Anti-German manifestos, cigarettes vouchers and a little girl called Gill: 3 objects found in PhD theses

When I was studying for my Masters dissertation, I kept finding dried flowers in between the pages of books I was borrowing from the library. Now, we all know that drying flowers in between books, especially library books, is a bad idea.  If the flower is particularly big, the books will struggle to close properly and the colours of the petals, through the release of moisture, will transfer on the page.  But despite all of it, I was happy to find daisies and freesias while revising, and I kept most of them. Now, I am still happy when I find objects in collection items, some of which have not been opened for almost 100 years. I have realised that all sort of things find their way in theses.  I removed cigarettes buds found in 1910s book on bronchitis, read letters and I have seen that photographs, cigar vouchers and 1970s train tickets all seem to have been used as bookmarks or place orders and never have been removed from the pages of theses. Sometimes the objects and documents found in these theses seem to be related to the creation of the volumes themselves. For example, we found receipts and quotes from 20th-century Scottish bookbinders, library notes and interlibrary loans request slips. But sometimes what we have found is more original and not necessarily related to the content or the creation of the physical item.

Here are three examples of objects that found their way in between the pages of PhD theses.

The Anti-German Union pamphlet found in a 1916’s thesis

The ‘Anti-German Union’ pamphlet
Found in a 1916 medical thesis titled The treatment of tuberculosis this pamphlet relates to racist propaganda rather than medical knowledge. The leaflet promotes ethnocentric ideas of ‘Britishness’ presenting German workers, economic trade with Germany as a threat.

 “The Anti-German Union has been formed to unite British-born men and women, without respect to party, class or creed, with the following aims and objects:

  1. To foster national ideals and to keep alive the patriotic spirit of the people
  2. To defend British freedom, rights and privileges from German invasion
  3. To defend British Industry and British labour against German competition.”

The pamphlet also includes a membership/registration form which was left blank. It was produced at the same time as the thesis was (around 1916). The AGU Later renamed ‘British Empire Union’ was an organisation instigating anti-German sentiment and was part of a bigger movement that grew after WW1 and the developing of Germany as an international power. The union promoted the expulsion of German immigrants and the obstructing of German trade.

It is not clear whether the examiner or the author itself accidentally left the pamphlet in the thesis, but at least we know that that the registration form was left blank.  I was particularly fascinated by this object because it has no relation to the content of the thesis and there is a limited amount of similar documents on the same subject in digital image repositories. It is also a statement to a very specific time in history; the document could have only been written in 1915 or 1916, and it testifies the change in aims and perspective of an organisation.

Five Embassy Cigarettes Vouchers Objects found in theses, not only provide evidence for the political atmosphere that alumni were immersed in, but they also show a change in consumerist culture and advertising.  One of my favourite discovery is ‘Five Embassy Vouchers’.
Not so common these days, cigarettes vouchers were given to smokers as a reward for their loyalty. This was a win/win situation: consumers could trade this vouchers in a store for their favourite cigarettes while companies found a way of retaining their customers.

Embassy is a cigarette brand first sold in 1914 by Imperial Tobacco. Originally branded ‘Strand’ it gained popularity in the 1960s as a coupon brand.

Five Embassy Vouchers (1960s)

 

Gill, 1966
The most common objects found loose in between the pages of theses are, after library slips, photographs. Some of these pictures are labelled, usually portraying graduating students; others remain a mystery.
One that we could find more information about is ‘Gill, 1966’.  This picture fell from a 1970s duplicate copy of a thesis. We are unclear which thesis she originally came from as she fell when we picked up a couple of theses from our delivery. The volume it came in (as it is a duplicate) has been certainly destroyed now, but the picture remains a unique object, one  portraying Gill in 1966, a little girl we know nothing about.

Gill, 1966

The Development Of Avant-Garde Art And Ideas 1905-1924

The film above is a review of the artworks referenced in the first three volumes of a four volume Ph.D. thesis by Ivor Davies from 1974:

Certain Aspects Of Art Theory In Russia From 1905 To 1924 In Their Relationship To The Development Of Avant-Garde Art And Ideas In The West

Continue reading

Images of early Islamic architecture: a record of destroyed antiquities in Iraq and Syria

 

Aleppo. Madrasa al Zahariyeh

Aleppo. Madrasa al Zahariyeh

The aim of our PhD thesis digitisation project is to make available the unique research of the University of Edinburgh. This research has a greater significance when, within the pages of the theses, we uncover photos of places and buildings that no longer exist; our collection becomes important for the future preservation of world cultural heritage.

In the past year a great deal of research has been undertaken on collecting images of Palmyra that date to a period before it was damaged (in 2015), as well as of other Syrian archaeological sites.[1] Much of this work depends upon using archival images of the areas in question, often from personal collections. Such images can aid with digital, and perhaps eventually physical, reconstructions. Some of the items that we have scanned as part of our thesis digitisation project, and that are now available on ERA (Edinburgh Research Archive, by ‘Abbū ,1973 and Al-Janābī 1975), also include images of buildings destroyed or damaged in past few years, not just in Syria but also in Iraq.

In the last year much media attention was given to those buildings and archaeological sites which date to the pre-Islamic era, such as Palmyra. However, many early Islamic structures and sites have also been subject to destruction, although these are often less well publicised. Furthermore due to the turbulent situation in the areas in question it can be rather difficult to ascertain if a building has been destroyed or when damage took place.

Although there may be little that can be done to prevent this destruction, we can ensure to properly look after and maintain documents relating to the artefacts in question and make them publicly available so that these can be used for digital reconstructions. This blog will focus, in particular, on those early-Islamic buildings destroyed in 2013/14 in Aleppo (Syria), Samarra (Iraq), and in Mosul (Iraq).

Fig. 23, Al-Janabi.

Mosul. Mausoleum of al-Imam Yayha ibn al-Qasim.

The two theses mentioned above and dating from the 1970’s, contain images of buildings in these areas: The Ayyubid domed buildings of Syria by ‘Ᾱdil N. ‘Abbū (1973) and Studies in Mediaeval Iraqi Architecture by Ṭāriq Jawād Al-Janābī (1975). Both theses present a catalogue of monuments. In the first the Ayyubid dynasty is examined over the period from AD 541-1260, focusing on the areas of Damascus and Aleppo. The second thesis covers the time period between the 6th and the 8th centuries AD and areas ranging from Baghdad, Wasit, Mosul, Al-Kifil, Kufa, Basra and Amadiya. The contents of the first chapter are wide ranging, reading: the Saljuq period, the Abbasid Caliphate during the 6th to 7th centuries A.H., the Atabikids of Iraq, the Mongol invasion and the Ilkhanid Period, the Jalairids.

Aleppo. Madrasa al Zahariyeh

Aleppo. Madrasa al Zahariyeh

The types of monuments discussed in both works include: madrasas (koranic schools; some of these built at the request of the Sunni madhab),[2] turbas, mosques, ribats, minarets, palaces and mausolea.

Aleppo. Al-Madrasa al-Halawiya.

These works are so important for preserving the past because they include many good quality photographs, including of the type of minor decorative details that are difficult to reproduce accurately, such as wood and stucco windows and façades.[3]

Samarra. Mausoleum of Imam Dur.

Samarra. Mausoleum of Imam Dur.

Fig 171b (Al-Janabi)

Mosul. Mausoleum of Imam Bahir.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mosul: mausoleum of Imam Bahir.

Mosul: mausoleum of Imam Bahir.

Fig 170a (Al-Janabi)

Mosul. Mausoleum of Imam Bahir.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To highlight the importance of these works a selection of photos from the theses are included, depicting buildings that are now damaged or destroyed. In Aleppo: the Al-Sultaniyeh mosque and the madrasa Al-Halawiyah. The Imam-al-Daur in Samarra. In Mosul: the masjid of al-Imam Ibrahim, the mausoleum of Imam Bahir, that of al-Immam Muhsin, the shrine of al-Imam Yahya ibn al-Qasim, and that of al-Imam ‛Awn al-Din (known as Ibn al-Hasan).

Aleppo: the Al-Sultaniyeh Mosque

Aleppo. Madrasa al Zahariyeh

Aleppo. Madrasa al Zahariyeh

Also known as the Al-Sultaniyah Madrasa, this 12th century building incorporates several rooms around the courtyard known as the Madrasaa al Zahariyeh. It was destroyed on December 7th 2014.[4]

Aleppo: the Madrasa Al-Halawiya

Aleppo. Al-Madrasa al-Halawiya.

This Byzantine cathedral became a madrasa (Koranic school) in the 13th century. Attempts were made in 2013 to protect one of the wooden niches dating from this time. However this work had to be abandoned due to the conflict in the area.[5] The building was damaged recently in the same incident that destroyed the great mosque, with which it shared grounds.[6]

Samarra: the Mausoleum of Imam al-Daur

Samarra: the mausoleum of Imam al-Daur

Samarra: the mausoleum of Imam al-Daur

Dating from 1085, this Shia shrine was destroyed in October 2014.[7]

Mosul: Masjid of al-Imam Ibrahim

Mosul. Masjid of al-Imam Ibrahim.

Mosul. Masjid of al-Imam Ibrahim.

This building now appears to be destroyed in satellite photography.[8]

Mosul: the Mosque and Shrine of al-Imam al-Bahir

Al-Janabi Fig. 172.

Mosul. Mosque of Imam Bahir.

This shrine was likely destroyed in September 2014.[9]

Mosul. Mausoleum of al-Imam al-Bahir

Mosul. Mausoleum of al-Imam al-Bahir

Mosul: the Mosque and Tomb of al-Imam Muhsin

Mosul. Mosque and tomb of al-Imam Muhsin (al-Madrasa al-Nuriya)

Mosul. Mosque and tomb of al-Imam Muhsin (al-Madrasa al-Nuriya)

Also known as the madrasa al-Nuriya, this 11th century site was likely destroyed between December 2014 and December 2015.[10]

Mosul: the Shrine of al-Imam Yahya ibn al-Qasim

Mosul. Mausoleum of al-Imam Yahya ibn al-Qasim

Mosul. Mausoleum of al-Imam Yahya ibn al-Qasim

This 13th century Shia shrine located on the Tigris riverbank and was destroyed as of July 2014.[11]

Mosul: Shrine of al-Imam ‛Awn al-Din (known as Ibn al-Hasan)

Fig. 169b, Al Janabi.

Mosul. Mausoleum of Imam ‘Awn al-Din.

One of the few structures to survive the Mongol invasion of Iraq, this 13th century shrine was reportedly destroyed on the 25th of July 2014.[12]

While it is impossible to undo the damage wreaked in some of the most archaeologically rich parts of this world, and there is frustratingly little that can be done to reverse the far greater loss of human lives, it is perhaps a small comfort to know that in some way we may contribute to the future preservation and potential reconstruction (digital or otherwise) of important monuments that are now lost.


Bibliography and further information

‘Ᾱdil N. ‘Abbū (1973) The Ayyubid domed buildings of Syria, PhD thesis, University of Edinburgh.

Ṭāriq Jawād Al-Janābī (1975) Studies in Mediaeval Iraqi Architecture, PhD thesis, University of Edinburgh.

UNESCO on the ancient city of Aleppo: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/21

UNESCO on Iraq: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/21 and http://whc.unesco.org/en/news/1239/

Monuments of Mosul in danger: http://monumentsofmosul.com/

Blue Shield Press on monuments in Syria and Iraq: http://www.ancbs.org/cms/en/press-room

A recent conference was held at the University of Edinburgh on Syria (between the departments of History, Classics and Archaeology, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies and the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies).

References

[1] Some recent examples of this work: http://futurism.com/3d-imaging-is-helping-us-save-history-for-the-future/ and http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/ancient/digital-preservation-syria/

[2] see Abbu (1993), p. ii.

[3] Al-Janabi, (1975) chapter VI; and Abbu (1973) sections 4, 5 and 8.

[4] http://hyperallergic.com/168740/syrian-military-bombs-significant-13th-century-complex/ and http://www.syriaphotoguide.com/home/aleppo-al-sultaniyeh-mosque-%D8%AD%D9%84%D8%A8-%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%B9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%84%D8%B7%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%A9/ and http://apsa2011.com/apsanew/aleppo-partial-destruction-of-the-al-sultaniah-mosque-following-an-explosion-07-12-2014/#jp-carousel-4714

[5] http://apsa2011.com/apsanew/4074/

[6] http://www.syriaphotoguide.com/home/aleppo-great-mosque-%D8%AD%D9%84%D8%A8-%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%B9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%83%D8%A8%D9%8A%D8%B1/ and http://eamena.arch.ox.ac.uk/impact-risks/explosives/

[7] https://www.cemml.colostate.edu/cultural/09476/iraq05-057.html

[8] http://monumentsofmosul.com/list2/18-i16

[9] Current satellite image: http://monumentsofmosul.com/list2/26-i35

[10] Current satellite image http://monumentsofmosul.com/list2/27-i37 and https://www.arcgis.com/home/item.html?id=017b3a45d45f439bb5e595491b9dc826

[11] http://monumentsofmosul.com/list2/8-i4 and http://archnet.org/sites/4356 and http://www.iraqinews.com/features/urgent-isil-destroys-1400-year-old-mosque-located-west-mosul/

[12] http://monumentsofmosul.com/list2/9-i5 and https://conflictantiquities.wordpress.com/2014/07/28/syria-iraq-islamic-state-destruction-shrine-mashhad-al-imam-awn-al-din/ and http://archnet.org/sites/3841

Some pictures from 1980s Punjab

Image

In this project we tackle theses chronologically. We follow a spreadsheet that has been ordered, more or less, by date and name of author. As we move forwards, we have been noticing that:

1. theses get generally longer as the years go by;
2. there are definitely themes that at times, are more fashionable than others. The early 20th century hot PhD topic was, for example, Chorea whilst the 1980s saw an increase in the number of works written about infants and motherhood;
3. Theses get less and less visual as we scan.

It is possible, though, to find beautiful imagery in later thesis, as the 1987’s work Transcultural nursing: the role of the health visitor in multi-cultural situations by Susan Margaret Dobson exemplifies.The following pictures show how skilled (at least aesthetically) Dobson was when documenting her research. The composition, the lighting and the colours of these photographs immediately caught my attention.

smaller-versions_0001 smaller-versions_0002 smaller-versions_0003 smaller-versions_0004 smaller-versions_0005

Lost in translation: marble’s marvels

When we think about submitting a piece of academic work/reserach, whether it is a PhD thesis, an essay or an article, standardisation always comes to mind. Formatting, referencing, and structuring are an integral part of academic writing and although most students dread the final adjustments, they are necessary. Most of us have been

Figure 1 Detail of a marbled endpaper

Figure 1
Detail of a marbled endpaper

encouraged to use specific fonts, framing the page with xx margins, using formulaic headers. Personally, during my studies, I stayed away from unusual/somewhat artistic document structures and layouts, used the paper provided by the library’s printer and applied Cambria à gogo. I was required to provide both print and digital versions of my essays, but always followed the department guidelines. I did not think much of it. I understood that beautiful formatting was not necessary and might have cost me time and efforts.

Standardisation is a key component of essay writing but it was not so crucial in the past. Digitising theses from different decades of the 20th century, we have noticed how free the students were when it came to producing and printing their own work. Not all theses have acknowledgements, indexes, or even page numbers. They are printed on different sheets of papers, bound by different covers. Some early theses are of course, are handwritten and impossible therefore to ‘standardise’ But even with the spread of typewriters, homogeneity was hard to achieve; an Olivetti might have a different font from an IBM typewriter. Here at the Library Annexe, we have seen thesis bound in snakeskin leather, cardboard, and dealt with a lot of poor quality carbon copies. Authors seemed free to experiment with what suited them, what they found most aesthetically pleasing (and probably with what they could afford.).

Figure 3 A Marbling bath

Figure 2
A Marbling bath

Working in digitisation gives you the privilege of dealing closely with physical collections items, scrutinising them, handling physical objects every day, We have the opportunity to experience all the material that gets lost in the digital translation: the binding, the weight and sometimes the smell and texture of the book. After looking at hundreds of theses, spotting differences gets easy. One thing I love to keep my eye on is marbled endpapers (figures1,3,4,5).

Marbling is a printing technique that creates patterns similar to the ones naturally found in stone marble. In paper marbling, paint colours are transferred to a liquid surface, usually water or other adhesive solutions. With the help of chemicals, colours float on the surface and it is possible to manipulate them, creating different patters.Sheets of paper are the immersed into the liquid mixture (bath) .The patterns are then transferred into the paper. It creates monotype prints, so all marbled papers are unique works.

Figure 2 more marbled endpaper

Figure 3 More marbled endpaper

Paper marbling is widely used in bookbinding and has ancient origins. Scholars are in dispute on its birth place; Japan, China and Turkey have their own historical traditions of paper marbling. In Europe, marbling arrived in the Netherlands first, in the 17th-century.

So far, at the Annexe we have encountered beautiful marbled endpapers from the 20th-century. Most of them created by Edinburgh-based bookbinders. Figure 1 and 5 look very similar; they were probably created by the same bookbinder. He/she used the overprinting technique  Overprinted papers have been ‘marbled’ twice, the first marbling transferred through bathing ; the second marbling is instead printed over the first one using a lithographic process.
Image x instead shows an example of  nonpareil papers.


“This pattern is created when the desired colors are dropped sequentially onto the bath using some sort of implement to regulate the drop sizes. A comb with one set of teeth set at intervals of 15-30mm is drawn through the bath horizontally, once in either direction with the second pass halving the first. Then another comb with teeth set at 2-3 mm is drawn once across the bath vertically (or horizontally)”

word-image

Figure 4 Even more marbled endpaper

Image 4 was most likely created  using a piece of paper laid out on a flat surface coated with a color. Then marbling brushes would be used to sprinkle color directly onto the surface causing the characteristic spots of dispersed (bleeding) ink to be absorbed into the paper. This specific technique is called papier tourniquet.

These are only a few examples of end papers we have spotted in theses so far and I am sure there are more to come.When reading pdfs online we tend to leave bookbinding and all its artistry behind. As digitisers though, we have the opportunity to document what goes behind the scenes and bring to light what gets lost in the ‘translation’ from physical to digital.


More about paper marbling here:



Examples of a digitised collection of marble papers:
http://digitalcollections.lib.washington.edu/cdm/search/collection/dp

More on paper marbling technique can be found reading:

Figure 5 guess what - marbled endpaper again

Figure 5
guess what:  marbled endpaper again