Category Archives: 19th century

The Mabel FitzGerald Archive, or: An extraordinary woman

Mabel Purefoy FitzGerald was, in many ways, an extraordinary woman. Born in 1872, the youngest child of Richard Purefoy FitzGerald and his wife Henrietta Mary neé Chester, she spent her first 23 years at the family home North Hall in Preston Candover, Hampshire. The family life was very much that of old country gentry:  the father, after his navy and army career, managing land and  participating in county politics, the mother running North Hall and organising the family’s extensive social life, the two sons pursuing navy and academic careers respectively. Mabel, along with her four sisters, was educated at home, and grew up to live the life of a country lady. Her teenage diaries tell of violin classes and country walks, painting and literature, amateur theatre, visits to relatives and family friends, formal dances and many other social events.

Mabel FitzGerald as a young woman

Mabel FitzGerald as a young woman

Against all odds: Medicine!

But Mabel FitzGerald also had an interest in medicine, and generally in science. With her sisters she attended local lectures on nursing and healthcare, read quite widely on the topic, and admired her brother Henry, who went up to study chemistry at Oxford University in 1892.

After both parents died unexpectedly in 1895, the five FitzGerald sisters moved from Preston Candover to live with their grandmother Sarah Anna Elizabeth FitzGerald neé Purefoy Jervoise in Shalstone, Buckinghamshire. Encouraged by both her grandmother, a ‘learned lady’ who corresponded with the poet Robert Browning and other literary and intellectual figures of the time, and the local doctor G.H. De’ath, with whom she went on patient visits and discussed medical topics, Mabel FitzGerald decided on a career in medical science.

In 1896 she moved to Oxford with her sisters and started studying premedical subjects. She did so unofficially, as women were not yet admitted to study for a degree – but soon impressed her tutors with her thoroughness, dedication and critical spirit. She went on to research positions at Oxford in histology (with Gustav Mann) and physiology (with Francis Gotch), and in 1901/1902 worked with Georges Dreyer at the Sate Serum Institute in Copenhagen.

Mabel FitzGerald and Georges Dreyer, Copenhagen State Serum Institute 1901/1902

Mabel FitzGerald and Georges Dreyer, Copenhagen State Serum Institute 1901/1902

From Oxford to Pike’s Peak

From 1905 to 1908 FitzGerald worked in Oxford with J.S. Haldane on the physiology of the respiratory system, and with W. Osler and James Ritchie on bacteriology and pathology. She then travelled to North America on a Rockefeller fellowship to work with H. Naguchi in New York on bacteriology and with A.B. Macallum in Toronto on physiology.

Upon her return to Oxford she was invited by J.S. Haldane to participate in the subsequently celebrated 1911 medical expedition to Pikes Peak, Colorado, to study the effects of altitude on the respiratory system. Whilst the men in the expedition party went up the mountain to set up their laboratory in the summit house, FitzGerald travelled Colorado to measure the long-term effects of altitude on the respiratory systems of the population in the remote mining towns.

Two years later she went to North Carolina to gather data for lower altitudes and compare them with the Colorado results.  Her observations on ‘the changes in breathing  and the blood in various high altitudes’, published 1913 and 1914, are what she became most recognized for.

The Pike's Peak expedition 1911: Haldane, FitzGerald, Schneider, Henderson and Douglas.

The Pikes Peak expedition 1911: Haldane, FitzGerald, Schneider, Henderson and Douglas.

…but Medical School? Yes, as a teacher!

Alongside her extensive lab and field work, Mabel FitzGerald continued to attend lectures and demonstrations and by 1910 had completed at least 900 hours of courses in physiology, histology, pathology and chemistry, along with three years of clinical classes with Osler. Still, when she applied to study medicine at Cornell University Medical College she was rejected for not having the necessary qualifications. By 1915, the time of her second application to medical school, this time at New York, she had attended at least another 800 hours of classes, done years of lab and field work and had published eleven papers – but again, she was rejected (…this time, on the grounds of poor algebra test scores!).

In 1915, FitzGerald moved to Edinburgh to work as a clinical pathologist at the Royal Infirmary. She also applied to medical school in Edinburgh, as it was one of the few in Britain which admitted women. Again, she was rejected as a student – it was considered too much work for her to both attend lectures and fulfil her duties as a clinical pathologist. During her fifteen years in Edinburgh Mabel FitzGerald found her way into Royal College Medical School anyway – as a teacher in practical bacteriology in the 1920s.

Late recognition

In the late 1930s, she retired to Oxford to care for her ageing sisters, who, all unmarried, still lived together in a house in Crick Road. For more than two decades, Mabel FitzGerald was almost forgotten by scientists, until she was ‘rediscovered’ in the course of the centenary celebrations of her mentor Haldane’s birthday in 1960.

But it took until her own hundredth birthday in 1972 before FitzGerald received the academic recognition she deserved for her scientific work. She was finally awarded an honorary M.A. from Oxford University, and she was made a member of the Physiological Society, with her papers being quoted for comment in the 1973 Oxford University examinations.

Mabel Purefoy FitzGerald, M.A., died at the grand old age of 101 in August 1973 in Oxford.

Mabel FitzGerald, M.A., after the degree award ceremony in Oxford 1972

Mabel FitzGerald, M.A., after the degree award ceremony in Oxford, 1972

The FitzGerald Archive at the Bodleian Library

After FitzGerald’s death, her personal and academic papers, along with family papers from her Oxford home in Crick Road, came to the Bodleian Library. Family letters and diaries, personal documents and photographs, academic correspondence and lecture notes, lab books, patient cases and research data, working papers for publications and articles – the history of a Hampshire family and the biography of an extraordinary scientist condensed to  40 boxes.

FitzGerald Archive boxes

Full to the brim with history: 20 of the 40 FitzGerald boxes

The archive is particularly rich in documentation of FitzGerald’s time of ‘unofficial learning’ in Oxford, academic study and work in Copenhagen, in Canada and in the USA, and her professional appointments in Edinburgh. Work with Mann, Gotch and Osler in Oxford is documented through lecture notes, lab notebooks, scientific data and correspondence, and so is the close collaboration with Haldane on the Pikes Peak expedition. Other connections to the medical community in Oxford and beyond include the geneticist J.B.S. Haldane (J.S. Haldane’s son), the physiologist Sir Charles Scott Sherrington, Lady Osler and many others; FitzGerald’s correspondents abroad include the American neurosurgeon Harvey Cushing.

In addition to FitzGerald’s personal papers depicting the life of a female pioneer in science, the archive contains family papers, diaries and correspondence dating back to the 18th century, revealing the history of a well-placed Hampshire/Buckinghamshire family of notable standing in the community and with many connections to renowned contemporaries, including Jane Austen, Henry Acland, Robert Browning and the Tennysons. Not least, the letters and journals of the male members of the Purefoy-FitzGerald family relating to their army and navy careers provide much potential for military history research, as for example, they include accounts of the front-line during the Napoleonic wars, and a first-hand account of the sinking of HMS Victoria in 1893.

The cataloguing project

The FitzGerald Archive has always received attention from researchers, but the fact it was largely unsorted and uncatalogued made it very difficult to access and use the papers. A new initiative to open up the archive came up during the the Saving Oxford Medicine Project, which lead to a funding proposal being submitted to the Wellcome Trust in early 2015.

Wellcome LogoWith funding granted for a 12-month project to sort, preserve, catalogue and make accessible the FitzGerald Archive, work on the collection started in November last year with surveying the papers, identifying conservation needs and priorities, establishing a high-level arrangement and not least a lot of background research on the topics and biographies included in the collection.

An archives assistant has since joined, and we are now a few weeks into the second phase of the project: the item level sorting, which goes hand with basic preservation work such as removing paperclips, with repackaging, and with collecting more detailed information in preparation for cataloguing.

FitzGerald letters

In the FitzGerald Archive: Bundles of letters…

FitzGerald research notes

…and publication drafts.

At this stage, we are looking at every individual letter to identify the writer and the addressee, the date it was written, and the events, people and places the letter is referring to, and sorting clinical notes and research papers, many of which have been left in a mess after decades of use. More than hundred journals and diaries are still awaiting attention by archivists and conservators, and so are hundreds of photographs.

Deciphering 19th century handwriting, identifying names, reconstructing dates, establishing details of biographies and family connections – all this is quite intricate work, requiring a lot of patience a good portion of detective work. But we get rewarded with fascinating findings almost every day, and the many links we find to contemporary events, people and topics in the world of science and beyond are astonishing.

We will make sure to share our discoveries, along with regular reports on the project progress – so watch this space for more big stories and little treasures from the life and work of Mabel FitzGerald.


Further reading
Martin Goodman: The high-altitude research of Mabel Purefoy FitzGerald, 1911-13

John B. West: Centenary of the Anglo-American high-altitude expedition to Pikes Peak
R.W. Torrance: Mabel’s normalcy: Mabel Purefoy FitzGerald and the study of man at altitude
Martha Tissot van Patot: The science and sagacity of Mabel Purefoy FitzGerald

The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh: Library and Archives Blog (March 2015)
International Women’s Day: Remembering Mabel Purefory FitzGerald


 

 

New catalogue: Letters of Henry Herbert, Lord Porchester

Nineteen letters of Henry Herbert, Lord Porchester, are now available to researchers. Lord Porchester, born in 1800, was the eldest son of Henry Herbert, 2nd Earl of Carnarvon. He succeeded his father as 3rd Earl of Carnarvon in 1833. The letters, mainly written to his father, describe a journey Porchester took through France and Spain, 1821-1822, with Philip Pusey. The letters record his observations of the places he visited and his impressions of Spanish society. They also provide an interesting commentary on the political situation in Spain following the revolution of 1820.

A catalogue of the letters is available online.

Sir Cecil Clementi and the University of Hong Kong

Currently being catalogued at the Bodleian Library are papers of Sir Cecil Clementi (1875-1947), Colonial Secretary in British Guiana (1913-1922) and Ceylon (1922-1925) and Governor of Hong Kong (1925-1930) and the Straits Settlements (1930-1934).  These compliment the Clementi papers already received and catalogued by the Library in 1997 (shelfmark: MSS. Ind. Ocn. s. 352).

Clementi spent many years working in Hong Kong having first been posted there as a cadet in 1899.  He was involved with the foundation of the University of Hong Kong and wrote the words (in Latin) of the University Anthem which was performed at the opening ceremony on 11 March 1912.

In 2011, Professor Chan Hing-yan re-orchestrated the Anthem as part of the University’s centenary celebration (listen here).

Clementi returned to Hong Kong as Governor in 1925.  He was made Chancellor of the University the same year and in 1926 was awarded an Honorary LLD (Doctor of Laws).

Images

(1) Denman Fuller, Cecil Clementi and the University of Hong Kong. University Anthem (Novello and Company Limited, London: c.1912)

(2) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cecil_Clementi

Digital.Bodleian + Wikipedia

For anyone looking to define Taijitu, Putso or Sangha, or to learn about Elizabeth Fry, the Junior wives of Krishna, or the Royal Ploughing Ceremony, one of the top internet search hits will be Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Articles about these, and hundreds of other topics, are now being improved using the Bodleian Libraries’ historic collections.

Images from Digital.Bodleian collection are being uploaded to Commons, the database of freely reusable digital files. From here they can be embedded in articles not just in English Wikipedia, but in other languages and in other educational projects. So far, more than six hundred articles, across many different languages, are illustrated with images from the Bodleian Libraries, reaching a total of nearly 1.5 million readers per month.

Military Insignia of the Late Roman Army (Insignia of the magister militum praesentalis. Folio 96 v of the manuscript Notitia dignitatum. Bodleian Library, MS. Canon. Misc. 378.) Licensed under CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Military Insignia of the Late Roman Army (Insignia of the magister militum praesentalis. Folio 96 v of the manuscript Notitia dignitatum. Bodleian Library, MS. Canon. Misc. 378.) Licensed under CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The Bodleian images come from many different countries and eras. The themes range from the serene watercolours of 19th century Burma (present-day Myanmar), via geometrical diagrams in an 11th century Arabic book, to the nightmarish demonic visions of the 14th century Book of Wonders.

A taste is given in an image gallery on Commons. Clicking on any of the images – here or in Wikipedia – and then on ‘More details’ will bring up a larger version, along with links and shelfmarks so that interested readers can track down the physical object.

Anyone is allowed to edit the entries for the images, for example to translate descriptions into other languages. However, these edits are monitored to make sure they respect the educational goals of the site.

This is just the start of an ongoing project: more files and more themes will be added over the next nine months. The Bodleian Libraries’ Wikimedian In Residence, Martin Poulter, welcomes enquiries – you can get in touch via the form below.

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‘Unblushing bribery and corruption’ during the General Election Campaign, 1906

Supporters of Arthur Ponsonby, the Liberal parliamentary candidate for Taunton were furious at the tactics employed against him by the Conservative candidate during the general election campaign of 1906. Letters written to Ponsonby after his defeat on 15th Jan 1906, speak of an unholy alliance between:

the Brewers, Licensed Victuallers, & Church Clergy [who] have moved earth and a worse place to secure the return of the Tory Candidate. Unblushing bribery and corruption have been practised.

Others denounced the:

wretched and corrupt little borough of Taunton,

and put the blame squarely on the voters who:

had they been men that would not be bought for a shilling you would have undoubtedly have been returned.

[MS. Eng. hist. c. 653, fols. 57, 63, 66-67]

Ponsonby was the principal private secretary to the Prime Minister, Henry Campbell-Bannerman, who had taken over from the Conservative Prime Minister, A.J. Balfour, a month earlier in December 1905. He swiftly called a General Election, which the Liberals were to win with a landslide victory. The Prime Minister, who was still campaigning in Scotland, wrote to Ponsonby to commiserate on the loss of Taunton but as a Glaswegian he was unable to temper his elation at Liberal victories in Scotland:

Letter from Campbell-Bannerman to Ponsonby, 20 Jan 1906

Letter from Campbell-Bannerman to Ponsonby, 20 Jan 1906 [MS. Eng. hist. c. 653, fol. 64]

We have done splendidly in Scotland, It was a needless humiliation for them to send A.J.B. [Balfour] up to Inverness to counteract my meeting. He travelled there & back in the same train (though at diff. ends of it – I never saw him) with exultant crowds at the stations; my meeting was greatly bigger than his; and his man was kicked out!

Although the result had been called for Taunton, the election was still continuing across the country. Before 1918 general elections were not held on one specific day: polling took place over a period of weeks. The 1906 general election was held between 12th January and the 8th February.

Amongst Ponsonby’s supporters was a Miss Agnes Sibly, headmistress of a girls’ school in Taunton, who highlighted the issue of women’s suffrage:

You would be safe of our vote more if women were not classed with lunatics & paupers!

Women were not able to vote in a general election until 1918, and even then suffrage was restricted to women over the age of 30 who met a minimum property qualification. Full suffrage on the same terms as men was granted to women in 1928.

Election address for Arthur Ponsonby, 1923

Election address for Arthur Ponsonby, 1923 [Conservative Party Archive]

By 1922 Ponsonby had switched his allegiance to the more radical Labour Party and was elected MP for Sheffield Brightside, joining the first Labour government two years later in 1924.

The catalogue of the papers of Arthur Ponsonby (1871-1946), politician and peace campaigner, has recently been added to the online catalogue and is available here.

Search and Searchability, or Desperately Seeking Susan’s Husband: an anonymous Regency diarist revealed

The diaries in question comprise three small volumes, written on three separate excursions to the South coast in the summers of 1813, 1821 and 1822. They were purchased in late 2012 as anonymous holiday diaries.

John Cox diary 1813-cover

The path to discovery is so convoluted that I thought it would be worth recording the steps by which authorship was established. The story illustrates the power of the Internet, not necessarily in the data it contains (though there is much of great use), but more in its ability to establish links between isolated snippets of information which themselves may lead nowhere, but together provide enough pieces to complete the jigsaw.

Before I outline the steps to discovery, I will make a short digression on the subject of Fawcett Road, Southsea. When my grandmother died in 1989 we found her birth certificate among her papers, and discovered that her mother’s maiden name was Lesar. She was born in South Africa, and I was keen to discover who the Lesars were. I knew absolutely nothing about the family, and that is the way it remained for many years. However, as the internet grew and there was more and more family history activity, I found quite a lot of information about the name Lesar. It is a Sephardic Jewish name; or it is a French Huguenot name. Or a German name. Or Croatian perhaps. You can find all these facts out there, but I was getting no nearer to establishing who my Lesars were. I did however find a passenger list recording the voyage of my South African family to England in 1923. The address they gave as their destination was Fawcett Road, Southsea.

1280px-VOC-schip_'Slot_Ter_Hooge'_op_de_rede_van_Rammakens

Dutch East India Company ship

I searched the Internet for the actual address, and to my astonishment found the exact address on a family history website that linked up many families including my great grandfather’s family from Nottinghamshire.The owner of the website had lost track of my great grandfather and his brother because she was unaware that the reason they disappear from British records is that they had emigrated to South Africa. The Fawcett Road address, however, established that their sister lived in Southsea. From this one piece of information I have reconstructed the family history, established links with a double cousin (the two emigrant brothers married two Lesar sisters in South Africa), and found that the Lesars in the Cape originated with a ship’s boy, Isaac Lesar or Leser, a German in service with the Dutch East India Company, who arrived in Cape Town in 1787.

So what has this got to do with our seaside journals? I mention it because the whole process of discovery illustrates the point about what can be done with the tiniest scrap of information when there are means to link it to data elsewhere. So the first thing needed to identify our author was belief that it would be possible and not a complete waste of time. Fortunately the diaries are quite short, and so I set myself to read through them as quickly as possible to pick up any references to names or places that might give the slightest lead. Let me list the scraps of information in the order I found them.

James_Pollard_-_North_Country_Mails_at_the_Peacock,_Islington_-_Google_Art_Project

Mail coaches at the Peacock, Islington, 1821 [Wikimedia Commons]

 i) The author was certainly from London, where he began his coach journey, and appeared to be from Islington. In the 1822 diary he begins by telling us that he wished himself 1000 times back in Pleasant Row – apparently he always began his holidays in a gloomy mood. Pleasant Row was certainly the name of a street in early 19th-century Islington (now Pleasant Place) as I was able to establish from the digitised version of the Victoria County History for Middlesex.

ii) The author was on holiday with his wife, whom he refers to as Mrs C. This suggested that his own surname began with C.

Cox sketches

Sketch of the Govers near Hastings, 1813

iii) The author knew someone by the name of Mr Basire. In the 1813 volume he tells us that having gone out sketching with his camera lucida, and dined on duck, he wrote to Basire and Mr Barnett. The combination of the unusual name of Basire and the camera lucida gave me grounds for optimism that he might have something to do with the well- known dynasty of engravers, James Basire, and his son James Basire II.

iv) The author received a letter from William Tite to tell him that William’s mother was going to join the author on holiday. William Tite was also sufficiently uncommon a name to try searching, and I immediately found a William Tite born in 1798 who was in the Dictionary of National Biography as a noted architect. This seemed too good to be true. However, I had seen a pencilled note at the end of the 1822 volume which I took to read ‘S Elgar artillery cottage Brighton’. I noticed in the DNB entry for WilliamTite that his mother was one Sarah Elgie, and on returning to the inscription later, realised that it did indeed read ‘Elgie’. But that is jumping a little ahead.

Cox sketch

Sketch of ‘Sumpting’ (Sompting) church, 1822

v) Mrs Tite joined our author and his wife on holiday. The author, Mrs C and Mrs Tite went for a walk, and the ‘two sisters’ fell twice on the slippery grass. So now I had established a relationship with the Tite family, but I still had no surnames as I hadn’t picked up the significance of the name Elgie at this point. The author also refers to ‘Susan’, and from the context it was apparent that Susan was one and the same as Mrs C.

vi) On 17 August our author records that he received a letter from Mr Basire and another from Benj. Cox. The name Cox interested me given that our author was Mr C. So I searched James Basire together with Cox, and found that James Basire II had married a Mary Cox. Now I returned to the previous entry mentioning Basire and Mr Barnett, and searched Cox, Basire and Barnett. This landed me on Exeter Working Papers in Book History: London 1775-1800 which showed me that Basire, Barnett and Cox were all engravers or printers, and that there was a company Cox, son, and Barnett, copper plate printers, 6, Bream’s Buildings, Chancery Lane. I then contacted Julian Pooley, an expert on John Nichols, editor of the Gentleman’s Magazine,  and his family of printers and antiquaries, whose archives are a major source for the study of the book trade. He confirmed that Nichols corresponded with Cox and Barnett, and that the company was employed in producing plates for the Gentleman’s Magazine.

vii) The final piece of the jigsaw was established with the author’s entry for 25 August 1813. Having visited a dripping well and eaten a fine custard pudding, he recorded that ‘I wrote on Tuesday last to Mr Basire to ask the favour of Mary to come with Mr and Mrs Moore should they come here – or if Mr and Mrs B thought proper to let James and Mary come – should like much to shew my dear Mary the delightful scenes rural, Romantic & grand …’.

John Cox diary 1813-Basire

“I wrote on Tuesday last to Mr Basire”

 This ‘dear Mary’ was clearly intimate with the author; furthermore she was dependent on James Basire, and linked with another James. Surely this must be Mary Cox, wife of James Basire II? And this evidence suggested that the author was most probably her brother.

But I still did not know his name. So I tried searching for Susan Cox Islington, and when this proved fruitless, I tried Susannah as I believed I had seen the name so written though I had not noted it. ‘Susannah Cox Islington’ revealed the existence of a will in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury records in the National Archives, dated 1831. To view this required a subscription, but fortunately a colleague’s mother had the necessary memberships, and soon I had the information I needed. To my delight I found that Susannah Cox, widow, lived at 4 Pleasant Row. She left her worldly goods to various Basires and Elgies. She even left a copy of Hannah More’s Practical Piety which Mr Cox mentioned in his diary as his companion on a lonely walk one day. But I still did not know her husband’s name though he was now established as Mr Cox, brother-in-law of James Basire II.

The camera lucida in action [Wikimedia Commons]

The camera lucida in action [Wikimedia Commons]

Surely, since I knew now that Mr Cox must have died between 1822 and 1831, it must be possible to find his will too. A search for Cox Islington turned up one or two post-1831 wills. But then I remembered that on one occasion Mr Cox mentions his wife’s birthday, her age and the length of time they had been married, which in 1822 was thirty-one years. So now I tried a new tack, looking for the marriage of Mr Cox and Susannah Elgie in London in 1791. And quite quickly I found it in a digitised copy of The Register Book of Marriages belonging to the Parish of St George Hanover Square. John Cox married Susannah Elgie on 15 February 1791.

With all this information it was now easy to find John Cox’s will in the PCC records. He did not have an Islington address, but instead used his business address – Bream’s Buildings, Chancery Lane, the location of Cox, son and Barnett. His obituary was in the Gentleman’s Magazine of 1825, a rather poignant recollection of the man which fitted well with what I had come to know of him in his short diaries kept in just three summers of his life – his religion, his interest in music, and above all his fascination with medieval churches which he sketched with his camera lucida.

Gent Mag Cox obit

 

Marks of Genius and Waterloo 200: The MP for Banbury meets Napoleon in 1814

The current Bodleian exhibition, Marks of Genius, asks us to consider the meaning and context of the concept of genius. In this 200th anniversary year of the battle of Waterloo, it seems appropriate to kill two birds with one blog, and consider a contemporary attitude to Napoleon whom many, even his opponents, regarded as a genius.

Opnamedatum: 22-08-2008Frederick Sylvester North Douglas (1791-1819). Print from an original sketch by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Rome 1815 [Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, ref. RP-P-1972-6]

 

Frederick Sylvester North Douglas (1791-1819), MP for Banbury, classical scholar and admirer of Byron, was on the Grand Tour from 1814 to 1816. This necessary part of the education of a gentleman had been denied to Britons during the almost continuous wars with France from 1793 to 1814. But now, with Napoleon defeated and exiled to the tiny island of Elba, the once invincible Emperor himself had become part of the tour. There are at least three accounts of visits to him on Elba in the manuscript collections of the Bodleian Libraries.

Elba_Bay_-_PortoferraioPortoferraio, Elba

 In November 1814 Frederick Douglas was in the north of Italy, and resolved to arrange a visit to Bonaparte to see for himself what the conqueror of much of Europe was really like. He booked himself a passage with Captain Adye on HMS Partridge, a small warship which plied between Elba and the mainland and patrolled the Elba station. Douglas wrote in his journal [MS. Eng. misc. c. 815] on Monday 14 November:

When we awoke after a very quiet night we found ourselves entering Porto Ferraio one of the safest as well as most beautiful in the Mediterranean.… The town itself tho very steep is prettily situated in an amphitheatre upon the port. … The house in which Napoleon has fixed his residence is in the upper part of the town with a fine view of the sea & of every vessel that goes out or in. It is in itself a very simple & I should suppose a small house with nothing to mark the imperial residence.

The British agent informed Douglas that the best way to meet Napoleon was to stand at the Porta di Terra, and sure enough, after they had waited some time, Napoleon ‘appeared in a barouche drawn by four indifferent grey horses & two green postillions.’ Douglas believed he might be able to spot a genius from his outward appearance:

All was extremely simple if not shabby but he was followed by four or five officers & two Polish lancers upon wretched post hacks who were joined by two miserable looking Mamalukes one a black & the other a French man. He was sitting with his hat on but accompanied by an aide de camp who remained all the time uncovered. When Buonaparte saw us he moved his hat & made a bow which Captain Adye thought formal. Buonaparte is not so fat as I expected. He is short & full in the face with a remarkably healthy look. At the same time we saw him he was sulky but his eye was full & clear & there was look [sic] of great sense & intelligence more than of remarkable genius in his countenance. I might I think pass him in the street without looking round. None of the persons I have heard considered as like him are like him at all, Alfred Harris, Lord Wellesley etc, & none of the prints. But the best is that which has the inscription, Adieu Malmaison, particularly in manner. His complexion is brown, but he looks younger than his age. However growing fat must have altered him extremely.

Alfred Harris would appear to be Revd the hon. [Thomas] Alfred Harris (son of James Harris 1st earl of Malmesbury) who, like Douglas, was an alumnus of Christ Church, Oxford.

 

P1030676Corsica and Elba, from the Carta Amministrativa del Regno D’Italia (1806). The Kingdom of Italy was created by Napoleon in 1805, with himself as its first king.

 

Later, Douglas commented on Napoleon’s villa, and was filled with

surprize admiration & compassion to see the simplicity of his tastes … . His retirement & his amusements are certainly those of a great man & an hero.

There followed an incident with an officious member of Napoleon’s staff who wished to clear the crowds away from Napoleon’s residence and threatened to use the Polish lancers to do it. Douglas’s military companions took offence, and acting as interpreter Douglas was asked to find out the officer’s name which he eventually gave reluctantly and rudely as ‘Roule’. This must be the Major Roule who had a reputation for officiousness and is mentioned in The journal of Sir Neil Campbell, published as Napoleon at Fontainebleau and Elba (London, 1869).

On the next day an opportunity to visit Napoleon was missed, but

we again saw Buonaparte who was going out in his carriage & who bowed to us with much more civility & with a smile which had something very gracious & attractive in it. His countenance continues to give me what is the idea I had formed of his character, more that of great sense than of genius, of calculation than of greatness. I see no marks of want of amiability in his features but much the look & manner of a gentleman.

At last, on Wednesday 16 November Douglas was granted an interview with the great man. He immediately wrote up what he could remember of his conversation in a breathless stream of unpunctuated text, interrupting his usual journal ‘in order to put down Buonaparte’s conversation fresh as it came to my recollection’.

FSND-journal-16-Nov-1814“I am just returned from a conversation of near an hour with Buonaparte”

The interview seems to have been rather one-sided, with Napoleon apparently asking all the questions. Douglas seems to have been a little disappointed at his ignorance of British affairs. I have added punctuation:

I am just returned from a conversation of near an hour with Buonaparte. He first asked me where I came from, where I was going, what place I represented, whether it was a family borough, how the election was conducted, what my father’s name was, whether he was chief of my family, who was, how many Scotch peers there were … . He talked of Milan, asked whether the Milanese were not tired of the Austrians … . Asked who were the principal people in the Ministry & opposition, but seemed to know very little about them. Asked what had become of Lord Sidmouth, whether Grey & Holland were not the head of the Opposition & Burdett. Asked a great deal about our seigniorial rights & did not know they had been all abolished. Wished to know when territorial slavery was abolished & seemed surprized to find it so early. Talked about the Puritans whom he seemed to confound with the Presbyterians. His voice is disagreable & his manner of speaking thick & unintelligible. His manner was however agreable & his look expressed the utmost kindness & civility. He asked the name of our chief families in Scotland & England, wanted to know whether there were not some boroughs in which there was no election – how many nobles, by which he meant landholders, in the house of Commons, how many connexions of the house of peers, talked much about Ireland, & said they had very absurd tenets as Catholics, seemed to wish to change the subject when I had changed it to his wife. Talked much about our way of marrying. Tried to find out [if] we were discontented in Scotland, asked about the dress, knew the 42nd & 94th. … He asked a great deal about Oxford, Cambridge & Edinburgh but seemed perfectly ignorant of everything about either [sic].

Douglas was the son of the Scottish peer and politician, Sylvester Douglas, baron Glenbervie (1743-1823),  which explains the Scottish interest. The 42nd and 94th were Scottish regiments. The former, the famous ‘Black Watch’, had fought throughout the Peninsular War, and faced Napoleon again only seven months after this interview. In February 1815 Napoleon made his escape from Elba and began the ‘Hundred Days’ that culminated at Waterloo on 18 June.

Douglas was only twenty-three years of age in 1814, but Napoleon thought he was much older:

He said I was not forty yet? He said vous buvez beaucoup [do you drink a lot]? I answered, thinking he meant the Scotch, oui mais pas qu’ autre fois. Le taxe sur le vin l’empeche mais ici vous pouvez boire sans taxe [yes, but not as much as in former times. The tax on wine prevents it, but here you can drink without tax]; when I found he meant me.

An interesting perspective on the interview with Napoleon is provided in a letter from Lady Mackintosh to John Whishaw, 22 December 1814, published in The “Pope” of Holland House: Selections from the correspondence of John Whishaw and his friends 1813-1840 (London, 1906).

 

Celebrating the 200th anniversary of computer visionary Ada Lovelace

In 2015 the University of Oxford will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of computer visionary Ada Lovelace.  The centrepiece of the celebrations will be a display at the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Library (29 October – 18 December 2015)  and a Symposium (9 and 10 December 2015), presenting Lovelace’s life and work, and  contemporary thinking on computing and artificial intelligence.

An engraved portrait of Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace.

An engraved portrait of Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace. Drawn by Alfred Edward Chalon (1780–1860); Engraved by William Henry Mote (1803–1871)

Ada, Countess of Lovelace (1815–1852), is best known for a remarkable article about Charles Babbage’s unbuilt computer, the Analytical Engine. This presented the first documented computer program, to calculate the Bernoulli numbers, and explained the  ideas  underlying Babbage’s  machine – and every one of the billions of computers and computer programs in use today. Going  beyond Babbage’s ideas of computers as manipulating numbers, Lovelace also wrote about their creative possibilities and limits: her contribution was highlighted in one of Alan Turing’s most famous papers ‘Can a machine think?’ Lovelace had wide scientific and intellectual interests and studied with scientist Mary Somerville, and with  Augustus De Morgan, a leading mathematician and pioneer in logic and algebra.

The display, in the Bodleian’s new Weston Library, will offer a chance to see Lovelace’s correspondence with  Babbage, De Morgan, Somerville and others, and her childhood exercises and  mathematical notes.  The  Symposium, on 9th and 10th December 2015, is aimed at a broad audience interested in the history and culture of mathematics and computer science, presenting current scholarship on Lovelace’s life and work, and linking her ideas to contemporary thinking about computing, artificial intelligence and the brain. Confirmed speakers so far include Lovelace biographer Betty Toole, computer historian Doron Swade, mathematician Marcus du Sautoy, and graphic novelist Sydney Padua. Other activities will include a workshop for early career researchers, a “Music and Machines” event, and a dinner in Balliol College on 9th December, the eve of Lovelace’s 200th birthday.

Oxford’s celebration is led by the Bodleian Libraries and the University of Oxford’s Department of Computer Science, working with colleagues in the Mathematics Institute, Oxford e-Research Centre, Somerville College,  the Department of English and TORCH. Oxford has a remarkable history of programming research, with two winners of the ACM A.M. Turing Award, the Nobel Prize for Computer Science, and the unique breadth and depth of Oxford’s expertise brings a variety of perspectives to understanding Lovelace and the remarkable intellectual community around her, whose ideas
underpin modern computing.

For more information, please keep an eye on our Ada Lovelace website, where we’ll be listing events, and other news. Please register your interest to receive an email when we open up the Symposium to registration in June 2015.

Professor Ursula Martin
Department of Computer Science
University of Oxford

The Friedmann-Brauns: Chocolate cake, and the story of a family

Berlin,  August 1927. Gerhard Braun, the eldest son of Felix and Gertrud Friedmann-Braun, marries Anneliese Finster. Amongst the wedding presents was a little red book: a recipe book Gertrud (a good mother-in-law, or just making sure her son gets fed properly?) had written for her new daughter-in-law.

'Kochbuch' - Gertrud and the recipe book

‘Kochbuch’ – Gertrud Friedmann-Braun and the recipe book

The recipes partly reflect the Friedmann-Brauns’ status as part of the upper middle class in Berlin, with finer cuisine like roast hare or crayfish soup, but also home-cooking favourites and old family recipes like dumplings and pancakes.

There are no entries in the ‘Salads’ and ‘Vegetables’ section, but there are, luckily, an eclectic variety of cakes, pastries, flans and puddings – the family clearly had a sweet tooth.

…And so have the archivists at the Bodleian Library. The plan of cooking and tasting one of Gertrud’s sweet recipes, all in the name of archival science, suggested itself. We went for Schokoladentorte – chocolate cake:

'Schokoladentorte', 1927

Recipe for Gertrud’s ‘Schokoladentorte’, 1927

The recipe (once deciphered! Oh, the old German handwriting…) translates:

“Mix 1/2 pound of butter with 1/4 pound of sugar, then add 4 egg yolks one at a time, then 100 grams of flour, 3/4 pounds of grated chocolate, some vanilla or vanilla sugar, and finally 3 beaten egg whites (keep back one of the egg whites). Take a small, but tall cake pan and bake the cake approx. 3/4 hours. It is not big. If one needs a bigger one, one takes a double portion. At the end the cake gets covered in chocolate or couverture.”

NB: 1 pound = 500 grams

I used 250g of dark chocolate and 125g of milk chocolate, and baked at 180 Celsius. The cake took slightly longer to bake than expected,  I left it in the oven for one hour (use a wooden skewer to test if it is baked). It is very dense and moist, almost like a brownie.

This is what a 1927 chocolate cake looks in 2015:

The archival cake

The ‘Archival Cake’

The recipe was written down in 1927, but it is probably much older.

Gertrud Friedmann-Braun was born in 1870 in Berlin as the daughter of the judge and national-liberal politician Leonhard Lehfeldt (1834-1878) and his wife Therese, née Lehmann. In 1891 Gertrud married Felix Friedmann (1861-1934), a lawyer and senior judge (Landgerichtsdirektor ) at the provincial court in Berlin. They had four children, Hildegard, Gerhard, Konrad and Johannes. In 1911, Felix Friedmann adopted his mother’s maiden name Braun, changing his and his wife’s surname to Friedmann-Braun, and their children’s surname to Braun.
Hildegard Braun (1892-?1944) became a professional singer and music teacher. Gerhard Braun (1893-1946) studied medicine and became a gynaecologist. Konrad Braun (1896-1969) was a lawyer and judge at the Berlin Court of Appeal (Kammergericht ). Johannes Braun (1900-1942) was an actor with engagements at theatres nationwide.

The Friedmann-Brauns: Family life in Berlin

The Friedmann-Brauns were part of the well-educated and well-established Prussian-German middle class. The family enjoyed a rich cultural and social life. From their correspondence and other documents we know they frequently had relatives and friends around in their large flat in Nürnbergerstrasse 66 in the centre of Berlin near Kurfürstendamm, for entertaining, meals and family get-togethers.

Quite likely music was involved – after all, Hildegard was a professional singer, and all siblings played musical instruments. Gerhard was an accomplished pianist; Konrad had a string quartet with friends from school. Even more likely, humorous verse written by family members were recited – composing witty poems and all sorts of pen-and-paper games were very much part of the family culture. The Friedmann-Brauns were well-read, had a substantial library, and admired the literary classics, most of all Goethe.

At a family reunion, after Kaffee und Kuchen – afternoon coffee and cake – did someone quote the ‘Lehmann-Lehfeldt Familienchronik’ – a family chronicle written by Gertrud’s aunts Franziska and Agathe and privately published by her uncle Felix Lehmann in 1906 – (in)famous in the family, for all the little stories and the gossip about the extensive Lehmann-Lehfeldt clan?

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The Friedmann-Brauns, c. 1931: Gertrud and Felix Friedmann-Braun with granddaughter Ruth, at the back Konrad, Hildegard, Johannes, Anneliese and Gerhard Braun

Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Lehmanns, Lehfeldts, Brauns and Friedmanns, living mainly in Berlin,  were successful in business, the professions, government service and regional politics, and extensively involved in literary and artistic circles, such as Die Zwanglosen society.
Joseph Lehmann (1801-1873), Gertruds maternal grandfather and friends with Heinrich Heine, was editor of the literary magazine Magazin für die Literatur des Auslandes, and his son-in-law Leonhard Lehfeldt followed him in this post. Joseph Lehfeldt (1804-1858), Leonhard’s father, was a publisher and co-owner of the Veit & Co. publishing company. The painter and art professor Paul Meyerheim (1842-1915) was part of the family, and so was Ilse Rosenthal-Schneider (1891-1990), Felix-Friedmann-Braun’s niece, who studied physics and philosophy in Berlin in the 1910s and was in touch with Max Planck and Albert Einstein.

1933 and the consequences: Persecution, emigration and the Holocaust

However… the Friedmann-Braun family had Jewish ancestors, which made them face discrimination and persecution under the Nazi regime.

Gerhard Braun, after losing his posts in the public health system and seeing his practice limited to private patients and later to Jews only, was arrested in the course of the Reichspogromnacht  (Crystal Night) in November 1938 and taken to Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where he was detained for five and a half weeks. He was released in December 1938 on condition that he emigrated, and was able to come to England with his wife Anneliese and adopted daughter Ruth.

Konrad was, after the Nuremberg race laws, forced to retire from his position as Kammergerichtsrat  by the end of 1935. When the police came to arrest him in November 1938, he was in England, studying at the Quaker Study Centre at Woodbrooke in Birmingham. From there, he was able to organise the emigration of his wife Hildburg, and his 3-year-old son Thomas, who left Germany via Switzerland and arrived in the UK in February 1939.

xDSC00487

Konrad Braun’s passport, 1937, marked ‘J’ for ‘Jew’ and with the compulsory name ‘Israel’ added by the German Embassy in London, 1939.

Johannes was arrested by the Gestapo in spring 1942 and brought to a concentration camp (probably Trawniki) near Lublin where he was reported to have died of Tuberculosis in July 1942. At about the same time his mother Gertrud suffered an attack, possibly a stroke, after which her health deteriorated steadily and she was dependant on her daughter Hildegard’s care.
From 1941 Hildegard was deployed as a forced labourer to the pharmaceutical company Riedel-de Haën in Britz on the outskirts of Berlin.

Konrad’s and Gerhard’s desperate attempts to find a way for their mother and sister to emigrate from Germany ultimately failed. Gertrud and Hildegard were fetched from their flat in Kurfürstenstrasse on 12 December 1942 and brought to a ‘collection point’ (Sammellager ), probably in Gerlachstrasse, where Gertrud died. Hildegard’s fate is unknown. She is on the list of names on a transport from Berlin to Auschwitz and there is uncorroborated evidence that she worked as a nurse in Theresienstadt and died there, or after being transported on to Auschwitz in 1944; but she was not officially recorded at either camp.

From Berlin to the Bodleian Library:
The Braun Family Archive

The little red recipe book came to England with Gerhard and Anneliese in 1938/1939.
It is now part of the Braun Family Archive, which was donated to the Bodleian Library by Christopher Braun, Konrad and Hildburg Braun’s younger son, in 2010-2014, together with a grant towards preservation and cataloguing of the collection.

The archive consists of over 200 boxes of correspondence, personal and legal papers, diaries, memoirs, eulogies, articles, memorabilia, occasional verses etc., dating from before 1800 to the 2000s, and includes family trees, secondary literature and other material accumulated by family members over the years.  In spite of  grievous losses inflicted by Nazi depredations and allied bombs, this remains a substantial archive of a family which can be traced in Berlin and in the Northeast of Germany in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, and to Jewish roots reaching back to 16th-century Prague and Vienna.

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Gerhard Braun’s memoirs describing his detention at Sachsenhausen concentration camp, 1938.

The archive also includes the personal papers and writings of the classicist Thomas Braun (1935-2008), who spent an academic career of over 50 years in Oxford – as a student at Balliol College, 1955-1959, and Merton College, 1959-1962, as Fellow and tutor in ancient history at Merton College from 1963, as Dean of Merton College from 1974, as Senior Research Fellow from 1999, and as Emeritus Fellow after his retirement in 2002.

The subjects touched on include the history of Berlin and northeast Germany in the 19th and early 20th century, the role of the Jews and the process of assimilation, publishing, literary artistic and musical movements in 19th-century Germany, especially Berlin, the 1914-18 war on the German side, the Nazi oppression and the holocaust, emigration from Germany, the life of German refugees in Britain, the internment of enemy aliens in Britain during the 1939-45 war, the Quakers in Germany and Britain, and academic life in Oxford in the 1950s-2000s.

A substantial autograph collection, bringing together 19th and 20th century letters and other documents from artists, writers, musicians, politicians and other ‘celebrities’ family members were in touch with over the decades, complements the archive.

Thus, the collection not only tells the eventful story of a family throughout more than two centuries, but also touches on a broad range of subjects in 19th and 20th century German and British history – which makes it a rich source for biography, social and cultural history with a great potential for use in research.

The main part of the Braun Family Archive is now available to readers, with the catalogue online at the Bodleian Library Special Collections Archives and Manuscripts Online Catalogues website.

-Svenja Kunze

Oxford by the Sea?

A recent visitor to the Library with an interest in Lord Nelson and maritime history gave me an excuse to bring out some naval treasures. The Bodleian may not seem the most obvious place to look for Britain’s sea heritage, but there are a number of key collections nonetheless. The foundation as always is the extraordinary manuscript collection of Richard Rawlinson, which contains amongst much else more than thirty volumes of the papers of Samuel Pepys. Though famous for his diary, his role in life was naval administration. He rose to be Chief Secretary to the Admiralty under both Charles II and James II.

Evelyn sketch

John Evelyn’s sketch of the Dutch Raid on the Medway of June 1667, in MS. Rawlinson A. 195A

The above sketch of the infamous Dutch Raid on the Medway of June 1667, drawn by another famous 17th-century diarist John Evelyn, was sent to Pepys in January 1668. It is enclosed with a letter in which Evelyn apologises for taking so long over sending the sketch, his excuse being that he had been afflicted with a ‘griping of the gutts.’ He says that the sketch was a representation of the raid as he saw it from the ‘hill above Gillingham.’ He had taken the layout of the river from ‘an old paper lying by me, and not from any printed mapp.’

A key to the sketch explains the positions of the English ships and notes the burning of four ships in the Medway near Chatham Dockyard. The Royal Charles (10) was the flagship of the fleet, and the Dutch towed it away as a prize. It had been the Naseby, but was renamed when it brought the king back to England at the Restoration in 1660. Pepys himself was on board that day. Her stern remains in the Netherlands to this day, kept in the Rijksmuseum.

Evelyn's key

Key to Evelyn’s sketch of the Raid on the Medway, June 1667

More about the Library’s 17th-century collections, or at least those acquired before 1922, can be found in an old but still useful guidebook, A student’s guide to the manuscripts relating to English history in the seventeenth century in the Bodleian Library (1922) by Godfrey Davis, now available online at the Internet Archive.

The Bodleian continued to acquire naval and maritime papers, mainly through its modern political collections where the navy and shipping have often featured in policy, but also through accessions of family papers where there are sometimes naval connections even when the main subject is a literary or political figure. A search for the words ‘navy’ or ‘naval’ using the online search page for manuscripts returns hits on 92 collections. Among these are the papers of Pepys’s patron the Earl of Sandwich in the Carte collection (see the Carte Calendar); secret service papers of Sir Evan Nepean who was Secretary to the Admiralty from 1795 to 1804, catalogued among single items of historical papers; papers of the naval surgeon John Harness (?1755-1818) who became embroiled in a bitter dispute about lemons; papers of the Mary Somerville, which include correspondence of her father Admiral William George Fairfax (1739-1813); and papers of William Waldegrave Palmer, 2nd Earl of Selborne, First Lord of the Admiralty 1900-1905.

Of course, Bodley was a son of an Exeter merchant, and his marriage to Ann Ball, widow of a Totnes merchant, is supposed to have given him access to her money derived from the pilchard trade. So the Library could be said to be built on England’s seafaring endeavours.

-Mike Webb