Category Archives: School of Biological Sciences

Volunteering in the DIU

I have been volunteering with the Digital Imaging Unit for about a year, during which time I have been researching and adding metadata to their digital collection, as well as selecting images for a recent postcard project. It has been a wonderful opportunity to get to know the breadth of the University’s Collections and contribute to its online visibility.

As a student of the (MA) Fine Art degree  looking to start a career in the archive and museum sector, volunteering with the DIU has not only provided me with relevant work experience, but also enriched my visual and art historical knowledge by exposing me to an incredible variety of pictorial material.

The collection has a number of beautiful images of old Edinburgh and it is remarkable to see how, in some ways, so little has changed in the city landscape.


Glass-plate slides are such wonderful objects and these have incredibly vibrant colours. This particular image seems to be a photograph of the Bois de Boulogne, a park close to where my grandmother lived in Paris.

Bois du Boulogne.

The Capybaras, or Capivaras, are a type of giant rodents indigenous to the region I grew up in Brazil. It was a lovely surprise to discover this image in the University’s collection of Zoological Illustrations.


One of the many fascinating items I’ve had the pleasure to research for the DIU, a 17th century book detailing comet sightings throughout history, accompanied by intricate illustrations.


Pigs, pumpkins and ostriches… what more could you want?


Alice Tod

Digitising Darwin

Heiskell DarwinOver the years several Darwin originals have made their way to us for photography- a handwritten sheet from the manuscript of ‘On the Origin of Species’, his class cards, letters and recently some shells collected by Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle which had been rediscovered amongst Lyell’s geology collection. This week I was delighted to receive a whole trolley load of books from the Darwin collection which were being photographed in preparation for a printed catalogue. The Rare Books and Manuscripts team have already completed the online cataloguing (see their blog about this mini-project here ).

Much of what arrived in the DIU was from the Heiskell Darwin collection- a donation of first editions made to the University in 2012 from the Heiskell Bibliographical Foundation, although some beautiful plates from the ‘The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle’ came from our existing collection. As our image archive of Darwin is growing, I thought it might be nice to show some of the highlights here.

Susan Pettigrew

Heiskell Darwin Heiskell Darwin Heiskell Darwin Charles Lyell collection 0009323d 0009315d 0055917d

New Photography for Main Library Exhibition – Collect.ed

The Digital Imaging Unit have been working on an amazingly diverse range of material recently thanks to a new exhibition being prepared for the Main Library by exhibitions intern Emma Smith. Collect.ed is the title of the exhibition described as “Curiosities from the University’s collections”. This work has presented the challenge of photographing a cast of the serial killer Burke’s brain, seven prehistoric shark’s teeth and a fabulous box of shells collected by Charles Darwin himself. Collect.ed will open on 5th December 2013 and run until  1 st March 2014, Monday to Friday 10.00am – 5.00pm, Saturday 10.00am – 1.00pm, Free Admission!

Malcolm Brown








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Gems from the ECA Rare Books Collection

The CRC Assistant Rare Books Librarian has been busy cataloguing books from the Edinburgh College of Art Collection again, and has sent a few our way to photograph for upcoming talks and publications.

An amazingly diverse collection from 15th C. Sermons to etchings of Italian landscapes to 19th C. Japanese artistic review magazines and on to detailed plates of British Ferns, each book contains its own wonders.

Susan Pettigrew


RECA.MS.26 Calico Samples Album, pp.200v-201r


RECA.F.157 Le Japon Artistique, vol.3, no.17, pl.ABD


RECA.FF.210 British Ferns, Moore, Thomas, pl.XVI


RECA.MS.8 China, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Macao: Photographs Taken on Lord Elgin’s Diplomatic Mission and Military Campaign in China 1857 – 1861, p.52