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John Benjamin Stone, known as Benjamin, was born in Birmingham on 9 February 1838. He was the son of a local glass manufacturer and took over the business after his father's death. He was a staunch conservative and soon entered local politics, eventually serving as MP for Birmingham East from 1895 to 1909. He was knighted in 1892.

 

Stone was also keenly interested in anthropology and science. He was a member of many learned societies. He wanted to make a record of his life and times and so collected photographs and postcards. Then he decided to learn to take photographs for himself, employing two men full-time to develop and print his plates. Stone was one of the first photographers to switch from wet to dry plates.

 

This meant the plates no longer needed to be developed on the spot, as soon as they had been exposed. It made photography much easier, and the equipment lighter to carry around. Stone went on to make 26,000 photographs documenting daily life, local customs and his travels throughout the British Isles, Spain, Norway, Japan and Brazil.

 

Stone's interest in science means it's no surprise that he visited the Natural History Museum and photographed both the galleries and the staff.

 

http://www.nhm.ac.uk/resources/natureplus/images/library/20150325/PH_2_1_3_13_AS%20Woodward.jpg

 

The museum wardens - all men - are pictured outside the museum wearing smart military-style uniforms complete with peaked caps. In the nineteenth century similar uniforms were common in many large museums. Nowadays visitors to the NHM recognise the front of house staff by their purple shirts emblazoned with the museum's logo.

 

http://www.nhm.ac.uk/resources/natureplus/images/library/20150325/PH_2_1_3_17_AJ%20Jones messenger.jpg

 

Stone's photos show the curators and scientists dressed in frock coats and top hats as if for a smart dinner party. Today these staff are indistinguishable from the visitors except for the all-important security pass, and perhaps a white coat for laboratory work.

 

http://www.nhm.ac.uk/resources/natureplus/images/library/20150325/PH_2_1_3_6_EA%20Smith.jpg

Meanwhile, some of the galleries are completely different, but some have hardly changed.

 

http://www.nhm.ac.uk/resources/natureplus/images/library/20150325/PH_3_2_3_8_central-hall.jpg

This is the Hintze Hall in 1907 - the statue of Darwin is in the same place now, but the elephant display has been replaced by Dippy the Diplodocus.

 

http://www.nhm.ac.uk/resources/natureplus/images/library/20150325/PH_3_2_3_24_dippy.jpg

 

Here's Dippy as he appeared in the reptile gallery in 1907.

 

Stone reached the peak of his photographic career when he acted as official photographer for the coronation of King George V in 1911. Stone died a few years later, on 2 July 1914.

 

The majority of Stone's photographs are housed at the Library of Birmingham, and you can browse many of them online. His photographs are also in the collections of the V&A, the National Portrait Gallery, and the British Library.

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Cover_Evolve22.jpg

 

 

 

 

The latest edition of Evolve is out (Issue 22) and the Library and Archive collections (and staff) feature in many of the articles:

 

Dorothea Bate rediscovered map

 

Interview with our Special Collections Librarian, Paul Cooper

A first for the Library and Archives team!

 

Magnificent Monsters: The Crystal Palace Dinosaurs by Karolyn Shindler

 

Snapshot of war: the 100th anniversary of World War One by Karolyn Shindler

 

Cousins across the centuries: the pigeon and the dodo, a strange family tale

 

Evolve is available from the Museum shop or free when you become a member.

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We are pleased to announce that the Library and Archives team recently installed the 3rd rotation of natural history artworks into the Images of Nature Gallery. This new rotation features the wonderful artworks of a further eighteen women artists whose artworks are represented in the Musuem's collections.

 

The featured artists in this penultimate rotation are :

 

Norma Gregory (b.1942) - Bergenia cordifolia, elephant-eared saxifrage

Elizabeth Cameron (1915-2008) - Rhododendron eclecteum, Rhododendron

Jean Webb (b.1943) - Piseum sativum, pea 'Commander'

Angela Gladwell (b.1945) - Strigops habroptilus, kakapo or owl parrot

Claire Dalby (b.1944) - Caloplaca verruculifera and Lecanora poliophaea, lichen

Barbara Nicholson (1906-1978) - Meadow flowers

Beatrice Corfe (1866-1947) - Juniperus communis, Juniper ; Quercus robur, English oak ; Sorbus torminalis, Wild service orange tree ; Castenea sativa, sweet chestnut

Augusta Withers (c.1791/2-1876) - Cone of Encephalartos longifolius

Mary Grierson (1912-2012) - Orobanche crenata Forsk.

Guilelma Lister (1860-1949) - Trichia affinis, slime mould

Mary Eaton (1873-1961) - Phallus impudicus, veiled stickhorn

Sarah Stone (c.1760-1844) - Goura cristata, western crowned-pigeon ; Rupicola rupicola, Guianan Cock-of-the-rock

Harriet Moseley (fl.1836-1867) - Rubus macrophyllus, large leaved bramble ; Iris foetidissima, stinking iris

Janet Dwek (b.1944) - Bellis perennis L., common daisy ; Rosa canina L., dog rose

Lilian Medland (1880-1955) - Parotia lawessi, Bird of paradise

E. Getrude Norrie (fl.1900s) - Parribacus antarcticus, slipper lobster ; Anampses cuvier, pearl wrasse

Joan Procter (d.1953) - watercolour drawings of frogs and toads

Olive Tassart (d.1953) - Spodoptera litura

 

 

Lilian Medland
Mary Grierson
E. Gertrude Norrie
Guilelma Lister
Medlandsmall.jpgGriesensmall.jpgnorrie 1small.jpgLister 1.jpg

 

 

For more highlights of the gallery please see here.

 

The artworks will remain on display in the Images of Nature Gallery until the end of February 2015.     

 

Entry to the Gallery is free.    

 

For more information on the Women Artists in our collections, the book Women Artists features examples of the artworks of over 100 women artists held by the Library and explores their various influences and motivations in the creation of some of the most visually stunning natural history illustrations of the past four centuries.

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Evolve-21.jpg

 

 

 

The latest edition of the Museum glossy magazine Evolve (issue 21 Autumn 2014) is now out!

 

The Library and Archives collections features in a number of articles:

 

Tring: The Walter Rothschild legacy by Graham Smith

 

Get stuffed: Taxidermy through the ages by Amy Freeborn

 

Snap of war by Karolyn Shindler

 

A key to understanding human evolution: the beautiful collections of Dorothy Garrod by Karolyn Shindler

 

 

Evolve is available from the Museum shop or free when you become a member.

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The Library and Archives team (20+ of us!) will be keeping busy at this year’s Science Uncovered event. You can come and find us at various spots around the Museum on the evening of the 26th September.

 

Why not let us know if you have seen us via twitter @NHM_Library using the tag for the evening #SU2014

 

Gallery-artist.jpgIMG_3508.jpg

 

Origins and evolution with unique special collections

 

We’ll be offering behind the scenes tours and showcasing some of our most beautiful and important library collections in the Earth Sciences Library  - come and spend half an hour with us as library staff talk about books, manuscripts and amazing artwork all relating to the theme of Origins and Evolution and take the very rare opportunity for a close up look . Tours are on the half hour and run from 6.00pm till 9.30pm. You can sign up on the evening outside the Library.

 

Women Artists and our art on paper collections

 

Staff will also be in the Images of Nature Gallery between 6.00pm and 10.00pm, allowing you the opportunity to stop in for a chat and find out more about the very special artwork we have on display, and  chance to learn more about the Library’s art collections. Explore the latest display of watercolours from the 18th to the 21st centuries, all completed by women artists, and discover how we look after the collections and preserve them for future generations. You can also have a go at drawing something from the collections yourself!

 

IMG_3488.jpg

 

Behind the scenes with our Paper Conservator

 

At 5.00pm, join us in the Attenborough Studio for a very special Nature Live talk, where you can enjoy a rare behind the scenes glimpse into the Library’s Conservation Studio and see our Paper Conservator talking about and working on our collections via a live link.

 

Piltdown forgery

 

The Archives team will be out in the thick of things, sharing a table in the Origins and Evolution section with NHM scientists, showcasing some of the Museum’s amazing specimens relating to the great Piltdown forgery, and the letters, papers and images associated with it. Get a valuable insight into the  work of the Archives in collecting some of our most important treasures and documenting events in the world of natural history.

 

IMG_3559.jpg

 

Soapboxes

 

Library staff will also be on their Soapboxes!  Join them and other researchers as they stand on their soapboxes to discuss issues that relate to their work and have your say in a dynamic exchange of opinions. You’ll have the chance to debate a variety of topics, in a style similar to Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park on a Sunday afternoon. Keep an eye out for the Soapboxes throughout the Museum and join the event at any time. Library staff will also be in the Science Bar, where you stop by for a drink and discuss some of the burning scientific issues of the day.

 

Tring (Hertfordshire)

 

As part of a wider array of talks and tours on the night, the Walter Rothschild Museum, our sister Museum in Tring, will feature a talk at 8.45pm by our librarian Alison Harding entitled The Rothschild Library: yesterday, today and tomorrow. Discover the treasures of our library collections housed here and find out how this internationally important library is used by curators, scientists, and researchers from all over the world.

 

So keep an eye out for us at Science uncovered and come and say hello and find out more about our work…

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CARE AND DISPLAY OF BOOKS WORKSHOP – Tuesday 4 November 2014, The Natural History Museum, London.


This workshop introduces the key elements of good practice for the care and display of books through a series of presentations, videos and practical sessions.  This introductory workshop is suitable for Library staff and Archivists and all those with responsibility for book collections.


Topics covered include:

• threats to library collections
• the structure of books
• curation
• preservation
• display of books


The workshop is led by Museum Library Staff and will be held in the Boardroom at the Natural History Museum. It starts at 10.00am and will finish at 5.00pm.  The course fee of £175 includes morning and afternoon tea and lunch, and a tour of the Library’s Rare Books Room.

 

For more information and to book please see the attached document.

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While searching through correspondence sent from Tring Museum, I came across this sales catalogue, bound into a volume. It offers a wonderful glimpse into a lost world.

 

Blog_auction catalogue_Aug 2014.jpg

 

The Natural History Museum acquired some of its collections at auction houses in the nineteenth century. Many private collectors and museums bought and sold in this way.

 

The sale took place at Steven’s auction house, which operated from 38 King Street, Covent Garden. The house was well-known for selling items of ethnographic, scientific and zoological interest. Orchid sales were regularly held there during the 19th century, as well as sales of other exotic plants. Stevens also sold Egyptian mummies, taxidermy, ‘mermaids’, and oddities from all over the British Empire. These good were very fashionable. They were a way for collectors to show off their education, taste and connoisseurship. 

 

Amongst the good on offer at this sale was a Great Auk Egg. Steven’s sold so many stuffed auks and auk eggs that at one point their telegram address was actually changed to ‘Auk’. The desire to possess these rare artefacts helped to make the Great Auk extinct.

 

Also on offer were some items from South Africa, previously exhibited at the Colonial and Indian Exhibition. This exhibition was held in South Kensington and was intended "to stimulate commerce and strengthen the bonds of union now existing in every portion of her Majesty's Empire". The exhibition received 5.5 million visitors, which shows the Victorians’ fascination with global cultures.

 

The company closed following the Second World War.  Economic circumstances had changed and the British Empire was drawing to an end. International ‘curiosities’ were no longer fashionable or relevant in a globalised world. But judging from the numbers of visitors to the Natural History Museum, people are still just as interested in the curiosities of the natural world!

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The World Cup has triggered an outbreak of football fever amongst some of the staff at the Museum. With perfect timing, the Museum Archives have just catalogued a treasure trove of sporting memorabilia relating to the Museum’s very own sports clubs.

There are some wonderful images of Museum footballers through the ages.

 

Here’s team NHM in 1921/22 (you may have already seen this if you follow us on Twitter @nhm_library !)

 

NHM Football club 1921-22_edited.jpg

 

 

And here we are at a very elegant kick-off in 1925.

 

NHM Football club 1925_edited.jpg

 

 

During the 1970s the team struggled to find enough players, and didn’t seem to do that well…

 

NHM Football club report 1 1978_edited.jpg

 

 

NHM Football club report 2 c1978_edited.jpg

 

 

 

These reports of NHM disasters triggered nostalgia in some of our staff. They felt the match report painted an unfair picture of the team’s prowess, and commented:

 

“We weren’t the worst team ever - sometimes we even won! I seem to remember our biggest win was against the Museum of London. The score was something like 24-3 to us! The match was played in the pouring rain on a pool of mud. Our captain at the time wanted us to get out early, get warmed up and not hold proceedings up, so we went out and promptly got wetter than wet! Except for Mick Webb, who organised the match and stayed in the dry until the last minute, as did the opposition. At that time we had cotton shirts which simply soaked up the rain, so it was difficult to run when carrying the extra weight of the shirt. The sleeves expanded downwards so that we probably had something of a Neanderthal appearance. Nonetheless we racked up goals. We even gave them some of our players to make a bit of a game of it. In the end our players scored all ‘their’ goals.”

 

 

On the other hand, they both agreed that back in the 70s and 80s:

 

“We played seriously but only occasionally, and it didn’t matter whether we won or not. We always avoided playing in leagues, as that allowed an element of rivalry and win at all costs to creep in; we preferred friendlies against similar organisations. “

 

So it’s not the winning that really matters – it’s the taking part that counts. England fans take note!

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Geoff-Belknap.jpg

 

 

 

 

by Geoff Belknap

 

I have just joined the Centre for Arts and Humanities Research (CAHR) at the NHM, in collaboration with the University of Leicester, as a postdoctoral fellow on the AHRC project Constructing Scientific Communities: Citizen Science in the 19th and 21st Centuries.

 

The project as a whole is looking at how non-professionals – whether termed lay, amateur or citizen – participated in the production and communication of science through historical and modern media platforms.

 

 

 

 

The project works in collaboration with scientists at the University of Oxford who are putting our historical analysis into action. Through the Zooniverse project scholars in the physics department are creating digital platforms which harness the power of the ‘citizen scientist’ to create data for a range of scientific disciplines.

 

The historical strand of this project, which is the side I work on, is investigating this question – how an amateur participated in science - through the lens of the Victorian periodical. My work, aims to understand how illustrations reproduced in natural history periodicals over the period of 1840-1890 allowed a range of audiences to participate in the production and communication of knowledge about the natural world. The excellent collections of periodicals at the NHM form the base of this research – in particular the unparalleled range of English local natural history society journals. I come to both the NHM and this project as a historian of Victorian science, visual culture and periodical history. My PhD, which was completed at the University of Cambridge in 2011, focused on the reproduction of photographic images within late Victorian periodicals. I have also worked as a researcher and post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University on both the Charles Darwin and John Tyndall Correspondence Projects.

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This week we have 32 new book additions, covering Zoology, General Natural History, Earth Sciences, Ornithology, Entomology and Botany. Download the PDF attached to the bottom of this blog to view this week's list.


If you wish to view these or any other items, please contact the library to arrange an appointment library@nhm.ac.uk or 020 7942 5460

 

The Library catalogue is available online and more information about the Library & Archives collections can be found via our website

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