Rare ragtime recording

Charles Hippisley-Cox writes

Although our British Dance Band Collection  is predominantly concerned with popular music between the two World Wars, we have some examples of recordings made at the point where Ragtime was about to morph into Jazz.  One of the most interesting combinations was a group of American Black musicians based  at the fashionable Ciro’s Club. Here they are in 1917

We’re hiring: Archives Assistant

We are looking to recruit an outgoing, enthusiastic and committed individual to work in the University Archives in its multi-award-winning facility Heritage Quay.

You will act as the first point of contact for customers accessing the archives in the research room or via remote enquiries, and you will assist in the day-to-day care of the heritage collections, accessioning and listing collections in Calm (collections management software).

You will have a good general education including GCSEs in English and Mathematics (or equivalent qualifications) and you will have good IT skills. You will be able to demonstrate your experience of dealing with customers in a pressurised environment and your commitment to providing a high standard of customer service. You will also be able to work effectively as part of a team and possess good interpersonal and communication skills.

Closing date Monday 8th July 2019.
For more details and to apply on line please go to https://vacancies.hud.ac.uk/tlive_webrecruitment/wrd/run/ETREC107GF.open?VACANCY_ID%3d9612904qbM%1BUSESSION=D390FBEC2E814B8DBEFA5B707325322B&WVID=47489100QU&LANG=USA

Student Placements 2019 – Part Three

Our final second year placement student this year is English student Umayyah. Read about her experiences in the archive below:

Whilst taking part in a student work placement at Heritage Quay I have worked with two very different collections; the first involved carrying out a survey and research into the Kirklees Image Archives (KIA), and the second was cataloguing a small sub-section from the Colin Challen Archive (specifically his work with the North Yorkshire Country Labour Party, and the Vale of York Constituency Labour Party).

The majority of my placement involved my work with the KIA collection due to the fact that there were so many boxes and items in that collection. Straight away I was able to dive right into the boxes and identify and research a wide variety of items ranging from Primus magic lantern slides, to novelty cards and postcards, to a whole array of local images. The lanterns and cards were always entertaining and often humorous and, due to the humour and standards of the dates in which they were released (1900s), they were sometimes controversial or even downright unacceptable by today’s standards. Nonetheless it was definitely intriguing to see the stark differences between the popular trends back then, compared to modern day trends.

One collection that definitely stood out was a series of travel journals by two sisters who seemingly lived around Huddersfield in the mid-1900s and travelled around Europe on and off for 30 years and donated well-kept logs of everything they did on their holidays. These journals not only included photographs and diary entries, but ticket stubs and receipts so that you could see the varying prices in the countries in question during those times. They were definitely an interesting read.

I also explored a variety of local images, some of which were from the Huddersfield Examiner, some were street restoration programmes and progress reports, and some were of buildings and streets that had been demolished or renovated. This gave me the opportunity to see the gradual development of Huddersfield (and surrounding areas) from the 1800’s to modern day and see for myself some of the iconic events that took place; royal visits, sports tournaments, weddings, street parties and more.

I was able to identify and survey boxes from approximately 60 shelves as part of the KIA collection and each one was filled with some new and exciting information which sometimes required research into certain companies, events, or people so that they could be fully understood.

The Challen collection was starkly different to the KIA collection, as they were all professional and political documents. The majority of content in these three boxes were financial records and promotional materials for the Labour Party (those which had been entrusted to Challen). In my exploration and cataloguing of these boxes I was given an insight into how funding worked in a political party scenario, how a party’s membership scheme is run, and how the Labour party specifically wanted to represent themselves to their constituents. I was also able to browse through some of the correspondences and meeting minutes to see what kind of local issues were discussed.

Overall I am grateful to Heritage Quay for giving me the opportunity to experience working in an archive and the understanding of how to find, record, and catalogue specific items.

By The Tamarisk

Charles Hippisley-Cox writes about a new addition to the British Dance Band Collection

This was not a big seller and a good clean copy has only recently been added to the Heritage Quay British Dance Band Collection.   It is Eric Coates’s delightful “By The Tamarisk” played by Jack Hylton’s Orchestra.
Hylton’s Orchestra was a major stage attraction by 1926 and exploring material well beyond the normal expectations of a dance band. Coates was enjoying the success of his Three Bears Suite and Selfish Giant at the time Hylton added “By The Tamarisk” to their repertoire

Student Placements 2019 – Part Two

James is also a 2nd year History student and was working on the archive of conductor and musician Howard Rogerson.

My name is James Watmough and I am doing my student placement at Heritage Quay Archive as part of my second year as a history student at Huddersfield University. I have been working with the Howard Rogerson archive, Howard is a musician and composer across several musical organisations including Opera North as well as collaborating with the BBC for ‘Songs of Praise.’

This was my first experience working in an archive, luckily the collection was well organised before I approached it which instead allowed for me to do some research and familiarise myself with the items within the collection. The collection ranges from Howards youth where he studied at institutions such as the Huddersfield school of music and the Royal Manchester College of Music, all the way up until the present day to his orchestral work in Morecambe. The collection features a wide range of content including programmes from a massive amount of performances to correspondence with potential clients and organisations wishing to see a performance. Opera North was a huge part of the collection, there is a variety of colourful programmes from their many years of performances. Howard was a founding member of the orchestra and worked for them for 10 years (and freelanced for 12 years). There are several larger items such as a signed programme from opera singer Josephine Barstow (See Image) and sheet music from Christopher Beardsley’s ‘Striding Dales’.

One of the biggest challenges for me was the spreadsheet process and trying to create a useful referencing system in order for people to navigate the collection with ease. I decided to section each of the organisations that Howard had worked with into boxes and also have separate boxes for personal and biographical information as well as a box which contains tapes and CD’s of his music. I think that this was successful as it did not meddle much with the order that Howard and his wife had delivered the collection in. The process involved a lot of planning and I was constantly going back and changing my references to try and make everything as efficient as possible as the collection has lots of research potential. I was constantly aware of this factor so I think it was important to make sure that the collection was accessible for everyone, regardless of their knowledge of Opera and orchestras.

Overall, the cataloguing process was a fascinating challenge which allowed me to see the other side of the archival process and the steps that have to be taken in order to make a collection available for viewing. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about a subject that I otherwise probably never would have researched about and getting to interact with the items gave me a unique perspective on the subject as well as a brief look into Howards remarkable musical career. I am very grateful for the opportunity to get to catalogue a collection and further satisfy my curiosity of working in an archive and the heritage sector as a whole. 

Student Placements 2019 – Part One

Katie – a 2nd year History student worked on part of the Colin Challen Archive.

As part of a student work experience placement scheme, I have been looking at and cataloguing part of the Colin Challen collection for Heritage Quay. This contains material regarding Yorkshire Constituency Labour Parties, a particular focus being the Labour Party in Leeds from 1960 to 2006, and you can view the listings here.

Initially, the sheer amount of material appeared overwhelming, but once I had conducted a closer inspection of the material, I was able to start to file the items accordingly into appropriate categories and folders. I also had to conduct some research into Leeds’ constituencies so that I could understand their Municipal Election process.

The collection is interesting as through correspondence from notable local Councillors D.B. Matthews and Colin Challen, an insight can be gained regarding the inner-workings of the Labour Party Council in Leeds, as well as exploring how Municipal Elections were run and organised. The collection also contains material relating to controversial events and decisions within the local party reacting to national policies and leadership, which pits local vs national politics in an interesting way.

The material that particularly caught my attention was the campaign material for local elections in Leeds. It was interesting to see what policies the different parties had used to try to encourage people to vote for them, and also to see how the images that the party wanted to present of candidates has changed over the years. Whilst the public only get to see the glossy, final version of these leaflets and posters, the draft versions of these campaign posters and leaflets also showed the thought process behind why something was presented or written in a certain way on the end product.

Overall, I have found working on this collection an enjoyable experience. Not only has it allowed me to explore some fascinating material, but has also helped me understand and appreciate the amount of effort required to correctly sort through material, organise it and then categorise it to the high standard that archives require.

Archivist’s Toolbox-Palaeography

The focus of this blog is the tradition of palaeography, i.e. the study of historical handwriting. This skill is important for transcription of ancient, medieval and post-medieval texts and for understanding the development of writing itself. This blog attempts to introduce the topic by covering some of the key ideas that are relevant to palaeographers as they attempt to decipher a post-medieval text.

Throughout the centuries different styles of handwriting have become popularised. The modern handwriting style was founded with the italic style in the 14th to 16th centuries. This image shows some of the ways in which letters have been written in different styles of handwriting. This expresses why palaeography is a learned skill, since without knowledge of these letter shapes their presentation might be quite confusing to someone trying to read a document.

From looking at handwriting we can often see stylistic flairs that it helps to learn when interpreting an individual writer’s text. This example from our gas company collection (20th century) demonstrates that the scribe often joins words together and exhibits the different ways they write the letter ‘t’. Whilst it is useful to familiarise yourself with a writer’s style, it is also important to recognise that it may change throughout their life. Therefore, alongside learning the popular styles of the time, it is helpful to also pay close attention to specific individuals and the way they write.

Spelling could also differ, e.g. said being spelt sayd, and scribes often used abbreviations to shorten words, e.g. ‘wch’ for ‘which’ uses superscript letters. It is these historic ways of writing that have fallen out of fashion. If we consider modern language we notice that it changes all the time, whether that is the invention of a new slang term, a word to describe a scientific idea or abbreviations popularised via social media.

Transcribing a text can often feel like solving a puzzle. Making decisions about what handwriting style, date and individual letters are present discloses the content and, occasionally, context of historical documents, allowing you to glimpse aspects of life from centuries ago. We run palaeography courses here at Heritage Quay for students and researchers, so if you are interested please send us an email at archives@hud.ac.uk. If you want to read more about the topic and practice some examples, check out The National Archives pages at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/palaeography/default.htm.

If you fancy having an attempt at transcribing, make sense of the image below from a 17th century Indenture which is one of the earliest legal documents we have at our archive. This is just a snippet of the document so the sentences aren’t complete. The answer will be in the comments below so don’t scroll till you’ve had a go.

If you’re a University of Huddersfield student the archive runs regular classes on how to pick up skills in palaeography 1500-2000! Just contact the archive for more information – archives@hud.ac.uk

Who made little boy blue?

Charles Hippisley-Cox writes:

Amongst the 12,000 “pre-vinyl” 78s in our British Dance Band Collection are examples of around 200 different record labels.   One particularly rare and sought-after brand can be seen here at the start of this video. It is the very short-lived “Gold” Edison Bell label which was only in existence for about 18 months in 1933-4.  The rest of the video features still photographs of the Joe’ Loss band.   Joe led one of the best British bands of the 1930s and he was still active as a bandleader until his death in 1990.