Tag Archives: students

Earlier this year, our two interns Sarah and Devon spent a few months re-housing and listing the papers of the Hungarian violinist Joseph Joachim (1831-1907), recently donated to the CRC. They share their experiences with us.

Sarah Hendriks:

When I was about eight years old my violin teacher gave me a new piece of music and said, ‘now you get to play a real piece’. It was Joachim’s Hungarian Dance No. 4 and I loved it. It’s remained one of my favourite pieces to play and its folksy, vibrant style inspired my later love of other composers like Bloch and Kreisler.

Despite loving his music, I knew relatively little about Joachim the man until I took on this internship at Special Collections. By going through the collection I discovered so much about Joachim, his family, his music, and his life. I also got to meet his relatives and talk about the collection and hear their recollections of the items. Matching the stories to the items I’d been reading and examining for the last two months reinforced the human aspect of the material I’d been working with: such a rare experience!

Over the last three months I’ve catalogued what feels like hundreds of newspaper clippings, notes, concert programmes, photographs, and music. I’ve had the chance to brush up my German whilst reading the mountain of obituaries and anecdotes about him, his violins and his performances. There were also notes about his life in Hungarian and a poem in French on the occasion of his death. Buried amongst the newspaper clippings was a handwritten account of a family holiday: I’d never read a more touching portrait of the man.

Postcard of Joseph Joachim in a fake car with the Mendelssohn brothers, 1890-1907 (Coll-1711/5/5)

The highlights for me, however, were the photographs. Joachim apparently loved a joke and you can see this in the picture of him in a fake car. The images also captured his pensive side, reading his letters in front of a fire or concentrating on some German verse. A particularly special picture for me is the one of Joachim with Nellie Melba, a fellow Australian whose alma mater I also attended. Apparently they were great friends with an equally adventurous sense of fun that often perplexed those around them. I like to think you can see a touch of this camaraderie in their portrait.

Working with archives is, for me, always exciting. You never quite know what you’re going to come across or discover and so often the material hasn’t been examined in a long time. The Joachim archive was so full of delights and surprises and it exceeded all my expectations. This internship has been a wonderful experience and one I would highly recommend. It would not have been possible without the generosity of the Joachim family and the support of the Special Collections Team and I’d like to thank them both for the opportunity. I’ve learnt so much about the practical side to archive management and processing, but also had an awful lot of fun learning about a hero in the process. I can’t wait for the next one!

Signed image mounted on card of Joseph Joachim and Nellie Melba, taken by Guigoni & Bossi, Milan, late 19th/early 20th c. (Coll-1711/5/7)

Devon Barnett: 

I wanted to be an Archive Intern so that I could learn first-hand the processes behind turning a collection of items into an organised and usable resource. As a Music graduate, it was an added benefit that the archive I would be working on centred around an important figure in classical music – Joseph Joachim. While working on the Joseph Joachim collection I have learned how to box list items, how to identify anything that may need to be sent to conservation, how to think about what items may be useful and beneficial to be digitised, and how to best categorise, arrange, and reference the items as well as a collection of books.

Image of Joseph Joachim playing cards outside a coffee shop, 1890-1907 (Coll-1711/5/12/5)

I have also learned a lot about Joseph Joachim, both his musical output and his personal life. Shockingly, I had never heard his name even once in my entire four years of studying a music degree and I did not know that he is owed at least in part for helping Johannes Brahms to find success and for helping Clara Schumann to care for Robert Schumann in his final years of critical mental illness. My favourite item of the collection by far was a letter written in 1907 by Donald Francis Tovey. It was written to an unspecified ‘Mrs Joachim’ and concerned the recent passing of Joseph Joachim. The letter is beautifully and poetically written, and really shows the loss felt by the music world. The letter is also important for its personal connection to Edinburgh. Tovey was a composer, musician, musicologist, and close friend of Joseph Joachim. Tovey became the Reid Professor of Music at the University of Edinburgh’s Reid School of Music (from which I have just graduated), and at which there now exists the position of Tovey Professor and the award of the Sir Tovey Memorial Prize for outstanding promise shown in composition or performance. As the university is home to not only the Joseph Joachim collection but also a collection of Tovey’s large collection of books and music scores, this letter is significant and relevant to both, tying them nicely together to both each other and the university.

Letter to ‘Mrs Joachim’ from Donald Francis Tovey on the subject of Joseph Joachim’s death, 1907, p.1 (Coll-1711/1/2/5) (click here for a higher resolution image)

Letter to ‘Mrs Joachim’ from Donald Francis Tovey on the subject of Joseph Joachim’s death, 1907, p.2 (Coll-1711/1/2/5) (click here for a higher resolution image)

Their fantastic work has enabled us to create a great resource on our online discovery platform, ArchivesSpace. Click here to see the catalogue.

Edinburgh University Students in Spain

It is 80 years since the Spanish Civil War broke out.  Unlike both World Wars, we have no record of University of Edinburgh students who fought (and died) in Spain and this is the start of a process of trying to identify who did.  This is very much work-in-progress and will be updated as we find additional information.

If you know of anyone missing from the list below, please contact the Deputy University Archivist, Grant Buttars


George Drever

George was born 31 March 1910 in Leith, the son of George Drever and Louisa (Balfour).  He spent 6 years at Leith Academy before enrolling to study Science at the University of Edinburgh, gaining a First Class Honours BSc in Pure Science in 1933.  Two years later he was awarded a PhD, his thesis being, Electrochemical studies in oxide formation on some metals.

First Matriculation: George Drever

First Matriculation: George Drever

Links


Frances Hughes Drew

Frances was born 12 May 1914 in Southampton.  She was educated at Falmouth High School then at Blackpool Girls’ Secondary, enrolling to study medicine at the University of Edinburgh in 1932 and graduating MBChB in 1937.

First Matriculation: Frances Hughes Drew

First Matriculation: Frances Hughes Drew

She was a member of the International Students’ delegation and one of six students in the British delegation of the (strongly Communist) World Student Association who visited Spain in the 1936/7  Christmas vacation and campaigned for the Republicans on her return.


John Peter Cowan Dunlop

Born 2nd July 1915 in Winnipeg, Canada, John was an accountancy student (non-graduating).

First Matriculation: John Peter Cowan Dunlop

First Matriculation: John Peter Cowan Dunlop

John is listed on the International Brigades website:

Born: 2/7/1915, Winnipeg, Canada. Enlistment Address; 9 East Fettes Avenue, Edinburgh University Accountancy student. CPGB (1936) OTC in England. Single. Age 22. Arrived in Spain 19/5/1937. Enlisted in Battalion 22/5/1937. Joined the British Anti Tank-Gun Battery. Action’s participated in: Jarama, Brunete, Teruel, Belchite, Ebro. Wounded at Brunete in July 1937, (between the 6th and 12th) by shrapnel in the back. Recovered in hospital at Barcelona. Joined British Battalion on 10/11/1937. Wounded on 20/1/1938. In Hospital February-April 1938. Rifle  No; 98101. No. 4  Company, Section 2, platoon 2. Confirmed Corporal on 30/4/1938. Sergeant. Wounded during the Ebro Offensive on 31/7/1938. In hospital 3/10/1938? Invalided home in October 1938. Set up his own printing business in Edinburgh upon his return.

He later became accountant to the International Brigade Association.

Links


Hamish Fraser

Hamish was born 16 August 1913 in Inverness.  He was educated at Preston School, Duns, Duns Public School, Berwickshire High School and at the Royal High School, Edinburgh.  In 1931/2, he enrolled at the University of Edinburgh to study Technical Chemistry. The fact that his record specifies the subject rather than, as was the norm, simply recording the Faculty, suggests he was not enrolled in a full degree programme.

First Matriculation: Hamish Fraser

First Matriculation: Hamish Fraser

 

He claimed to have joined the Young Communist League while at University; he was certainly Propaganda Secretary of the Central London Federation of the YCL by the time the Spanish Civil War erupted in 1936,

Links

  • Biographical sketch at Apropos (a magazine of which he served as editor after his conversion to Roman Catholicism)

Margot (Marguerite Rosabelle) Gale (later Kettle)

Margot was born in 1916.  She was educated at King Arthur School, Musselburgh and St. Bride School, Edinburgh, enrolling at the Univerity of Edinburgh in 1934.  While at University, she served as President of the Women’s Union, 1937-38.  She graduated MA in 1938.  In August 1938, she joined the Young Communist League.

First Matriculation: Margot Gale

First Matriculation: Margot Gale

She was mother of Guardian journalist Martin Kettle.

Links

  • Her papers are held at the Labour History Archive and Study Centre (Manchester)

David Mackenzie

His full name was William David Beveridge Mackenzie and he was born 14 November 1916, the son of Rear Admiral W. B. Mackenzie, in Rock, Cornwall.  He was educated at Copthorne School, Sussex and at Marlborough College.  He enrolled as a summer term only medical student at the University of Edinburgh in 1935, having previously studied history at Oxford.

First Matriculation: David Mackenzie

First Matriculation: William David Beveridge Mackenzie

David is listed on the International Brigades website:

c/o 16 King Street, London. (CPGB HQ) Oxford University. (History & Law) Medical Student at Edinburgh University. YCL. CPGB. Age: 20. Spain, 09/10/1936. French Commune de Paris Battalion, (Dumont Battalion) 11th International Brigade. Reported killed in error (25/11/1936) at the University City, Madrid, in the Daily Worker dated 05/12/1936. Returned to UK on 05/01/1937. (V.11 37a PF 45600) Battalion No. 947.

Links


Acknowledgements

I am very grateful to a number of people who have provided various leads on this subject, particularly Mike Arnott and Fraser Raeburn and of the Scotland and the Spanish Civil War Facebook Group.

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.

The Foundation of Anatomy: Class List of Alexander Monro (primus)

From time to time we ‘rediscover’ items in our collections.  It’s not that we didn’t know we had them; rather that they have not come to anyone’s specific attention within the many, many items we hold.

This is certainly the case with the earliest class list we hold for anatomy students.  It has a comprehensive name index, which is usually what people refer to, seldom asking to see the item itself.  However, when double checking some catalogue references, it was necessary to have a quick look at the original item.  It revealed itself to be far more significant than the index recorded.

It is a volume of principally students’ names and those they were studying under, beginning in 1720, when Alexander Monro primus began giving classes in anatomy in autumn 1720.  Monro had just been appointed Professor of Anatomy. Although the official establishment of the Faculty of Medicine was still six years away, many view the appointment of Monro as the clear starting point.

Page from 1820.  Includes the name of Martin Eccles. (Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh. Died 1778.)

Page from 1820. Includes the name of Martin Eccles. (Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh. Died 1778.)

Monro was educated at the Universities of Edinburgh and Leiden and learned anatomy under Frederik Ruysch in Amsterdam. He returned to Edinburgh in 1719 and passed the examinations for admission to the Incorporation of Surgeons.  The Professorship of Anatomy had been established by Edinburgh Town Council in 1705 but for Monro, unlike his predecessors, his appointment was clearly defined as a university chair.

Students were apprenticed to masters (surgeons), often boarding with them as well.  Teaching was conducted at Surgeons Hall and not within the precincts of the University until 1725, the move at least partly fuelled by public rioting over accusations of grave robbing.

A random check of names in the volume has as yet failed to yield a match with actual medical graduates, though names of identifiable surgeons and physicians are present, illustrating the fact that the formality of a degree was not mandatory to practice medicine.

The volume was donated to the University Library in 1924 by James Watt, LL.D., W.S., F.F.A., F.R.S.E (1863-1945).  He lived in Craiglockart House, which was built for Monro’s son, Alexander Monro secundus (1733-1817). The volume was found by Watt inn the cistern room of the house.  Fortunately, he was able to recognise its significance and pass it on to the then University Librarian, L. W. Sharp.

Copy of letter from James Watt to Lord Amulree, 1945, sent to Lauriston William Sharp, University Librarian.

Copy of letter from James Watt to Lord Amulree, 1945, sent to Lauriston William Sharp, University Librarian.

Sources:

  • Alexander Monro, class list (1720-1749), Special Collections, EUA GD60 (Dc.5.95)
  • Anita Guerrini, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: Monro, Alexander, primus (1697–1767), surgeon and anatomist [accessed 30 Jan 2015]
  • Sir Alexander Grant, The story of the University of Edinburgh during its first three hundred years (1884)

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.

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.

A question of scale

We just answered an internal enquiry for colleagues in or Law School who asked us about numbers of students and staff in the Law Faculty in the early 1950s. The answer stands in contrast to today’s student numbers:

Matriculated students (Law) 1952/53

Ordinary
Men 275
Women 37

Termly
Men 8
Women 0

Total 320 (out of 5850 total for the whole university)

Staff

Examiners 11
Assistants/Demonstrators 6
Lecturers 6
Professors 6
Other members of Faculty 6

Total 35

Answering this also highlighted the usefulness of the University Calendar for questions such as this. Produced annually from the late 1850s to the early 2000s, these record multiple aspects of University life, from staff details, bursaries and scholarships, curriculum and much more. Many have been digitised and are available at archive.org. [further details]

Edinburgh’s first women graduates honoured 50 year later

On 13 April 1893, eight women graduated MA, the first women students having been admitted the previous year following a lengthy battle to allow women admittance to the University.  The eight women had already completed most of their exams externally and were awarded their degree within a year of admittance.  The same year they graduated, a further 72 matriculated to study, with an additional 78 attending as non-matriculated students.
In July 1943, three of the eight joined Principal Sir Thomas Holland on the platform for the graduation ceremony in the McEwan Hall: Flora Stewart, nee Philip, Maude Elizabeth Newbigin and Amelia Hutchison Stirling. We blog this to mark 120 years since their graduation.

Quatercentenary Collection

The Quatercentenary Collection came about as a result of an appeal that was made as the University of Edinburgh approached its 400th anniversary in 1983.  Former staff, students and others responded and sent in all types of university-related items, from student magazines to prize books, from lecture notes to memoirs, from photographs to degree certificates and much more. The scale of the response meant that it has taken until now to start getting a handle on much of it.

We have now begun a full survey of items in the collection was begun and to date nearly 850 items have been documented.  These will form the basis of new catalogue records.

Largely though not exclusively representing the ‘student experience, this collection is a real treasure trove and we are glad to being close to make it easily accessible for research.

 

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Prize

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh in 1859 and attended Edinburgh University as a medical student from 1876 to 1881. A recent enquiry threw light on the establishment of this prize at his request.

From information located in the minutes of the Senatus Academicus.

4th July 1902

A letter was read from the University Court enclosing a letter from Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle in which he proposed to found a “Conan Doyle Scholarship” in the University, to be competed for by students of South African birth; and requesting the Senatus to state how, in their opinion, this can best be done. The Senatus remitted Dr. Conan Doyle’s letter to the Principal & Dean’s Committee, with powers to communicate their opinion direct to University Court.

Senatus Minutes 25 July 1902

A letter was read from the University Court, stating that the Court approved of the reccomendations made by the Principal & Deans Committee on behalf of the Senatus, that the proposed Conan Doyle Scholarship should be attached to the Faculty of Medicine, and requesting the Senatus to frame Draft Regulations for the approval of Court. A letter was also enclosed from Sir Conan Doyle stating that he had no conditions to attach to the Scholarship, except that it should be called the “Conan Doyle Scholarship”, and be awarded to South Africans. The Senartus remitted to the Faculty of Medicine to frame Regulations for the Scholarship.

1st November 2002

The Dean of the Faculty of Medicine reported that the Faculty had drafted Regulations for the Conan Doyle Scholarship, but that since doing so a letter from Sir Conan Doyle had been transmitted to them by the University Court, which imposed a further condition from which it was not clear whether a Bursary or Scholarship was contemplated. The Senatus remitted to the Faculty to communicate with Sir Conan Doyle, and ascertain his wishes on the subject.

6th December 1902

The Faculty of Medicine submitted the following Regulations which they had drawn up for the Conan Doyle Prize:-

1. That the Prize be awarded each year on the Graduation Day to the most distinguished graduate (M.B.Ch.B.) from South Africa, as determined by the marks received at the various rofessional Examinations.
2. That the Conan Doyle Prizeman should be free to receive any other Prize, Scholarship, or Fellowship, which the Senatus, on the recommendation of the Faculty, see fit to award him.

The Senatus approved.