Papers of Dr. Jacobus L. Potter & Dr. Elizabeth M. Potter

THEIR BIRTHS IN NOVEMBER 1924 WERE ANNOUNCED IN THE SCOTSMAN ON THE SAME DAY… AFTER CAREERS IN THE USA, JACOBUS LOUW POTTER BECAME EXECUTIVE DEAN, FACULTY OF MEDICINE, EDINBURGH UNIVERSITY, 1981,

Recently added to our collections are the Papers of Dr. Jacobus L. Potter (1924-2015) and Dr. Elizabeth M. Potter (1924-1979), donated by the surviving family.

Elizabeth M. Ross at Tonley House, Alford, a hostel housing young women helping local farmers during the war. Elizabeth was a cook. An article about this was printed in the 'Bon-Accord & Northern Pictorial', 21 September 1944.

Elizabeth M. Ross at Tonley House, Alford, a hostel housing young women helping local farmers during the Second World War. Elizabeth was a cook at the hostel before going on to study medicine. An article about the women and their work was printed in the ‘Bon-Accord & Northern Pictorial’, 21 September 1944.

Elizabeth Mackay Ross and Jacobus Louw Potter grew up and went to school in different parts of Fife, Scotland, and met at Edinburgh University. Jacobus graduated in 1948 and Elizabeth in 1949, each with the degrees of M.B. Ch.B. They married in 1949.

Jacobus Louw Potter, probably at graduation in 1948.

Jacobus Louw Potter, probably at graduation in 1948.

One of the first posts that Jacobus held was that of resident surgeon in the rheumatic diseases unit of the Northern General Hospital, Edinburgh. In 1952 however he joined the medical branch of the Royal Air Force becoming a squadron leader in charge of the medical division, RAF Hospital, Padgate, in Cheshire. In 1954 he returned to Edinburgh as a research fellow at the Northern General, and he went to the USA to research at the New York University School of Medicine’s pathology department.

The cover of the sketch-book filled by Jacobus L. Potter, 1944-1945.

The cover of the sketch-book filled by Jacobus L. Potter, 1944-1945.

In 1962, Potter returned to the USA, to White Plains, New York, and spent the next 20-years in the country. He had varied roles including: work with the Health Research Council of the City of New York; Associate Professor and Associate Dean of the New York University School of Medicine, 1958-1980; physician/consultant for the New York Veteran’s Administration Hospital; and, consultant at New York Infirmary.

Sketch by Jacobus L. Potter showing a bundle of plain muscle fibres and connective tissue.

Sketch by Jacobus L. Potter, also a talented artist, showing a bundle of plain muscle fibres and connective tissue.

He also served on various bodies and committees, and he was elected as a Fellow of the American College of Physicians. He also became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.

Part of a sketch of capillaries by Jacobus L. Potter.

Part of a sketch of capillaries by Jacobus L. Potter.

Meanwhile, after her graduation and marriage Elizabeth held posts at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, the Northern General Hospital, and Bruntsfield Hospital, all in Edinburgh, and at Bangour Hospital outside the city.

Sketches of hair follicle with sebaceous gland, and sweat gland.

Sketches of hair follicle with sebaceous gland, and sweat gland.

Joining Jacobus in the USA in 1963 she worked at the New York University School of Medicine, the New York University Medical Center, New York Infirmary, and St. Clare’s Hospital Center.

Sketch of submaxillary.

Sketch of submaxillary gland.

In 1981 Jacobus L. Potter was back in Scotland where he took up the post of Executive Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Edinburgh University. This was noted in the University of Edinburgh Journal, Vol.30. No.1. June 1981. p.6. Sadly Dr. Elizabeth Mackay Potter had predeceased her husband on 26 July 1979, still only in her 50s.

Sketch of the thymus.

Sketch of the thymus.

Jacobus Louw Potter FRCP FACP died on 9 May 2015 in Edinburgh. His second wife, Rena (Catherine Matthews), had predeceased him a little earlier in 2015.

Sketch of the cerebellum.

Sketch of the cerebellum.

The donated collection which will now be prepared and boxed is composed of correspondence, class certificates and University study memorabilia, degrees and professional certificates of the couple. It is expected to be complemented with diaries and additional correspondence at a future date.

Notes of anaesthetics contained in the sketch-book kept by Jacobus L. Potter.

Notes of anaesthetics contained in the sketch-book kept by Jacobus L. Potter.

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

Note, also used in this post: ‘Obituary: Jacobus Louw Potter FRCP FACP, physician’, Alison Shaw, The Scotsman, 28 May 2015

MacDiarmid and ‘Nisbet: An interlude in post-war Glasgow’

IN THE HUGH MACDIARMID COLLECTION (II)… MS LETTER FROM THE PROJECT THEATRE, GLASGOW… NEW PLAYS ‘PROJECT’ NEW IDEAS

Letter-head from a letter to Christopher Grieve (Hugh MacDiarmid) from the Project Theatre, Glasgow, 1932

Letter-head from a letter to Christopher Grieve (Hugh MacDiarmid) from the Project Theatre, Glasgow, 1932

Among the many letters to Hugh MacDiarmid from producers and directors  of theatre companies across the UK and Europe,  and from editors of journals and reviews, is a couple of pieces of correspondence from the Director of the Project Theatre, Glasgow.

Project_Theatre_logo

Writing on 9 November 1932, the Director, Frederic Grant, mentions that the Theatre producer had found an old number of the Scottish Chapbook (August/September 1922) in the Mitchell Library. On looking through it he came across a one act play written by Grieve entitled Nisbet, He now had ‘the urge to produce’ the play the next month – December – ‘along with other one act plays’. Grant was ‘under the belief’ that they play had ‘not yet been produced’ and requested Grieve’s ‘permission to give it stage presentation’.

Body of the letter from Frederic Grant to Christopher Grieve, 9 November 1932, asking permission to put on 'Nisbet'.

Body of the letter from Frederic Grant to Christopher Grieve, 9 November 1932, asking permission to put on ‘Nisbet’.

The play in question was Nisbet, An Interlude in Post War Glasgow which had been published in 1922 in two issues of the Scottish Chapbook which had become an important outlet for his writing. The Nisbet in question was John Bogue Nisbet a young poet friend of Grieve who was killed at Loos during the First World War. The two used to go cycling and camping in Berwickshire and elsewhere.

Grant’s letter continues: ‘In accordance with our rules we do not pay authors for performing their plays when it is a case of first time on any stage. Our organisation has been founded for various reasons, one outstanding feature is our desire to help playwrights to have their work presented to the public’.

A second letter from the Project Theatre on 3 January 1933 announces that Nisbet had ‘jumped its first hurdle’. Grant continues: ‘I didn’t think for one moment you ever expected it to be played. Some of the passages came out very well indeed, but as you may agree there was a lack of theatre. Nevertheless the experiment was interesting’.

Project_Theatre_logo_part

Grant then describes how the Theatre workshop had created a back-cloth ‘in symbolic design, depicting piles of tenements and everything that is loathsome of Glasgow’. he also refers to the review in the Daily Record the morning after (probably 24 December 1932) in which the play was described as a ‘Cerebral Puzzle’.

Nevertheless, the Director of the Project Theatre was keen to know if Grieve had ‘any more to offer us?’ The Theatre was ‘intent upon doing new plays whenever possible. What a wealth of expression our present time affords’.

The Project Theatre liked to ‘be not too tame neither’ !

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

bannerThis piece was written using: (1) Correspondence within the MacDiarmid collection, Ms. 2966; (2) Lucky Poet. A self-study in literature and political ideas, p.83 London: Jonathan Cape, 1972. In Library general collections – PR 6013. R735 Macd; (3) ‘Hugh MacDiarmid, Author and Publisher’, J. T. D. Hall, in Studies in Scottish Literature, Vol. 21. Issue 1. January 1986

 

 

Dylan Thomas poem in ms: ‘In memory of Anne Jones’

IN THE HUGH MACDIARMID COLLECTION (I)… MS LETTER FROM DYLAN THOMAS AND MS POEM

Signature_DT_onlyFor several months work has been going on to bring order within the collections created over a number of decades around the great figures of the ‘Scottish Literary Renaissance’ of the 20th century. This work builds on the recommendations made by archivists in more recent years, and with the ambition of bringing greater clarity to the collections… significantly, in this instance anyway, those of George Mackay Brown, Helen B. Cruickshank, Norman MacCaig and Hugh MacDiarmid.

When working among the correspondence of a literary ‘great’ it is almost a given that interesting material lies waiting to be ‘rediscovered’. The collection of papers built up around Hugh MacDiarmid (Christopher Murray Grieve) has proved to be no exception… revealing an interesting letter from Dylan Thomas… along with a ms poem, In memory of Anne Jones.

Opening of the letter from Dylan Thomas to Hugh MacDiarmid [circa October 1938].

Opening of the letter from Dylan Thomas to Hugh MacDiarmid [circa October 1938].

The letter is written from Laugharne and the Sea View house that Dylan Thomas moved into in August 1938. He writes about regret for his ‘uppish letter’, but he ‘had just been talking to Keidrych Rhys and his arguments against the English’. He ‘can no more get money out of them than I can out of Wales’.

First lines of the poem 'In memory of Anne Jones', Dylan Thomas.

First lines of the poem ‘In memory of Anne Jones’, Dylan Thomas.

The letter mentions that he has sent MacDiarmid ‘a few short poems’ and that ‘if they don’t suit’ he’ll ‘post along some more’. He hopes ‘very much that one day we shall meet’. One of the poems appears to be a manuscript of In memory of Anne Jones.

Some lines from the poem 'In memory of Anne Jones', Dylan Thomas.

Some lines from the poem ‘In memory of Anne Jones’, Dylan Thomas.

The work is an elegy mourning the sad loss of a maternal aunt, Anne Jones, who died in 1933.

Signature of Dylan Thomas.

Signature of Dylan Thomas.

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

A Life Cut Short: Stephanie’s Story

Stephanie (courtesy of Lauren McGregor)

In 1936, Julia Stephanie Evadne McGregor was in the final year of a five-year medical degree and showed all the signs of a highly motivated and conscientious student who would do well.  In January 1936, she was admitted to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, again in May and then June.  She died on 4th July of rheumatic fever.  On the anniversary of her death this year, the University is awarding a posthumous degree, with her family in attendance.

Stephanie (as she was known) was born in Gayle St. Mary, Jamaica on 9th April 1911, the daughter of Peter James McGregor and his wife Julianna Drucilla Marsh. She attended Wolmer’s Girls High School in Kingston, Jamaica from 1923-1929 and matriculated at the University of Edinburgh to study medicine in April 1931, having obtained her matriculation certificate at the University of London the previous August. On 21 October 1931 she registered as a student member of the General Medical Council.

Her first year of study saw her study under (amongst others) Professors James Hartley Asworth (Zoology), George Barger (Chemistry) and William Wright Smith (Botany), passing her first professional exams in 1932. In her second year her Professors were Edward Sharpey-Schafer (Physiology) and James Couper Brash (Anatomy). She passed her second professional exams  in 1933.

Holiday at Kirn, Argyll, 1932

On holiday at Kirn, Argyll, 1932 (courtesy of Lauren McGregor)julia2back

In October 1933, Marjorie Rackstraw in her capacity as Adviser of Women Students, wrote to Professor Sir Sidney Smith, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, informing him that Stephanie was in financial difficulties, having received no allowance since the previous August, due to her family being in financial difficulties themselves. As a result, she was able to gain an award of £25 from the Medical Bursaries Fund. By the following February, this plus money Stephanie had managed to raise elsewhere was once again exhausted and Miss Rackstraw wrote again to Prof. Smith to explore other options, specifically a loan

She described Stephanie as capable and sensible, “one of the best of her class and has gained merit certificates in four of her subjects and one prize in Botany”. The letter also recorded that Stephanie was planning to apply for a Vans Dunlop Scholarship and, “if the  banana harvest is satisfactory she should be able to meet her expenditure during the next two years”. A further grant of £50 from the Medical Bursaries Fund was awarded.

Further troubles arose in late 1934. On 29th October Miss Rackstraw wrote again to Prof. Smith, explaining that Stephanie’s father had died a few weeks earlier, presenting more financial problems over and above dealing with the bereavement.  She was to receive further small pots of money.

By 1935, Stephanie was living in Masson Hall of Residence, where Marjorie Rackstraw was warden.  The building no longer exists, having been demolished in the 1960s to make way for the Main Library building.  However there are extensive records, including photographs, and one that includes Stephanie survives.

Group photograph of residents and others at Masson Hall of Residence, 1935

Group photograph of residents and others at Masson Hall of Residence, 1935

1936 did not start well for Stephanie.  She fell ill on the 17th January and ended up in the Royal Infirmary but was let out after 15 days on the condition that she go away for convalescence.  She went to say with a Mrs Corrigall at “Stromness, Kirn, Argyll”, but the ordeal journey there resulted in a week in bed and further time away from study.  She wrote to Prof. Smith to explain her situation.

Mrs. Corrigall, with whom I am staying, called in her family Doctor and I have been under his care ….. I am still quite unfit to face classes and work ….. I am very troubled about my attendance and classes ….. This is the first time in the five years of my academic life, Sir, that I have for any reson or other been forced to miss my classes

Steph's signature

Signature, from letter in her student file

On 5 July 1936, Marjorie Rackstraw again wrote to Prof Smith but this time she was not looking for financial assistance.  Instead she had the task of informing him that Stephanie had died the day before, a victim of “rheumatic fever following tonsillitis which affected her heart”. Her funeral was held at St. John’s Episcopal, where she had been a member of the congregation, and she was buried at Piershill Cemetery.

Funeral notice (copy from her student file)

Funeral notice (copy from her student file)

Since the later 19th century, women students had been battling to gain parity with their male counterparts.  It was not until the 1890s that women were able to matriculate as students and it was only in 1915 that they gained an equal status to men within the Faculty of Medicine.  Even by the time Stephanie was studying, numbers of female students were very small compared to men, having only just edged over 10%.  Had Stephanie graduated, she would have made up one of only 19 women who were awarded a degree of MBChB that year.  Although she probably never saw herself as such, Stephanie can be seen as a contributor towards a major change within medical education, paving the way for those who followed.

At the graduation ceremony which takes place on 4th July 2015, coincidentally on the 79th anniversary of Stephanie’s death, the University of Edinburgh is awarding her a posthumous degree.

Implementing ArchivesSpace

Meeting our Needs

Since the early 2000s we have been looking for suitable software to manage our archives in a holistic manner. We began to deliver online catalogues at this time via various project initiatives, with metadata encoded as EAD/xml, but this only dealt with resource discovery and was quite cumbersome. Moreover, along with other digital developments, the work inhabited one of a number of parallel silos.

As time moved on, we got better at developing systems to move different elements of work from the analogue to the digital but were still some way off developing or finding a comprehensive, robust and sustainable way to join things up in a meaningful way. This changed when we began to investigate Archivists’ Toolkit in 2011. Although we had looked at it in one of its earlier versions, we were surprised to see how much subsequent developments had brought it quite close to ticking everything on our wish list. It was lacking a resource discovery layer but a successor product, ArchivesSpace, was already planned and would include this.

From Archivists’ Toolkit to ArchivesSpace

We therefore began looking at Archivists’ Toolkit in more detail, assessing issues such as functionality and usability but also those of sustainability and interoperability. It scored very highly, high enough for us to be able to make the business case to commit to ArchivesSpace and obtain the internal funding to sign up as Members.

The involvement of the profession in the development of ArchivesSpace has been and continues to be crucial. What has been developed is not just other people’s idea of what the product needs to be but what we as archivists actually require. Although heavily influenced by the predominant US partners and the specifics of US practice, it has been developed in way that is equally intelligible to others and easily customisable to reflect local needs and terminology.

Priorities and Impact

We originally focused on moving our behind-the-scenes work over but then switched to frontloading our resource discovery, migrating existing EAD xml files and also retro-converting a wide range of old spreadsheets, databases and similar. In terms of impact, this both provides evidence that our business case was sound but, most importantly, meets growing user expectations of what and online catalogue should deliver.

Phase one saw the delivery of nearly 17,000 catalogue records along with over 22,000 authority terms. We still have more to add, along with a whole range of management metadata about accessioning, locations etc. This will feature in Phase 2.

Because the source metadata has been drawn from a variety of legacy sources, there are issues of consistency and quality to be addressed. These are outstanding issues which could never be solved just by getting the metadata into ArchivesSpace. However, with all the metadata now in one place we can now look to quantify and rectify them. Experience told us that’s users would often rather have partial metadata rather than no metadata at all so we chose to go for a warts and all approach, only correcting what was obviously erroneous at this stage.

Community and Participation

We are proud to have signed up as the first European partner and the support we have had from a growing community of ArchivesSpace users and developers. This discussion is also two-way, with us feeding ideas back for future development.

Locally we are also more fully integrated into developing solutions that deliver all our collections online, through a suite of applications and interface that work together, improving user experience and improving how we manage the collections themselves.

Next Steps

We still have lots to do with the system to leverage the full functionality of the system and fully showcase our amazing archives collection. So watch this space.

View the online catalogue.

Read about this from a technical perspective

200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo – 18 June 2015

THE BATTLE OF WATERLOO REFLECTED IN OUR ARCHIVE COLLECTIONS

Decorative stripOn Sunday 18 June 1815, on the muddy fields of Waterloo just outside Brussels in today’s Belgium, Napoleon Bonaparte with his French Imperial Guard faced off the Duke of Wellington and the British and Allied army. The course of the Battle of Waterloo, notable officers and men, and the battle outcome can all be referred to elsewhere. Instead, on this 200th anniversary of Waterloo, we focus on some of the material curated by the Centre for Research Collections which reflect these hours of 18 June 1815 and the aftermath of battle.

Drinking bottle on the field of battle in scene No.7 of the Barker Panorama of Waterloo (produced in 1816), shown at Leicester Square, London

Drinking bottle and personal effects on the field of battle in scene No.7 of the Barker Panorama of Waterloo (produced in 1816), shown at Leicester Square, London. (Coll-1101 – Barker Panorama of Waterloo, CRC)

Wound sustained by Etiene G*** during the Battle of Waterloo and appearing in the case-notes of ***

Wound sustained by Etienne Gerarghier during the Battle of Waterloo and appearing in the case-notes of Dr. Thomson and Dr. Somerville. (On p. 18 of Gen.594, in Coll-530 – Collection of sketches and reports of wounded at the Battle of Waterloo, CRC)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The collections profiled are: scenes from the panorama of the field of battle at Waterloo drawn by Henry Aston Barker (Coll-1101); and, sketches and reports by Dr. John Thomson and Dr. William Somerville of the wounded at Waterloo (Coll-535).

The farm of La Haye Sainte 'where the Life Guards *** the Cuirassiers' of the French Imperial Army. In part No.1

The farm of La Haye Sainte ‘where the Life Guards charged the Cuirassiers’ of the French Imperial Army (armour and firearm equipped cavalry). In part No.1 of the panorama. (Coll-1101 – Barker Panorama of Waterloo, CRC)

Firstly… scenes from the panorama of the field of battle at Waterloo (Coll-1101).

Henry Aston Barker (1774-1856) was the younger son of Robert Barker (1739-1806), the panorama painter. Aged 12, he was sent by his father to take outlines of Edinburgh from the city’s Calton Hill for the world’s first 360 degree exhibition panorama.

Barker panoramas were exhibited at an establishment in Castle Street, off Leicester Square, London, and the first was a view of London from the roof of the Albion Mills in 1791, the drawings for which were made by the young Henry.  Later on, from 1793, Barker panoramas moved to the first purpose-built panorama building in the world, in Leicester Square itself.

Scne showing the distant spire of Planchenoit 'where Bonaparte slept the night before the Action'.

Scene showing the distant spire of Planchenoit (top left) ‘where Bonaparte slept the night before the Action’. In part No.2 of the panorama. (Coll-1101 – Barker Panorama of Waterloo, CRC)

The scenes for the panorama of the field of battle at Waterloo were drawn by Barker on the  Plateau of Mont St. Jean, the escarpment which provided Napoleon’s name for the battle – La bataille de Mont-Saint-Jean.

Scene showing distant platform or scaffold 'near which Bonaparte gave his orders in the early part of the Action'. From Coll-1101 Barker Panorama of Waterloo, CRC

Scene showing distant platform or scaffold (top left) ‘near which Bonaparte gave his orders in the early part of the Action’. In part No.3 of the panorama. (Coll-1101 – Barker Panorama of Waterloo, CRC)

Barker had also visited Paris to research the project and to interview officers who participated in the battle. The scenes were etched by J. Burnet, and they were produced in 1816 for sale to visitors to the panorama building at Leicester Square. The credit to both Burnet and Barker is printed on each of the eight components of the ‘souvenir’ panorama.

The drawings were initially done by Barker, and then etchings were made by J. Burnet

The drawings were initially done by Henry A. Barker, and then etchings were made by J. Burnet. (Coll-1101 – Barker Panorama of Waterloo, CRC)

This scene showing the trees that approximately 'mark the Right of the edge of the British position'. In part No.4 of the panorama. From Coll-1101 Barker Panorama of Waterloo, CRC

This scene showing the trees and field that approximately ‘mark the Right of the edge of the British position’. In part No.4 of the panorama. (Coll-1101 – Barker Panorama of Waterloo, CRC)

It was intended that the eight parts of the panorama be joined together to form a complete circle. The viewer would then stand in the centre and have a panoramic view of the entire scene of Battle.

The church and windmill of the village of Braine La Leude on the battle site. In part No.5 of the panorama. From Coll-1101 Barker Panorama of Waterloo, CRC

The church and windmill of the village of Braine La Leude on the battle site. In part No.5 of the panorama. (Coll-1101 – Barker Panorama of Waterloo, CRC)

Each component is around 60cm x 29cm in size and together they show principally: 1 -The farm at La Haye Saint; 2 – Around the orchard of La Haye Sainte; 3 – Prominent part of the Plateau of Mont St. Jean; 4 – The crest of the hill on which the Imperial Guards were charged; 5 – The village of Braine La Leude; 6 – The village of Mont St. Jean; 7 – The Forest of Soigne; and, 8 – Road and hedge leading to Ter La Haye.

Distant Dome of the Church of Waterloo (Église Saint-Joseph de Waterloo) and the village of Mont St. Jean. In part No.6 of the panorama. From Coll-1101 Barker Panorama of Waterloo, CRC

Distant Dome of the Church of Waterloo in Brabant (Église Saint-Joseph de Waterloo) and the village of Mont St. Jean. In part No.6 of the panorama. (Coll-1101 – Barker Panorama of Waterloo, CRC)

At Waterloo, the French army of around 72,000 faced the outnumbering 113,000 allied British, Low Countries, German and Prussian forces. Napoleon lost around 25,000 men either killed or wounded, and 9,000 captured, while the allies lost around 23,000. Napoleon abdicated four days later.

Part of the distant Forest of Soigne, on the site of battle. In part No.7. of the panorma. From Coll-1101 Barker Panorama of Waterloo, CRC

Part of the distant Forest of Soigne on the site of battle. In part No.7. of the panorama. (Coll-1101 – Barker Panorama of Waterloo, CRC)

Scene showing personal effects on a part of the site 'where the Highlanders suffered so severely'. In part No.8 of the panorama. From Coll-1101 Barker Panorama of Waterloo

Scene showing personal effects on a part of the site ‘where the Highlanders suffered so severely’. In part No.8 of the panorama. (Coll-1101 – Barker Panorama of Waterloo)

So then… secondly… emphasising the human loss and injury… sketches and reports and case-notes of the wounded at Waterloo (Coll-535).

The wounds of French and Allied alike were described and reported on – as case-notes and sketches – by Dr John Thomson, Professor of Military Surgery at Edinburgh, and Dr William Somerville, the principal medical officer in Scotland. In the summer of 1814, Thomson had toured medical schools in France, Italy, Austria, Saxony, Prussia, Hanover and Holland, and in 1815 he was a staff-surgeon in Brabant and was at the Battle of Waterloo.

Wounds suffered by Jean Louis le Jeun who was cut with a sabre. From Coll-535

Wounds suffered by Jean Louis le Jeun who was cut with a sabre. (On p.21 of Gen.594, in Coll-535 – Collection of sketches and reports of wounded at the Battle of Waterloo, CRC)

Contents (Coll-535)

Contents pages at the beginning of the volume containing reports and cases at Gens d’Armerie Hospital in Brussels. (In the volume Gen.595, in Coll-535 – Collection of sketches and reports of wounded at the Battle of Waterloo, CRC)

The two-volume work profiled here was probably done in 1815. One also contains statistical tables of the wounded at the site – Reports cases and returns of the wounded at Waterloo (Gen. 595).

Index of the names of soldiers, description of wounds, and place of wounds, from the volume of reports, cases and returns. (Coll-

Index of the names of soldiers, description of wounds, and place of wounds, from the volume of sketches of the wounded. (In the volume Gen.594, in Coll-535 – Collection of sketches and reports of wounded at the Battle of Waterloo, CRC)

The other is illustrated with sketches of specific wounds of the soldiers, their names, their regiments, and details of their injuries – Sketches of the wounded at Waterloo. Drs. Thomson & Somerville (Gen. 594). Along with a number of other items both of the ‘Waterloo wounds’ volumes were transferred Edinburgh University Library from the Library of the Anatomical Museum, Edinburgh University, in June 1962.

Description of the wounds suffered by Angus McKinnon

Description of the wounds suffered by Angus McKinnon (On p. 39 of Gen.594, in Coll-535 – Collection of sketches and reports of wounded at the Battle of Waterloo, CRC)

Description of the wounds suffered by Anton Wallenton

Description of the wounds suffered by Anton Wallenton (On p.49 of Gen.594, in Coll-535 – Collection of sketches and reports of wounded at the Battle of Waterloo, CRC)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sketches show the kind of sabre wounds suffered by Etienne Gerarghier and Jean Louis le Jeun, and also wounds caused by firearms and cannon… e.g. the musket-ball wounds of Angus McKinnon, 79th Regiment, and the accidental wound of the German soldier Anton Wellonton. The sketches show the entry points at ‘A’ and the exit points at ‘B’.

Return for join cases treated at the St. Elisabeth General Hospital, Brussels, from 20 June to 5 August 1815. (Coll-535)

Return for joint cases treated at the St. Elisabeth General Hospital, Brussels, from 20 June to 5 August 1815. (From volume known as Gen.595, in Coll-535 – Collection of sketches and reports of wounded at the Battle of Waterloo, CRC))

In addition to the work of Thomson and Somerville, reports in the volumes have also been written by: J. Gordon, Surgeon to the Forces in charge of Gens d’Armerie Hospital; Henry Home Blackadder; J. Cole, Surgeon to the Forces; W. Blick, Surgeon to the Forces; Roderick MacLeod, Hospital Assistant; Charles Collier, Surgeon to the Forces; and J. Roche, Surgeon to the Forces; and others. The sketches and reports are of cases in several of the hospitals accommodating the wounded around Brussels – these being the Jesuits’, the Annonciate, Gens d’Armerie, and St. Elisabeth – and in Antwerp, at the Corderie and the Facon.

Return of operations (Coll-535 )

Return of operations performed at the St. Elisabeth General Hospital, Brussels, 1 August 1815. (From volume known as Gen.595, in Coll-535 – Collection of sketches and reports of wounded at the Battle of Waterloo, CRC)

Today in 2015, the battle site of Waterloo is a popular attraction for visitors to Brussels and to Belgium generally. The site is dominated by the artificial Butte du Lion created in the 1820s in the earliest days of Waterloo tourism and before the founding of modern Belgium. The Butte du Lion is an artificial earth-mound topped by a large giant sculpted lion commemorating the location where William II of the Netherlands, Prince of Orange, was knocked from his horse by a musket-ball to the shoulder during the battle. Decorative stripAdjacent to the Butte and to the new tourist facilities built for the 200th anniversary, stands a panorama building offering a large vista of the events of 18 June 1815. The Waterloo panorama building was designed by Franz Van Ophem in 1911 for the then forthcoming 100th anniversary of the Battle. It houses a 360° panoramic oil-on-canvas painting completed by the French artist Louis-Jules Dumoulin in 1912.

Decorative stripDr. Graeme D. Eddie, Assistant Librarian Archives & Manuscripts, Centre for Research Collections

Decorative stripThis blog post was compiled with the help of some information contained on pp.307-308 of The Edinburgh professoriate 1790-1826 and the University’s contribution to nineteenth century British society. Anand Chidamber Chitnis. Ph.D. 1968. Edinburgh… and also on pp.39-50 of ‘British Medical Arrangements during the Waterloo Campaign’, by Colonel H. A. L. Howell, in Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine. (Sect. Hist. Med.). 1924 (17).

 

Edinburgh University Union Committee, 1899

Edinburgh University Union Committee 1899We recently acquired this photograph.  It shows the committee which had responsibility for running the University Union, one comprised of both staff and students. We have researched each of the names and found out something further about most of them.

At this time and for some time to come, the Union was an all male affair. The date also means that many of the students depicted would also see service during the First World War – where known, this is noted.

Leonard Crossley
Medical graduate: MBChB 1900, MD 1903.

Frederick Nelson Menzies
Medical graduate: MBChB 1899, MD 1903.

James Myles Hogge (1873-1928)
Arts graduate: MA 1898. Later Member of Parliament.

Andrew Binny Flett (1875-1961)
Medical graduate: MBChB 1902.

Robert Dundonald Melville (1872-1927)
Arts and Law graduate: MA 1894, LLB 1896.

David Barty King (1873-1956)
MA from University of St. Andrews. Medical graduate: MBChB 1899, MD 1902. Served as Major in the Royal Army Medical Corps.

Francis Mitchell Caird (1853-1926)
Later Professor of Clinical Medicine.

Dr Richard J A Berry
Lecturer in Anatomy. Medical graduate: MBChB 1891, MD 1894.

John Rankine (1846-1922)
Professor of Scots Law.

Hugh Nethersole Fletcher (1877-1962)
Medical graduate: MBChB 1903, MD 1909. Served as Captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps (Territorial).

Hugh Crichton Miller (1877-1959)
Psychotherapist and founder of the Tavistock Clinic. Arts and Medical graduate: MA 1899, MBChB 1900, MD 1902. Served as Lieutenant, then Major, Royal Army Medical Corps.

Harry Malcolm Mackenzie (c1872-1947)
Medical graduate: MBChB 1899. Served as Lieutenant, then Major, then Lieutenant Colonel, Indian Medical Service.

James Walker ( -1922)
Chartered Accountant. Honorary Treasurer to the University Union

Samuel Butcher (1850-1910)
Professor of Greek.

Dr Francis William Nicol Haultain (1861-1921)
Obstetrician and Gynaecologist. Medical graduate: MB CM 1882.

Japanese art – painting album – gassaku-jo

LIBER AMICORUM OF TOKYO ARTISTS

On behalf of Edinburgh University Library, the Centre for Research Collections has recently acquired an example of a Japanese painting album – gassaku-jo or liber amicorum.

Cover board of the Japanese painting album - Centre for Research Collections

Cover board of the Japanese painting album – Centre for Research Collections

There are three main groups of Japanese painting albums: jiteki-jo, being painting albums made by a single artist; gassaku-jo , being albums contributed to by different artists; and, shuga-jo, being albums with paintings done by different artists and calligraphers brought together by a collector.

Decorated paper from the Japanese painting album - Centre for Research Collections

Decorated paper from the Japanese painting album – Centre for Research Collections

Gassaku-jo or liber amicorum (‘album of friends’) contain paintings often in combination with pages of calligraphy. Sometimes they belong to the same school of artists, but more commonly they are from different schools or done by amateur painters and poets from different cultural groups or circles.

Calligraphy from the Japanese painting album - Centre for Research Collections

Calligraphy from the Japanese painting album – Centre for Research Collections

The recently acquired album contains 22 paintings by a group of Tokyo artists who lived between 1796 and 1917.

Swallow - from the album of Japanese paintings - Centre for Research Collections

Swallow – from the album of Japanese paintings – Centre for Research Collections

In addition to an illustration of a swallow, the album contains paintings of a peony, a waterfall, a monkey, autumn leaves…

Waterfall - from the album of Japanese paintings - Centre for Research Collections

Waterfall – from the album of Japanese paintings – Centre for Research Collections

…a mandarin duck, a chrysanthemum, a sparrow on a flowering twig, a lobster, heavy rain, a flock of sparrows…

Autumn leaves - from the album of Japanese paintings - Centre for Research Collections

Autumn leaves – from the album of Japanese paintings – Centre for Research Collections

…a tea bowl and camellia, a shrimp, houses in the snow, a fan and handscroll, a white rabbit, and a basket… with a number of others.

Mandarin duck - from the album of Japanese paintings - Centre for Research Collections

Mandarin duck – from the album of Japanese paintings – Centre for Research Collections

A number of the other illustrations are shown below:

Sparrow on a flowering twig - from the album of Japanese paintings - Centre for Research Collections

Sparrow on a flowering twig – from the album of Japanese paintings – Centre for Research Collections

 

Flock of sparrows - from the album of Japanese paintings - Centre for Research Collections

Flock of sparrows – from the album of Japanese paintings – Centre for Research Collections

 

Heavy rain - from the album of Japanese paintings - Centre for Research Collections

Heavy rain – from the album of Japanese paintings – Centre for Research Collections

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

This post drew on information at the Chikurin Gallery and its painting albums pages.

‘Empire Kingsley’ – 70th anniversary of sinking on 22 March 1945

LAST LOSSES OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR, 1939-1945 – Christian Salvesen & Co.

22 March 2015 is the 70th anniversary of the sinking of the steam cargo vessel Empire Kingsley. Its sinking during the closing phase of the Second World War was the last maritime loss suffered by the general shipping and whaling firm Christian Salvesen & Co. of Leith during the War. Families couldn’t have known it at the time, but the ship’s destruction with the loss of 8 lives happened only 7-weeks before VE-Day (Victory in Europe).

Memorial plate on homes built for the Scottish Veterans Association. Salvesen Archive. Coll-36 (2nd tranche. Photographs, 'Garden cottages', No.54)

Memorial plate on homes built for the Scottish Veterans Association. Salvesen Archive. Coll-36 (2nd tranche. Photographs, ‘Garden cottages’, No.54)

The Empire Kingsley was one of a number of Empire vessels listed as Salvesen ships – other losses of these included the Empire Bruce, Empire Dunstan, and Empire Heritage  (the latter being the firm’s greatest as far as lives were concerned with 60 crew dead) – and each was in fact owned by the Ministry of War Transport and managed on contract by Christian Salvesen & Co.

On Thursday 22 March 1945, on its way from Ghent to Manchester, the Empire Kingsley was sunk by a torpedo from the German submarine U-315 off Land’s End in Cornwall. U-315 surrendered at Trondheim in Norway a few weeks later in May 1945. It had hunted in several patrols since entering service with the German Kriegsmarine in July 1943, but had sunk only the Empire Kingsley and written off a Canadian frigate.

The British merchant marine suffered heavy losses during 1939-1945. Merchant ships and their crews suffered attack from submarines, surface raiders, mines and assault from the air. Christian Salvesen & Co. suffered no less than any other firm, indeed the  whaling side of its business was all but suspended after the 1940-41 season. The firm’s transport ships and whale catchers were pressed into naval service under the control of the Ministry for War Transport, with its factory ships being used as tankers and heavy lift vessels.

Contained within the Salvesen Archive (1st tranche. B2. Box 4.) is a copy of a list of Chr. Salvesen & Co.’s Vessels Lost or Damaged by Enemy Action… a list that records the deaths of over 400 seamen between October 1939 and April 1945, and the loss of Salvesen tonnage all over the world and around the home waters of the British Isles…:

List_ship_losses2

List_ship_losses3

The firm suffered its first wartime loss at sea with the sinking of the Glen Farg – a coaster – by the German submarine U-23 on 4 October 1939. The ship was on its way home from Norway to Methil and Grangemouth with a cargo of pulp, carbide and ferro chrome when it was captured and sunk off the north of Scotland, west of Orkney and Duncansby Head. One seaman was lost, but there were 16 survivors who were picked up by a Royal Navy destroyer based at Scapa Flow, Orkney.

The Salvesen vessel 'Salvestria' sunk by an exploding mine in the Firth of Forth, 27 July 1940. Salvesen Archive. Coll-36 (2nd tranche. C1. Photographs, No.1)

The Salvesen vessel ‘Salvestria’ sunk by an exploding mine in the Firth of Forth, 27 July 1940. Salvesen Archive. Coll-36 (2nd tranche. C1. Photographs, No.1)

The loss of the whale factory ship Salvestria in July 1940 – on Edinburgh’s own doorstep – brought the deaths of 10 seamen. On 22 July 1940, two miles east of Inchkeith in the Firth of Forth, the ship was sunk by a magnetic mine while on its way to the naval installation at Rosyth with a cargo of fuel oil.

Minutes_losses_28-10-40_part1

The loss of the vessels ‘Salvestria’, and ‘Shekatika’, and the attack on ‘Coronda’ reported in the Minutes of Meeting of Directors of The South Georgia Co. Ltd. […] 28 October 1940

Minutes_losses_28-10-40_part2

The same Minutes – 28 October 1940 – reported the loss of the ‘New Sevilla’

 

The same year, in September 1940, the whale factory ship New Sevilla was sunk off Northern Ireland – a bit out from Islay – on the way from Liverpool to Aruba and South Georgia.

The Salvesen vessel 'New Sevilla' sunk by a torpedo off Northern Ireland, 20 September 1940. Salvesen Archive. Coll-36 (2nd tranche. C1. Photographs, No.13 and 41)

‘New Sevilla’ sunk by a torpedo off Northern Ireland, 20 September 1940. Salvesen Archive. Coll-36 (2nd tranche. C1. Photographs, No.13 and 41)

The vessel was carrying a cargo of whaling stores when it was struck by a torpedo fired from the German submarine U-138. The attack could have had worse consequences as the human cost was 2 lives lost out of a total complement of 285.

The Salvesen vessel 'New Sevilla' sunk by a torpedo off Northern Ireland, 20 September 1940. Salvesen Archive. Coll-36 (2nd tranche. C1. Photographs, No.13 and 41)

The Salvesen vessel ‘New Sevilla’ sunk by a torpedo off Northern Ireland, 20 September 1940. Salvesen Archive. Coll-36 (2nd tranche. C1. Photographs, No.13 and 41)

Further west of Ireland, and south of Iceland, the Sirikishna was lost in February 1941. This steam cargo ship was on its way from Glasgow to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and had become separated from a convoy. It was attacked by the submarine U-96.

Minutes_losses_17-12-41

Pages from the Minutes of Meeting of Directors of The South Georgia Co. Ltd. […] 17 December 1941, reporting the loss of several vessels… ‘Sirikishna’, ‘Sevra’, ‘Sarna’, and ‘Stora’.

Not all attacks on Salvesen’s stock ended in a sinking. The vessels Coronda, P.L.M. XIV (a former French vessel taken as booty when France surrendered), Folda, and Daphne II were each either bombed or torpedoed but none of them were immediately lost. In September 1940, the steam-driven tanker and supply ship Coronda (the second Salvesen vessel to bear that name… the namesake was the vessel that transported the first penguins to Edinburgh Zoo in 1913) was bombed in a German air attack off Northern Ireland on a journey from Iceland to Liverpool, carrying herring-oil.

'Coronda' ***** Salvesen Archive. Coll-36 (2nd tranche....)

‘Coronda’ , bombed but not sunk. Salvesen Archive. Coll-36 (2nd tranche. C1. Photographs, ‘Old Salvesen ships’, No.41)

Coronda suffered the loss of 21 seamen and suffered heavy fire-damage, and was beached on Kaimes Bay, Tighnabruaich, in the Kyles of Bute.  P.L.M. XIV was torpedoed on Smith’s Knoll (part of the Haisborough Sands, off Norfolk) in October 1940 with the loss of 10 crew, and the vessel was towed to Immingham. In November 1940, Folda was bombed off the Thames estuary with the deaths of 3 seamen, and then the ship was towed to Harwich. Then, in March 1941, the vessel Daphne II was torpedoed off the Humber with no human loss, and towed to Grimsby.

The Salvesen vessel 'Folda' bombed in November 1940 and towed to Harwich. Salvesen Archive. Coll-36 (2nd tranche. C1. Photographs, No.45)

The Salvesen vessel ‘Folda’ bombed in November 1940 and towed to Harwich. Salvesen Archive. Coll-36 (2nd tranche. C1. Photographs, Envelope ‘Norwegian lines and coasters’, No.45)

Not all the attacks on Salvesen’s ships ended in the deaths of crew. Between September and October 1940 the Crown Arun, Shekatika, Strombus and Snefjeld were each mined or torpedoed. The Crown Arun, known earlier as Hannah Böge, and taken into British service as war booty, then placed under Salvesen management by the Ministry of Shipping, sank off north west Ireland with a cargo of pit-props while in a convoy. Shekatika was sunk near Rockall en route to Hartlepool carrying steel and pit-props. Strombus broke up near Swansea after being attacked just as it was setting off for South Georgia, and Snefjeld sank north west of Ireland, also while in a convoy. None suffered human loss, and as has already been told Daphne II was attacked in 1941 with no losses either. Then, in March 1942, the tanker Peder Bogen was torpedoed, shelled and sunk south east of Bermuda by the Italian submarine Morosini, and again all crew were saved. The crews of the Indra lost in the Atlantic just above the equator in November 1942 and the Empire Bruce lost off the coast of Sierra Leone in April 1943 were also saved.

The Salvesen vessel 'Peder Bogen' torpedoed and sunk near Bermuda in March 1942, though all men saved. Salvesen Archive. Coll-36 (2nd tranche. C1. Photographs, No.18)

The Salvesen vessel ‘Peder Bogen’ torpedoed and sunk near Bermuda in March 1942, though all men saved. Salvesen Archive. Coll-36 (2nd tranche. C1. Photographs, No.18)

However, a few months after the loss of the Peder Bogen in March 1942 – and the saving of all the crew – the Saganaga was lost at anchor in Wabana Harbour, Newfoundland, in September 1942 with the loss of up to 30 lives. The steam cargo vessel loaded with iron-ore was sunk by a torpedo from the German submarine U-513.

The Salvesen vessel 'Saganaga' torpedoed and sunk in September 1942 with the loss of 30 lives. Salvesen Archive. Coll-36 (2nd tranche. C1. Photographs, No.47)

The Salvesen vessel ‘Saganaga’ torpedoed and sunk in September 1942 with the loss of up to 30 lives. Salvesen Archive. Coll-36 (2nd tranche. C1. Photographs, No.47). Photograph by W. Ralston, Glasgow, and acknowledged by request

The Salvesen vessel Saganaga was reported in the Minutes of the Meeting of Directors of the Salvesen enterprise, The South Georgia Co. Ltd., on 30 December 1942, as having an insurance value of £155,000, which at today’s values would be circa £6.5-million. The Sourabaya which was lost earlier – in October 1942 – had an insurance value of £220,000, or £9.2-million today. Sourabaya was a whale factory ship and it was steaming in convoy from New York to Liverpool with a cargo of fuel oil, war stores and landing craft. It was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-436 in the mid-Atlantic. 30 crew lost their lives.

Notes on the 'Svana', 'Saganaga' and 'Sourabaya' in the Minutes of Meeting of Directors of The South Georgia Co. Ltd. [...] 30th December 1942. Salvesen Archive. Coll-36 (3rd tranche)

Notes on the ‘Svana’, ‘Saganaga’ and ‘Sourabaya’ in the Minutes of Meeting of Directors of The South Georgia Co. Ltd. […] 30th December 1942. Salvesen Archive. Coll-36 (3rd tranche. Minute Book)

Another whale factory ship was lost in October 1942 – the Southern Empress. This ship was on its way to Glasgow, in convoy, and was also carrying a cargo of fuel oil and landing craft. In a position north west of St. John’s, Newfoundland, and south of Kap Farvel, Greenland, the Southern Empress was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-221.

The Salvesen vessel 'Southern Empress' sunk after attack by 3 torpedoes off Newfoundland in October 1942. Salvesen Archive. Coll-36 (2nd tranche. C1. Photographs, No.41)

The Salvesen vessel ‘Southern Empress’ sunk after an attack from 3 torpedoes fired by U-221off Newfoundland in October 1942. Salvesen Archive. Coll-36 (2nd tranche. C1. Photographs, No.41)

The greatest loss of life came in September 1944 when the tanker Empire Heritage, managed by Salvesen, was sunk by a torpedo north west of Malin Head, Ireland, on its way to Liverpool from New York. The vessel was carrying a cargo of fuel oil and a deck cargo including Sherman tanks when it was met by German submarine U-482. Over 100 lives were lost (of which 60 were crew). On 3 March 1945, the Salvesen vessel Southern Flower, formerly a whale catcher and which had been requisitioned for Admiralty service in anti-submarine duties, was torpedoed and sunk off the Icelandic coast by U-1022 patrolling between Bergen in Norway and southern Iceland. The Southern Flower had been owned by Salvesen since 1941 the year in which the firm acquired the Southern Whaling and Sealing Co. Ltd.  from Unilever (Lever Bros.) along with its two whale factory-ships and fifteen whale-catchers.

From the Minutes of Meeting of Directors of The South Georgia Co. Ltd. [...] 10th July 1945. Chaired by Capt. H. K. Salvesen. Salvesen Archive. Coll-36 (3rd tranche)

Notice of the vessels ‘Southern Flower’ and ‘Empire Kinglsey’ which had been lost to enemy action, from the Minutes of Meeting of Directors of The South Georgia Co. Ltd. […] 10th July 1945. Chaired by Capt. H. K. Salvesen. Salvesen Archive. Coll-36 (3rd tranche. Minute Book)

Then, later the same month the Empire Kingsley  was sunk off Land’s End with the loss of 8 lives from a crew of 57.

Correspondence files concerning honours and awards to officers and men serving on Salvesen vessels during the Second World War. Salvesen Archive. Coll-36 (2nd tranche. E2)

Correspondence files concerning honours and awards to officers and men serving on Salvesen vessels during the Second World War. Salvesen Archive. Coll-36 (2nd tranche. E2)

Many of Salvesen’s officers and men received awards for gallantry and for meritorious service at sea during the War, and others were commended.

Pamphlet literature of the Scottish Veterans' Garden City Association, 1940s. Salvesen Archive. Coll-36 (1st tranche. File 1919-67. H14)

Pamphlet literature of the Scottish Veterans’ Garden City Association, 1940s. Salvesen Archive. Coll-36 (1st tranche. H14. File 1919-67)

Appreciation of the efforts and sacrifice of the seamen during the War years was met by Christian Salvesen & Co. through the establishment of a fund to assist the families of those whose lives were lost.

Memorial plate on homes built for the Scottish Veterans Association. Salvesen Archive. Coll-36 (2nd tranche. Photographs, 'Garden cottages', No.54)

Memorial plate on homes built for the Scottish Veterans Association. Salvesen Archive. Coll-36 (2nd tranche. Photographs, ‘Garden cottages’, No.54)

Money was also made available from various members of the Salvesen family for the building of homes for veterans through the Scottish Veterans’ Garden City Association.

Homes built in Muirhouse, Edinburgh, were similar to those shown in the pamphlet literature of the Scottish Veterans' Garden City Association, 1940s. Salvesen Archive. Coll-36 (1st tranche. File 1919-67. H14)

Homes built in Muirhouse, Edinburgh, were similar to those shown in the pamphlet literature of the Scottish Veterans’ Garden City Association, 1940s. Salvesen Archive. Coll-36 (1st tranche. H14 File 1919-67)

Construction of the houses designed in a ‘garden village’ style in Muirhouse, Edinburgh, was begun in 1946, and the houses were occupied by 1948. Streets were named Salvesen Crescent, Salvesen  Gardens, Salvesen Grove, and Salvesen Terrace.

Dr. Graeme D. Eddie, Assistant Librarian – Archives & Manuscripts, Centre for Research Collections (Special Collections)

 

Sources used in this piece:

Salvesen of Leith. Wray Vamplew. Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1975; A whaling enterprise. Gerald Elliot; as well as internet wreck sites, and material contained in the Salvesen Archive

Elizabeth Wiskemann, First Woman Professor and War-Hero

A university figure that deserves far greater recognition is our first woman professor Elizabeth Wiskemann (1899-1971), who held the Montague Burton Chair of International Relations from 1958 to 1961. Although her name is absent from subsequent published histories, the University Journal for May 1958 certainly grasped the significance of her arrival. Announcing ‘the first woman to be appointed to an Edinburgh Chair’, it presented her as ‘a writer of authority on international affairs’, who had held appointments as a ‘press attaché to the British Legation at Berne, as a correspondent of The Economist at Rome, and as Director of the Carnegie Peace Endowment for Trieste’.

While these are major achievements, her personal contribution to 20th-century history ran much deeper. From 1930, Wiskemann (whose grandfather was German) worked as a political journalist in Berlin for the New Statesman and other publications, and was among the first to warn of the dangers of Nazism. So effective were her articles in alerting international readers to the true nature of Hitler’s regime that she was expelled from Germany by the Gestapo in 1937. She continued to expose Nazi plans for German expansion in her influential books Czechs and Germans (1938) and Undeclared War (1939).

Wiskemann did indeed spend the war as a press attaché in Switzerland, but this was cover for her true job of secretly gathering non-military intelligence from Germany and occupied Europe via the contacts she had made as a journalist. In May 1944, British Intelligence learned that the hitherto unknown destination to which Hungarian Jews were being deported was Auschwitz. When the allies turned down a request to bomb the railway lines (due to limited resources), Wiskemann hit on a cunning ploy. Knowing that it would be seen by Hungarian intelligence, she deliberately sent an unencrypted telegram to the Foreign Office in London. This contained the addresses of the offices and homes of the Hungarian government officials best positioned to halt the deportations and suggested that they be targeted in a bombing raid. When, quite coincidentally, several of these buildings were hit in a US raid on 2 July, the Hungarian government leapt to the conclusion that Wiskemann’s telegram had been acted upon and put an end to the deportations.

IMG_1726Wiskemann continued to publish on German and Italian politics after the War. She was appointed to the Edinburgh Chair on the recommendation of William Norton Medlicott (1900-1987), Professor of International History at the London School of Economics, who described her as ‘a pleasant, active, middle-aged woman’ who would ‘be a very suitable choice’. Lectures by previous holders of the Chair had been poorly attended as they formed part of no degree course. Wiskemann, however, did much to boost the profile of her post by inviting national and international experts to lead discussion groups on issues of the day. The focus of her own teaching increasingly moved away from European issues to developments in post-colonial Africa. Click on the image, right, to see a handwritten list of lectures and discussion groups for 1961.

IMG_1725The Montague Burton Chair (endowed by Sir Maurice Montague Burton, founder of the men’s clothing chain) was a three-year appointment, at the end of which holders were eligible to apply for re-election. Wiskemann chose not to stand for re-election, much to the University Court’s dismay, as the Chair had proved difficult to fill. In a letter of 28 July 1960 (click right) Wickemann explained that deteriorating eyesight, exacerbated by a recent unsuccessful operation, had led to her decision. Tragically, this condition would eventually lead Wiskemann to take her own life in 1971.

Paul Barnaby, Centre for Research Collections