Graduate intern update: Jenny

Graduate intern Jenny Coulton tells us what she’s been up to recently…

Hello again readers! I’m here to give another update on what I’ve been up to since October as an intern with Durham’s Archives and Special Collections.

One of the biggest projects I’ve been working on has been cataloguing my first collection. I’ve been working on the Backhaus family papers – a small group of material that will be part of our larger Else Headlam-Morley collection. The papers are centred around a woman (Frieda Backhaus nee Herzberg), her life in Germany 1893-1950, and her emigration and final years living in the UK under the employment of the Headlam-Morleys. It’s a fascinating insight into a family, and a great source for life in Germany just before and after the Second World War. One of the most interesting items, in my opinion, is a letter from Frieda’s father, Max, to the commander of the Russian occupation of Berlin, praising the Red Army and even sending the commander a copy of a manuscript he had been working on – and all this on a letter written only a few days after the end of the war! I’ve also been really enjoying the process of cataloguing, although learning how to not get sucked into reading every detail is surprisingly difficult. Nevertheless, it’s very satisfying to summarise, and even more fulfilling to realise that my work means that these collections are now mor easily accessible for future academics and research.

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eResource of the month: IET Inspec database (being trialled during February – March 2023)

Each month we spotlight one of our databases to highlight the range of resources available to our users. This month, Science Faculty Librarian Colin Theakston turns the spotlight on a database we have on trial.

Our status as a research active university means that we are frequently approached by data-providers who are keen to have us trial their databases, obviously they do this as they are hoping we might subscribe to their product.  Truth be told, if the feedback is good enough we often do!

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Item of the month: Codrington College, Barbados. After a drawing by the bishop of Barbados

A post by University Archivist Jonathan Bush

This print of Codrington College, Barbados, was sketched by William Hart Coleridge (1789-1849), the bishop of Barbados and the Leeward Islands, and is one of the earliest examples of lithography by William Louis Walton (1808?-1879). The date of printing is uncertain, but likely to be shortly before the Slavery Abolition Act (1833), which abolished slavery on a gradual basis in most parts of the British Empire.

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eResource of the month: International Encyclopedia of Human Geography

Each month we spotlight one of our databases to highlight the range of resources available to our users.

On encountering the word ‘geography’ one tends to think of the physical world. At least, I do. I think instinctively of the location of countries around the globe and capital cities, followed perhaps by features of various landscapes then maybe aspects of climate and weather. Indeed ‘Physical Geography’ is a core first year undergraduate module here at Durham and the various programmes on offer are peppered with modules on topics like climate change, glaciers, landscapes, rivers, oceans, mountains and other physical features of the Earth’s environment. But geography is as much about humans as it is about the landscapes we inhabit and, indeed, ‘Human Geography’ is another core module taken by our first year undergraduates with its themes also running through the degree programmes on offer.

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Item of the month: Ye Peakrel, a Winster Christmas hodgepodge, 1878

A post by Collections Assistant Jennifer Leach

Content note: Historic material will reflect the language of the original creators. Voices, objects and images from the past can display attitudes, opinions and relate to events which may be viewed as biased and offensive in today’s society.

As Christmas is fast approaching, this month’s item shows how a family in 1878 brought some festive cheer to those around them. This is a humorous newsletter “Imprinted at Winster Hall, in the County of Derbyshire, at the private press of Llwellynn Jewitt, F.S.A”, sold for the princely sum of “Nowt!” for private distribution. The newsletter states that only 25 copies were printed so perhaps these were to amuse friends, family or neighbours in the Christmas season.

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Book of Transumpt: conservation completed

A post by Conservator Fiona Butterfield

I recently completed conservation treatment of a Book of Transumpt (1529-1553) that was started pre-pandemic.  The Book of Transumpt (B of T) is a large volume of more than 700 pages each approx 320mm h x 220mm w.  It is hand-inscribed (in Latin) in iron gall ink.  The pages were bound in a limp vellum binding.  It comprised 18 sections made up from 35 sub-sections.  In the original binding sections were predominantly sewn with linen thread and then attached to the binding with parchment tackets.

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eResource of the month: The Churchill Archive

Each month we spotlight one of our databases to highlight the range of resources available to our users.

Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965) was one of the most important figures in British and Imperial history. The son of the aristocratic Churchill family of Blenheim Palace, he gained military experience as a soldier and war correspondent in India, Afghanistan, Sudan, South Africa, and in the trenches in France during the First World War.

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Netflix – Educational screenings of documentaries

A post by Faculty Librarian Ben Taylorson

I’ve worked for Durham University Library and Collections for many years (since the last millennium in fact, for those that are counting) and one of the more difficult requests to fulfill in terms of resource provision has always been documentaries.

In the olden days (read: pre-internet, or internet as we know it today, at least) it was a matter of acquiring a hard copy on VHS and then latterly DVD. Documentaries released for educational purchase were usually considerably more expensive to buy in hard copy when compared to, say, mainstream movies released in the same format. This was, presumably, as the producers knew or expected a copy sold to an educational institution would be screened to a large cohort of students, thus the cost of one copy needed to reflect that.

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Getting started with making purchase requests

At the end of 2021 we held some focus groups to get feedback on the acquisitions service at the library. One of the big messages to come out of these sessions was that our users wanted more information about making purchase requests and delivery times.

So, alongside a review of our process, we went away and created a LibGuide to explain things. The aim of the guide is for it to be good starting point for making a purchase request, get information about delivery times, and to provide an FAQ’s section to help answer some questions you may have.

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