‘Connected Collections’, Library of Innerpeffray, 29 November 2014

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Last Saturday, I was at the wonderful Library of Innerpeffray, Scotland’s oldest lending library (founded ca. 1680) for ‘Connected Collections’, a workshop organised by Jennifer Barnes and Chris Murray of the University of Dundee. This was designed as a forum for academics, archivists, library and museum professionals, and students to discuss the promotion of creative collections at Scottish universities and work towards potential partnerships and research bids.

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After my opening talk on ‘Widening Access to Creative Collections at Edinburgh University’, Neil Curtis (Head of Museums, Aberdeen) gave an historical account of collecting and cataloguing policies over the 18th and 19th centuries noting how changing curatorial approaches repurposed and recombined Aberdeen University’s collections, sometimes creating hybrid objects. He stressed too the role of Scottish universities as combined national institutions, rather than regional entities serving only their immediate area.

Karl Magee (University Archivist, University of Stirling) introduced the archive of Stirling-born film-maker Norman McLaren and discussed, in particular, the relationship forged between the University Archives and the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum, culminating in the exhibition ‘A Dream of Stirling: Norman McLaren’s Scottish Dawn’.

John Izod (Communications, Media and Culture, Stirling University) told the fascinating tale of Lindsay Anderson’s documentary of Wham!’s 1985 China tour, the first visit to that country by a western pop group. Anderson’s radically different first version, rejected by the group’s management, is in Stirling University’s Lindsay Anderson Archive.

Julie Gardham (Senior Assistant Librarian, Special Collections, University of Glasgow) presented a number of innovative ways of promoting arts and humanities collections, including using archives as inspirational materials for creative writing workshops, pitching under-used and uncatalogued collections at potential researchers at evening receptions, and running a student blogathon, with prizes for the best and most liked posts for items on Special Collections and Archives material.

Gerard Carruthers (Francis Hutcheson Chair of Scottish Literature, University of Glasgow) argued that there was a need for a concerted effort to catalogue and explore 18th- and 19th-century poetry archives in Glasgow and the West of Scotland. This was material that had been neglected due to the prevailing misconception that Scottish poetry had descended into sentimental tartanry after Burns. He wished to see a project ‘Scottish Political Poetry and Song, 1832-1918’ researching material in newspapers and periodicals to create an alternative print cultural history.

Caroline Brown (Deputy Archivist, University of Dundee), discussed her university’s promotion of embedded archival teaching, including the award of a prize for the best piece of work using archival materials. She placed particular stress on oral history projects involving Dundee’s jute mills, the publisher D. C. Thomson, and patients and staff at a hospital for people with a learning disability.

Chris Murray (Dundee) discussed the use of archives in Comics Studies courses at Dundee University. These were largely created through building up close relationships with individual comic artists and publishers, many of whom regularly visited Dundee to give talks to the students. Archival materials were also used to inspire students to create their own comics. Dr Murray noted the difficulty in using some recent materials for teaching and research, due to donators’ concerns that materials might be uploaded to the internet.

Finally Brian Hoyle (English and Film Studies, Dundee) introduced Dundee University’s recently acquired archive of the Scottish novelist and screenwriter Alan Sharp, and discussed his interest in building an archive of unfilmed cinema scripts (of which there were many first-rate examples in the Sharp Archive).

The day ended with a round-table discussion which gave student delegates a chance to express their own views on the efforts of libraries, archives, and museums to engage with them. A common theme was a desire for easier and more uniform access to collections in institutions other than the student’s own. Archivists also expressed concerns that universities were no longer training students in the skills required (Latin, palaeography) to decipher archival materials.

The day provided an excellent opportunity for forging contacts between academics, library and archive professionals, and students working with creative collections. It was also an invaluable platform for library and archives staff to exchange ideas on outreach and widening participation. It is to be hoped that future ‘Connected Collections’ workshops will be organized to build on the relationships established at Innerpeffray.

 Paul Barnaby, Archives Team, CRC

 

HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco ‘meets’ his great-great-grandfather, Prince Albert I

Rachel Hosker, Archivist, meets Prince Albert II of Monaco. Graeme D. Eddie, Assistant Librarian, looks on.

Rachel Hosker, Archivist CRC, meets Prince Albert II of Monaco. Dr. Graeme D. Eddie, Assistant Librarian Archives & Manuscripts CRC, looks on (16 October 2014).

Today, His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco visited the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCI), and met the Director of ECCI and staff from the School of Geosciences at the University’s remodelled Old High School in High School Yards .

The evening before – Thursday 16 October 2014 – a number of items from the Centre for Research Collections (CRC) were displayed before the Prince when he attended a reception at Old College, Edinburgh University.

Dr. Graeme D. Eddie, Assistant Librarian CRC, meets Prince Albert II of Monaco, Rachel Hosker, Archivist CRC, looks on.

Dr. Graeme D. Eddie, Assistant Librarian Archives & Manuscripts CRC, meets Prince Albert II of Monaco, Rachel Hosker, Archivist CRC, and Professor David M. Munro look on (16 October 2014).

The Prince was given a private viewing of the display just before the Thursday evening reception and was accompanied by, among others, the University Principal, Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea, and Professor David M. Munro OBE, Ph.D of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and a member of the Technical and Scientific Committee of the Prince Albert Foundation.

A sketch by William Speirs Bruce of the survey trawling gear on board 'Princesse Alice', 1898. Gen. 1646.39.1-2

A sketch by William Speirs Bruce of the survey trawling gear on board ‘Princesse Alice’, 1898. Gen. 1646.39.1-2

For the display, items from the William Speirs Bruce collection curated by Special Collections were chosen to reflect the connection between the scientist and explorer William Speirs Bruce (1867-1921) and the Prince’s great-great-grandfather Prince Albert I of Monaco (1848-1922) who was a renowned oceanographer. Items from Edinburgh University Archives were shown too, and these described the award of an Honorary Doctor of Laws by the University to Prince Albert I in 1907.

Ms notes showing temperature and salinity observations made by Bruce from 'Princesse Alice', during July, August and September 1899, and between Tromsø, northern Norway, and the west coast of Spitsbergen. Gen. 1651.101.10

Ms notes showing temperature and salinity observations made by Bruce from ‘Princesse Alice’, during July, August and September 1899, and between Tromsø, northern Norway, and the west coast of Spitsbergen.
Gen. 1651.101.10

William Speirs Bruce led the famed Scottish National Antarctic Expedition, 1902-1904, on his vessel Scotia. Prior to his southern expedition he carried out research in the Arctic. He sailed the Barents Sea to Novaya Zemlya and Svalbard on the steam yacht Blencathra in May 1898, returning to Tromsø, northern Norway, in July. There he met Prince Albert I of Monaco (1848-1922) and was invited aboard the vessel Princesse Alice which had been constructed for oceanographic research.

In a log-book entry for 13 July 1906, Bruce writes about the improving weather with clouds dispersing so that ‘in the evening the sky was practically cloudless and all the peaks and glaciers clear. At midnight there was brilliant sunshine’. After lunch that day, a party of men went ashore at 3pm ‘when the Prince and the rest of us toasted them’. Gen. 1650.89.3.1-2

In a log-book entry for 13 July 1906, Bruce writes about the improving weather with clouds dispersing so that ‘in the evening the sky was practically cloudless and all the peaks and glaciers clear. At midnight there was brilliant sunshine’. After lunch that day, a party of men went ashore at 3pm ‘when the Prince and the rest of us toasted them’. Gen. 1650.89.3.1-2

Bruce then accompanied the Prince on a hydrographic survey to Spitsbergen, the main island in the Svalbard archipelago. The Prince’s oceanographic research vessel took them to Bear Island as well as Spitsbergen. At the end of the expedition he returned to Edinburgh briefly, before wintering in Monte Carlo and continuing with oceanographic work on the vessel. In 1899 a return expedition was made with the Prince to Spitsbergen, and during the summers of 1906 and 1907 Bruce again visited Spitsbergen. He had been invited by Prince Albert to take part in topographical mapping of Prins Karls Forland off the west coast of the island.

From the Minutes of the Senatus Academicus, 1905-1908, and recording the decision to award the Honorary LLD. EUA IN1/GOV/SEN/1

From the Minutes of the Senatus Academicus, 1905-1908, and recording the decision to award the Honorary LLD. EUA IN1/GOV/SEN/1

In January 1907, Prince Albert was to be addressing the Royal Scottish Geographical Society but prior to this, at the last meeting of Senatus for 1906, it was intimated that an honorary Doctorate of Laws (LLD) would be awarded to the Prince. This had been recommended to Senatus by the LLD Committee, triggered by information from Professor James Geikie (1893-1915). A Special Graduation Ceremony was planned for the same day as the visit to the Royal Scottish Geographical Society – 17 January 1907. It was around this time too that Bruce established the Scottish Oceanographical Laboratory.

The display set out for Prince Albert II of Monaco included items from the William Speirs Bruce Collection

The display set out for Prince Albert II of Monaco included items from the William Speirs Bruce Collection.

But… fast forward again to October 2014… and to Prince Albert II…

Dr. Graeme D. Eddie, Assistant Librarian CRC, introduces the display to Prince Albert II of Monaco, Professor David M. Munro and the University Principal

Dr. Graeme D. Eddie, Assistant Librarian Archives & Manuscripts CRC, introduces the display to Prince Albert II of Monaco, and his party. Rachel Hosker, Archivist CRC, Professor David M. Munro and the University Principal, Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea look on (16 October 2014).

Born in 1958, HSH Prince Albert II is the reigning monarch of the Principality of Monaco, and the son of Prince Rainier III of Monaco (1923-2005) and Princess Grace of Monaco (1929-1982). He is the great-great-grandson of the oceanographer Prince Albert I and his first wife Lady Mary Victoria Douglas-Hamilton (1850-1922) daughter of the 11th Duke of Hamilton.

Items illustrating a performance by Princess Grace of Monaco at St Cecilia's Hall in 1976, loaned from the Edinburgh International Festival and from the Herald & Times Group

Items illustrating a performance by Princess Grace of Monaco at St Cecilia’s Hall in 1976, loaned from the Edinburgh International Festival and from the Herald & Times Group.

After a brief introduction to the display given by CRC staff, Professor Munro very eloquently described the collection items to Prince Albert II, as well as the connections between Bruce and Prince Albert I. The Prince was heard to indicate that he hadn’t ever seen the photograph of his great-great-grandfather taken by Herbert Mather Spoor, and which had illustrated the 1907 report in The Student.

'The Student' was a magazine produced by the Students’ Representative Council. It covered student life at the University alongside a broad range of topics thought to be of interest to the student body. The magazine format was later abandoned and 'The Student' today is a newspaper. On 25 Jan 1907 it reported that Prince Albert of Monaco had been awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws. The article included a photograph taken by medical student Herbert Mather Spoor (1872-1917), MB ChB, 1908. Spoor was later killed at Ypres in 1917. EUA.P.11

‘The Student’ was a magazine produced by the Students’ Representative Council. It covered student life at the University alongside a broad range of topics thought to be of interest to the student body. The magazine format was later abandoned and ‘The Student’ today is a newspaper. On 25 Jan 1907 it reported that Prince Albert of Monaco had been awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws. The article included a photograph taken by medical student Herbert Mather Spoor (1872-1917), MB ChB, 1908. Spoor was later killed at Ypres in 1917. EUA.P.11

The Prince also observed that when his mother had participated in the poetry recital An American Heritage performed at St. Cecilia’s Hall during the Edinburgh International Festival in 1976, he too had accompanied her on the visit to the city. Princess Grace together with actors Richard Kiley and Richard Pasco had recited poems illustrating American History in four separate performances in the 1976 Festival. Their performance was themed to coincide with the bicentennial of American independence from Great Britain in 1776.

CRC staff in attendance in the Carstares Room, Old College, during the evening agreed that the items selected for the display certainly hit the spot with the Prince and with Professor Munro, and deemed the evening a great success (thanks due, not least, to supporting Conservation and Exhibitions colleagues).

Display set before the Prince... Carstares Room, Old College

Display set before the Prince… Carstares Room and adjoining Raeburn Room, Old College.

Graeme D. Eddie, Assistant Librarian Archives and Manuscripts, Centre for Research Collections

 

All in a name (nearly)

A notice from 1827 reveals certain privileges that were available if:

  • Your name was STEWART
  • Your surname was SIMPSON
  • You were a Highlander acquainted with the Gaelic language

These seem to be the only criteria on offer in terms of access to bursaries. Cash-strapped students could also, with favourable recommendation from their parish Minister, be awarded Gratis Tickets.

Notice of Regulations of the Faculty of Arts, 1827

Notice of Regulations of the Faculty of Arts, 1827

Andrew Brown (1763-1834), who issued this notice and was Dean of Faculty, was born at Biggar, in 1763. He was educated at Glasgow University then he entered the Church and was ordained minister of the Scottish Church in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1787. Brown returned to Scotland in 1795 and held charges in Lochmaben and at New Greyfriars and Old St. Giles’ in Edinburgh.

In 1801 he became Regius Professor of Rhetoric and Belles-Lettres at Edinburgh University, a post first offered to Sir Walter Scott who turned it down. His appointment proved to be a disaster however, for he was more interested in North American history than in literature and during his term of office the subject he was appointed to teach declined. He made no literary contribution and as a lecturer he was uninspired. He died in 1834.

Pipe bombs, hurt sternframes, peas, penguins, stowaways and cookery books: the Salvesen Archive

After the recent BBC whaling documentary produced by KeoFilms / KeoNorth– entitled ‘Britain’s whale hunters: the untold story’ – a spike in enquiries about the archive of the former whaling firm Christian Salvesen & Company of Leith was anticipated. To meet this, some light work has been carried out on the archive, largely to ease the difficulties sometimes encountered when handling the collection. Slightly more expanded listing of the files – beyond those supplied by the Company some decades ago – has revealed interesting aspects of life down in the far Southern Ocean, in the Falkland Islands and on South Georgia.

While the television documentary was very descriptive of how dangerous a whaler’s life could be, both at sea and on the ‘flensing plan’, it is clear that off-duty activities could be dangerous too, if not fatal. A report from Hansen to the Magistrate at Grytviken, South Georgia, relates how two sailors from the whaler ‘Swona’ had gone to the vessel’s powder magazine and taken 10 kilos of gunpowder and a 5 pound tin of ‘granatepowder’. They had then gone ashore in order to make fireworks, putting the 10 kilos of powder into a cast-iron pipe and lighting the powder. One of the sailors was killed when this firework (we would call it a pipe-bomb nowadays) exploded.

Whale-catching vessels could also be ‘hurt’ as shown by this marconigram (wireless telegraph message) from Hansen, again, to the Magistrate at Grytviken. The whale-catcher ‘Sotra’ had lost her propeller and ‘hurt her sternframe’.

Wireless telegraph message sent by Leganger H. Hansen (Salvesen manager, Leith Harbour, South Georgia, between 1916 and 1937)

Wireless telegraph message sent by Leganger H. Hansen (Salvesen manager, Leith Harbour, South Georgia, between 1916 and 1937)

Then there was the difficulty of sending provisions to the whaling stations – inferior goods were often a problem. A letter from the Salvesen offices in Glasgow, 3 December 1912, to a local city supplier refers to the peas supplied to the Company. The Manager of the Whaling Station at South Georgia had written that the peas were of ‘such a bad quality that it is impossible to get them boiled down so as to make pea-soup’.

Letter, 3 December 1912, from the Manager in South Georgia to the Company's offices in Glasgow

Letter, 3 December 1912, from the Salvesen office in Glasgow to a local city supplier, after a complaint from a Manager in South Georgia

Another file shows that in December 1926, the Magistrate at Grytviken granted permission to Salvesen on behalf of the Danish Government to take a selection of 75 penguins for exhibition purposes in Denmark. The permit was conditional upon half of these penguins then being delivered to London Zoo afterwards.

Letter, 1926, from the Magistrate in Grytviken, South Georgia, granting permission to take several dozen penguins to Denmark for exhibition

Letter, 1926, from the Magistrate in Grytviken, South Georgia, granting permission to take several dozen penguins to Denmark for exhibition

In spite of the hard life of the whaler, there were always stowaways willing to bring change to their lives either in the Southern Ocean or in the other parts of the world fished and hunted by Salvesen. This is proved in a 1933 letter from Leganger H. Hansen (the Salvesen manager of the Leith Harbour whaling station, South Georgia, between 1916 and 1937, and almost certainly the same Hansen mentioned in the brief glimpses of whaling life described above). In the letter, Hansen tells how the whale-factory ship ‘Salvestria’ had acquired three stowaways and that they could possibly be ‘landed at Dover’. He did not ‘wish any stowaways to receive either pay or part’, and he believed ‘it best that such men should be transferred to the ‘Coronda’ and placed under the command of Captain Begg, who has assured us that he will make them work’. There was a possibility of stowaways on other Salvesen vessels too – ‘Sourabaya’ and ‘New Sevilla’.

Whale-factory ships 'Coronda' and 'New Sevilla', season 1934-35

Transport ship ‘Coronda’, and whale-factory ship ‘New Sevilla’, season 1934-35

The archive informs us of the wholly different political perspective that existed in the Falkland Islands in the early years of the 20th century. Today for example, it would be very unlikely that an islander would refer to the island group as ‘The Malvinas’, the Spanish name applied by Argentina. Yet, in 1909, in Stanley, the principal town of the Falkland Islands, there was a thriving business called ‘Malvina Stores’ selling everything that might be needed, from corsets, cookery books, spare pants and under clothing, fingering yarn, ear syringes, toilet covers, nuns veiling, and bronchitis kettles. Earlier, in an ‘Ordinance relating to Aliens, Destitute Immigrants, and to the Naturalization of Foreign Subjects’ dated 27 July 1900, William Grey-Wilson, the Governor and Commander-in-Chief, advised that several South Americans including Uruguayans and an Argentinean had taken the oath of allegiance.

Advertisement for 'Malvina Store', Stanley, Falkland Islands, from 'The Falkland Islands magazine and Church Paper' No.1. Vol.XXI. May 1909

Advertisement for ‘Malvina Store’, Stanley, Falkland Islands, from ‘The Falkland Islands Magazine and Church Paper’ No.1. Vol.XXI. May 1909

From 'An Ordinance relating to Aliens, Destitute Immigrants, and to the Naturalization of Foreign Subjects', 27 July 1900

From ‘An Ordinance relating to Aliens, Destitute Immigrants, and to the Naturalization of Foreign Subjects’, 27 July 1900

What a difference a century can make !

Graeme D. Eddie, Assistant Librarian Archives and Manuscripts, Centre for Research Collections

 

Whale hunting: New documentary for broadcast on BBC Four

The story of Britain’s whale hunters is to be broadcast across the UK in a new 2-part documentary on BBC Four on Monday 9 June and Monday 16 June. The documentary has been produced by ‘KEO films’, and in the second episode some material from the Salvesen Archive will appear. The collection had been given to us on permanent loan in 1969, and with subsequent additions, and was finally gifted by Christian Salvesen Investments Limited in 2012.

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Recently a ‘Keo films’ researcher spent some days looking at material from the Salvesen archive before travelling to South Georgia in the South Atlantic to visit the remains of the Salvesen whaling operation there.

Box. 2. No. 1.

In addition to the broadcast in June, the documentary entitled ‘Britain’s Whale hunters: The Untold Story’ will again be transmitted on BBC Two, in Scotland only, later in the year, no date confirmed.

The Salvesen story itself had been an interesting one. In the early decades of the 20th century, the shipping firm Salvesen of Leith, Scotland, led the whaling industry at a time when food oils and other products from the Antarctic were considered an endless resource. Indeed, whaling dominated the Salvesen business. In later years – the 1960s and 1970s – the firm had diversified into the tanker fleet business, shipping steel and coke to Norway for the Norwegian shipbuilding and steel industries, factory fishing trawlers, and then to shore-based cold storage, canning, property development and also to house-building. Then, in October 2007, the French based transport and logistics provider Norbert Dentressangle announced that it had reached an agreement to acquire Christian Salvesen.

The images shown here are also from the Salvesen Archive and show the Company vessels ‘Coronda’ and ‘New Sevilla’ at Leith Harbour in South Georgia, and crew on board a prospecting cruise to South Georgia and Antarctica in 1913-1914.

Graeme D. Eddie, Assistant Librarian Archives & Manuscripts

 

William Soutar’s Caricatures of Hugh MacDiarmid

A few days ago I gave a talk to the Friends of William Soutar in Perth on the friendship between Soutar and his fellow Scots poet Hugh MacDiarmid, as illustrated by letters in Edinburgh University Library’s C. M. Grieve Archive (MS 2960.18).

Soutar, confined to bed with a debilitating disease for the last 13 years of his life, adorned some of his letters with affectionate pen-and-ink caricatures of MacDiarmid (whom Soutar always addressed by his real forename ‘Christopher’). On 9 January 1937, he pokes gentle fun at the workaholic MacDiarmid’s idea of ‘taking it easy’, portraying him as a Marxist superman surrounded by piles of manuscripts headed ‘Lyrics’, ‘Autobiog.’, ‘Epic’, and ‘Articles’. When war breaks out, he suggests (19 December 1940) that the drafts of MacDiarmid’s works in progress will make a more than adequate bomb shelter.

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Soutar was an Edinburgh University student, matriculating in 1919, after serving in the Royal Navy during the First World War (an experience that turned him into a pacifist). He began a medical degree, but soon switched to English Literature, where he proved a notoriously difficult student. He refused to study both Anglo-Saxon and novels in general as he considered both irrelevant to his future career as a poet. He did, however, publish early verses in The Student, many of which reappeared in his first published volume Gleanings by an Undergraduate (1923).

For information on our holdings of William Soutar manuscripts and correspondence, see Scottish Literary Papers.

Paul Barnaby, Centre for Research Collections

New Guide to Scottish Literary Papers

A new online guide to some of our major collections of Scottish literary papers is now available on the Centre for Research Collections website. It provides an overview of fourteen of our most significant twentieth-century collections, covering the literary manuscripts and correspondence of poets George Mackay Brown, Norman MacCaig, Hugh MacDiarmid, Edwin Muir, Sydney Goodsir Smith, Helen Cruickshank, Tom Scott, Andrew Young, Maurice Lindsay, and Duncan Glen, of short-story writer Fred Urquhart, and of historian and biographer Marion Lochhead. There are also pages on novelist John Buchan’s correspondence as literary adviser to Thomas Nelson & Sons Ltd (in our Nelson Archive).

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The guide not only lists the most significant literary manuscripts for each writer, but highlights links between the collections, charting correspondence between the featured writers, and mutually inspired creative and critical writings. For each writer, there is also a list of manuscript materials of relevance in other Edinburgh University Library collections. There are further links to online hand-lists and to relevant entries in the Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue.

The literary papers cover a great variety of materials:

  • Manuscript and typescript drafts of literary works, such as Norman MacCaig‘s version of the Brecht/Weil song Mack the Knife (above right)
  • Correspondence, including George Mackay Brown‘s application for a summer job at Edinburgh University Library (below left)!
  • Photographs, such as W. R. Aitken‘s portrait of Hugh MacDiarmid and family on Whalsay, Shetland (above left)
  • Other visual materials, such as Sydney Goodsir Smith‘s sketches for staging one of his plays (below right)

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In due course, the pages will be expanded to cover smaller Scottish collections and pre-20th-century manuscripts, and to detail our holdings of writers (like Sorley Maclean or Edwin Morgan) for whom we have no discrete named collection. We hope that the guide will provide an invaluable gateway to our collections for anyone interested in researching 20th-century Scottish writing. To explore the site, go to:

http://www.ed.ac.uk/schools-departments/information-services/library-museum-gallery/crc/collections/special-collections/scottish-literature/overview

Paul Barnaby

The University benefits from Christmas

Robert Irvine (1839-1902) FRSE

Robert Irvine (1839-1902) FRSE. Endowed the Chair of Bacteriology.

A recent enquiry about a benefactor has thrown up an interesting set of connections within and beyond the University.

The son of Robert Irvine, manager of The Scotsman newspaper, Robert Irvine was born in Edinburgh in 1839.  By 1871 he was married to Margaret Sclater and living in a large house in Baltic Street, Leith, the manager of a chemical works.  By 1891 he was the owner of Caroline Park at Granton.  This included, the marine station, laboratories and warehouse as well as his own home.  He was now a Chemical Manufacturer. He was a friend of oceanographer, Sir John Murray (1841-1915), assistant on the Challenger Expedition and founder of the Marine Station at Granton, either on or adjacent to Irvine’s property (accounts differ).

Murray was also involved in establishing the Christmas Island Phosphate Company.  One of the investors was Irvine and it was part of the fortune realised by this lucrative venture that was bequeathed to the University of Edinburgh.  This established the Chair in Bacteriology and the first Professor was James Ritchie (1864-1923), MA, BSc, MD, FRCPE.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1886, his proposers including Sir John Murray, and David Mather Masson, Professor of Rhetoric and Belles Lettres (English Literature).  The winner of the Neill Prize 1892-5, he also served as Councillor 1899-1902.

Irvine died in 1902 at his home at Granton, predeceased by his wife.  They had no children.

Irvine appears in our collections not only as a benefactor to the University but also in the records of the Granton Marine Station, which suggest his was role in it was quite hands-on.  The station closed shortly after Irvine’s death by which time most of the work had already moved to the west coast (for further information, see http://www.sams.ac.uk/about-us/our-history).

Grant Buttars, Deputy University Archivist

New acquisition: Further papers of Alexander Craig Aitken

aitken1The mathematician, statistician, writer, composer and musician, Alexander Craig Aitken, was born in Dunedin, New Zealand on 1 April 1895. He was of Scottish descent. He attended Otago Boys’ High School from 1908 to 1912. On winning a university scholarship in 1912 he went on to study at the University of Otago in 1913, enrolling in Mathematics, French and Latin. Studies were cut short by the 1914-1918 War however and he enlisted in 1915 serving with the Otago Infantry. Aitken saw action in Gallipoli and Egypt, and he was wounded during the Battle of the Somme. After his hospitalisation, he returned to New Zealand in 1917.

On the completion of his studies in 1920, Aitken became a school-teacher at Otago Boys’ High School and the same year he married Winifred Betts the first lecturer in Botany at the University of Otago where he also did some tutoring. Then, encouraged by a professor of mathematics at the University, he gained a postgraduate scholarship which brought him to Edinburgh University in 1923. His thesis on statistics gained him the degree of D.Sc. in 1925 when he also joined the University staff as a lecturer in Statistics and Mathematical Economics. In 1937 he was promoted to Reader, and in 1946 was appointed to the Chair of Mathematics.

Aitken’s publications include: jointly with H. W. Turnbull, The theory of canonical matrices (1932); with D. E. Rutherford, a series of Mathematical Texts; wartime experiences in Gallipoli to the Somme: Recollections of a New Zealand infantryman (1963); and, posthumously To catch the spirit. The memoir of A.C. Aitken with a biographical introduction by P.C. Fenton (1995). He made many important contributions to the many fields of his subject, particularly in the theory of Matrix Algebra and its application to various branches of mathematics. In his time, Professor Aitken was one of the fastest mathematical calculators in the world.

While at school, Aitken had learned to play the violin, and later on in life he played both the violin and viola and composed pieces for performance by university groups.  He died in Edinburgh on 3 November 1967.

Shortly before Christmas we acquired a further tranche of Aitken’s papers.  These include a number of original mathematical manuscripts, correspondence, legal documents, offprints, publications and photographs.  Amongst these is a review by Aitken of Sara Turning’s “Alan Turing”.

aitken

At the moment we still have to look through the collection, box it up and create a basic handlist.  Once this is done it will be available for consultation.

Clerk Ranken

Clerk Ranken was born in 1880, Edinburgh.  Educated at George Heriot’s School, he then went to Edinburgh University, graduating BSc (Pure Science) in 1902, then DSc in 1907. He was recipient of both the Hope Prize and Mackay Smith Scholarships. At the age of only 21 he read a paper before the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

As a Carnegie Fellow, he worked with Georg Bredig at Heidelberg University.  On his return from Germany he became lecturer in Chemistry at the Heriot-Watt College, Edinburgh, and later Assistant Professor in Chemistry. In 1917 he left academia to take up as post with Messrs. T. & J. Bernard, Ltd., the Edinburgh brewers.

We recently became aware, thanks to Dr. Andrew Alexander (Chemistry) that two photographs we had labelled as “Dr. Rubens?” are actually of Ranken and taken (most likely) during his student days.

Chemistry students c1905

Chemistry students c1905

The first is a group photograph and we assume it is a group of Chemistry students.  The doorway has been identified as one of those leading into the Reid Concert Hall (adjacent to the Medical School, where Chemistry was based). Clerk Ranken is in the front row, furthest left.

Clerk Ranken in Chemistry laboratory

Clerk Ranken in Chemistry laboratory

The second shows Ranken in a laboratory.  In 1903 the number of Chemistry laboratories had been increased and, although we have yet to place this specifically, it is of a similar style to laboratories known to be known in the Medical School building.

Clerk Ranken died in May 1936.  An obituary can be found in the Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 42, Issue 4.