Be the Change Part 2

On our lunch break today we decided to attend the Be The Change Part 2 event held on DMU campus. Gearing up for the general election, the event was a follow up to the one held earlier in the month which we also posted about, and up for debate today were the manifestos of the Lib Dems, the Labour Party and the Conservatives.

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Our VC, Dominic Shellard, chairs the discussion today on the manifestos of the three major political parties.


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A great day for a debate and as usual DMU is prepared with bottled water and sun cream on hand!

Whether by accident or design, I just happened to be there when the Labour manifesto was being discussed and the topics covered included, immigration, student fees, the role of social media in mobilising younger voters, and whether a party’s policies can be viewed separately to its leader. Also mentioned was the Labour landslide victory of 1945, and so I thought this seemed like the perfect opportunity to dig out some press coverage from that period:

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Gallery showing members of the three major political parties with their leaders. From the ‘Illustrated London News’ 5th June 1945. While it is hoped these parties demonstrate more diversity today it is encouraging to see there at least two female ministers here – one for the Lib Dems and one for Labour!

This election seems particularly pertinent as it was also considered a fait accompli. However, to the surprise of many, Labour won because its social policies struck a chord and despite the the overwhelming popularity of the Conservative leader, Sir Winston Churchill, the Tory party and its policies were out of step. It was indeed time for change!

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Close up on the soon to be Labour Prime Minister, Mr. Clement Attlee and his ministers.

Whatever your views, make sure your voice is heard #bethechange2 and vote in the 2017 election on June 8th.

This political broadcast has now finished but Be the Change at The Castle is going until 4pm today so don’t miss it!




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Goodbye and Good Luck Eleanor

Today is our volunteer, Eleanor’s last day in the archive. We would all like to say a big thank you for her efforts on several projects over the last few months. We will miss your lively chatter on Thursday mornings!


Best of luck in your last exam tomorrow and in your next adventure. From Natalie, Katharine and Steven :)



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DMU Special Collections launches on Twitter

Special Collections now have a dedicated Twitter feed: @DMUSpecialColls. Please follow us for news about our services, images from the collections, and the occasional adventures of Roary the Archives Dinosaur.

Twitter screenshot

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Learning at Work Week 2017: A History of Library Services at DMU

There were emotional scenes yesterday as Katharine delivered a lecture on the history of DMU’s libraries with a focus on the creation and development of Kimberlin. Without too many spoilers (we don’t want to miss out on the anticipation of our potential publication for the 40 years anniversary in November), the talk brought back many memories for our longer-serving staff members in terms of original building layout, extensions, and obsolete technology and systems.



The talks gets underway and already you can see the memories flooding back!


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The archive contains a wonderful collection of slides demonstrating the Library’s commitment to keeping up with technological advancements over the years.


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Plans showing the three subject libraries that were housed in separate buildings before the opening of Kimberlin in 1977. The Architecture and Building Library was housed in Clephan, the Art Library in Fletcher, and the Technology Library in Hawthorne.

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A fresh-looking Kimberlin, 1977. There is something a bit Rubik’s cube about it.

Most importantly, however, the images and promotional videos reminded all of earlier days and the people they used to work with. While many were able to share forgotten memories with their colleagues, we were also reminded of absent friends: those who have moved on to pastures new or those who have now passed away.


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Interior of the Technical Library in Hawthorne, c 1964


A slide showing some familiar faces from our staff photographs collection with Katharine at the lectern.


As with any trip down memory lane, there are always mixed feelings, but much fun was had looking at 80s hair-dos, big glasses, and trying to name the faces in our”unidentified” collection of staff images. It is even hoped we might hold an archives event to help match up names and faces.

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Enjoying having a browse through a small sample of the staff photographs collections after the talk.



To accompany the talk we also installed a mini exhibition table showcasing some of the libraries past publications, catalogues, and newsletters.

The Special Collections team would like to say a big thank you to all who attended the event yesterday; we were honoured to put the talk together and we enjoyed watching your responses to it!

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World Baking Day 2017

World Baking Day 2017

World baking day is something that we are not all too familiar with in the office but we cannot be happier to find an excuse to cake the sides of our kitchens in flour as we try to replicate a Paul Hollywood delight! I feel as happy as I did when I discovered the magic of Half-Christmas (That’s the 25th of June btw)!

The Baking course was taught at De Montfort University’s predecessor, the Leicester College of Technology from 1927 and taught young students the fundamentals of the trade. As was with most courses at Leicester Colleges of Art and Technology students would follow a syllabus that was drawn up by the City Guilds Institute, helping to prepare them for the industry.

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In the Gift Book there are mentions of donations of ingredients in February 1932 such as raspberry and strawberry jam as well as something known as “gold medal icing sugar”… must be some pretty fancy sugar!

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Speaking of gold medals, Leicester Technical School has produced Master Bakers such as L. J. Capps in 1937 with other students winning similar awards through the years until the 1970’s.

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The course ran for approximately fifty years until the Leicester College of Art and Technology became the City of Leicester Polytechnic and Baking was moved to the Charles Keene college where courses catered for 15-18 age groups.

However you choose to celebrate this day, make sure you and some hungry (brave!?) loved ones tuck into something delicious.

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International Nurses Day 2017


May 12th has been celebrated as #internationalnursesday since 1965 as a way of appreciating and raising awareness about the important and diverse roles nurses play in our society. The date is significant because it is Florence Nightingale’s (1820-1910) birthday, a social reformer and the founder of modern nursing.


Commemorative medal produced to celebrate Nightingale’s work during the Crimean War (1853-1856). The reverse reads: “as a mark of esteem and gratitude for her devotion to the Queen’s brave soldiers”.

De Montfort University and Leicester has a long history of nursing and midwifery training and so today seemed like a wonderful opportunity to acknowledge the valuable work of all nurses past and present (from those just beginning their training to the long-serving veterans) by showcasing two major collections, the School of Nursing and Midwifery and the Pauline Wells Collection. The latter was a member of the Leicester General Hospital Nurses’ League who qualified as a nurse in 1960 and she later donated her collection to the School.

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Showcasing the international work and achievements of the nursing profession, this display includes a photograph from the International Council of Nurses Conference, 1949, a programme for the award ceremony of medals, prizes and certificates given to nurses, 1972, a telegram from the Queen Mother sending her “congratulations and warm wishes” to the Leicester District Nurses Service, 1967, and a selection of medals and uniform badges (c 1920s – 1950s).


Leicester officially began training nurses at the Royal Infirmary in 1870 in association with the Institution for Trained Nurses and as the profession and training courses evolved, from 1903, nurses began to receive what should be considered essential tools for learning, such as access to a library, formal training and lectures, and good accommodation. In keeping with the theme for this year on sustainable development, long may these and other provisions continue.

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While there are a lot of course materials in the collection ranging from the 1900s to the present, this small sample shows the course booklets produced for nurses during the 1970s and 1980s.

Both collections include a diverse range of artefacts and papers, from course guides, syllabus booklets, and examination reports to photographs, medical equipment, certificates, and correspondence. Such materials provide a fascinating insight not only into the history of nursing but into the personal experiences of some of the nurses themselves.


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This small component of the collection focuses on Miss Janet Coleman who received a long service badge in 1959. Along with her invitation to the ceremony in London there are several photographs of her at work during the 1940s as a midwife.

A formal two-year nursing course was established in 1966 and the School itself relocated a number of times across the decades. One of the School’s most significant developments came when it merged with De Montfort University in 1995  to become the School of Nursing and Midwifery within the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences with training taking place at the Charles Frears Campus.

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A selection of prospectuses, nursing equipment and uniform pieces, including a district nurses bag and a buckle and belt.

The Charles Frears campus was closed in 2011 and the School of Nursing and Midwifery is now based in Edith Murphy House providing classrooms, lecture theatre, ICT lab, meeting rooms and offices.

As well as wanting to show appreciation to all nurses past and present we also wish all our current nurses and midwives in training success in the upcoming exam period.

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Be the Change

Today DMU is holding a 24 hour event which will explore key issues ahead of the General Election. Beginning at 9 a.m. on Wednesday 3 May, the same day that Parliament is expected to be dissolved, it will conclude at 9 a.m. the following day. Subjects under consideration will include Brexit, education, the NHS, climate change, policing, diversity and inclusion, fake news, the arts, universities and immigration.

DMU students and their predecessors have often shown deep interest in political matters, as this 1974 Lunchtime Events programme from Leicester Polytechnic demonstrates.

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Amongst film screenings, poetry readings and concerts we find several speakers on political and social activism. In his talk “Aims of Industry” Peter Thompson discuses free enterprise and the importance of a free market economy, opposing state control of British industry. Two directors of Spare Rib magazine, Marion Fudger and Rose Ades, were invited to speak about their magazine and the feminist cause.

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The General Will, a theatre group, used sketches and songs to express political opinions on current issues. Ben Whitaker, Labour MP and director of the Minority Rights Group, spoke on the problem of discrimination against ethnic, religious and cultural minorities, while George McRobie from Intermediate Technology discussed the need to bring technology to underdeveloped countries.

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As the leaflet states: “it is well that we should from time to time sit back and give serious thought to the purpose of our actions“, which our students are being encouraged to do today as well as 42 years ago.

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DMU Campus in 1923

Following a tweet by Library and Learning Services, I couldn’t resist having a closer look at this fantastic aerial photograph of the campus site. The image is from the wonderful resource at Britain From Above, digitised aerial photographs from the Aerofilms collection.

Aerial view of campusThe development of the campus site is an aspect of university history that Special Collections have been focused on over the last few years, with the development of the Heritage Centre and the ‘Building DMU’ exhibition last year. Nevertheless I do not tire of poring over images that show just how much has changed – and how much has not – on our campus.

This photograph is Oxford Street and Environs, 1923, available here, and is copyright of Historic England.

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Easter Greetings

Cover of Art and Craft magazine, 1986

Cover of Art and Craft magazine, 1986

Special Collections staff would like to wish all our readers a happy Easter. To celebrate here are a few Easter related items from the collection.



Firstly, Easter baking in a time of rationing meant Simnel Cake was off the menu due to lack of ground almonds. Hence the ‘Easter Pie’ in the picture, a kind of lemon custard tart.

Easter baking including Easter Pie, Hot Cross Buns, Birds' Nest Tartlets and Fondant Easter Eggs. Good Housekeeping, April 1949

Easter baking including Easter Pie, Hot Cross Buns, Birds’ Nest Tartlets and Fondant Easter Eggs. Good Housekeeping, April 1949





The Art Journal produced the Easter Art Annual, a special publication usually focusing on the work of one British artist – perfect for reading over the long weekend.

Easter Art Annual on Edward Burne-Jones, 1900Other featured artists included Walter Crane and William Morris:

Vision of the Holy Grail

The Vision of the Holy Grail, design for tapestry, from the William Morris edition of the Easter Art Annual, 1899

A Herald of Spring, by Walter Crane, published in the Easter Art Annual, 1898

A Herald of Spring, by Walter Crane, published in the Easter Art Annual, 1898


Those of you with children may find you need some crafts ideas to occupy little hands during the school holidays. Art & Craft magazine was a Scholastic publication aimed at teachers. It has various ideas for Easter related activities:

Easter eggs

Cracking Eggs

Instructions for making 'doors' in eggs and ideas for decoration, 1985

Instructions for making ‘doors’ in eggs and ideas for decoration, 1985

Seasonal table decoration using a margarine tub, dried beans and drinking straws, 1985

Seasonal table decoration using a margarine tub, dried beans and drinking straws, 1985

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Archives at Risk

Disasters often strike archive services: the collapse of the building that housed the Historical Archive of the City of Cologne, for example, burying 90% of their holdings; or the fire that ravaged Glasgow School of Art including their library. In both cases archives professionals from across the world offered their support and practical help.

All too often the threats that archives face are economic – in this austerity climate heritage and cultural services are frequently at risk from severely reduced budgets or even closure. In this situation fellow professionals can help by advocating and campaigning via professional bodies such as the Archives and Records Association.

Sadly another European archive is now at risk, but from political forces rather than natural ones. The Central European University in Budapest, Hungary, is threatened with closure after the government introduced legislation that requires the university to comply with certain criteria that it will not be able to meet. Commentators believe that the government wishes to close an institution noted for its liberal policies.

The closure of CEU threatens its archival holdings. Csaba Szilagyi, Head of Human Rights Program and Acting Chief Archivist at CEU, has asked for support:

As you know, the Vera and Donald Blinken Open Society Archives, an internationally known human rights archives dealing with the history (and afterlife) of communism and Cold War, and of human rights movements and violations worldwide is an organic part of CEU. Our activities and collections are therefore also in danger.

It is time for friends, supporters, and educational and academic communities to defend our institution and the independence of higher education institutions around the globe. Please visit the CEU website to see how you can help.

As fellow university archivists, myself and my team want to express support for our colleagues at CEU caught up in this situation, and we hope that they are able to secure the safe future of their archive collection.



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