to Paris Peace Conference and Beyond, 1919-1939 from British Online Archives (BOA). The Paris Peace Conference was a meeting of Allied diplomats that took place in the aftermath of the First World War. Its purpose was to impose peace terms on the vanquished Central Powers and establish a new international order. This fascinating digital primary source database gives you access to official and personal papers relating to this conference and the treaties that came from it.

You can access this database from the E-resources trials page.
Access is available on and off-campus.

Trial access ends 17th March 2020.

The First World War gave rise to a complex system of alliances and antagonisms. The various treaties imposed by the Allied powers in its aftermath settled conflicts with Germany, Bulgaria, the Ottoman Empire (later Turkey), Austria, and Hungary. Paris Peace Conference and Beyond contains documents that cover the treaties of Versailles, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Neuilly-sur-Seine, Trianon, Sèvres, Lausanne, and Locarno, as well as the foundation of the League of Nations. Read More

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Spotlight on: Archives of Sexuality and Gender

It’s LGBT+ History Month in the UK and there are a number of events being run around the University by the Staff Pride Network and the Students’ Association. However, if you’re interested in delving into the archives to find out more about LGBT+ history in the UK then the Archives of Sexuality and Gender may be just the place to start.

Archives of Sexuality and Gender spans the 16th to the 20th century and is the largest digital collection of primary source materials relating to the history and study of sex, sexuality and gender. Documentation covering social, political, health and legal issues impacting LGBT+ communities around the world is included, as well as rare and unique books on sex and sexuality from the sciences to the humanities.

This extensive resource is made up of 3 databases, LGBTQ History and Culture Since 1940 Part I, LGBTQ History and Culture Since 1940 Part II and Sex and Sexuality, Sixteenth to Twentieth Century, which between them cover 54 collections that are international in their scope and coverage. But I want to highlight those collections that specifically look at LGBT+ history in the United Kingdom.

Gay Activism in Britain from 1958: The Hall-Carpenter Archives

Spanning the period from 1958 to 1990, this collection chronicles the activities of the Albany Trust, an organisation that was initially focused on decriminalising homosexuality and increasing social acceptance of gay people. The Albany Trust centered its work on counseling services, research, and public education, helping to steer society and the law away from older, traditional ideas regarding homosexuality. Read More

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Edinburgh Research Explorer Statistics: January 2019

Edinburgh Research Explorer: January 2020 downloads infographic

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African and South Asian newspaper archives: on trial

Thanks to a request from UncoverEd I’m pleased to let you know that we currently have trial access to 3 digital newspaper archives from Readex covering African and South Asian titles. The 3 databases are African Newspapers: The British Library Collection, World Newspaper Archive: African Newspapers, Series 1 1800-1922 and World Newspaper Archive: South Asian Newspapers 1864-1922.

You can access all 3 databases via the E-resources trials page.
Access is available both on and off-campus.

Trial access ends 13th March 2020. Read More

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The UTREES Database: University Theses in Russian, Soviet, and East European Studies 1907–

The UTREES database is the database form of the UTREES project which originated with the print form in 2008, compiled and edited by Gregory Walker and J. S .G. Simmons. It lists details of over 5,800 doctoral and selected masters’ theses from British and Irish universities from 1907 onwards, covering research relating to Eastern and Central Europe, Russia, and the area of the former USSR, including Central Asia, the Caucasus and Siberia. The database is continuously updated and is freely accessible.

  • About the UTREES database, click here.
  • To access UTREES database, click here.

The editor of UTREES has just announced today the good news that, under an agreement with the British Library, UTREES has now begun to provide access to the full text of many of its listed theses by means of links to the BL’s massive EThOS database which provides the full text of thousands of UK Higher Education theses.

  • Access eThOS: http://ethos.bl.uk (registration as members of UoE is required for full-text access)

A high proportion of theses on UTREES already have entries on EThOS. Editor Gregory Walker says:

“… we’re now working to attach links from one database to the other. We’ve already connected all relevant theses added since 2008 (about 2,300 of them), and links to the remaining 2,000-odd will be added in the coming months. For more details, please see the ‘Access to Theses’ section on the UTREES website…. We hope that this enhancement process will be of real benefit to users of UTREES, and will welcome any comments or queries. Please contact me [Gregory Walker] at gpmwalker@btinternet.com“.

For more comprehensive searches of theses awarded in your subject area, use ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global:

 

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New to the Library: Bayeux Tapestry Digital Edition

Following a successful trial in semester one I am pleased to let you know the Library now has a subscription to the Bayeux Tapesty Digital Edition. This online version allows you to scroll through the entire Tapestry and zoom in on the Tapestry to the level of the actual weave.

You can access the Bayeux Tapestry Digital Edition via the Databases A-Z list and the Digital primary source and archive collections guide. You can also access it via DiscoverEd. Read More

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Lyell Notebooks: Progress Report

Collection Curation

Since their arrival, the focus has been on a range of preliminary tasks to get the notebooks ready for digitisation, consultation and exhibition.

Exhibition

The first exhibition of Lyell’s notebooks

 

The first free public display of the Lyell collection is currently on at the University of Edinburgh’s Main Library on George Square, on the 6th floor in the Binks Exhibition Wall of the Centre for Research Collections (CRC). The volumes selected include a journal of a European tour of made by Lyell and his parents in 1818, an 1828 examination of the 1822 eruption of Vesuvius and an illustration of geology of Prosen Village (close to the Lyell family home at Kinnordy, Kirriemuir) in 1874.  The exhibition also features an engraved  portrait and a selection of geological specimens.

The exhibition also features a notebook which contains the description of shells sent to Lyell by Darwin, alongside the shells themselves.  The shells and the geological specimens are part of a wider collection of around 100 stone artefacts (axes, spears and arrow heads), three meteorites, 25 fossils, 25 rocks. These were generously donated to the University in 1927 by the Lyell family (along with a significant collection of Lyell’s papers, now held in the CRC) and are held at the University’s Cockburn Geology Museum.  Although the shells were already well known to us, finding documentation about them in the notebooks was a very exciting discovery.

The exhibition runs until 26 March.

Cataloguing

The notebooks fall into 5 series, the largest of these being Coll-203/A1, the principal scientific notebooks. The other series are Coll-204/A2 – travel journals, Coll-203/A3 – scientific journals / manuscript notes, Coll-203/A4 – Madeira and Canaries and Coll-203/A5 – Indexes.  While full cataloguing will take some time and require to be resourced separately, skeletal catalogue entries for the first series has been created by repurposing a much earlier inventory. Some rudimentary entries have also been created for the volumes in the other series to allow them to be given unique identifiers, which are essential for managing digitisation, consultation and exhibition.

These catalogue records are not yet online but will be in the near future, once the notebooks are available for general consultation.

Conservation & Preservation

Notebooks shelved awaiting boxing

 

While primarily in pretty good condition a full conservation survey has been undertaken and work identified.  In particular a good number the spine labels, which are an essential part of the materiality of the notebooks, are particularly fragile and will require some specific intervention.

Each notebook will require its own ‘book shoe’ after which they will then be boxed for efficient storage and retrieval.  In the meantime, the notebooks have been temporarily shelved in sequence until this work can be carried out.

Digitisation

Two volumes have been selected as initial exemplars for digitisation.  The first volume comes from the scientific notebooks and contains, “Geological notes and observation; Notes on modern causes”.  The second is from scientific journals and contains some drafts of letters from Lyell to Charles Darwin.

A more ambitious plan of digitisation is currently being initiated, prioritising, in the first instance, the most physically robust volumes that require no or little intervention by a conservator.

Juliette Lichman working on Lyell digitisation assessment

Lyell in Context – New Post

The CRC is currently advertising an exciting new post: Project Archivist (Climate Change).  This puts Lyell firmly in context, identifying his papers not solely as a record of his own life and work and of the history of his discipline but recognising its significance in terms of understanding our planet.  Neither does Lyell stand in isolation.  Crucial connections and interactions between him, his contemporaries and his successors run through a range of our collections and properly identifying and making these available for research is a high priority. Vital to understanding the Earth and its needs is understanding its history.  This innovative post will scope out how Lyell’s papers and other collections here can play an important role.

As well as focussing on the collections, the Project Archivist will also have a responsibility to liaise with academic and other researchers and stakeholders and to establish and develop a cluster of research interest in and around the collections as a means of identifying the collaborative basis of future projects.

For further details on the post: https://www.vacancies.ed.ac.uk/  Vacancy Reference 050984

If you have any questions regarding the Lyell collections please contact in the first instance Rachel Hosker, Archives Manager and Deputy Head of Special Collections, at Rachel.Hosker@ed.ac.uk or to discuss the fundraising campaign or future funding needs; David McClay, Philanthropy Manager, Library & University Collections at david.mcclay@ed.ac.uk

 

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