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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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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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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Item of the month: A disastrous royal funeral, 1821

Every month we’ll showcase here an item from our Heritage Collections.

The funeral of Queen Elizabeth II was a dignified and solemn occasion observed by millions around the world. In marked contrast the funeral procession of Queen Caroline of Brunswick (1768-1821), slighted consort of George IV (1762-1830), was a disorderly and violent affair. The queen, exiled and reviled by the Prince of Wales and then king in favour of his mistresses, had in the years of their estrangement become a figurehead for opposition Whigs and radicals pushing for parliamentary reform, a position she clearly revelled in. Her return from Europe after the accession of her husband caused riots but her support reached its peak in the parliamentary trial brought by Lord Liverpool’s Tory government. Her decision to attempt to attend the coronation – George IV had been careful not to issue her with a ticket – proved a step too far for popular public opinion and having been physically barred from several entrances to Westminster Abbey she was jeered by the crowd. She died within the month.

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‘Making a Difference at Durham’ event

On Thursday 15 September, University Library and Collections staff attended the first ‘Making a Difference at Durham’ event. This was a chance for colleagues from across the University to come together to engage in discussions and hear about the range of resources, activities and benefits the University has to offer. For many staff, this was the first time they had seen colleagues from other areas of the University in person since the pandemic. 

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Oddy Testing in Conservation

I’m Susan Hull, Graduate Intern in Book Conservation at Palace Green Library. I have been working with Katie Brew, Assistant Conservator, investigating the materials we use for long term storage of our collections.

Recently we received items packaged in unidentified materials. This is a cause of concern; the rate of deterioration of an archival object can increase by way of the substances surrounding it, including packaging. Unsuitable packaging can expose paper archives to volatile substances, which migrate to the object and ultimately contribute to its degradation.

To assess the materials suitability for long term storage, we contacted Archaeological Conservator Vicky Garlick who runs Oddy testing in the Dawson building, for the students of the Conservation of Archaeological and Museum Objects MA.

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Graduate intern update: Beth

Graduate intern Beth Hall updates us on what she’s been up to recently…

Hello! It’s Beth, back again with a long-awaited intern update. I’m glad to have the opportunity to sit myself down and reflect on these last few hectic and varied months. It’s been a busy year so far – just how I like it!

One of the largest and heaviest books I’ve ever had to retrieve – the Hartlepool Antiphonal, yes that is the size of an entire trolley!
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Bishop Tunstall: The man who survived the Tudors by calculating the odds

On the International Day of Mathematics, a post by Dr Elizabeth Biggs (Trinity College Dublin/TNA Postdoctoral Research Fellow) Dr Danielle Westerhof (Rare Books Librarian) and Gemma Lewis (Castle Curator).

How many of us who have lived, worked or explored Durham Castle have ever heard about the man who built the Tunstall Gallery and Chapel?

Cuthbert Tunstall (1474-1559), bishop of Durham from 1530 until his death, was a survivor.

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