Folklore Thursday 11/01/2018

As collections of European folk songs and poems, books on Nursery Rhymes became popular during the golden age of children’s literature in the mid-nineteenth century but many of the rhymes themselves are much older. Full of working-class imagery and trades they are the perfect subject for this week’s #folklorethursday theme of #work.

From Little Song of long Ago, Illustrated by H. Willebeek Le Mair1912


From Old King Cole’s Book of Nursery Rhymes, Illustrated by Byam Shaw, 1901.


From Mother Goose, Illustrated by Kate Greenaway, c 1880.


From Young England’s Nursery Rhymes, Illustrated by Constance Haslewood, c 1890.



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DMUglobal in New York 2018

As hundreds of staff and students went on #dmuglobal’s second trip to New York  despite the disruptive weather bomb and the cancellation of many flights — and for all those that didn’t make it we’re pleased to know that a summer trip has now been scheduled — we thought we’d have a search through our collections to see what Big Apple-inspired items we could find.

To launch DMU’s involvement in the UN Together Campaign, which aims to offer worldwide support to refugees, students attended a summit held at the United Nations Headquarters located in the Turtle Bay area of Manhattan. To mark the occasion, here is  an image from the Illustrated London News showing the newly-opened assembly chamber in 1952.

From the ‘Buildings Ancient and Modern’ article published on 18th October 1952.

No trip to New York would be complete without a trip to the harbour and Liberty Island to take in the Statue of Liberty. As a gift from France, the statue, designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and built by Gustave Eiffel arrived in sections in 1885 but didn’t have its official inauguration and dedication ceremony until October 28th, 1886:

From the ‘Illustrated London News’ 20th November 1886.

Some other examples of U.S. landmarks and architectural features can be found in our Art Design and Architecture rare books section, such as this article on the Embassy Suites hotel in Times Square.

Close up of the west elevation

From landscape and architecture to some New York culture next, starting with a little bit of sporting history and three famous New York teams, The Giants, The Mets, and The Yankees.

Founded in 1962, the New York Mets are a professional baseball team hailing from the Queens Borough of the city.

The Mets secure first place in the Eastern Division of the National Baseball League in 1969. From ‘Amazing: the Miracle of the Mets’ by Joseph Durso, 1970.

And we also have a book on their rivals, from the Bronx, the New York Yankees, founded in  1901.

Front cover, 1991.

Now on to some literature and journalism from the Briggs-Blake-Zurbrugg Memorial Library.

I hope the students ate so well!: taken from Wharton’s ‘The old maid’.

And just in case you do find yourself in a new social situation Wharton-style this Etiquette for Ladies, compiled by a Lady of New York in 1844 may come in handy… or not.

Title page

Social obligations and customs for new year’s day.

And for our final jaunt around the Big Apple some examples and images from our Photographers Gallery Library.

From ‘The New York I Know’ by Marya Mannes and Herb Snitzer. The image here was taken in Central Park.



From ‘Firehouse’ by Dennis Smith and Jill Freedman a journey through the daily working lives of New York’s firefighters.

What an epic journey through our rare books. I almost feel like I’ve been to New York myself… almost!

Wishing all our staff and students a safe journey home.

All of the books included in this post, and many more in Special Collections, can be found on the main library catalogue.

Natalie and Katharine

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Folklore Thursday 04/01/2018

To kick off this year’s #FolkloreThursday then we have the theme of #Beginnings and what better way to start than by having a brief foray into one of the founding myths of the city of Leicester.

Browsing through our local history section reveals that Leicester’s origins are often associated with the writings of medieval chronicler, Geoffrey of Monmouth who claimed that King Leir (Lear) founded Leircester aka Leicester in 800 BC.

Eric Porter as King Lear in a 1968 programme of a Royal Shakespeare Company production. From our Theatre Archive Project collection.

While this is not really taken seriously by any self-respecting historian it is referenced as a part of the mythology of the area in James Thompson’s History of Leicester (1849), and Mrs Fielding Johnson’s Glimpses of Ancient Leicester (1906).

King Lear, has of course been immortalised as the tragic king in Shakespeare’s play whose descent into madness and death also brings about the death of his beloved daughter, Cordelia.

Lear with his three daughters, Goneril, Regan and Cordelia

A part of the mythology of the story suggests that Lear was buried close to the edge of the River Soar,  once known as the River Leir, where the remains of the Roman bath, Jewry Wall, can be seen today:

Brochure for Jewry Wall museum c early 2000.

With such a literary flavour to our city’s history it seems only fitting to mention our Theatre Archive Project collection featuring many Shakespeare related programmes and playbills:

Selection of programmes featuring the King Lear 1968 production with Eric Porter.


And the Briggs-Blake-Zurbrugg Memorial Library that comprises a range of Shakespeare criticism:

A snapshot of the Shakespeare criticism texts that can be found in our B-B-Z Memorial Library


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#Love Archives Part 2

While the official 2017 #ExploreArchives event finished in November we didn’t quite manage to get all our #lovearchive film clips ready in time and we’ve been excitedly waiting for them ever since. And here they are – because who wouldn’t want to start the year with a bit of archive appreciation.

Click here for our first round of clips.

First up is volunteer, and DMU Masters alumna, Kyonnah, talking us through her experience of working on our volunteer project, cataloguing and re-packaging the National Art Slide Library:


Next, Director of Library and Learning Services, David Parkes, explains why he thinks archives are so important while looking at some stunning architectural drawings – for a library of course!


Next is Gemma, an undergraduate English student; having spent the autumn with us on a work placement for one of her modules, her discovery of archive joy has now happily led to her volunteering with us.


And last, but by no means least, is Steven Peachey, once Archives Assistant, now Information Assistant, showing off one of his favourite collections, a set of beautiful slides featuring scenes of Japan in the 1930s.

If you would like to see any of the collections featured in our videos please do get in touch!

Looking forward to Explore Your Archives 2018 already!


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Closed for the Holidays: Happy Christmas 2017

Special Collections will be closed from 5pm on  21st December 2017 and will re-open on Tuesday 2nd January 2018!

So, signing off with this gorgeous front cover of the Xmas edition of the Illustrated London News, 1906.

Yum Yum!

Happy Christmas from the Special Collections team!


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A Christmas Nursery Rhyme

As #Folkore Thursday finished for the year last week we thought we’d make our own up today, a folklore Wednesday if you will (not wanting to encroach on anyone’s patch), finding one more opportunity to rave about our folkloric goldmines in Special Collections just one last time before the Christmas break.

In searching items for our Special Collections #AdventCalendar there was one little boy that just kept popping up and so today’s post is all about the well-known English nursery rhyme featuring the plummy, Little Jack Horner.

The Rhyme we know today seen here is thought to have been established by 1870 but that references to the character Jack Horner could date back to 1725.

The boy above looks rather sad and lonely compared to the cheeky chappy below who looks very pleased with himself. Watch out for that knife!

From ‘Struwwelpeter’ c 1860

One could surmise that the two above are kitchen boys and their Christmas pies a much needed fabulous treat, while the boy below is looking a little more well-dressed and bourgeois sitting on his little stool next to a warm and well-kept fireplace with his cat. He’s even got a napkin!

From A. A. Milne’s ‘Aunt Louisa’s Nursery Rhymes’ c 1860

We hope you all get your own Christmas pie this year and Santa thinks you are worthy of finding a plum!

Natalie and Katharine

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Folklore Thursday 14/12/2017

#Winter Folklore

With so many beautiful winter and Christmas-themed books and illustrations to choose from for #Folklore Thursday this week we finally decided on these two because of their strong folkloric connections:

First, this gorgeous 1881 children’s book, illustrated by Ida Waugh, with a poem proclaiming that “in ev’ry holly berry Santa Claus hides a rhyme”.

And second, this exquisite and unusual leather bound 1851 book, titled Winged Thoughts. Comprising 12 illustrations of birds coupled with a poem explaining their mythic symbolism, this seemed the perfect opportunity highlight the connection between winter, Christmas and peace.


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Change to Opening Hours

A practical post for a Monday morning!

We have had a change of staffing in Special Collections which has meant an adjustment to our opening hours.

During December 2017 we are open on Mondays by appointment only, and open Tuesday to Friday from 9 to 5 as normal.

From January 2018 we will be open on Mondays from 9 till 2, and Tuesdays to Fridays from 9 to 5 as normal. If you absolutely must get in to see us on a Monday at 3.30, please contact us in advance to discuss options.



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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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