Monday, October 11, 2010

Archives and Manuscripts cataloguing - September 2010

The archives and manuscripts cataloguing highlights from September bring together a rich mix of brand-new cataloguing and expansions of old listings, of twentieth-century material and older, and - for the first time - of paper and born-digital material.

Professor Hans Grüneberg (1907-1982), geneticist: As was noted in earlier cataloguing bulletins, work has been proceeding behind the scenes on a radical expansion of the catalogue of the papers of the geneticist Hans Grüneberg (PP/GRU) which made available much more detailed information about his individual correspondents. This work is now released to the public: a cursory list comprising 18 items has expanded to 136 database records, with detailed listing of names of correspondents, and access status set out in detail where the Data Protection Act applies (where necessary, closed material has been segregated out from the main series so that one sensitive item does not result in the closure of an entire file). More details are available in this blog post. (PP/GRU)

Wellcome Witness Seminars: also subject to a major expansion was the catalogue of material documenting the Wellcome Witness Seminars held over the past twenty years: recent seminars were added to the catalogue - which includes original audio tapes of the seminars (in some cases, master plus copy), photographs of witnesses and other participants, correspondence, and programmes and lists of participants – completely recasting the arrangment of the catalogue and doubling its size. This new material was made visible in early October, but the cataloguing was completed in September and thus earns its place in this month’s roundup. (GC/253)

Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922), teacher of the deaf and inventor of the telephone: a letter by Bell in which he mentions giving a demonstration of his new invention to Queen Victoria was added to the database, having previously been filed in the old Autograph Letters collection and only described in a card-index. (MS.8748) It should be noted that Bell's priority as inventor of the telephone is disputed, and we already hold documentation in the database relating to his rival Antonio Meucci (MS.7323).

Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924), clergyman, writer and collector of folklore: two items of correspondence by the prolific writer Sabine Baring-Gould (author of, among many other works in poetry and prose, the hymn “Onward Christian Soldiers”) were added to the database, having previously been filed in the old Autograph Letters collection and only described in a card-index. (MS.8749)

Digital material: increasingly, the Library is receiving archives that are hybrid in their nature, mingling paper with born-digital material. This month has seen several digital components to hybrid accessions added to the catalogue. For the moment they are not accessible to readers, pending the construction of a delivery system for digital material, but the information about them can now be seen online:
'Understanding Health Variations and Policy Variations' survey, carried out 1998-2001: this survey, conducted under the Economic and Social Science Research Council (ESRC) Health Variations Programme, consists of in-depth interviews with key health service personnel to examine the policy process in three areas ('rural', 'urban', and 'mixed', ie suburban). In addition to paper interview transcripts, the catalogue now includes entries for three born-digital transcripts. (GC/280/2/12a, GC/280/27a and GC/280/45a)

Margaret Lowenfeld (1890-1973), child psychologist: some photographs of Thérèse Woodcock, who continued Margaret Lowenfeld’s work after the latter’s death. (PP/LOW/T/19)

Wellcome Foundation, oral history project: various former Foundation employees were interviewed for this project around the turn of the Millennium and one, Alan L A Boura (1927-), provided for the project some copies on disc of of chapters from his autobiography “A Golden Journey”. It covers his medical training, his joining the Wellcome Research Laboratories, development of an antihypertensive drug, discoveries of Bretylium, Bethanidine, Etorphine and Dipenorphine, collaboration with the Lederle Laboratorie, M-Compounds, non addictive analgeiscs, discovery of partial agonists or Antagnoist-Analgesics, Ian MacFarlane’s discovery of Bupronorphine, nervous transmission modulating mechanisms, and finally Boura’s emigration to Australia. (WF/M/AV/O/03/02a)

Walter Terry (1896-1923), First World War soldier: in 2007 the Library was presented with some 1915 copies of The Lead-Swinger: The Bivouac Journal of the 1/3 West Riding Field Ambulance by the grand-daughter of Walter Terry, who served with the unit and died in 1923 as a belated result of his wartime exposure to poison gas. A group photograph including Walter Terry is held in digital form and has now been catalogued. (MS.8095/1)

One & Other project: another hybrid archive to appear in the database this month concerns the Wellcome-Trust-funded One & Other project, in which participants in the recent Trafalgar Square “fourth plinth” project – when members of the public mounted the plinth to do precisely what they wanted or felt significant, for one hour – were interviewed about their feelings and motives. Paper records will appear in the archive in due course; already present are records that enable readers to link to nearly 2400 sound files held in the Library’s Moving Image and Sound Collections. (TP1) A future blog-post will expand on this project.

Behind the scenes, work continues on various projects, of course: we will mention only two in this posting. In new cataloguing, work continues on the papers of the psychiatrist Henry Dicks, which include material on Nazi war criminals and sex therapy, surely the dream combination to generate hits via Google. In retroconversion of old catalogues, we grow ever closer to the end of the project, with the papers of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy perhaps scheduled to be completed last of all (SA/CSP). We hope to bring more news of both of these shortly.

Images:
1/ Conceptual artwork by Oliver Burston illustrating memory retrieval (Digital artwork/Computer graphic 2007): from Wellcome Images, image B0006861.
2/ Sabine Baring-Gould, from Wikimedia Commons.

 
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