Emerging from Pandemic Purgatory

Taylor Institution Library, View from St Giles’
Above: Taylor Institution Library, View from St Giles’

This post originally appeared on the Oxford Libraries Graduate Trainee Blog and is republished with permission of the author.

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Sadly, for many of us, the last eighteen months have seen the cancellation, curtailment and delay of countless celebrations, including birthdays, holidays, anniversaries and achievements. At the very least, we’ve been forced to relocate those festivities online and connect with family and friends via laptops and phone screens in a kind of digital limbo.

Re-emerging into the real world from this pandemic-induced Purgatory, I recently returned to Oxford, a city that I’d previously called home for many years. My arrival overlapped with many of the restrictions of the last year and a half being (cautiously) rolled back. As the new Graduate Trainee at the Taylor Institution Library (known colloquially as the ‘Taylorian’), my first week saw the steady disappearance of one-way systems, sign-in slots and restricted access for readers to many of the library’s more intimate spaces.

Taylor Institution Library, Aerial View
Above: Taylor Institution Library, Aerial View (2008)

Like the Bodleian Libraries more broadly, many institutions and historical personages have also found their usual cycles of anniversaries and commemorations disrupted by lockdown measures and restrictions on large gatherings. Excitingly, the prospect of more freedom for staff and readers at the University of Oxford has coincided with another cause for celebration: the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri (1265–1321), the great Italian poet and philosopher. As a result, the Taylor Institution Library, Weston Library and the Ashmolean Museum have prepared three exhibitions of works from among the libraries’ and museum’s many and varied holdings, which provide visions of, and insights into, the author’s most famous work, the Divine Comedy (Divina Commedia). Works from the Taylorian’s collections are included in the Ashmolean and Weston displays. The Taylorian exhibition, ‘Illustrating Dante’s Divine Comedy’, meanwhile, also draws upon the collections of the Sackler Library, Oxford’s principal research location for the study of visual culture. Alongside my regular duties at the library (with which I’m slowly familiarising myself), I’ve been fortunate enough to join Clare Hills-Nova (Librarian in Charge, Sackler Library, and Subject Librarian for Italian Literature and Language at the Taylorian) and Professor Gervase Rosser, curatorial lead on all three Oxford Dante exhibitions, in their preparations for the display of prints, manuscripts and illustrated books spanning the seven hundred years since Dante’s passing.

Taylor Institution Library, University of Oxford
Above: Taylor Institution Library, University of Oxford (Architect C. R. Cockerell, 1841-45)

The photos provided here offer a window on the range of texts and images that were chosen for the Taylorian exhibition and the process that went into preparing them for public display. I came into that process after Clare and Gervase had agreed on the works to be included and their gathering from the Taylorian’s rare books and manuscript holdings and other library locations was complete. The exhibition handlist includes an introduction to the works on display as well as a list of works they considered for inclusion.

Together, Clare and I spent an afternoon preparing the exhibition space – among the already impressive holdings of the library’s Voltaire Room.

Taylor Institution Library, Voltaire Room
Above: Taylor Institution Library, Voltaire Room (ca. 2010)

A provisional placement of the exhibits according to the chronological layout agreed by Clare and Gervase gave us a sense of how the various prints, manuscripts and books would fit within the display cases.

Working with a number of old and rare editions – including some of the oldest books that I’ve had the opportunity to see first-hand during my time in Oxford – required careful handling and the use of foam rests and ‘snakes’ (long, cotton-wrapped metal ‘beads’ designed to hold open books). Clare has a background in conservation, so provided an experienced eye and guiding hand throughout the process.

Open exhibition display case pictured with box of foam rests
Above: Preparing the display cases

After this initial test-run of the display cases, I was tasked with assisting in the preparation of a bibliography to provide visitors to the exhibition with a comprehensive list of texts on display, and those consulted during the curation process. This not only gave me an excellent opportunity to re-familiarise myself with the Bodleian Libraries’ SOLO (‘Search Oxford Libraries Online’) catalogue, but required some further detective work to collect the full details of some of the more obscure texts included in the exhibition.

Although I’m familiar with this kind of work from my time researching and writing Russian history, and searching for texts catalogued in various forms of transliterated Cyrillic, the preparations for this exhibition included consideration of works in Italian, French and German too. Exploiting the automatic citation tool provided on the SOLO also exposed the potential drawback of relying on technology alone. Each of these languages inevitably has its own bibliographic conventions for the formatting of references (authors, titles, publishing info, etc.), not all of which are captured by auto-generation of citations. Obviously, I still have plenty to learn on that front being based in one of Oxford’s key research centres for modern languages and linguistics!

Open display case with selection of illustrated books
Above: Testing the layout of the exhibits within the display case

The whole process also brought home how inconsistent and incomplete some of the catalogue descriptions are within the Bodleian Libraries’ older collections and more unique items. This is quite the mountain to climb for those librarians faced with such a vast (and ever expanding) number of books, journals, periodicals and other ephemera in every language under the sun.

One particular exhibit of note is shown below:

Title page of Italian edition of Dante’s Divine Comedy dedicated to Empress Elizabeth Petrovna of Russia
Above: A copy of Dante’s Divine Comedy dedicated to Empress Elizabeth Petrovna of Russia (daughter of Peter the Great). Published in Venice, Italy in 1757

It was wonderful to find such a striking connection between the history of Imperial Russia and Dante’s life and work!

The second set of photos below provides a view of the final layout for each display case. Supporting information to be included alongside the works was still being prepared at the time of taking, but a sense of the diversity of images and lasting influence of Dante’s work on artists, writers, print-makers and publishers across the world is evident already.

 

Students, faculty and staff from across the University are welcome to visit the Taylorian’s exhibition during library opening hours, from the beginning of Michaelmas term through December 2021. The parallel exhibitions marking Dante’s centenary celebrations are on display for a similar period: Ashmolean Museum (17 September 2021 – 9 January 2022) and Weston Library (8 September 2021 – 14 November 2021), which will give everyone interested in the life, history and influence of Dante the opportunity to explore the wider collections of the University.

Further Oxford Dante events, ranging from concerts to film screenings, to lectures and (of course!) at least one book launch celebrating the 700th anniversary are planned for autumn 2021.

Having now had an insight into the complexities involved in preparing, curating and displaying materials from our impressive Dante collections, the chance to come face-to-face with these exhibits sounds like Paradiso itself!

If you want to know more about Dante-related holdings in Oxford, please check out the Taylorian’s earlier blog posts in this regard (linked below):

Listening to Dante: An Audio-visual Afterlife

The Image of Dante, the Divine Comedy and the Visual Arts, Part I

The Image of Dante, the Divine Comedy and the Visual Arts: Part II

Malcolm L. G. Spencer

Graduate Trainee, Taylor Institution Library

Like @ Sac! Eagle and Spider: The Conservation Treatment of Nazi Propaganda Posters

This blog post was originally published by the Bodleian Conservation & Collection Care department in July 2019. Reproduced by kind permission of the authors.

In 2018, the Bodleian Libraries Conservation and Collection Care Department received a conservation request from Clare Hills-Nova, Librarian in Charge, Sackler Library (Oxford’s principal library for research and study in the fields of art, architecture and archaeology).  Clare asked us for advice on how to preserve a collection of twenty propaganda posters produced by and for the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei) — or Nazi Party — dating from the year 1939, and in too fragmented a condition to consider their display or use for study, teaching and research purposes. These posters were originally housed at the Taylor Institution Library (‘Taylorian’), Oxford’s centre for the study of Modern European Languages, where it is thought they were acquired from Hermann Georg Fiedler (1862–1945), Taylor Professor of German Language and Literature (1907-1937).  The conditions in which the posters were housed at the Taylorian was never particularly satisfactory and, in 2016, the decision was taken to transfer them to the Sackler Library, which has a fully-functional climate-controlled environment (plus a more suitable space to accommodate them).

Figure 1- Pile of Sackler Posters when they arrived in the Bodleian Libraries Conservation Workshop

 

I – History of the Posters  

I.a. General Background

These Nazi propaganda posters are part of a series known as “Parole der Woche” (“Slogan of the Week”). They were distributed “in editions of 125,000 on a weekly-basis” in Nazi Germany and Occupied Territories from March 1936 to January 1943 .  The posters’ production ceased abruptly owing to a growing lack of primary resources for printing — especially paper — as the War progressed and conditions deteriorated.

The Parole der Woche posters were published by the Nazi Party’s Central Propaganda Office (Reichpropagandaleitung) as part of a programme established both by the Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels (1897-1945), and by the Chief of the Reich Press Office, Otto Dietrich (1897-1952).  They were produced  on the printing press of the Central Publishing House of the Nazi Party in Munich, were very large (h 84 x w 120cm), and intended as placards, or “wall newspapers” (Wandzeitung), for display in public spaces such as cafés, hotel lobbies, and administrative offices. Not only was the posters’ content anti-Semitic, it was also anti-American, anti-British, anti-Churchill, anti-Polish and anti-Communist – in fact, anti-everyone and everything that did not support the Nazi regime or Nazi ideology.  In addition, most of the posters featured morale-raising quotes from Adolf Hitler, usually rendered in the severe German Gothic script preferred by Nazi nationalists. Accompanying these posters, the Central Propaganda Office also published weekly leaflets and sets of carte de visite-sized cards incorporating the same type of iconography. These cards were sometimes glued on to the back of communications while others were also stuck on the verso of the posters themselves; a few such examples of this practice can be observed on the Sackler/Taylor posters .

At the end of World War II, the Allied Occupation Forces running the de-Nazification programme in Germany destroyed most of the posters that had survived at the Munich Propaganda Office. Hence very few posters were preserved, thus making this rediscovered collection an even more important tool for research, study and teaching at Oxford.

 

I.b. The Sackler/Taylor Posters

It is not clear exactly when the posters arrived at the Taylorian.  Professor Fiedler retired in 1937 — before the publication dates of the Sackler/Taylor posters.  A variety of materials came to the Taylorian from Professor Fiedler and it seems probable that the posters were included among these materials.  As noted above, the posters are now physically housed at the Sackler Library, although they remain the property of the Taylor Institution Library.  Following conservation treatment, the Sackler/Taylor posters represent a major teaching tool on how 20th century print media could be utilised to convey totalitarian, mass-propaganda messages using brilliantly designed intersections of text and image, employing boldface types, vivid colours, and retouched photography.

 

II – Condition Report and Conservation Treatment of the Parole der Woche Posters  

II.a. Condition Report 

In terms of artefact composition, the Parole der Woche posters are made of extremely acidic paper. Similar to newspapers, they were considered ephemeral items, destined for immediate circulation, then replaced by the next week’s Parole der Woche, and not intended to last.  Moreover, during the 1930s and 1940s, there was a huge shortage of publishing materials, especially in Nazi Germany, and it would have been very difficult to assemble the resources needed to mass-produce these posters on high-quality paper (such as cotton rag paper). These posters, therefore, were produced using low-cost, wood-pulp paper, from which the lignin has not been extracted.  Lignin is an acidic component of wood that causes paper fibres to deteriorate; the chemical reaction and consequent deterioration is noticeable through yellowing and structural brittleness.

The Parole der Woche posters were produced on a serigraphic press, a fast and effective printing technique employing different layers of colour applied to the same paper. These layers are applied on top of one another through a print screen – between the application of each layer, the colours are left to dry or mechanically hidden to avoid any unwanted overlapping –, and they eventually form a superimposed effect of colour juxtapositions and/or overlays. The colours used for the posters are extremely vivid: primarily black, bright red, bright blue, bright green, and bright yellow.

Prior to their arrival in the Bodleian Libraries Conservation Workshop, the posters had been stored — folded in four, piled on top of one another – and forgotten about for several decades.  (Two posters had received treatment in the 1970s – they were backed on linen – and it was seeing these two posters, albeit much faded, that sparked interest in exploring the remaining poster fragments further.) When conservation staff first saw the pile of heavily fragmented paper it was impossible, even, to determine the number of posters in the set as they were in a very poor condition: extremely brittle, desiccated, yellowed and dusty. In addition, there were many detached pieces and small fragments scattered around the larger components. Consequently, readers’ access to the posters’ content for research and study was impossible — and that is the reason why they required conservation treatment.

Figure 2 – Detail of pile of posters surrounded by detached pieces and small fragments

 

II.b. Conservation treatment 

Conservation assessment revealed that the group consisted of twenty posters,  split vertically down their centres, with the exception of one poster, found in the centre of the set, that was split horizontally down its centre.  The result, therefore, was 40 half-posters, plus many smaller, detached pieces (partly because the way they had been folded for so long had created tears along the fold lines).

Figure 3 – PdW 1939/24 left half split in its middle

The aim of the conservation treatment was to be as minimum interventionist to the extent, but at the same time to make the posters accessible for research and study. Hence the treatment had to provide a safe way for staff and readers to handle the posters.

At the Conservation Workshop, we devised a systematic treatment applicable to all of the posters.  Each poster’s half would be repaired as invisibly as possible, and reassembled.  We decided, however, to leave each half-poster in its separate state, and not to rejoin the two halves of each the posters.  Twenty full-size posters would have made these already fragile objects extremely difficult to handle and store.  For example, even safe retrieval from plan-chest drawers and transport for reader viewing would have been susceptible to damage.  For similar reasons of fragility, when we unfolded the posters we decided to treat them from their recto; flipping the posters to treat them on their verso would have necessitated further handling and caused yet more tears and losses.

Another conservation choice was to restrict humidification treatment to the extent possible as this would have damaged the posters’ paper, already prone to structural deterioration and staining due to its acidic content.  Close observation and testing of the inks’ colour stability, however, revealed that the paper was stable enough to be locally treated.

The local repair treatment of the posters consisted of two steps: (1) flattening  the fold creases and (2) rejoining the tears.  Firstly, the creases were flattened with a solution of ethanol diluted at 50% in deionized water. This formula allows for the paper fibres to be released and the creases to unfold by increasing the humidity in a controlled and localised way.  The solution was lightly brushed on top of the posters’ creases and left to dry under a polyethylene spunbound sheet (Bondina®), a piece of blotting paper or felt, and a light weight.  Secondly, the tears were rejoined with Dow 4M Methocel diluted at 5% in deionized water, and applied onto Japanese mending Tengu long-fibred paper (3.5gsm).  Dow 4M Methocel is a purified derivative of cellulose that can be used as a conservation adhesive.  It is easy to remove in the event a more in-depth conservation is subsequently be required — i.e., it is reversible.  (An example of such an in-depth conservation approach might consist of a full lining of the posters, using Japanese long-fibred paper, to structurally reinforce the entire object; this might be done if the posters were to be hung vertically for an extended period – e.g., for an exhibition.) The long-fibred repair paper was cut into 4 x 8 mm strips to create “bridges” each side of the posters’ tears. As with the treatment of the creases, these repairs were left to dry under a polyethylene spunbound sheet (Bondina®), a piece of blotting paper or felt, and a light weight.  Since the approach to using these strips was minimal, the result is that these ‘bridges’ are almost invisible and the visual interference almost non-existent.

(Left)Figure 4 – PdW 1939/33 left half split in its middle before treatment
(Right) Figure 5 – PdW 1939/33 left half reconstituted after treatment

 

Conclusion

Following conservation treatment, each poster was rehoused in a 91 x 66.5 cm polyethylene sleeve (Melinex®).  Each posters’ sleeve is labelled chronologically according to its “Parole der Woche” week number for the year 1939, and each half of the poster is also clearly identified. Paper conservators provided recommendations on the optimal flat housing for the 40 half-posters (plus the two that had been lined some years ago).  At the Sackler Library  the posters will be stored in a 12-drawer plan chest, large enough to view each poster’s two half-sections side-by-side, and sufficiently shallow to prevent too many posters resting on top of  each other (thus reducing manual handling issues).

Together, the Sackler/Taylor posters form a fascinating research and study collection.  Their historical value and rare visual-textual testimony of World War II propaganda materials make them an invaluable source for academics and students seeking to understand the power of words and images — and their design interaction — during a critical period of European history.  The conservation treatment carried out by the Bodleian Libraries’ paper conservators has now made them safely available for research, study and short-term display at the University of Oxford.

 

 

Celine Delattre, Conservation Department, Bodleian Libraries
Justine Provino, PhD Candidate, University of Cambridge

The authors wish to thank Clare Hills-Nova (Librarian in Charge, Sackler Library), Marinita Stiglitz (Head of Paper Conservation), and Robert Minte (Senior Paper Conservator) for their expertise, advice and support.

We welcome suggestions for future blog contributions from our readers.
Please contact Clare Hills-Nova (clare.hills-nova@bodleian.ox.ac.uk) and/or Chantal van den Berg (chantal.vandenberg@bodleian.ox.ac.uk) if you would like propose a topic.

 

[1] Herf, Jeffrey. “The Jewish Enemy”: Rethinking Anti-Semitism in the Era of Nazism and Recent Times. Bonn: ZEI, 2008. 26p. p. 7. 

[2] For an example of smaller scale, oppositional propaganda, see: Hans Fallada, Jeder stirbt fur sich allein (1947), trans. Alone in Berlin (2009), about the couple Otto and Elise Hampel and their anti-regime postcard campaign 

Bibliography

Reference Materials 

Herf, Jeffrey. “The Jewish Enemy”: Rethinking Anti-Semitism in the Era of Nazism and Recent Times. Bonn: ZEI, 2008. 26p.

Heyen, Franz-Josef. Parole der Woche: eine Wandzeitung im Dritten Reich 1936-1943. München: Deutscher Taschenbuch-Verlag, 1983. 141p.

Online Resources 

Calvin College:

http://research.calvin.edu/german-propaganda-archive/parolederwoche.htm  [accessed 26/07/2019]

Psychological Warfare, Psychological Operations, and Information Operations:

https://www.psywar.org/pdw.php [accessed 26/07/2019]

Rare German Books, Documents, Photos, Ephemera, Postcards, Militaria:

http://www.usmbooks.com/nazi_propaganda.html [accessed 26/07/2019]

Standford University, Hoover Institution, Library and Archives:

https://digitalcollections.hoover.org/search/parole%20der%20woche?filter=date%3A1939%2C1939 [accessed 26/07/2019]

The United States Holocaust Museum:

https://collections.ushmm.org/search/?f%5Bdate_ranges%5D%5B%5D=1939&q=81199&search_field=Parent+Catalog+ID  [accessed 26/07/2019]

Sackler 101: Investigating the Haverfield Archive / Part III

 

In my previous post, I touched on some great discoveries in the Haverfield Archive. This collection consists of correspondence, coloured prints and drawings illustrating mosaic pavements, site plans and publication extracts – an assortment of archaeological paraphernalia, housed at the Sackler Library. I described the process of recording, illustrating and publishing the mosaics. This post considers the people who undertook these processes and how they approached Roman history.

Generally, the people who took an extraordinary interest in the classical past during the 18th and 19th centuries were called antiquarians. Antiquarians tended to be male, middle class or of the aristocracy, and well educated. Indeed, the discipline of archaeology in Britain started out as more or less the past-time of elite gentlemen who sought to build upon their collections of antiquities. For example, the 1st Marquess of Lansdowne (1737-1805) was an avid collector of works of art, including paintings and classical sculptures. Lansdowne employed the Adam Brothers, renowned architects, to redesign the principal rooms at Bowood House (a Grade I Georgian country house in Wiltshire), including a large drawing room. The Haverfield Archive holds two preparatory illustrations, by the architect Joseph Bonomi (1739-1808), of a carpet design for this room, dated 1785 (Inventory n. 1.1 and Inventory n. 1.2). In 1767, Bonomi was invited by the Adam Brothers to work as a draughtsman for them in their London Office. Bonomi left the Brothers’ employ in 1781 and established himself as an independent architect. He began to receive commissions from some of his patrons including Heneage Finch, fourth earl of Aylesford. Presumably, Bonomi was also commissioned to decorate the interior of Bowood House.

Joseph Bonomi. Carpet design for Bowood House (Inventory n. 1.1)

 

The design of the carpet is intriguing as it seems to be heavily influenced by Roman mosaic pavements. Bonomi was revered as a leader in the revival of Grecian architecture. The ‘Orpheus’ mosaic pavement found at Littlecote Park, Wiltshire (Inventory n. 1.5 A) is similar to Bonomi’s carpet design as both have a central panel for the eye to gravitate towards. Bonomi’s design features a centaur roundel (also detailed separately in Inventory n. 1.2), while the ‘Orpheus’ mosaic features its namesake with his lyre.

‘Orpheus’ mosaic discovered at Littlecote Park (Inventory n. 1.5 A)

 

Whilst Bonomi’s design certainly borrows stylistic aspects from Roman mosaics, it is ultimately neoclassical in approach and is simpler regarding its colour palette and detail. The design was undertaken with a rich connoisseur in mind such as the Marquess of Lansdowne. I have so far been unable to find a mention of this particular carpet in the literature, so it is unclear whether the design was ever realised. Eventually, the Marquess’s lavish spending on his properties caught up with him. With his estate declared bankrupt, it is possible that the carpet never physically existed.

Carpet derived from the Stonesfuled mosaic. Early 18thC (Oxfordshire Museum, Woodstock)

Sometimes, reproductions of mosaic floors were created in textile format. It is unclear what the motivations were behind this. It may have been that some antiquarians wanted to decorate their properties with a reproduction of the mosaic that was found on their land. Upon the discovery of the ‘Orpheus’ mosaic, William George, steward to the owner of Littlecote House and Park, made coloured drawings of it. George died not long afterwards and from the drawings he made, his widow made a complete needlework reproduction in full colour, and the tapestry was hung in Littlecote House. The ‘Bacchus’ mosaic discovered at Stonesfield in 1712 (discussed in my previous post) was also recreated in textile form — as a large (3m, approx.) early 18th century needlework carpet, as described by Herefordshire antiquary, scholar and linguist William Brome (1664-1745) (see Draper, J, Freshwater, T, Henig, M, and Hinds, S. 2000). This carpet exerted a considerable influence on contemporary tastes. Due to the popular fascination for collecting antiquities, neoclassical styles were fashionable and in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, mosaic-style carpets were the height of interior design fashion. A by-product of this fashion was that embroidered tapestry and carpet reconstructions of mosaic pavements often became the only surviving records after the destruction of the mosaics themselves.

The problem with relying on reproductions is that they can reveal little about the actual state, as discovered, of the original mosaics. Most prints in the Haverfield Archive depict fully intact mosaics with bright, vivid colours. The reality of finding such an example in this condition is very unlikely. Pigments fade and mosaics were/are often discovered in fragments. Some publications like Henry Ecroyd Smith’s Reliquiae Isurianae (1852) described the mosaics’ state of preservation when originally excavated. Two of the plates listed in this volume and showing the state of the originals, as found, are not of mosaics but of painted wall plaster (Inventory n. 1.7 and Inventory n. 1.17 B). Smith describes these as ‘fragments’ of plaster, with ‘some found still adhering’ to a building’s original structure. Some damage was inflicted due to ‘atmospheric influences, crumbled away after the lapse of a couple of winters’. 

 

 

Presumably, the patron, Aldborough patron, Andrew Lawson, acted swiftly to preserve the existing fragments as they were brought into the museum established in the grounds of Aldborough Manor in 1863. Given the rich history underpinning Aldborough’s ‘Orpheus’ mosaic, questions have arisen regarding the accuracy of illustrations that were made. Original drawings of the mosaic have now been lost, while engravings made by George Vertue are thought to be somewhat inaccurate. A lack of a consistent discovery and preservation methodology at many sites – for example, Stonesfield – meant that records were not kept in a systematic order. As a result, errors in illustrations were inevitable. Although sites such Aldborough promoted a ‘drive’ among antiquarians to produce more detailed, archaeological records, prints of Roman mosaics were not intended to be scientifically accurate. Instead, they appeared to function as aesthetically pleasing ‘reproductions’ of Roman art.

Despite this, Sarah Scott (2013) has pointed out how the antiquarian and engraver Samuel Lysons (1763-1819) did not ‘repair’ flaws in his engravings of mosaics, clearly showing the state of the original. One example of Lysons’ work is the floor plan of an excavation site at Weldon, Northamptonshire (Inventory n. 1.3), and illustrates how Lysons decided to depict the mosaics in their fragmentary form.

Samuel Lysons. Excavation site plan, Weldon (Inventory 1.3)

 

This work was quite unusual for the time, as mosaics were typically drawn as complete, pristine works, the inferences made from partial remains. Amongst antiquarians there was a view that the accuracy of archaeological illustrations reflected the overall quality of the excavation. For example in 1916, J. Charles Cox compared the engravings of a mosaic found at Roxby, Lincolnshire. The earliest engraving was completed in 1799 by William Fowler (Inventory n. 2.15), followed much later by Cary Elwes in 1873. Focusing more on the archaeological properties of the engravings, Cox held that Elwes’s version was ‘more accurately engraved and coloured’ than Fowler’s. From a 21st century perspective, it can be safely said that the prints are definitely not scientific reconstructions. Yet it must be recognised that there were at least some efforts made by antiquarians to produce ‘accurate’ records.

William Fowler. Pavement mosaic, Roxby (Inventory n. 2.15)

Many of the excavations which took place in the 18th and 19th centuries can be viewed as methodologically crude by modern standards. Since that time, archaeological practices have changed in order to reduce the damage done when excavating. However, records which include prints of mosaics are vital as they are often all that remain from an antiquarian excavation. Rich discoveries stimulated further interest and subsequent research, thus helping to shape archaeology as the discipline we know today. The main reason for the growing interest in British archaeology was the Industrial Revolution, as infrastructural expansion revealed more archaeological discoveries. This helped fuel a desire to live up to European collecting and connoisseurship practices against the backdrop of a shared Classical heritage and growing nationalism. Excavations across Europe were busy, churning out discoveries at sites like Herculaneum and Pompeii, further intensifying national rivalries. At the foreground of the period was the European conflict, with the Napoleonic Wars resulting in restrictions on travel. In order to stay current and fashionable, the average Georgian gentleman had little choice but to focus his attention on British antiquities.

Members of the Society of Antiquaries had an interest in all things Roman Britain. They perceived Roman remains as a tangible link between the British and Roman Empires. In my previous post, I discussed how the Society was very much interested in mosaics, and at Cotterstock they commissioned George Vertue to produce an engraving based on William Bogdani’s drawing of it. This active interest demonstrated an acute attention to British archaeological discoveries when, in 1739, the Society made a decision to compile a list of all Roman mosaics discovered in Britain. Despite this enthusiasm, a collective approach to the study of archaeology was not yet fully realised. Britain did not pass any heritage protection legislation until the 1882 Ancient Monuments Protection Act. There was not even a gallery of national antiquities in the British Museum until the 1850s. Instead, antiquarians acted individually, developing the significance of their own sites, linking them to the glory of imperial Rome.

Antiquarians such as Andrew Lawson at Aldborough funded excavations and publications. In the Haverfield Archive, Lawson is cited as the patron on several prints of mosaics from Aldborough. Henry Ecroyd Smith’s Reliquiae Isurianae was dedicated to Lawson and he was credited with procuring most of the illustrations and keeping accurate records of recent discoveries. In an article in the ‘Gentleman’s Magazine’ (Nichols 1853), Lawson was considered to be in ‘high estimation among antiquaries’. It was reported by the magazine that when the Archaeological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland held their annual meeting at York in 1846, they were ‘entertained by Mr Lawson’ at Aldborough. Lawson was not alone in such activities. In 1807, Colonel Leigh of Combe Hay ordered a Roman mosaic to be uncovered at Wellow, in Somerset, purely for the amusement of his friends and those interested in antiquities. What made Lawson different from Colonel Leigh, however, was that his motivation for uncovering the mosaics at Aldborough was to preserve them and to provide systematic documentation.

Whilst there were rich, well-meaning antiquarians such as Lawson, there were also enterprising engravers like William Fowler (1761-1832). The print of Roxby’s pavement mosaic (Inventory n. 2.15) mentions one ‘Jas. Barber’ as its creator; in fact, it was engraved by Fowler, who, in 1799, published his print for sale at half a guinea. He was very much a business man in terms of producing plates, quickly realising that if he was to make any money out of publishing, he had to sell prints at a high price. As a result of Fowler’s entrepreneurship, he acquired supporters who subscribed to standing orders for every print he published, including the libraries of two Oxford colleges. Because prints were produced individually and were not published as part of a single large volume, Fowler announced his new prints by means of printed prospectuses. The Haverfield Archive includes a few excerpts from a similar prospectus by Henry Ecroyd Smith. The page details illustrations one could order from H. Ecroyd Smith’s Lithographs of Romano-British Tessellated Pavements (Inventory n. 2.9). Acquiring prints from such publication lists appealed to antiquarians who wished to showcase their interests to their like-minded, erudite friends.

Volumes discussing excavations with detailed illustrations of archaeological discoveries were produced, but they were costly undertakings, affordable only to the elite. Indeed, one of the subscribers to Ecroyd Smith’s Reliquiae Isurianae was listed as ‘HRH Prince Albert’, indicating that excavations at Aldborough were dependant on subscribers and patronage. Support from those who could afford it was highly valued as the cost of producing lavishly illustrated volumes was high. Due to the huge expense involved in production, publishers were also highly selective as to the volumes that they chose to support. Subscribers were willing to pay up to several guineas for a publication whose textual content they were not necessarily interested in reading so long as it was well illustrated with engravings. Mosaic pavements were attractive to Georgian and Victorian gentlemen because they served as a link to a Roman era of wealth and grandeur. Despite this (and doubtless due to their cost), such publications were not necessarily widely circulated. Thomas Hearne recorded that his volume on the Stonesfield mosaic consisted of only 120 copies, with successive editions issued in similarly small numbers. As a result, information about and images of the mosaic were only accessible to a privileged few.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, archaeology was still in its infancy as a discipline. Whilst there were keen antiquarians who were motivated to provide what they viewed as systematic and accurate records of archaeological sites, methodologies were still being developed. Some antiquarians were influenced purely by the fashion for collecting antiquities and lavishly decorating their properties with them, less so by historical-archaeological documentation. Efforts regarding the preservation of archaeological discoveries were undertaken by individuals, not groups. Publications were not widely circulated and appeared to be available only to rich, erudite individuals. It is clear, however, that many of the prints preserved in the Haverfield Archive provided the only surviving documentation of original mosaics. Following their discovery, many mosaic pavements were readily destroyed or reburied, with their exact sites lost from social memory. Although the illustrations are often inaccurate or have been exaggerated it is important that they be preserved for future study and research.

Next time, in the final post of this series, I will be looking at the man responsible for the archive, Francis Haverfield himself. I will examine why he and his associates decided to collect prints of Roman mosaics, and consider his motivations and the future projects he may have had in mind.

Chloe Bolsover, Graduate Trainee, Taylor Institution Library

References

Alexander, David. 2003. Antiquity at half a guinea. Country Life Archive Vol 197 (11) https://ezproxy-prd.bodleian.ox.ac.uk:2186/docview/1513164349?rfr_id=info%3Axri%2Fsid%3Aprimo&imgSeq=1

Challands, A, Hall, J, Jackson, R, Peacock, D, Upex, S and Wild, FC. 2011. The Praetorium of Edmund Artis: A Summary of Excavations and Surveys of the Palatial Roman Structure at Castor, Cambridgeshire 1828-2010. Britannia, Vol 42, 23-112.

Cox, CJ. 1916. Lincolnshire. London: Methuen

Draper, J, Freshwater, T, Henig, M, and Hinds, S. 2000. From Stone to Textile: The Bacchus Mosaic at Stonesfield, Oxon, and the Stonesfield Embroidery. Journal of the British Archaeological Association. 153:1, 1-29.

Fielden, K. 2016. Bowood Revisited. Chippenham: CPI Antony Rowe

Hingley, Richard. The recovery of Roman Britain 1586-1906: a colony so fertile. 2008. Oxford. Oxford University Press

Hoare, R. 1821. IV. An Account of a Stone Barrow, in the Parish of Wellow, at Stoney Littleton in the County of Somerset, which was opened and investigated in the Month of May 1816. Archaeologia: or Miscellaneous tracts relating to antiquity, 1770-1992. Society of Antiquarians of London. Vol 19, 43-55

Meadows, P. 2004. Bonomi Joseph [formerly Giuseppe] (1739-1808). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press 

Millett, M. 2015. Roman Britain since Haverfield. In M. Millett, L. Revell and A. Moore (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Roman Britain. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Mitford, J. 1846. Antiquarian Researches. Chatto & Windus

Nichols, J. 1853. Andrew Lawson Esq. The Gentleman’s Magazine: and historical review, July 1856-May 1868, Jun 1853. 657-658

Scott, S. 2014. Britain in the classical world: Samuel Lysons the art of Roman Britain 1780-1820. Classical Receptions Journal. Vol 6, No 2, 294-337

Scott, S. 2013. Samuel Lysons and His Circle: Art, Science and the Remains of Roman Britain. Bulletin of the History of Archaeology, 23 (2)

Smith, Henry Ecroyd. 1852. Reliquiae Isurianae: the remains of the Roman Isurium (now Aldboroug, near Boroughbridge, Yorkshire). London. Sold by Russell I Smith. Printed by William Hilton, 3, Upper Wellington Street, Strand.

Sweet, R. 2001. Antiquaries and Antiquities in Eighteenth-Century England. Eighteenth Century Studies. Vol 34, No 2, 181-206

Toynbee, JMC. 1981. Apollo, Beasts and Seasons: Some Thoughts on the Littlecote Mosaic. Britannia. Vol. 12 1-5

We welcome suggestions for future blog contributions from our readers.
Please contact Clare Hills-Nova (clare.hills-nova@bodleian.ox.ac.uk) and/or Chantal van den Berg (chantal.vandenberg@bodleian.ox.ac.uk) if you would like propose a topic.

Sackler 101: Investigating the Haverfield Archive / Part II

Part 1 of this series of blog posts introduced the Haverfield Archive, held at the Sackler Library. This collection consists of correspondence, coloured prints and drawings illustrating mosaic pavements, site plans and publication extracts – an assortment of archaeological paraphernalia associated with Francis Haverfield (1860-1919), Camden Professor of Ancient History at Oxford and seen as the chief expert on Roman Britain at the start of the 20th century. The image collection comprises largely prints and a few hand-drawn sketches of Roman floor mosaics discovered during the 18th and 19th centuries. I decided to take on the task of creating the first index to this material so that its research potential would become clear. In November last year, I began indexing material. With each new document came a new discovery. As a former archaeologist, I found working with the archive a cleaner but just as incredible experience as uncovering forgotten objects through excavation. In total, I recorded around 50 images and associated documents, only a small fraction of the collection.

For Part 2 of this series of blog posts, I will focus on three archaeological sites: Aldborough, Cotterstock, and Stonesfield. The reason why I will discuss these sites in particular is because the majority of documents which I have recorded so far depict mosaics discovered there. (Continuation of the cataloguing part of the project was affected by the Covid-19 lockdown, as physical access to materials was no longer possible.)

Aldborough

The first site is the village of Aldborough (Isurium Brigantum), North Yorkshire. One of the first mosaics to be discovered at the site was the so-called ‘Lion mosaic’ (Inventory n. 2.13). In 1832, the landlord of the Aldborough Arms decided to bury a dead calf at the end of his garden. The rest – as they say – is history. News of the discovery appears to have spread nationwide and in 1849 the Illustrated London News (20 January 1849) published a report. In his 1852 publication, Reliquiae Isurianae, Henry Ecroyd Smith recorded mosaics from Aldborough, including this mosaic. In the below image, damage to the central panel is shown. It is strongly suspected that the culprits were enthusiastic souvenir hunters as the Reliquiae Isurianae describes how the mosaic had become a local attraction. In response, the Duke of Newcastle erected a stucture over the mosaic as an attempt to preserve it. What is most interesting about the print from the Haverfield Archive, is that the mosaic is surrounded by further sketches of the Roman remains.

‘Lion mosaic’ (Inventory n. 213)
‘Star’ mosaic (Inventory n. 2.5)

 

 

Another mosaic, featuring a ‘star’ in the central panel, was discovered in 1846. This mosaic is deeply associated with Aldborough and its design is incorporated into the current Friends of Aldborough logo (have a look). Ecroyd Smith’s Reliquiae Isurianae attests that news of the discovery of the mosaic spread rapidly throughout the community, as volunteer excavators joined the efforts to remove the ‘mass of rubble’. Andrew Lawson, the local landowner, erected a covering structure for the mosaic. Despite this, the mosaic remained exposed to weathering and was damaged by mould growth from the cold and damp conditions. The print is depicted in full colour and in very good condition. The patron behind the print was landowner Lawson. Other funders may have included the amateur archaeologist, Charles Roach Smith (1807-1890) and the antiquarian Albert Way (1805-1874). Ecroyd Smith expresses his gratitude for the support of these three men in his preface to the Reliquiae Isurianae. Lawson himself spent much of his time preserving the remains of Roman Aldborough, as well as making the first systematic collection of local archaeological finds. Funding publications like the Reliquiae Insurianae was well within his range of interests.   

Romulus and Remus mosaic (Inventory n. 1.4)

 

 

 

 

The final Aldborough mosaic that I’ll discuss here is the well-known ‘Romulus and Remus’ mosaic. It was discovered in 1834, and subsequently dug up by a local mason and removed to his cottage garden in Boroughbridge, where it became a central piece to the floor of a summerhouse. Fortunately, the Museum of the Philosophical and Literary Society of Leeds, subsequently incorporated into the Leeds City Museum, purchased the mosaic in 1863 where it remains preserved today. Due to its complicated provenance, there has been some discussion regarding the authenticity of the mosaic and some think that it was subjected to heavy Victorian restoration. Interestingly, the mosaic was not included in Ecroyd Smith’s Reliquiae Isurianae.

Geometric mosaic (Inventory n. 1.6 A 3)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Castor

Next, I draw your attention to a range of sites from across Northamptonshire. Several prints of mosaics discovered in the county appear to be from the same publication, The Durobrivae of Antoninus, published in 1828 by artist Edmund Artis (1789-1847). Artis carried out large-scale excavations in the county in the early 1820s. These included an investigation of the alleged Castor Praetorium, a monumental Roman building on the site of Castor’s parish church. Artis coined the term ‘Praetorium’ to suggest that the building not only had an administrative function but also implied a luxurious residence. Artis completed sketches of his finds and one of these is possibly Inventory n. 1.6 A 3, whose accompanying text describes its discovery on the north side of the churchyard.

 

Cotterstock

The Haverfield Archive also highlights similarities between a print (Inventory n. 1.6 A 1) from the Durobrivae of Antoninus and another (Inventory n. 3.1 1) from J. Nichols’s Vetusta Monumenta, a collection of images published under the Society of Antiquaries’ auspices. The two prints appear to be of the same mosaic but differ stylistically through radically different colour palettes and borders. The mosaic itself was discovered in a field in Cotterstock, in 1736, after being partially damaged by a plough. Locals from a nearby residence in Southwick, notably father and son, the George Lynns, as well as the artist William Bogdani (1699-1771), drew the mosaic. In 1737, Bogdani presented his drawing to the Society of Antiquaries. The Society commissioned George Vertue (1684-1756) to make an engraving from the drawing. Vertue was considered one of the best reproductive engravers in the country at that time. He had a strong reputation as an antiquary as well, and was appointed Engraver to the Society of Antiquaries in 1717. Vertue completed his engraving of the mosaic in 1737 and presented it to the Society. Edmund Artis used this print as a basis when he published the mosaic in his Durobrivae.

 

Inventory n. 1.9

 

 

As at Aldborough, preservation tactics such as covering up the Cotterstock mosaic did not deter souvenir hunters. The fourth Earl of Cardigan removed a large chunk of the mosaic and took it back to his residence at Deene Park. The Earl set the fragment into a centrepiece for the floor of a summerhouse. Whilst his intention was to preserve the mosaic, it did not survive.

Another, smaller mosaic was discovered at Cotterstock in 1798. The first engraving of it was made by William Fowler in 1802 (Inventory n. 1.9). In 1828, Edmund Artis also republished the mosaic in his Durobrivae.

 

 

 

 

Stonesfield

Finally, I will focus on prints which appear to depict the same mosaic found at Stonesfield, a village in Oxfordshire. While the mosaic was first discovered in 1711, in one account, by John Pointer in 1713, it is claimed that the mosaic was accidentally uncovered by a tenant farmer in a field called Chesthill Acres. News of the discovery soon reached Oxford, rousing the interest of local antiquarians. The tenant farmer, George Handes, proved himself to be a savvy businessman and began charging both an admission fee to view the mosaic and a further charge for drawing it. As always, souvenir hunters were eager to grab a keepsake. One fragment was given to the diarist and antiquarian Thomas Hearne (1744-1817), who worked in the library of St Edmund Hall and also at the Bodleian. Fragments, alongside images and written records, formed part of the supporting materials for lengthy discussions among groups such as the Society of Antiquaries and the Royal Society.

In his A discourse concerning to the Stunsfield tessellated pavement (1712) Thomas Hearne included an illustrated print of the Stonesfield mosaic. Hearne frequently visited the pavement; on his sixth visit he brought along the Dutch illustrator, Michael Burghers (1647-1727) who, from 1676, engraved the plates for the Almanacks of the University and whose objective was to draw the pavement accurately. In 1723, the Society of Antiquaries again commissioned George Vertue to produce an engraving. The finished product was very popular and was still on sale in 1757, 34 years after Vertue’s death. This print is essentially an enlargement of Burgher’s work and remains very faithful to its detail. In the Haverfield Archive, both Hearne and Vertue are credited with reproducing Inventory n. 1.12 and n. 1.16.

Hearne expressed his fears regarding the condition of the Stonesfield mosaic, as it was suffering from exposure to the elements. In 1716, there were rumours that the pavement had been destroyed. The mosaic had suffered badly from damage caused by souvenir hunters and poor preservation management. Over time, George Handes and his landlord increasingly argued over how profits gained from admission fees for viewing the mosaic were to be shared. In one incident, an argument between the pair allegedly ended with the tenant tearing the mosaic to pieces.

In 1779 digging in the area led to the mosaic’s accidental rediscovery. Although the extent of the damage inflicted by George Handes is unclear, the fact that the mosaic was still recognisable suggests that it had somewhat survived. The ensuing excavations received the patronage of the Duke of Marlborough, whose Blenheim estates lay nearby. A report was presented to the Society of Antiquaries in 1784, with a set of engravings of the mosaic by William Lewington. This is particularly interesting as the illustration in the Haverfield Archive is attributed not to Lewington, but to the self-taught engraver William Fowler (1761-1832). Just as George Vertue reproduced Michael Burgher’s earlier version of the mosaic, Fowler based his work directly on Lewington’s own engraving. In 1802, Fowler had the ground opened, finding part of the pavement in good condition. Eventually, however, in 1806, the Stonesfield mosaic was divided among three landowners, with the removal and destruction of the in situ mosaic recorded a year later.

My next post in this series will discuss the people who made these prints: The antiquarians. These rich, erudite and privileged individuals helped shape archaeology as the discipline that it is today.

Chloe Bolsover, Graduate Trainee, Taylor Institution Library

References

Alexander, David. 2003. Antiquity at half a guinea. Country Life Archive Vol 197 (11) https://ezproxy-prd.bodleian.ox.ac.uk:2186/docview/1513164349?rfr_id=info%3Axri%2Fsid%3Aprimo&imgSeq=1 (accessed June 2020)

Artis, E.T. 1828. The Durobrivae of Antoninus : identified and illustrated in a series of plates, exhibiting the excavated remains of that Roman station, in the vicinity of Castor, Northamptonshire : including the mosaic pavements, inscriptions, paintings in fresco, baths, iron and glass furnaces, potters’ kilns, implements for coining, and the manufacture of earthen vessels, war and other instruments in brass, iron, ivory, &c. London

Bignamini, I. 1996. Vertue, George. Grove Art Online https://ezproxy-prd.bodleian.ox.ac.uk:2995/groveart/view/10.1093/gao/9781884446054.001.0001/oao-9781884446054-e-7000089087 (accessed March 2020)

Castor Praetorium. Peterborough Archaeology https://peterborougharchaeology.org/peterborough-archaeological-sites/castor-praetorium/ (accessed March 2020)

Challands, A, Hall, J, Jackson, R, Peacock, D, Upex, S and Wild, FC. 2011. The Praetorium of Edmund Artis: A Summary of Excavations and Surveys of the  Palatial Roman Structure at Castor, Cambridgeshire 1828-2010. Britannia, Vol 42, 23-112.

Draper, J, Freshwater, T, Henig, M, and Hinds, S. 2000. From Stone to Textile: The Bacchus Mosaic at Stonesfield, Oxon, and the Stonesfield Embroidery. Journal of the British Archaeological Association. 153:1, 1-29.

Friends of Roman Aldborough http://romanaldborough.co.uk/ (accessed March 2020)

Hearne, T. A discourse concerning to the Stunsfield tessellated pavement. With some new observations about the Roman inscription that relates to the Bath Fabrica, and an account of the custom of the mannor of Woodstock. July 11. 1712.

Hingley, Richard. The recovery of Roman Britain 1586-1906: a colony so fertile. 2008. Oxford. Oxford University Press

Hornbeck, EJ. Plate 1.48: Roman Pavement Found at Cotterstock. Vetusta Monumenta: Ancient Monuments, A Digital Edition https://scalar.missouri.edu/vm/vol1plate48-roman-pavement-cotterstock (accessed March 2020)  

Levine, J. 1978. The Stonesfield Pavement: Archaeology in Augustan England. Eighteenth Century Studies, Vol 11, No. 3. 340-361

Nichols, J. 1747. Vetusta monumenta: quae ad rerum Britannicarum memoriam conservandam Societas Antiquariorum Londini sumptu suo edenda curavit. Volumen primum. [-septimum]. London: Society of Antiquaries

Pointer, J. 1713. An account of a Roman pavement, lately found at Stunsfield in Oxfordshire, prov’d to be 1400 years old. Leonard Lichfield: Oxford Sculpture in Yew and other letters. Country Life Archive, 1959 Vol 126 720 https://ezproxy-prd.bodleian.ox.ac.uk:2186/docview/1521510620?rfr_id=info%3Axri%2Fsid%3Aprimo (accessed June 2020)

Smith, Henry Ecroyd. 1859. On a Romano-British Mosaic Pavement, representing Romulus and Remus, discovered at Aldborough (Isurium of the Romans). Proceedings of the Geological and Polytechnic Society of the West Riding of Yorkshire, 4, 593-604

Smith, Henry Ecroyd. 1852. Reliquiae Isurianae: the remains of the Roman Isurium (now Aldborough, near Boroughbridge, Yorkshire). London. Sold by Russell I Smith. Printed by William Hilton, 3, Upper Wellington Street, Strand

Upex, SG. 2001. The Roman Villa at Cotterstock, Northamptonshire. Britannia. Vol 32 57-91

We welcome suggestions for future blog contributions from our readers.
Please contact Clare Hills-Nova (clare.hills-nova@bodleian.ox.ac.uk) and/or Chantal van den Berg (chantal.vandenberg@bodleian.ox.ac.uk) if you would like propose a topic.

Sackler 101: Investigating the Haverfield Archive / Part I

Cast your mind back to November 2019. Life seems relatively simple. The coronavirus is about to strike its first victim but it is Brexit that is on everyone’s minds. I was in my third month as a trainee at the Taylor Institution Library and was finishing my day at the Enquiry Desk. Clare Hills-Nova, Italian Literature and Language Librarian at the Taylorian and also Librarian-in-Charge at the Sackler Library, was beginning her evening desk duty and, in the last few minutes before I went home, we were having quite an interesting conversation. At one point in time, we had both worked in rescue archaeology and I was describing how my specialism while I was studying was Roman Britain. It was a lovely conversation as I adore talking about archaeology (to anyone who will listen) and, after wrapping it up, I did not think any more of it.

Setting the scene…(Enquiry Desk, Taylor Institution Library)

 

A few days later, I received an email from Clare about the possibility of doing my trainee project on the Haverfield Archive, housed at the Sackler Library. I responded saying that I was (of course!) interested and we arranged a meeting to view it.

For those of you who are not clued up on the archaeology of Roman Britain, you may have never heard of Francis Haverfield. Haverfield (1860-1919) was Camden Professor of Ancient History at Oxford and seen as the chief expert on Roman Britain at the start of the 20th century. He was instrumental in persuading the Society of Antiquaries to establish a research fund in support of research excavations focusing on Roman Britain. A pioneer in his field, Haverfield helped to establish archaeology as the discipline that it is today. Indeed, he championed the introduction of Archaeology as a degree subject at Oxford: he helped fund university training excavations; and aimed to improve the methodologies that were developed by antiquarian excavators.

In the world of archaeology, Haverfield has an enduring legacy with his theory of Romanization in Roman Britain. This theory was initially delivered as a lecture and then appeared as a small book in 1912 (Haverfield, F.1912. The Romanization of Roman Britain. Clarendon Press: Oxford). Haverfield sought to elucidate the incorporation of Britain into the Roman Empire, which he viewed as a cultural assimilation rather than enforced acceptance. In CE 43, the full, gradual conquest of Britain began under the Emperor Claudius, ending in CE 87. This certainly was not the first time that Britons had communicated with the Roman Empire, as Julius Caesar described his expeditions in Britain in his Gallic Wars between 55 and 54 BCE (Caesar, Gallic Wars. Translated by Peskett, AG. 2014. Digital Loeb Classical Library).  Haverfield was the first English academic to systematically consider the cultural consequences of the CE 43 Roman invasion through archaeological evidence. To Haverfield, this evidence suggested that Britain fully participated in Roman culture. His Romanization theory challenged previous views — which reflected British early 20th century colonial values — that it was through invasion and colonisation that Britons became more ‘civilised’ and ‘Romanized’. The term ‘Romanization’, therefore, itself indicated a more ongoing and active process.

 

The Haverfield Archive consists of correspondence, coloured prints, and drawings illustrating mosaic pavements, site plans, publication extracts — an assortment of archaeological paraphernalia! The archive reportedly holds only a tiny fraction of Haverfield’s papers. Haverfield bequeathed his papers and library to the university, and these were housed at the Ashmolean Museum. In 2001, the Archive was transferred to the newly-built Sackler Library. When viewing the archive itself with Clare and the Classics and Classical Archaeology Librarian, Charlotte Goodall, I was astounded by the richness of its content and its potential for future research projects.

 

The component of this archive of greatest interest to me is the collection of images illustrating mosaic pavements discovered (mostly) in Britain. Often grouped together and mounted on very large cardboard sheets, the collection is housed in approximately thirty extremely large, transparent hanging folders, each of which contains multiple mosaic pavement illustrations. Sifting through the folders, we were delighted with each new discovery of brilliantly coloured prints and drawings.

According to Clare and Charlotte, while readers occasionally consult Haverfield’s text-based papers the mosaic pavements collection had received little or no attention. The collection would be of great interest to researchers and students, but its sheer vastness and lack of organisational documentation — there is no catalogue detailing its contents — are serious impediments to in-depth research. Therefore, my task for the trainee year appeared to be relatively simple: create an index, recording each document in detail. So that, ultimately its research potential would become clear.

Our second task was highlighted by the large, tired looking, over-full and hence unwieldy hanging folders housing the collection. Some of the folders showed cracks and tears and there was also some concern regarding exposure to light. A new plan chest had been purchased, and it was decided that the sheets would be transferred to the drawers of the plan chest as they were catalogued. New archive-appropriate ‘Melinex’ folders, suitable for horizontal storage, would also be purchased to house each sheet individually. This improved storage solution would ensure the collection’s preservation for years to come!

This will be a series of blog posts. Next time, I will showcase some of the amazing mosaic prints that I came across when creating the index of the archive.

Chloe Bolsover, Graduate Trainee, Taylor Institution Library

References:

Craster, HHE. 1920. Francis Haverfield. The English Historical Review, 63-70

Freeman, PWM. 2007. The Best Training-Ground for Archaeologists. Oxford: Oxbow Books

Millett, M. 2015. Roman Britain since Haverfield. In M. Millett, L. Revell and A. Moore (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Roman Britain. Oxford: Oxford University Press

We welcome suggestions for future blog contributions from our readers.
Please contact Clare Hills-Nova (clare.hills-nova@bodleian.ox.ac.uk) and/or Chantal van den Berg (chantal.vandenberg@bodleian.ox.ac.uk) if you would like propose a topic.

Like@Sac! International Women’s Day – A Virtual Book Display – Women at Oxford 1920-2020

 

 

International Women’s Day, a day dedicated to celebrating the achievements of women and challenging stereotypes, has been observed on 8 March every year since its inception in 1911.  The organisers of International Women’s Day describe it as “a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women, who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.”[1]  The fight for women’s equality continues in the UK and around the world, and events like International Women’s Day show how important it is that women and girls are able to reach their full potential and contribute to all areas of our society. Each year, the organisers of International Women’s Day choose a theme as a banner under which everyone’s efforts can be channelled and unified. This year, the theme is I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights This theme aligns with UN Women’s new multigenerational campaign, Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights for an Equal Future, which marks the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the most progressive roadmap for the empowerment of women and girls, everywhere.[2]

 

Image Credit: Katherine Hanlon, Unsplash
Image Credit: Katherine Hanlon, Unsplash

 

International Women’s Day 2020 also marks the start of the social media campaign #EachforEqual:

“An equal world is an enabled world. Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day.  We can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, each one of us can help create a gender equal world. Let’s all be #EachforEqual.”[3]

Image Credit: Logan Isbell, Unsplash

2020 also marks the 100th anniversary of a historic victory for women at the University of Oxford: in 1920 Mary-Anne Henley was the first to collect her degree in the Sheldonian Theatre.  To mark this centenary and celebrate the contribution of women to Oxford, the University is launching Women Making History: 100 Years of Oxford degrees for women:

“The centenary provides an opportunity to take stock of our progress in promoting women’s education and advancing gender equality and diversity.”

As the website also notes:

“Women Making History will shine a spotlight on the diverse women who have contributed to the University of Oxford, as well as the women who are shaping its future today. In the coming months, we will explore stories of Oxford women as scholars, students, researchers, academics, clinicians, technicians, librarians, archivists, activists, artists and much more.  If you have a story about an Oxford woman that you think should be told, please join the conversation by using the hashtag #womenatoxford.”[4]

To celebrate International Women’s Day — and to mark the 100th anniversary of Oxford degrees for Women — members of the Sackler Reader Services team compiled a Virtual Book Display. (Sadly, visibility of the physical book display was curtailed by the Covid-19 lockdown.)  At the end of this blog post, you will find a list of links to various e-publications, available via SOLO, which focus on women’s accomplishments as they relate to Archaeology, Art, Architecture, Classics and Egyptology – some of the areas of collecting focus at the Sackler Library.

It is wrong to assume that amongst the most celebrated figures in Classics, hardly any women feature.  Of course, there is the Greek poet Sappho.  We have chosen to display Nancy Rabinowitz and Lisa Auanger’s Among Women, which focuses on Sappho’s poetic creativity and erotic themes.  We can never discuss key female figures in Classics without mentioning Hypatia of Alexandria, as discussed by Dora Russell.  The poems of Sulpicia are a rarity.  In comparison with works by other Roman women, Sulpicia’s work has survived intact, rather than existing in fragments.  Her six poems appear in the Augustan poet Tibullus’ corpus of poetry, a translation of which appears in our display.  For those interested in reception theory, James Donaldson’s Woman considers the position of women in Classical and Early Christian societies through the lens of a male academic in Edwardian Britain.

 

Pieere Olivier Joseph Coomans, Sappho at Mitylene, 1876 (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

 

“We can also see the contributions of women in Ancient Egypt where, as many may be aware, it was not unknown for women to hold positions of power.  Mary Hamer’s Signs of Cleopatra and Dorothea Arnold’s Royal Women of Amarna discuss two of perhaps the most well-known female figureheads of Egypt: Cleopatra and Nefertiti.  However, another noteworthy addition is the fifth Pharaoh to rule Egypt during the Eighteenth Dynasty, as discussed in Catherine Roehrig et al.’s Hatshepsut: From Queen to Pharoah.  Hatshepsut brought about religious infrastructure and trade reform during her 21-year reign, but all records relating to her activities were systematically destroyed by her successor, Thutmose III.

Artemisia Gentileschi, Judith Beheading Holofernes, by Artemisia Gentileschi (Naples, Museo di Capodimonte), 1612-13 (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

It is a pleasure when the female story is celebrated and represented well, as many in the art world have been striving for since gender inequality became part of their consciousness, and since feminist art historians such as Linda Nochlin (“Why there have been no great women artists”, 1971) and Griselda Pollock drew attention to the issue.  Art movements and artists have put visions into visuals, alongside providing the artwork to promote diversity and alternate views to the much discussed male gaze.  Fortunately, for art, there have been many female artists such as Artemisia Gentileschi (as discussed in Keith Christiansen’s Orazio and Artemisia Gentileschi or at the now-postponed National Gallery exhibition, Artemisia, in London), who were as successful as their male counterparts during their lifetimes.  This allows us to witness alternative art histories and celebrate historical women artists who worked side-by-side with male artists.  We can also fight for them to be recognised in the archives and great libraries, worldwide, so that we are aware of women who came before us as well as those who are alive today, contributing to the modern art world as we know it — for example, Jenny Saville, whose first solo show in a UK public institution was held at Modern Art Oxford.  For those interested in further exploring the work of women artists during lockdown, Modern Art Oxford’s online exhibition archive is showcasing exhibitions by three artists: Invisible Strategies by Lubaina Himid, Wanderer by Kiki Smith, and Tools For Life by Johanna Unzueta.

The discussion of women’s contribution to the field of architecture is a more is a more complicated one.  Compared with the strides taken in the art world, architecture is much further behind in its recognition of its female figures.  There are few female architects within the pages of the architectural history books that are celebrated in the same way as their male counterparts, which begs the question: what historical examples do we have, if any, of women in the architectural world? Women’s presence in architecture was often suppressed, as was the case with Annie Albers, who was unable to study architecture at the Bauhaus (whose proponents considered that architecture was a men-only professions) and so turned to weaving instead. Her work is noted for its architectural qualities and the innovation she brought to weaving techniques, showing how her interest in architecture and space could not be erased.  (See, for example, her 2018-2019 exhibition at Tate Modern.)

Due to the past elusiveness of female figures in architecture, it is therefore difficult to celebrate qualities of architectural practice which are acknowledged as “feminine”.  Even though a variety of books have been written on the intersection between feminism and architecture, including key works which form much of the basis of gendered architectural theory such as Beatriz Colomina’s Sexuality and Space, women still struggle to identify feminist architecture, what it is, and how it should be practised. Women have often struggled to gain recognition in architecture, leading to the controversial problem of their preferring not to identify as “female architects” or “women architects”.  This is particularly true of high achieving female architects: they do not want their title of architect to be gendered.  This is discussed in Francesca Hughes’ The Architect: Reconstructing Her Practice, one of the few monographs which celebrates the work of women architects.  It is to be understood that women architects believed that if they left out any reference to their gender, then they would be seen and treated as equals.  However, as well meaning as this appears, this provides leverage for the erasure of the narrative of women and the dismissal of the problems and experiences women may have experienced due to gender discrimination within the profession.

Book cover: Maggie Toy, ed. The Architect: Women in Contemporary Architecture (2001)

This can also lead to questions of privilege held by the contributors for them to not have experienced any discrimination; and to the belief that other narratives do not exist or that gender is not a problem. The publication The Architect: Women in Contemporary Architecture, edited by Maggie Toy, is a key source on women in architecture, but the women in question objected to such potential titles for the book as “The Female Architect”.  The best they could do to give a nod towards the representation of women was the subtle adaptation of the Venus sign in the title on the book’s cover.

Venus symbol (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Despite the issues raised, it is important to recognise the accomplishments of the feminist movement in the fields collected by the Sackler Library.  We hope that the reading list at the end of this post will provide a small insight into what has already been achieved.

If you would like to learn more about women’s history and gender studies in February and March 2020 the Bodleian Libraries provided trial access to a wide range of related informational databases, arranged as part of Changing the Narrative: Championing Inclusive Collection Development, a project led by Helen Worrell, Bodleian Libraries’ Anthropology & Archaeology Subject Librarian. The following databases were available during the trials and, for one of them, we have temporary extended access.  A decision on whether to purchase any of these databases (based on reader feedback) is in the works.

We hope you will enjoy browsing this small selection of our collections, and we hope you will spend some time remembering Women at Oxford 1920-2020.

 

Chloe Bolsover, Graduate Library Trainee
Katherine Day, Library Assistant
Erin McNulty, Graduate Library Trainee
Caroline Walsh, Library Assistant

References

[1][3]https://www.internationalwomensday.com/2020Theme

[2]https://www.un.org/en/observances/womens-day

[4] www.ox.ac.uk/about/oxford-people/women-at-oxford 

Database trials

Women and Social Movements, International

Through the writings of women activists, their personal letters and diaries, and the proceedings of conferences at which pivotal decisions were made, this collection lets you see how women’s social movements shaped much of the events and attitudes that have defined modern life.  This digital archive includes 150,000 pages of conference proceedings, reports of international women’s organizations, publications and web pages of women’s non-governmental organizations, and letters, diaries, and memoirs of women active internationally since the mid-nineteenth century.  It also includes photographs and videos of major events and activists in the history of women’s international social movements.

Women’s Magazine Archive 1 & 2 TEMPORARY ACCESS EXTENDED

Women’s Magazine Archive 1 provides access to the complete archives of the foremost titles of this type, including Good Housekeeping and Ladies’ Home Journal, which serve as canonical records of evolving assumptions about gender roles and cultural mores. Other titles here focus on narrower topics but deliver valuable source content for specific research areas. Parents, for example, is of particular relevance for research in the fields of children’s education, psychology, and health, as well as reflecting broader social historical trends.  Women’s Magazine Archive 2 features several of the most prominent, high-circulating, and long-running publications in this area, such as Woman’s Day and Town & Country. Collection 2 also, however, complements the first collection by including some titles focusing on more specific audiences and themes. Cosmopolitan and Seventeen, for example, are oriented towards a younger readership, while black women’s interests are represented by Essence. Women’s International Network News differs in being a more political, activist title, with an international dimension.  Topics covered these collections include family life, home economics, health, careers, fashion, culture, and many more; this material serves multiple research areas, from gender studies, social history, and the arts, through to education, politics, and marketing/media history.

Women’s Studies Archive

The Women’s Studies Archive: Issues and Identities will focus on the social, political, and professional achievements of women throughout the nineteenth and twentieth century. Along with providing a closer look at some of the pioneers of women’s movements, this collection offers scholars a deep dive into the issues that have affected women and the many contributions they have made to society.

International Women’s Day – Virtual Book Display: a selection of e-books at Oxford

Aceves Sepúlveda, G., 2019. Women made visible: feminist art and media in post-1968 Mexico City.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/kb750l/oxfaleph021790974

Anderson, J. & Huneault, K., 2012. Rethinking professionalism: women and art in Canada, 1850-1970.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/10tg26t/oxfaleph000924860

Arnold, D., Allen, J.P. & Green, L., 1996. The royal women of Amarna: images of beauty from ancient Egypt.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/10tg26t/oxfaleph020320492

Ashton, S.-A., 2008. Cleopatra and Egypt.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/10tg26t/oxfaleph000517287

Battista, K., 2019. New York new wave: the legacy of feminist art in emerging practice.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/10tg26t/oxfaleph001128694

Battista, K., 2019. Renegotiating the body: feminist art in 1970s London.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/10tg26t/oxfaleph001129729

Betterton, R., 2019. Unframed: practices and politics of women’s contemporary painting.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/10tg26t/oxfaleph001129730

Broude, N. & Garrard, M.D., 2018. The expanding discourse: feminism and art history.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/10tg26t/oxfaleph021680728

Butler, J. 1999. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/10tg26t/oxfaleph021627491

Christiansen, K. et al., 2001. Orazio and Artemisia Gentileschi.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/10tg26t/oxfaleph020320310

Dabakis, M., 2014. A sisterhood of sculptors: American artists in nineteenth-century Rome.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/kb750l/oxfaleph020970150

Deffebach, N., 2015. María Izquierdo and Frida Kahlo: challenging visions in modern Mexican art.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/kb750l/oxfaleph000852915

Dekel, T. 2013. Gendered: Art and Feminist Theory.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/10tg26t/oxfaleph000814205

Dirgantoro, W., 2017. Feminisms and contemporary art in Indonesia: defining experiences.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/kb750l/oxfaleph001110690

Dodson, A., 2009. Amarna sunset: Nefertiti, Tutankhamun, Ay, Horemheb, and the Egyptian counter-reformation.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/10tg26t/oxfaleph000530537

Donaldson, J., 1907. Woman; her position and influence in ancient Greece and Rome and among the early Christians.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/10tg26t/oxfaleph020705571

Fanghanel, A., 2019. Disrupting rape culture: public space, sexuality and revolt.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/10tg26t/oxfaleph021733551

Grainger, J. Sulpicia & Tibullus, 1992. A poetical translation of the elegies of Tibullus; and of the poems of Sulpicia.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/kb750l/oxfaleph020741566

Greene, E., 1996. Reading Sappho: contemporary approaches.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/10tg26t/oxfaleph021293990

Hamer, M., 2014. Signs of Cleopatra: reading an icon historically.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/10tg26t/oxfaleph020148152

Heynen, H. & Baydar, G., 2005. Negotiating domesticity: spatial productions of gender in modern architecture.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/10tg26t/oxfaleph000914883

Horne, V. & Perry, L., 2019. Feminism and art history now: radical critiques of theory and practice.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/10tg26t/oxfaleph001127609

Iōannou, Kyriakidou & Christiansen, 2014. Female beauty in art: history, feminism, women artists.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/10tg26t/oxfaleph000867093

Isaak, J.A., 1996. Feminism and contemporary art: the revolutionary power of women’s laughter.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/10tg26t/oxfaleph000575626

Kelley, L., 2019. Bioart kitchen: art, feminism and technoscience.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/10tg26t/oxfaleph001127602

Kleiner, D.E.E., 2005. Cleopatra and Rome.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/10tg26t/oxfaleph000519061

Kokoli, A.M., 2016. The feminist uncanny in theory and art practice.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/10tg26t/oxfaleph001127848

Liss, A., 2009. Feminist art and the maternal.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/kb750l/oxfaleph000515481

Martin, B. & Sparke, P., 2003. Women’s places: architecture and design 1860-1960.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/10tg26t/oxfaleph000913452

Meskimmon, M., 2003. Women making art: history, subjectivity, aesthetics.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/10tg26t/oxfaleph000917653

Miles, M.M., 2011. Cleopatra: a sphinx revisited.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/10tg26t/oxfaleph000546249

Murray, E. & Varnedoe, K., 1995. Elizabeth Murray, modern women: The Museum of Modern Art, New York, June 20-August 22, 1995.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/kb750l/oxfaleph021140275

Nochlin, L., 2018. Women, art, and power: and other essays.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/10tg26t/oxfaleph021284529

Pollock, G., 1999. Differencing the canon: feminist desire and the writing of art’s histories.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/10tg26t/oxfaleph021274805

Pollock, G., 2003. Vision and difference: feminism, femininity and the histories of art.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/10tg26t/oxfaleph019861020

Rabinowitz, N.S. & Auanger, L., 2002. Among women: from the homosocial to the homoerotic in the ancient world.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/10tg26t/oxfaleph016911858

Rendell, J., Penner, B. & Borden, I., 2000. Gender space architecture: an interdisciplinary introduction.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/10tg26t/oxfaleph000481765

Reynolds, L., 2019. Women artists, feminism and the moving image: contexts and practices.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/10tg26t/oxfaleph001128859

Richlin, A. 2014. Arguments with Silence: Writing the History of Roman Women.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/kb750l/oxfaleph000768250

Robinson, H. & Buszek, M.E., 2019. A companion to feminist art.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/10tg26t/oxfaleph021790990

Roehrig, C. H., Dreyfus, R., and Keller, C. A. 2006. Hatshepsut: From Queen to Pharaoh.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/10tg26t/oxfaleph020320021

Roller, D.W., 2010. Cleopatra: a biography.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/10tg26t/oxfaleph000579312

Russell, D., 1976. Hypatia: or, Woman and knowledge.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/kb750l/oxfaleph020705536

Sappho, Rayor, Diane J. & Lardinois, A. P. M. H., 2014. Sappho: a new translation of the complete works.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/10tg26t/oxfaleph020611304

Shonfield, K., 2000. Walls have feelings: architecture, film, and the city.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/10tg26t/oxfaleph000484227

Skelly, J., 2020. Radical decadence: excess in contemporary feminist textiles and craft.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/10tg26t/oxfaleph001130353

Solomon-Godeau, A. & Parsons, S., 2017. Photography after photography: gender, genre, and history.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/10tg26t/oxfaleph021157235

Souter, G., 2015. Frida Kahlo: beneath the mirror.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/10tg26t/oxfaleph001003107

Walsh, M. & Throp, M., 2019. Twenty years of MAKE magazine: back to the future of women’s art.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/10tg26t/oxfaleph001125669

Wark, J., 2006. Radical gestures: feminism and performance art in North America.

http://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/permalink/f/kb750l/oxfaleph000584817

We welcome suggestions for future blog contributions from our readers.
Please contact Clare Hills-Nova (clare.hills-nova@bodleian.ox.ac.uk) and Chantal van den Berg (chantal.vandenberg@bodleian.ox.ac.uk) if you would like propose a topic.

Sackler 101: 25th ICOM General Conference and CIPEG Annual Meeting in Kyoto (Japan), 2019

 

One of the important ways of keeping up to date with developments in the fields of study that Bodleian Libraries subject librarians support is through international conference attendance, where they have the opportunity of finding out about current as well as new research beyond the ‘Oxford bubble’.

The 25th General Conference of the International Council of Museums (ICOM), an NGO with 44,600 members representing over 20,000 museums in c. 140 countries, took place 1-7 September 2019 in Kyoto, Japan. With 4,000+ participants, this was the best attended General Conference in the history of ICOM.

 

Entrance to the International Conference Center, Kyoto (Photo credit: Susanne Woodhouse)

 

Entitled “Museums as Cultural Hubs: the future of tradition”, the participants discussed the role of museums in the age of multiculturalism and disasters. In particular, four plenary sessions explored:

-How museums can support societies in their search for a sustainable future
-ICOM’s commission on a new definition of the word “Museum”
-Museum disaster management
-Asian art museums and collections

The main focus however was on the new museum definition which had sent ripples through the museum world prior to the conference for two reasons. Firstly it had been launched without consulting the organisation’s 119 National Committees; secondly its content and wording was deemed by members to be inappropriate or incorrect. The last day of the conference saw the decision of the General Assembly to postpone the vote on this new museum definition approved by 70.4% of the participants.

 

Main Hall of the International Conference Center: Plenary session on the definition of museums (Photo credit: Susanne Woodhouse)

 

ICOM’s 30 International Committees, representing specialisations across the museum sector, held their Annual Meetings throughout the week at the Conference Center and at satellite venues. As Subject Librarian for Egyptology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies I am a member of the Comité International pour l’Égyptologie (CIPEG). The Committee was in for a treat as our Japanese colleagues had arranged an extraordinary symposium about their conservation project in the Grand Egyptian Museum (Cairo). During the following three days CIPEG members presented 37 papers on all aspects of Ancient Egyptian and Sudanese collections world-wide.

My paper focused on the history of the former private library of the first Professor of Egyptology in Oxford, Francis Llewellyn Griffith (1862-1934), in its time the world’s most comprehensive private library for Ancient Near Eastern Studies (including Egyptology). Francis Griffith and his wife Nora left this library to the University of Oxford, together with a very considerable fortune, to build and endow a permanent centre for the teaching of and research in Ancient Near Eastern Studies (including Egyptology). The Griffith Institute opened in January 1939 and, as intended by F.L. Griffith, it was situated adjacent to the Ashmolean Museum. The Griffith Library formed part of the Griffith Institute, a Department with independent status by Statute within the Ashmolean Museum. In 1966 the Museum’s staffing structure underwent a review, resulting in the Brunt Report (named after the Chairman of the review committee, Professor P.A. Brunt) which amongst others highlighted the top-class libraries integral to the various Museum Departments. The recommended amalgamation of these departmental libraries under a principal librarian took place in 1969, resulting in the separately governed Ashmolean Library. The Ashmolean Library, from then on, administered the Griffith Institute Library, the collection of which continued to be housed in the Griffith Institute. With the Ashmolean Library and the Griffith Library bursting at their seams, however, a new accommodation had to be sought but it was not until 30 years later that their collections were finally transferred to their new home, the Sackler Library, which opened in 2001. The holdings of this library derive from a number of separately housed collections and are the embodiment of Griffith’s vision of a research tool promoting interdisciplinary research.

Some contemporary “witnesses” are irreplaceable and therefore housed in the Sackler’s Rare Books Room. They include as Griffith’s personal copy of the 1st edition of the Egyptian Grammar (1927), authored by his famous pupil Alan H Gardiner (1879–1963). This copy contains Gardiner’s little-known hieroglyphic dedication to his teacher, a testimony of “the humble servant’s” huge veneration for Griffith. The Griffith Institute agreed to include a facsimile of the dedication in this year’s reprint of Gardiner’s Egyptian Grammar.

 

Hieroglyphic dedication by A H Gardiner to F L Griffith (© Griffith Institute, University of Oxford)

 

In between plenary sessions, lectures and workshops participants took the opportunity to explore the stalls of the c. 150 exhibitors which made up the Museums Fair and Expo Forum. Amongst others there was a “shaky van” in which one could experience an earthquake with and without seismic isolation; the virtual reality stall was always busy; producers of replicas and facsimiles displayed their work carried out for museums and temples alike; publishers of exquisite art books attracted visitors with their dazzling reproduction of colours; and the publisher Routledge/Taylor & Francis showcased its publishing partnership with ICOM.

 

Having been asked to touch the replica of the National Treasure “Wind and Thunder God Screens” by Tawaraya Sotatsu (17th c, Kenninji Temple, now Kyoto National Museum), I could feel the joints of the gold leaves and the texture of the paint (Photo credit: Susanne Woodhouse)

 

Every evening delegates attended social events, ranging from a superb opening party which closed with a magnificent fireworks display, to a reception at Nijo Castle, the palace of which is a National Treasure from the early Edo period, and at the Kyoto National Museum. The organisation of this international conference ran like clockwork and the stakes are high indeed for the 26th General Conference, which will take place in 2022 in Prague.

 

Reception at Kyoto National Museum: Diane Bergman (right) the previous Griffith Librarian at the Sackler Library, Dåg Bergman (Diane’s husband), and myself (Diane’s successor in the post) (Photo credit: Susanne Woodhouse)

 

As subject librarian for Egyptology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies, part of my mandate is to support the curatorial research needs of Ashmolean Museum staff. This conference, therefore, enabled me to put my work into a wider context by providing information on current challenges in the museum world, on the latest trends such as the attempt to redefine what a museum should stand for in the 21st century, and on new technologies used to preserve or reproduce cultural heritage for future generations.

Attending the subject-specific CIPEG meeting was an opportunity to keep abreast with academic and publishing developments as well as to promote the Sackler Library (and the Bodleian Libraries) and its holdings to the international community. At the same time my presentation constituted a contribution to the international scholarly discourse of the history of collections within Egyptology.

I would like to thank the Bodleian Libraries for the generous support that enabled me to attend this hugely informative conference.

Susanne Woodhouse
Egyptology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies Librarian (Griffith Librarian)
Sackler Library

We welcome suggestions for future blog contributions from our readers.
Please contact Clare Hills-Nova (clare.hills-nova@bodleian.ox.ac.uk) and Chantal van den Berg (chantal.vandenberg@bodleian.ox.ac.uk) if you would like propose a topic.

Sackler 101: Keeping the University reading: How we are supporting Sackler readers’ research, study and teaching

The Bodleian Libraries’ (and the Sackler Library’s) approach is to prioritise the safety of our staff and readers, whilst working hard to make it possible to ‘Keep the University reading’.

Library buildings
All library sites and reading rooms are closed to readers until further notice.

Library services
Our physical services are suspended, whilst we both continue and expand our digital services.

  • eResources. The Bodleian Libraries provide access to over 118k eJournals, and over 1.4m eBooks. Our priority is to maintain access to these, and to add to the eResources that we provide for the Oxford community. All accessible via SOLO. More details here.

****Don’t forget Sackler reader relevant e-books and e-resources available via other platforms:

  • The Getty Research Portal  Multilingual and multicultural union catalogue providing FREE download capabilities for publications on art, architecture, archaeology, material culture, and related fields.
    • Currently at 143,954 (20/06/2020) digitised titles. The number of volumes on this site is growing on a near-daily basis.
    • Most publications on this site are copyright-free (and hence older), with more recent publications also included.
  • The National Art Library (at the V&A) has compiled a lengthy list of free art and design e-resources here.

 

 

 

  • Scan-and-deliver. This service provides scanned materials for readers from collections housed at the Book Storage Facility. Access via SOLO:  free for all Bodleian Libraries library card holders.
    A new service, ‘Scan-and-deliver+‘ (access here) provides scans of material in Oxford library locations. Please note: The Sackler Library is both short-staffed and also experiencing a high volume of such requests. We are doing our very best to deliver a good service ask for your patience and understanding during this rapidly-evolving situation.
  • Oxford Reading Lists Online (ORLO). The ORLO service provides students with online reading lists linked to library and open access resources and can be used in Canvas or through its own user interface. ORLO currently holds 1,000+ lists for the current academic year in support of 22+ departments from across the academic divisions. We are instigating a rapid roll-out to other courses. More details here.
  • Loans. All Bodleian Libraries books currently on loan are auto-renewed until 19 June 2020. Please hold on to books you have out; do not return them. Any fines will be waived.
  • Inter-Library-Loans (ILL). Electronic delivery will soon be available free of charge (access here). Physical ILL is suspended.
  • Oxford University Research Archive (ORA). The ORA service (access here) will continue in support of open access to Oxford research, and in support of REF 2021 [link: https://www.ref.ac.uk/].
  • eReference/enquiries. The expanded Live Chat service will be available 9am–7pm every day from Monday 23 March. Access routes here: website, LibGuides,  SOLO.  Remote assistance from expert library staff is available by emailing reader.services@bodleian.ox.ac.uk (staffed weekdays, 9am–5pm).

While we are working hard to ensure we can maintain our digital services, and expand them where possible, we will be able to do this only when it does not compromise the health and safety of our staff.

Note: Many digital services, like our catalogue SOLO or ORA are accessible to all, while some of the services and resources noted above are restricted to Bodleian Libraries card holders (Single Sign On required).

(Credit: Adapted from http://blogs.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/archivesandmanuscripts/2020/03/20/keeping-the-university-reading/, by Richard Ovenden, Bodley’s Librarian.)

Sackler 101: Interactive Floorplans

 

As any reader at the Sackler Library can attest, the library presents some navigational challenges. Thanks to the combination of a confusing circular layout and the large number of different shelfmark schemes in use, it can often be difficult to find the book you’re looking for without spending an eternity wandering in circles – even for staff!

 

Image credit: Chantal van den Berg

 

In response to these navigational challenges, I began work on an interactive floor plan website in November 2018, which built upon the foundation of our existing paper floorplans – the Sackler is a five-floor library.  Through the combination of the existing (though much cleaned-up) SVG files for the paper floorplans, a hand-gathered file of shelf content information, and bit of JavaScript to weld the two together, version 1.0 was born. This early version, released for staff use in January 2019, allowed one to virtually browse the shelfmark ranges present on each shelf (and there was much rejoicing). However, as useful as this prototype was, it was clear from the very beginning that browsing alone was not enough: the floorplan had to be searchable.

This next part was rather more involved. To write a programme that could reliably identify SIX (!) different shelfmark schemes was one thing, but to account for every possible variation and error present in the library was quite another. After weeks of poring over spreadsheets of shelfmarks and endless tests of the pattern matching code, I created a system that could reliably identify any Sackler shelfmark entered and break it down into its constituent parts. This also allowed for the automatic identification of all the weird and incorrect shelfmarks hiding throughout the library, leading to hundreds of corrections. Bonus!

Now able to identify shelfmarks, the system needed to be able to locate them within the library. This actually took the most time to implement, firstly since every individual shelf had to have its shelfmark range recorded; and also because each shelfmark scheme needed to be handled differently (special prize for the shelfmarks that use Roman numerals). In summary: when a shelfmark is entered, it is broken down into elements (e.g. NA/680/.5/A45/PAL/2005), which are then compared against each shelfmark range (also broken down in the same way) recorded in the shelf content data file already created for version 1.0. When a matching range is found, the shelf associated with that range is highlighted on the map

 

 

Version 2.0 is very capable: the vast majority of Sackler Library material is searchable, including folios and pamphlets, allowing readers and staff to instantly find the exact location of any shelfmark within the library. After a period of internal use, the website was launched to readers back in Michaelmas term 2019: it can be found at floorplan.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/sackler and can be used on mobile devices. There are still refinements planned, so all feedback and suggestions for improvements are welcome.

Ben Gable,
Library Assistant
Sackler Library

We welcome suggestions for future blog contributions from our readers.
Please contact Clare Hills-Nova (clare.hills-nova@bodleian.ox.ac.uk) and Chantal van den Berg (chantal.vandenberg@bodleian.ox.ac.uk) if you would like propose a topic.

Like @ Sac! Book Display: Celebrating LBGT+ History Month at the Sackler Library

 

February marks LGBT+ History Month in the UK, which aims to educate people about and increase visibility of the accomplishments of LGBT+ identifying people, and the contributions they have made and continue to make to society. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and asexual people, as well as people of other gender, sexual and romantic minority groups, have been present in the arts, the sciences and daily life from ancient times to the modern day. The Sackler Library has chosen to celebrate the rich history and diversity of the LGBT+ community by means of a book display highlighting the contribution of LGBT+ people to the areas of study within the remit of the Sackler Library.

 

The display in place on the Ground Floor of the Sackler Library Image. Credit: Erin McNulty

 

In terms of Classical literature, our display highlights the work of Sappho, e.g. in Rayor and Lardinois’ Sappho: a new translation of the complete works (2014). Sappho was a prolific lyric poet from the Archaic Greek era[1]. Her poetry was well-known and greatly admired through much of antiquity, and she was among the canon of nine lyric poets most highly esteemed by scholars of Hellenistic Alexandria. She is also the subject of some scholarly debate, but it is generally thought amongst modern scholars that her work portrays evidence of love and desire between women[2]. Indeed, the modern use of the word ‘lesbian’ is derived from the name of her home island of Lesbos.

We can also see the contributions of LGBT+ people in the field of Egyptology, namely through Amelia Edwards’ A Thousand Miles up the Nile, a best-selling travelogue published in 1877. Edwards, born in 1831, was an English novelist, journal-writer, and traveller, and contributed greatly to Egyptological Studies, co-founding the Egypt Exploration Fund in 1882[4]. She was also the founder of the Edwards Chair of Egyptology at University College London. Edwards died in 1892 from influenza, and was buried alongside her partner, Ellen Drew Braysher. In 2016, her grave  in Bristol was designated as Grade II listed by Historic England, and is celebrated as a landmark of English LGBT+ history[5].

 

The cover, an illustration, and author’s signature from an 1877 edition of Edwards’ A Thousand Miles up the Nile (Sackler Library, Special Collections)
To view Special Collections materials, please enquire at the Sackler Issue Desk
Image(s) Credit: Erin McNulty

 

We have also highlighted the relevance of LGBT+ studies to the study of architecture by including Betsky’s Queer space: architecture and same-sex desire (1997). This work discusses how same-sex desire is creating an entirely new design process. Vincent’s LGBT people and the UK cultural sector: the response of libraries, museums, archives and heritage since 1950 (2014) also deals with LGBT+ influences in the library and heritage sector specifically.

Image Credit: Erin McNulty

Works on art also form a substantial part of the Sackler’s collections. Both of these disciplines benefit greatly from the contributions of the LGBT+ community. Davis’ Gay and lesbian studies in art history (1994) gives an overview of this. We have also chosen to showcase art books dealing with LGBTQ+ themes from earlier periods, such as Mills’ Seeing sodomy in the Middle Ages (2015), to the more modern, e.g. David Wojnarowicz: history keeps me awake at night and Robert Mapplethorpe: the Archive.

A library’s collections can tell the story of a community, such as the LGBT+ community, and it changes as new works are acquired. How the Sackler, as well as many other libraries across the Bodleian, tells these stories will be reviewed by the upcoming project Changing the Narrative: Championing Inclusive Collection Development. This project, led by Helen Worrell, “will champion diversifying our collection development across the Social Sciences and Humanities Libraries, with the aim of enhancing collections in areas such as LGBTIQ+ Studies, Disability Studies, Indigenous Studies, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Studies and the intersections between these identities. This will enable us to think critically about the collections we currently hold so that we are aware of the gaps and the narrative these collections tell.”[5] Keep an eye out on the Sackler blog for upcoming posts regarding this project, or head to the LibGuide for more information.

Our book display also ties in to the theme of 2020’s LGBT+ History Month, launched at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford: Poetry, Prose and Plays. We showcase works by all four featured authors: Dawn Langley Simmons’ Man into woman: a transsexual autobiography (1970), E. M. Forster’s Collected short stories (1947), Lorraine Hansberry’s A raisin in the sun (2011), and William Shakespeare’s Sonnets (1945 edition). We have also featured the work of ancient authors, such as Plutarch, Virgil, and Petronius, who are now thought by some scholars to have been LGBT+[6]. You can visit the LBGT+ History Month website for more information and resources.

An image of the display, showing Shakespeare’s Sonnet 20, which is thought to have been written about a man. Image Credit: Erin McNulty

We hope you enjoy browsing the books we have on offer on our display. However, these are only a small sample of the resources the Sackler, and the University of Oxford as a whole, has to offer for anyone interested in LGBT+ studies. For example, TORCH’s Queer Studies Network meets weekly for lectures, reading groups, seminars, workshops and events. The Bodleian Libraries are also currently trialling several informational databases, accessible through SOLO, e.g.:

Archives of Sexuality and Gender (Gale Cengage)

This resource spans the sixteenth to twentieth centuries and is the largest digital collection of historical primary source publications relating to the history and study of sex, sexuality, and gender research and gender studies research. Documentation covering disciplines such as social, political, health, and legal issues impacting LGBT communities around the world is included, as well as rare and unique books on sex and sexuality.

LGBT Magazine Archive (Proquest LLC)

Includes the archives of 26 leading but previously hard-to-find magazines, including many of the longest-running, most influential publications of this genre.  For example, the complete backfile of the US publication, The Advocate, one of the very few LGBT titles to pre-date the 1969 Stonewall riots, is made available digitally for the first time.  Other titles include the UK’s Gay News and its successor publication Gay Times.

LGBT Life Full Text (EBSCO)

Provides scholarly and popular LGBT+ publications in full text, plus historically important primary sources, including monographs, magazines and newspapers. It also includes a specialised LGBT+ thesaurus containing thousands of terms, 140+ full-text journals, approaching 160 full-text books and reference materials, 260+ abstracted and indexed journals and more than 350+ abstracted and indexed books and reference works.

Also, don’t miss other LGBT+ projects at the University of Oxford! For example, the Pitt Rivers Museum’s project, Beyond the Binary, due to launch this month, will work with local, national and international partners to explore the global diversity of sexual and gender identities. The project will challenge historical interpretations of the museum’s collections so that all visitors can understand humanity better. It will also include a community-focused acquisition programme for LGBT+ cultural and historical artefacts. Objects will be collected from British communities and across the globe that highlight traditions of gender non-conformity, bringing British LGBT+ heritage into conversation with global LGBT+ material culture.

We hope that you will join us in celebration of LGBT+ History Month, and that you have a fantastic February!

Erin McNulty,
Graduate Library Trainee

 

References

[1] Campbell, D. A. (ed.) (1982). Greek Lyric 1: Sappho and Alcaeus (Loeb Classical Library No. 142). Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass

[2] Rayor, Diane; Lardinois, André (2014). Sappho: A New Translation of the Complete Works. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[3] Rees, Joan (1998). Amelia Edwards: Traveller, Novelist and Egyptologist. London: Rubicon Press.

[4] Queer history’ landmarks celebrated by Historic England”. BBC News. 23 September 2016. Retrieved 24 September 2016.

[5] https://libguides.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/changingthenarrative

[6] Claude J. Summers, ed., The Gay and Lesbian Literary Heritage: A Reader’s Companion to the Writers and Their Works, from Antiquity to the Present (New York: Henry Holt, 1995)

 

Book Display Bibliography

Benson, M., 1901. The soul of a cat, and other stories. London.

Betsky, A., 1997. Queer space: architecture and same-sex desire, New York.

Boehringer, S., 2007. L’homosexualité féminine dans l’antiquité grecque et romaine, Paris.

Breslin, D., Kiehl, D., & Wojnarowicz, D. (2018). David Wojnarowicz : History Keeps Me Awake at Night.

Cook, M. & Oram, A., 2017. Prejudice & pride: celebrating LGBTQ heritage, Warrington.

Davidson, J. N., 2007. The Greeks and Greek love: a radical reappraisal of homosexuality in ancient Greece, London

Davis, W., 1994. Gay and lesbian studies in art history, New York.

Dedichen, H. & Butin, H., 2013. Warhol’s queens. Ostfildern.

Dover, K. J., 1978. Greek homosexuality, London.

DuBois, P., 2015. Sappho. London; New York.

Edwards, A.B., 1982. A thousand miles up the Nile. London.

Forster, E.M., 1947. Collected short stories of E.M. Forster. London.

Hansberry, L., 2011. A raisin in the sun. London.

Horace & Bennett, Charles E, 1960. The Odes and Epodes. London.

Mapplethorpe, R., Martineau, P., & Salvesen, B., 2016. Robert Mapplethorpe: the photographs, Los Angeles.

Mapplethorpe, R., Terpak, F., Brunnick, M., Smith, P., & Weinberg, J., 2016. Robert Mapplethorpe: the archive, Los Angeles.

Meyer, R., 2003. Outlaw representation: censorship & homosexuality in twentieth-century American art, Boston.

Mills, R., 2015. Seeing sodomy in the Middle Ages, Chicago.

Parkinson, R. B., 2013. A little gay history: desire and diversity across the world, London.

Petronius Arbiter & Brown, Andrew, 2009. Satyricon. Richmond.

Plutarch, Romm, James S & Mensch, Pamela, 2012. Plutarch: lives that made Greek history. Indianapolis.

Sappho, Rayor, Diane J. & Lardinois, A. P. M. H., 2014. Sappho: a new translation of the complete works. Cambridge.

Rorato, L., 2014. Caravaggio in film and literature: popular culture’s appropriation of a baroque genius, London.

Rothbauer, P. Locating the library as place among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer patrons, in eds. Buschman, J., & Leckie, G. J., 2007. The library as place: history, community, and culture, Westport; London.

Shakespeare, W. & Bullen, A.H., 1945. The sonnets of William Shakespeare. Oxford.

Simmons, D.L., 1970. Man into woman: a transsexual autobiography. London.

Spike, J. T., Brown, D. A., Joannides, P., De Groft, A. H., Rogers, M., & Bisogniero, C., 2015. Leonardo da Vinci and the idea of beauty, Williamsburg, Virginia.

Vicinus, M., 2004. Intimate friends: women who loved women, 1778-1928. Chicago.

Vincent, J., 2014. LGBT people and the UK cultural sector: the response of libraries, museums, archives and heritage since 1950. Farnham.

Virgil, Dryden, John & Keener, Frederick M., 1997. Virgil’s Aeneid. London.

Warhol, A., Feldman, F., & Defendi, C., 2003. Andy Warhol prints: a catalogue raisonné: 1962-1987, New York.

Wasserman, N., 2016. Akkadian love literature of the third and second millennium BCE. Weisbaden.

Weinberg, J., 1993. Speaking for vice: homosexuality in the art of Charles Demuth, Marsden Hartley, and the first American avant-garde, New Haven; London.

Weinberg, J., 2004. Male desire: the homoerotic in American art, New York.

Williams, C. A., 1999. Roman homosexuality: ideologies of masculinity in classical antiquity, New York; Oxford.

Williamson, M., 1995. Sappho’s immortal daughters. Cambridge, Mass.; London

Wojnarowicz, D., 2018. The waterfront journals. London

 

 

We welcome suggestions for future blog contributions from our readers.
Please contact Clare Hills-Nova (clare.hills-nova@bodleian.ox.ac.uk) and Chantal van den Berg (chantal.vandenberg@bodleian.ox.ac.uk) if you would like propose a topic.