Spotlight on our Centre for Research Collections

On Tuesday 30th January we’ll be holding a Discovery Day event in the Main Library where representatives from 3 publishers of digitised primary source collections and our very own Centre for Research Collections will be on hand to help you navigate through and find useful material in the huge range of primary sources you have access to at the Library.

The University of Edinburgh holds world class collections, including rare books, archives and manuscripts, art, historical musical instruments and museum objects ranging from geological specimens to anatomical models. These unique collections are and can be used for teaching and research within the University and by the wider community.

The main entry and access point for these collections is the Centre for Research Collections (CRC) which is based on the 6th floor of the Main Library. The CRC is open to all researchers, including students, staff, visiting academics and members of the public. Read More

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Robert Burns Manuscripts – gie us a job!

It’s the time of year for all things Robert Burns. Here in the DIU I have recently finished digitising a collection of Robert Burns Manuscripts. These are highly treasured manuscripts which make up part of our Iconics Collection. A fitting status for the bard himself. So, time raise a glass! The manuscripts comprise of letters of correspondence and poems such as Holy Willie’s Prayer, Love and Liberty: A Cantata and Address to Edinburgh. Read More

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The Myth of Robert Burns

It was some months ago that among the many sermons and talks given by Rev Tom Allan (1916-1965), one entitled ‘The Myth of Robert Burns’ caught my eye (ref. AA6.2.18). While the Kirk and Burns were not exactly best pals, there has been many an Ayrshire minister who would definitely subscribe to the term ‘Burnsian’. The question was, with a title such as this, on which side was the Ayrshire born Tom Allan going to stand?

The talk (definitely not a sermon) opens by observing that the 25th of January, Burns Night, is also ‘the day set aside in the remembrance of St Paul.’ As Allan writes,

“Indeed, if we were to pursue the speculation on these two notable anniversaries, it would not be difficult to argue that there is much in the character of the Scottish people which has emerged through the conflict of the genius which inspired Paul of Tarsus with the genius which inspired Robert Burns. And it is certain that the life of the Poet himself can only be understood in the light of that conflict.”

He goes on to state,

“It is doubtful if there has been any character in Scottish History – or in any other history for that matter – about whom men have so willingly suspended their critical faculties. For a great multitude of otherwise rational people, the cult of Robert Burns is taken as seriously as it is possible for a cult to be taken. He has become a mythical figure in the manner of the ancient gods, and tonight, all over the world, men and women are meeting in their yearly pilgrimage to the holy place.”

First page of Rev Tom Allan's talk 'The Myth of Robert Burns' (ref. AA6/2/18).

First page of Rev Tom Allan’s talk ‘The Myth of Robert Burns’ (ref. AA6/2/18).

Allan certainly seems to be taking the Kirk’s tone something which is underlined in his comments on ‘two old and dusty volumes in the Library of the University’ he consulted while preparing his talk. He goes on to state that the myth he intends to examine is that of ‘Burns the Saint’ and ‘Burns the Poet’ because

“I sincerely believe that we are doing Burns an injustice which he himself would probably have treated as a colossal joke unless we try to see this man as he really was, and try to estimate his poetry as it really is.”

As far as ‘Burns the Saint’ goes, the talk deals with the reality of his morality, the manner in which ‘the popular Burns orator… attempts to clothe this very human man in the robes of sainthood’, and the excuses others make for his behaviour: whether it is to blame him as a child of his time, society or indeed the Church for it. He concludes,

“There is little of nobility in the life of Robert Burns: there is much that is tragic. It is not ours to judge him. Neither is it ours to worship him for qualities he never possessed.”

When he turns to examine the myth of ‘Burns the Poet’, Tom Allan observes that Burns’ writing is at its best when in his native Ayrshire dialect. Interestingly, he questions how many people could truly say that they understood every word of even the best-loved poems such as ‘Tam o’ Shanter’. He takes a swipe at some other poems such as the ‘Ode to General Washington’s Birthday’ for being ‘woefully artificial’ and ‘bombastic, insincere and trivial.’ However, it is when Allan draws to the conclusion of his talk that his genial side, for which he was renowned, makes itself known. He states that it is Burns’ satiric verse, his narrative poems and songs which are the best of his compositions, the last of these being described as ‘incomparable’.

“Here in the Songs I could almost submit myself to the myth of Robert Burns. Here at last is sincerity and tenderness and a great compassion and a bewitching sadness and an irresistible appeal.”

He might have been a man of the Kirk but this is certainly not the conclusion of a man agin the National Bard.

The papers of Rev Tom Allan (ref. AA6) are available for consultation in New College Library and the catalogue for the collection can be found here: http://archives.collections.ed.ac.uk/repositories/5/resources/86134

Kirsty M. Stewart, New College Collections Curator

Images of The Myth of Robert Burns by Rev Tom Allan (ref. AA6/2/18) [PDF – 1.3MB]

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Discovery Day – find your way round our digital primary sources

Working on your dissertation and looking for primary source material? Looking to incorporate digitised primary sources into your teaching? Wanting to expand your research with digital resources? Or just have no idea what primary source material might be available to you at the Library?

The Library’s very first Discovery Day, on Tuesday 30th January, may be exactly what you are looking for.

We invite you to the 1st floor, Main Library on Tuesday 30th Jan between 10am-3pm where representatives from 3 of the major publishers of digitised primary source collections, Adam Matthew, Gale Cengage and ProQuest, and our very own Centre for Research Collections (CRC), will be on hand to help students and staff navigate through and find useful material in the huge range of primary sources we have access to online at the Library. Read More

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Scottish Gymnastics collection catalogued

Coll-1842/6/1: Photograph of five male boxers [?] standing in a line, c.1950s

As well as cataloguing the Margaret Morris collection in Perth, I have also been working with the records of Scottish Gymnastics, which were donated to the University of Edinburgh last autumn. At 14 boxes, the collection is compact but extremely varied, giving a rich flavour of the organisation’s long history.

The Scottish Amateur Association of Gymnastics, Wrestling and Boxing, as it was originally named, was founded on 24 May 1890 by representatives of five Scottish gymnastics and athletic clubs. Prior to this, gymnastics in Scotland had close links with the British military, specifically the Army Physical Training Corps.

However, over the decades, Scottish Gymnastics increasingly broadened its remit to encompass the wider health and wellbeing applications of human movement. It has since gone on to compete successfully in many international competitions and to widen participation in gymnastics to school and pre-school children and people with disabilities.

The records catalogued include early minutes, a collection of publications, including some very early books on gymnastics and physical culture, photographs, audiovisual material, awards and medals. They are a fantastic resource for historians of sport and physical culture, revealing a century of shifting attitudes towards gender, fitness, exercise and education.

Coll-1842/5/6: ‘Pyramids for Strong Men Gymnasts &c’ by F.J. Harvey (Exeter, The Physical Training Publishing Company, 1907); Coll-1842/5/1: Coll-1842/5/3: ‘Manual of Physical Culture and System of Musical Drill’ by George Cruden (Aberdeen: Alexander Murray, 10th edition, 1902); ‘Gymnastics’ by A.F. Jenkin (London: George Bell and Sons, 1890).

We are also working with Scottish Gymnastics to encourage members to donate material, and are planning to host an event for members to view the collection and to help us identify some photographic material.

Parts of this collection will also receive conservation treatment and be selected for digitisation.

Coll-1842/8/6: Scottish Amateur Gymnastics Association Honorary Life Member pendant in presentation box, undated

The records of Scottish Gymnastics can be consulted at the Centre for Research Collections, University of Edinburgh Main Library. The catalogue can be viewed here:

http://archives.collections.ed.ac.uk/repositories/2/resources/86677

I am now looking forward to beginning work on the records of Dunfermline College of Physical Education, and continuing to catalogue the Margaret Morris collection.

Clare Button
Project Archivist

 

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Spotlight on ProQuest digital primary sources

On Tuesday 30th January we’ll be holding a Discovery Day event in the Main Library where representatives from 3 publishers of digitised primary source collections and our very own Centre for Research Collections will be on hand to help you navigate through and find useful material in the huge range of primary sources you have access to at the Library. ProQuest are one of the publishers who will be attending and this blog post highlights the fantastic collections the Library has access to through them.

The Library has access to a large and broad range of primary source collections that can be accessed via the Primary Source database list or the separate Newspapers & Magazines list and Images & Moving Images list.

Through ProQuest the Library has access to around 45 of these fantastic databases. ProQuest has built its expertise in preserving and widening access to significant research collections over 75 years, partnering with large and small libraries and archives, to bring you collections encompassing government, humanities, and historical documents that formerly may have been difficult to retrieve. Alexander Street Press and Chadwyck-Healey databases are also part of the ProQuest suite of resources.

Below are the databases you have access to via ProQuest. As there are so many I have split them into broad categories. Read More

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National Library of Scotland Research Fair

By National Library of Scotland (www.nls.uk)

This event will be open to all – researchers, postgraduate students, librarians, archivists and research managers – will take place on Wednesday, 7th February 2018 from 13.00 – 16.00 in the Boardroom of the National Library of Scotland (NLS), George IV Bridge.

Read More

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Crowdsourcing Event at Strathclyde University

On 19th and 20th February 2018, we are holding a conservation crowdsourcing event here in Archives and Special Collections at the University of Strathclyde. Our aim, over the two days, is to rehouse the Patrick Geddes papers, one of our most important archive collections, in acid-free folders and boxes. Patrick Geddes (1854-1932) was one of the greatest social thinkers of his time. He was a biologist, sociologist and pioneering town planner, with a fascination for the organization of human societies and their spatial manifestation in the city and country. The collection vividly documents the development of all his theories and is of international significance. It comprises correspondence, notes, news cuttings, pamphlets, books, photographs, maps, plans, prints and drawings, including Geddes’ famous ‘thinking machines’. You can find out more about it here.

Patrick Geddes

The collection is poorly housed in unsuitable folders and other packaging. As a result, many pages were torn or creased. An extensive programme of conservation to repair the torn pages alongside cleaning to remove surface dirt has just been completed but, to ensure that the collection is properly protected and that no more damage occurs, we need to rehouse it in archival quality acid-free folders. Over the two days, we aim to rehouse the contents of 175 archive boxes.

Geddes papers in the Archives store

Each day will begin with a training session in the morning, followed by practical work. In the afternoon, participants will be joined by staff members from Archives and Special Collections who will talk to them about their roles. Complimentary refreshments and catering will be provided throughout the day to encourage networking during break times.

This is a great opportunity to get some hands on experience with archives, and find out what it’s like to work in Archives and Special Collections at the University of Strathclyde.

Places are limited to 13 participants per day. You can book your place through Eventbrite. If you have any questions, please email victoria.peters@strath.ac.uk.

Booking will close on 11 February, to allow us to organise catering.
Timetable

9.30 – 9.45: Welcome

9.45 – 10.00: Introduction to the Geddes collection

10.00 – 10.30: Rehousing training

10.30 – 11.00: Rehousing begins

11.00 – 11.30: Tea break (refreshments provided)

11.30 – 13.00: Rehousing

13.00 – 14.00: Lunch break (lunch provided)

14.00 – 15.30: Rehousing and networking

15.30 – 16.00: Tea break (refreshments provided)

16.00 – 17.00: Rehousing and networking

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New extended opening hours for New College Library in 2018

Students told us that they were finding it hard to access course readings held at New College Library because the library opening hours were more limited than other University Library sites. Information Services and the School of Divinity have worked to secure pilot funding to extend New College Library opening hours.

Starting on Sunday 21 January, New College Library will be open 12-5pm on Sundays.

Starting on Monday 9 April, for seven weeks New College Library will be open in the evenings until 10pm, Monday-Thursday.

Our Library Services

During evening and weekend hours there will be full access to the Library Hall and Reserve Section, as well as the David Welsh Reading Room. Access to Special Collections will remain as it is currently, 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday.

Please tell us what you think!

To maintain these hours we will need to make a case for the funding to be continued. If you want these extended opening hours to continue:

  • Please use the library during these hours
  • Please give us your feedback in surveys, feedback forms (available in the library) or to library staff.

Christine Love-Rodgers

Academic Support Librarian – Divinity

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The Regional Sections (Showa Era) of the Yomiuri Shimbun

We have been offered a free trial of the Regional Sections (Showa Era, 昭和の地域版) of the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun which we subscribe to:

The trial is valid until 8th February 2018.

Yomiuri Shimbun is indexed in the Databases A-Z list as Yomidas Rekishikan which provides access to this newspaper.

The section contains digital images of 2.76 million pages from 46 prefectures nationwide dating from 1933 to 2001. Click here to see the content coverage by regions and periods. The English user guide for Yomidas Rekishikan can be downloaded from here.

Article examples from the Regional Sections:

 

 

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Collections

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Projects

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