Folklore Thursday 30/11/2017


Fast becoming one of our favourite resources for #FolkloreThursday, this 1852 book, Wild Flowers by Anne Pratt,  provides wonderful nuggets of wisdom on plant lore, etymology, and much more as well as being accompanied by beautiful illustrations.

This description of the Common Purple Trefoil aka Clover is perfect for this week’s superstition theme.

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Explore Your Archive 2017 : Summary

What a fantastic week we have had participating in the Explore Your Archive campaign!

We held 5 events attracting over 500 visitors, as well as joining in with the national Twitter activity using a different archival hashtag each day.

Below is a gallery of some of the activities we’ve held including our campus roadshows in the Vijay Patel, Clephan and Hawthorn Buildings, a visit to the South Bank Centre in London to share the England Boxing Archive at the Being A Man festival, and displays with craft activities in the Heritage Centre, Trinity Chapel and Leicester Castle.

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Explore Your Archive 2017: #lovearchives

What better way to complete the hashtag challenge with a post about how we #lovearchives!!!

Prior to #Explorearchives we sent an invitation to colleagues inviting them to select the collection they love the most (if they could narrow it down to one) and then share their reasons for their choice.

And here are the results!!

Archivist Katharine Short talking about our prospectuses:


Sally Gaukrodger-Cowan, senior lecturer from our Fashion Buying Department, talks about French fashion magazine the Gazette du Bon Ton:

Alan Brine, Deputy Director of Library and Learning Services and Head of Archives talks about the Wyvern’s connection to DMU and local heritage as illustrated through our collections:


Natalie Hayton, Archives Assistant, talks about her three favourite collections, the Papers of Andrew Davies, the earliest DMU register and Chic Parisien:


More clips to follow over the next few days!!

Being filmed is not everyone’s cup of tea and not all who wanted to take part could make it on the day of filming so instead they emailed us with their choices:

Chosen by Dr Douglas Cawthorne

D/068: Papers of Peter Blakesley

“Measured and drawn by Peter Blakesley in the 1960’s, a lecturer at the Leicester School of Architecture, they are a rare survival of historic building research at the school and must be the only archive items acquired by DMU from a hand-over in a graveyard – quite legally I may add. They have also most recently been used to help inform a digital reconstruction of Bradgate House for the Bradgate Park Trust. I think at a number of levels they represent that preservation of institutional memory which can so enrich a University and the community and region in which it exists.”



Chosen by Dr Kelley Wilder, Director, Photographic History Research Centre

Teneriffe, An Astronomer’s Experiment, by Piazzi Smyth, 1858

Chosen by Jayne Stevens, Principal Lecturer in Dance

D/036: Papers of the Foundation for Community Dance

I love the first ever issue of Animated which is now in the DMU Archive and Special Collection. It’s important because this began in a very homespun way (as you can tell from the attached) in 1986 but has been in continuous production ever since and now has an international readership and distribution championing and promoting community and participatory dance. It also has connections with DMU and its predecessor Leicester Polytechnic as the polytechnic offered the Foundation for Community Dance a home in 1989 and the foundation is still based in Leicester with strong links to DMU.”

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Explore Your Archive 2017 #archivescience

From ‘low-tech’ paper, card and stamps to the dawn of information technology, this gallery traces the use of technology within the Kimberlin Library, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this month.

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Explore Your Archive 2017 : #hairyarchives

Today’s #explorearchives hashtag is #hairyarchives. We absolutely love this theme and as a challenge to ourselves we thought we would attempt to find at least one hairy archive for each decade since DMU opened as the Leicester College of Art in 1870!


Some elaborate tresses from The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine, 1876.









Two famous beards: Charles Darwin and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, from the Illustrated London News 1882









Simple hairstyles in this French fashion magazine from 1894 – but also adverts to “revive” the colour in grey hair!
















Elaborate yet practical hairstyles on women students at the Leicester Municipal Technical and Art School, as shown in publicity photographs from the 1905 prospectus.

Close up from the 1904-05 images showing the ladies with their hair tied back with some very pretty bows.


For ladies in the 1910s it was all about an elaborate hat (and a boater for the gents it seems) as this fashion plate from Chic Parisien shows:

‘Chic Parisien’ c 1909-1914

But to be able to get such a fancy construction on one’s head the fashion for the high bun, piled on top of the head, was adapted into the Psyche knot where “hair rats” padded out the sides – giving some much-needed support for the wideness of the hats – while the bun sat above the nape of the neck at the back.


The oh-so-stylish bob for the girls, and short back and sides for the boys in these images of the School of Art and the School of Technology from 1928.


The acute angles of the bob stated to give way to the softer ‘elegant wave’ in the 1930s and literally every model in Vogue 1930-35 appears to have this variation on a theme.


Victory Rolls and Brylcreem for these wartime students from the press cuttings collection.



















Look at these three classic children’s ‘dos from the fifties. Such cuties. From Donovan on Child Portraiture 1950 from the Photographers Gallery Library.

Not a hair out of place!!!!!


No-nonsense sporting hair from the 1964 edition of World Sports.


Pictured: John White, footballer; Robert Hayes and Robert Taramore, sprinters and Paul Schmidt and Peter Kilford, 800m runners.


The boys are looking distinctly more hairy with their ‘tache and sideburns for the funky 1970s!
















Big hair, crops and mullets for these 1980s students, found in the press cuttings collection.













From the student magazine The Voice these three 1990s indie-rock bands all exhibit the boy-next-door floppy fringe look.



Fashion hair styles in the early noughties was often an experimental global mash-up with a bit of an 80s twist, featuring plaits, crimps and, of course, hair extensions for some extra bounce and volume here and there. Here we have 3 students from the Creative Design Industries 2007 showingcasing some trendy noughties’ hairdos.


And now to finish off this spectacular journey of historical hair we have some contemporary examples  by Special Collections staff and its fab volunteers!

Steven’s hipster beard


Our fab Frontrunner, Shikha, and the long dip-dyed look

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Explore Your Archive 2017 : #ediblearchives

Today Explore Your Archive is delving into the world of food and drink with the hashtag #ediblearchives.

Travelling expands the mind and offers new experiences – and trying out local dishes is a huge part of being abroad! Menus, ingredients and meal-time rituals all vary considerably from country to country and can provide a traveller with a real sense of culture shock.

In 1950 J Hurd of the Leicester College of Technology School of Textiles visited the United States of America. This visit was prompted by the Anglo-American Textile Education Conference, held in England in 1949, when members of the National Council of Textile School Deans had visited Leicester and insisted on hosting a reciprocal trip to the States. Special Collections holds a report of the visit which describes almost every meal eaten during the trip (ref D/031/Q/01).

Only a few years after the end of the Second World War, England was still rationing many foodstuffs and in a period of austerity. The most striking thing about Hurd’s account of his visit is his constant amazement at the amount and cheapness of the food he is offered. His account of the trip begins by noting that he kept his luggage well under the maximum weight as he intended to bring back a 10lb ham. Having arrived in New York, Hurd wrote that:

from the moment of our arrival there until the end of our stay in America we were treated in a manner far beyond my ability to set down in writing … we had our first meal in the U.S. Imported Holland Ham, sliced Turkey served with fruit salad plus a sweet and coffee, cost $1.75 + 25 cents tip.”

In Providence the visitors were treated to a “Shore” dinner: “The first course of such a meal consists of an array of many varieties of shell fish.” That evening they were invited to dinner at the home of the President of the Rhode Island School of Design:


Hurd comments particularly on the plentiful repast, noting huge bowls piled high with every variety of fruit and buffets with trays of “Hamburgers and Frankfurters”. The amount of food available at a relatively cheap cost is another recurrent theme:



Back in New York at the end of the visit Hurd and his party were treated to dinner in Kent, Connecticut:

The dinner was buffet style and a grand affair with a main dish of lobster and ham taken together. “Seconds” was insisted upon.”

In April 1977 another member of staff undertook a trip of a very different nature. David Bethel, the Director of Leicester Polytechnic, was invited to tour China as part of a British Council delegation. At this date China was largely cut-off from outside visitors. Mao Zedong had died in 1976 and the Cultural Revolution was finding its way without his guidance. The British Council delegation were treated as VIPs but constantly escorted by Ministry of Education officials as they toured educational facilities across the country.

Bethel’s diary records some meals enjoyed by the group. In Peking (or as he writes “more properly Bei Jing“) they attend a banquet given by the Minister of Education “at Peking Duck restaurant, said to offer the finest Peking cuisine and the meal certainly confirmed this“. The visitors were introduced to unusual local specialities:




In addition Bethel is full of praise for the Chinese rail system, particularly when compared to English transport:

18.40 hrs. dinner on train. Kitchen uses coal fuel : meal, a tribute to Chinese cuisine. British Rail could do well to note !

David Bethel (centre) at the Great Wall of China.

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Explore Your Archive 2017 – #archivecatwalk

For our first #ExploreArchives hashtag, #Archivecatwalk, we have an abundance of material! There is so much to choose from: fashion journals and magazines, plates and sketches and staff and student work. This is largely due to the fact that throughout its various incarnations DMU has ran many fashion and textiles courses, such as the Contour Fashion Course, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. Previous courses also included dressmaking, dress design, corsetry and millinery.

Course details for Dressmaking and Millinery, Leicester Municipal Technical and Art School Prospectus, 1897-98


As such, over the years, the old college libraries and academics have collected some amazing and rare resources that are now housed in Special Collections.

DMU Courses

DMU’s predecessor, the Leicester College of Art and College of technology were known for their vocational courses and links with local industry. Dress-making and boot and shoe manufacture were very much a part of these courses which have gone on to become the internationally renowned courses that they are today. Both courses are listed in our earliest prospectus, 1897-8 and we have many photographs and press cuttings.

Boot and Shoe Manufacture during WWII

70 Years of Contour Fashion

The Contour Fashion course was originally known as Corsetry and developed to include the design of sportswear, nightwear and lingerie. The school has also produced some notable alumni over the years such as Janet Reger and Special Collections has recently received a large collection of her design templates. Here are some pics showcasing student work over the years:

c 1950s

May, 1978.

C 1960s

1980s sportswear. Check out that big hair. Perfect for #Hairyarchives too!

To celebrate 70 years of Contour Fashion there are currently two exhibitions on public display in the heritage Centre in the hawthorn building; one explores the history of the course, while the other explores the Symington Collection a local Corsetry manufacturers that began in the 1850s.

Display case in the Heritage Centre featuring items from the Symington Collection

This year’s students designs also on display in the Heritage Centre

 Fashion Plates and Magazines

One of our most exquisite collections of fashion plate illustrations are from Chic Parisien, one of the most popular fashion magazines published by Atelier Arnold Bachwitz’s publishing company based in Vienna in the early 1900s.  This successful business was passed onto his widow, Rosine, and their daughter on his death in 1930 until the company was then seized by the Nazi party during WWII and both were murdered at Theresienstadt concentration camp.

The drawings themselves feature the models are a variety of scenarios such as at the races, promenading in the park or by the sea, and at evening functions or balls. Some plates include descriptions of the clothing and reports on the latest trends, in French or English. There are a small number of illustrations of fashion for teenagers and younger girls.

While none of the plates are dated, one report mentions the craze for the ‘Turkey Trot’ dance, which was invented in 1909 and died out by 1914, dating the fashions to these years.

Ladies’/Women’s Magazines

Early women’s magazines (like their contemporary counterparts) also featured illustrated fashion pages like these from the Ladies’ Treasury 1896 and the Lady’s Pocket Magazine, 1830.

‘The Lady’s Treasury’ 1876


Ladies’ Pocket Magazine 1825

What a frilltastic finale!


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Explore Your Archive 2017

#Explore Your Archive is finally here!

In Special Collections we are all very excited to launch #ExploreArchives and get our events underway in our first ever university-wide campaign to take the joy of archives across campus and get staff, students and the public involved.

The Explore Your Archive campaign is run by The National Archives and the Archives and Records Association. It’s a national celebration of the unique potential of archives to excite people, bring communities together and tell amazing stories. This year the campaign will take place from 18-26 November and Special Collections will be participating.

Look out for us across campus next week talking about all things archives!!!

Archive Roadshows: where, when and what

Throughout the week we will be hosting several archive roadshows in various faculty buildings where will be setting up an Explore Your Archives display and stall that will reflect the subjects studied at each location.  Here, you can find out more about our holdings, and, most importantly, how they could help you with your research!

Tuesday 21th November, Vijay Patel Building, 11am-2pm

Situated in the foyer of our beautiful new art and design building, we will be showcasing collections relating to art, design, architecture and fashion, featuring samples of previous staff and student work, press cuttings, photographs, exhibition booklets, and much more.

Wednesday 22st November, Hawthorn Building, 11am-2pm

Situated in the foyer of the faculty of Health and Life Sciences building, we will be exhibiting a range of medical and science-related collections, including our extensive nursing and midwifery archives and a collection on Russian space exploration.

Thursday 23nd November, Clephan Building, 11am-2pm

Situated in the foyer of the Humanities building, we will be presenting materials on an array of subjects including English, Sports History and Politics where you will be able to see some original scripts by Bryony Lavery and Andrew Davies, 19th century boxing artefacts, historical newspapers, and much more.

Sunday 26th November Heritage Centre, Trinity Chapel, The Castle, 11am-3pm

Explore Your Archive coincides with Heritage Sunday (held on the last Sunday of the month from Mar-Nov) so we are very pleased to be able to offer an archives roadshow as a part of this event. Heritage Sundays open up the institution’s historical sites and collections for public view and are a perfect family day out. Family-friendly displays and activities will be taking place in the Heritage Centre in the Hawthorn building, in Trinity Chapel Hospital and The Castle.

We look forward to seeing you at one or all of our roadshows! All are welcome at any of the events.

@DMUSpecialColls Blog posts: a theme for every day of the week

As well as our roadshows we will also be engaging with the Twitter themes challenge as set by the National Archives and ARA. Listed below are this year’s themes so remember to keep a look out on our Special Collections Blog and Twitter @DMUSpecialColls  on the day to see how we do!

Monday 20th November #Archivecatwalk

Tuesday 21st November #Ediblearchives

Wednesday 22nd #hairyarchives

Thursday 23rd #Archivescience

Friday 24th #lovearchives

We hope you enjoy our Explore Archives events and activities and that we see you in Special Collections in the future!

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#Folklore Thursday 16/11/2017

While we couldn’t find any examples of #weatherlore specifically, we do have two beautiful children’s books where snow and winter is personified and a mother’s love comforts on a rainy day.

First, this beautifully illustrated publication of The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen, published in 1922.


And second this lovely 1881 book of songs and rhymes, Holly Berries by Ida Waugh



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Remembrance Day 2017

Events taking place across the country tomorrow will mark Armistice Day when in 1918 the opposing forces during World War I ended hostilities.

Trinity Hospital has been bathed in a red light all week, reminding us of the the blood spilled, the lives lost, and the fields of poppies that have come to symbolise the horrors of World War I.

Trinity Hospital 2017

Today, November 10th also marks 100 years since the end of the third Battle of Ypres, also known as the Battle of Passchendaele.

‘The Illustrated London News’ 17th November 1917

Two years before, shortly after the second Battle for Ypres, that Lt Col John McCrae was inspired to write the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ after losing a friend there. It was first published in Punch on 8th December 1915 and the poppy was soon taken up as a symbol for armistice and the plight of wounded soldiers following the war.

While the image of the poppy above is taken from the 1852 book Wild Flowers Vol. 1, by Anne Pratt, some 60 years before World War 1 her description of the flower and the origin of its name illustrates its powerful and appropriate symbolism.

Peace to all this Armistice Day.


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