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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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IMG_5121.jpg

Following hot on the heels of the first rotation of some of the most striking natural history artworks by women artists that we hold in the Library and Archives collections, we have just installed a fresh rotation of artworks in the Images of Nature Gallery, including the wonderfully vibrant mango illustration by Malcy C. Moon (1803-1880).

 

Other artists featured in this new rotation include some of the best contemporary natural history illustrators including Elizabeth Butterworth, Jenny Brasier, Jessica Tcherepnine and Olga Makrushenko. Their individual use of colour, technique and artistic skill in acheiving both scientific accuracy and extraordinary beauty in their subjects is inspirational, and we are delighted to hold examples of their work in our collections.

 

The rotation also features the skilled graphite illlustrations of Sarah Ormerod (1784-1860) that sit alongside her daugher Georgiana Ormerod's (1823-1896) bold illustrations of the Rocky Mountain Locust and Southern hawker dragonfly. From the eighteenth century is Gertrude Metz's (1746-1793) watercolour of an Orange sherbet and we once again feature two birds from our Sarah Stone (c.1760-1844) collection - a tawny owl with young, and a Northern cardinal.

 

From the nineteenth century we have two watercolours by the relatively unknown Ellen Hawkins (fl.1821-1868). Her delicate but scientifically accurate and informative illustrations of a musk thistle and an aspen are accompanied by her manuscript notes and observations of these plants, written in iron gall ink. The equally wonderful botanical watercolours of Elizabeth Twining (1805-1889) and Laura Burrard (d.1880), the comprehensive and beautifully composed study of Barbara Nicholson's (1906-1978) Heathland plants and Margaret Cockburn's (1829-1928) intricately detailed birds eggs complete the diverse selection in this rotation.

 

butterworth.jpgTwining.jpgCockburn.jpggormerod.jpg

 

The artworks will remain on display in the Images of Nature Gallery until the end of October 2014.

 

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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by Kate Tyte, Assistant ArchivistO'Shaughnessy's-gecko-2.jpg

 

 

The Natural History Museum’s nineteenth century staff included some real characters.


Take Arthur O'Shaughnessy. He was born in London to an Irish family in 1844, and at the age of 17, became a transcriber in the British Museum Library. Supposedly he got this job through the influence of a family friend, Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton. Lytton was a popular novelist, now best known for his infamous opening line ‘it was a dark and stormy night’.


After two years in the Library Arthur was promoted to be a herpetologist (an amphibian expert) in the Zoological Department. He complained that he spent monotonous days classifying fish and reptiles ‘in a queer little subterranean cell, strongly scented with spirits of wine, and with grim creatures pickled round him in rows and rows of gallipots.’ He complained of low pay, and struggling to make ends meet by churning out scientific papers and reviews for extra cash.


Despite his criticism of his job, he was good at it, and became well-respected. He even gave his name to one animal - O'Shaughnessy’s gecko. But Arthur was far more interested in poetry. In 1870, aged 26 and having worked at the museum for 9 years, he published his first volume of poetry, Epic of Women.  Two other volumes: Lays of France and Music and Moonlight followed, in 1872 and 1874. He was part of London’s literary and artistic scene, mingling with the Rossettis, Ford Maddox Browne and William Morris at fabulous parties.

 

 

 

 


Arthur was fairly well known during his lifetime, though even his kinder critics noted that his poems could be rather hit and miss. Today, the only one of his works that is known at all is Ode from Music and Moonlight. The initial lines have often been quoted in popular culture, and it was set to music by Elgar in 1912 and Zoltán Kodály in 1964:

 

 

O'Shaughnessy's-geko-1.jpg

 

 

 

 

We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers
And sitting by desolate streams;—
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1874 Arthur married Eleanor Marston, herself from a literary family. The couple had two children and wrote a book of children’s stories together in 1875, called Toy-land. Tragically both children died in infancy, after which Eleanor lapsed into ill-health and died in 1879. Arthur struggled to c

 

ope with these losses, and to manage the conflicting demands of his life. He died in 1881, and his final book of poems, Songs of a Worker, was published posthumously the same year; full of poems about death and grieving.

 


Ironically, O'Shaughnessy’s gecko may be better known today than O’Shaughnessy’s poetry.

 

 

The two images depict the Gecko type specimen held in the Life Science collections, Natural History Museum, London.

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This week we have 25 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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This week we have 8 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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In the run-up to the launch of the new Library & Archives search system on 14 July, the Library team will be operating a reduced online service from 27 June - 14 July.


1. Searching the Library catalogue
The current Library catalogue (due to be replaced by the new system) will stay available for you to search the collections as normal. However, please bear in mind that the catalogue will be read-only during this time: any items borrowed after 5pm on 26 June will continue to show as available on the catalogue and items returned after this point will continue to show as being on loan.


2. Borrowing barcoded items
The self-issue machines located in the Earth Sciences Library and Main Library Reading room will not be operational between 27 June – 14 July. You will still be able to borrow items from these collections, but please record your pass barcode number and book details on the sheets provided next to the self-issue machines. When the new system is launched, the Library staff will manually update your account with books borrowed during the period of downtime.


3. Renewing loans
You will not be able to renew items between 27 June – 14 July. However, all current loans have been automatically renewed until the end of 2014, so your items will not become overdue nor will you receive renewal reminder emails.


4. Reserving items
You will not be able to reserve/request items through the Library Catalogue between 27 June – 14 July. If you want to borrow a book that is out on loan to another member of staff, please email library@nhm.ac.uk with the details and we’ll try to get it for you.

 

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 14.31.16.jpg

 

 

 

 

A sneak preview of the new Library & Archives search system

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. New book/serial displays (Main, Botany and Tring Reading Rooms)
New displays will go up on Monday 30 June and will remain in place until 21 July. During this time, if you wish to reserve any items please use the paper reservation slips.


6. Requesting items for purchase
If you request an item to be purchased by the Library during this time, please bear in mind that we will not be able to place any orders until 14 July. We will work through any back orders as a matter of priority, but there will be a slight delay until your item is added to the collection.


7. The eJournal A-Z List and Article Search
The eJournal A-Z list and Article Search will both be available and operating as normal until 14th July, at which point they will be replaced by the new system.

 

8. Borrowing bookboard items

This will continue as normal.


9. Requesting off-site items and inter-library loans
These services will continue as normal until 14th July, when they will take place on the new system. Until then, please continue to fill out remote and inter-library loan request forms and email them to library@nhm.ac.uk.


10. Visiting the Reading Rooms
The South Kensington and Tring Reading Rooms will be open as normal. If you would like to view Library special collections or material from the Museum Archives, please contact library@nhm.ac.uk or archives@nhm.ac.uk.


11. Contacting the Library
Our staff will be available as usual to answer your queries. We’ll be busy getting the new system up and running though, so we may be slightly slower to respond than usual – please bear with us and we’ll respond as soon as possible.


Thank you for your patience while we work to develop and further improve the Library & Archives service; information about the new system will be posted in the run up to 14 July, so keep your eyes peeled!


If you have any questions, please email library@nhm.ac.uk or ring the Library enquiry desk on x 5460.
 

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1/ Why did you want to work behind the scenes in the NHM Archives?

 

For the last 14 months I have volunteered at several archives to gain the work experience required to apply for a post graduate qualification in the subject.  I wanted to work ‘behind the scenes’ to develop my knowledge of how a museum and business archive operates. The role offered the opportunity to learn and develop skills essential to becoming an Archives and Records Manager. This includes cataloguing historical material, dealing with user enquiries and using the CALM database. I felt compelled to apply for the position as it would give me the opportunity to improve accessibility and contribute to the preservation of a unique collection within a museum I am familiar with.

 

2/How long have you been working with us and what have you been involved in so far?

 

I have been volunteering since September 2013 and hope to continue until September 2014. I have been responsible for cataloguing a wide range of historical material into CALM. This includes correspondence relating to the Piltdown Hoax and photographs relating to the opening of the Human Biology exhibition, as well as the staff magazine Chrysalis. I have also taken responsibility for rearranging the Tring Museum correspondence into a new series, with each new reference number correlating to a specific year (1914-1920). Zoe-Fullard.jpg

 

 

 

As the museum is still a 'live' institution, it deals with active records on a daily basis. I have been given an insight in to how an archives and records manager deals with this area of business; the importance of retention schedules, confidential shredding, and the processes involved when a record has reached its retention period; it is either destroyed, or if it holds historical value, it will be appraised and held in the archive. As a volunteer I have not had any direct experience with the live records, but it has been useful to be exposed to these factors and learn about the life span and purposes of records.

 

 

 

 

3/ Have you come across anything interesting so far?

 

When cataloguing papers belonging to Dr Kenneth Oakley (Anthropologist and museum employee), I am required to construct a brief description relating to the content of each item of correspondence. Oakley discovered that the Piltdown Man fragments (founded in 1912 by amateur palaeontologist Charles Dawson) were in fact an elaborate hoax. Dawson claimed the fragments were the missing link between ape and man; subsequently Oakley's discovery caused uproar in the scientific community. It has been interesting to read the reaction's of Oakley's cotemporaries, the press, and the general public, as they write to him from all over the globe with their reaction to the news. Many speculate who was responsible and how the hoax was implemented; a true 'whodunit' of modern times. In his letters Oakley claims to have his thoughts of who the perpetrator(s) are, but never puts it in writing. To this day the culprit of the biggest hoax in history has never been revealed.

 

When organising the Tring Museum correspondence, I have come across numerous letters to and from Lord Rothschild, his director Ernest Hartert and curator Karl Jordan, written during the First World War. It is interesting to read records created during this time; letters from removal companies stating they cannot assist with the transportation of museum specimens as their automobiles are being used as part of the war effort; letters from employees sent away to war seeking job security on their return, as well as men enquiring about possible vacancy openings at the museum once released from the army. One gentleman lists his entire employment history prior conscription; he is striving to get back to the normality of civilian life, highlighting the disruption the war had on many people's lives. The series also includes a letter to Dr Hartert from Captain Robert Davis, an enthusiastic zoologist who was drafted into the RAF. After writing about his experiences at war, he ends the letter expressing his condolences to Hartert, who has just lost his only son fighting in battle. Hartnet later writes that he is taking a week off work to visit the grave of his son in France. The First World War had a huge impact on the museum's business, but foremost it had a huge impact on the personal lives of millions of people across the globe.

 

 

4/ What would you like to be doing in the future professionally?

 

When qualified I would like to work as an Archive Assistant and eventually as an Archives and Records Manager. I aim to bring passion and experience to an inspiring environment where I contribute to preserving the past for future generations to learn from and enjoy. I have been accepted onto the diploma in Archives and Records Management at UCL starting in September 2014. I am looking forward to undertaking the course to as it is essential to my professional development.

 

 

 

To learn more about being a volunteer at the Natural History Museum, please visit our volunteering web page.

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Rod has been volunteering with us as part of the Wallace Correspondence Project since August 2012. But it isn't until you take the time to sit down and have a chat with him, that you realise we are one of four places he gives his time to.

 

The National Army Museum was the first experience of volunteering that Rod encountered. There is currently a huge behind-the-scenes effort by their staff and volunteers to prepare the Museum for a significant closure for building works. Rod has been working in the Department of Printed of Books, assisting to catalogue, scan, barcode and package a whole variety of material, ready to be moved off site. This has been a fascinating experience and has enabled him to see some very interesting material. A particular highlight has been MOD Army training manuals from the early 20th century, which included procedures for trench design.

Rod-Cooper-Volunteer.jpg

 

The second place that Rod gives his time to is The Children's Society. His first project with them was to clean and flatten files dating from the 1880s to early 1900s. These related to successful applications made to the Society for individual children to be rehomed, the large majority having had some level of disability. This work was part of a project called 'Including the excluded', which Rod described as very interesting but emotionally charged, because you are learning about the circumstances these children found themselves in.

 

His current project involves going through the Society's quarterly journal and annual reports for the period covering the mid 1960s to the late 1990s, looking for references to specific CS homes and projects. The idea behind this is to build up a timeline of how the Society changed and developed during this time.

 

Rod's third volunteering position is as a reading helper at a primary school in Westminster. Here he supports children on a one to one basis, reading together for 30 minutes, with 3 children twice a week. He recalls on the first day being slightly apprehensive not knowing what to expect and whether the children would like him.  However, once his first day was completed, he couldn't wait to go back!

 

 

His work with us is one day a week for the Wallace Correspondence Project. It involves transcribing letters written by Alfred Russel Wallace to people all around the world, covering a myriad of subjects. He is given a batch at a time to go through, and has strict procedures to follow  in regard to how he types up each transcription. Since starting he estimates he has dealt with approximately 100 letters. Originally Rod completed a Geography degree which included a Geology module which he thoroughly enjoyed. It has been fascinating for Rod to be able to read letters between Wallace and the great names in geology such as Charles Lyell. Rod is well read up in regard to Darwin and evolution, and therefore had a general awareness of who Wallace was, but it wasn’t until he volunteered with us, that he was able to really gain a true understanding of the man himself. One particular set of letters were written to a young entomologist called Frederick Birch, fl.1905, who was working in Trinidad at the time of the correspondence. Rod found it interesting because Wallace is giving his younger counterpart practical tips and advice regarding areas such as getting the right price from dealers and sourcing supplies. Currently we know little about Birch, which is a little frustrating because it would be nice to find out how he got on in his profession. Another interesting example were letters from Wallace as he tried to secure work for his son, having returned from his travels.

 

Whilst working with us, Rod has made sure to take advantage of our temporary exhibitions: in particular he thoroughly enjoyed the Salgado Photography display in 2013, taking his daughter on the Darwin Centre Spirit Tour, and the current Britain: One Million Years of the Human Story Exhibition.

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This week we have 27 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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In March we welcomed Kate to our team as Assistant Archivist. A museum archive is familiar territory for Kate, having joined us from the Royal College of Surgeons and the Hunterian Museum, where for three years she worked as Project Assistant, cataloguing their institutional records. There is much common ground between our two organisations, and consequently she is already familiar with important individuals such as Richard Owen, who became Hunterian Professor (1836) and first Superintendent of British Museum (Natural History) in 1856, which was to later become the NHM.

 

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When walking around the museum there are specimens that she recognises, and a number of NHM staff are already familiar to her as visitors to the Hunterian, researching subjects such as Human Remains.

 

Now that Kate is part of our team, one of the biggest adjustments she has had to make, is getting used the how much bigger we are, both in the number of staff but also the size of the South Kensington site. This is a common problem of being new here, finding your way around in your first few months! She describes her experience of going to attend her first lunchtime staff yoga class, located in the basement as "being like Alice in Wonderland, because I felt like I was going down, down, down!".

 

How did Kate originally find herself becoming interested in the world of archives? As part of her English Literature Degree, she worked on a project to rewrite the guidebook for a National Trust property, and found that she thoroughly enjoyed doing the research. Since then she has obtained an Archives Masters Degree at Liverpool University, so there is no turning back now!!

 

What has the new job involved so far? Her biggest role is to provide access to the Museum's Business Archive, by answering enquiries from both staff and the public, and cataloguing the collection. One example of the latter that she has worked on, is the draft Bird Report by Edward A Wilson, from the Terra Nova Expedition of Antarctica. Sadly Wilson was to later perish there with Captain Scott in 1912. For Kate it was very poignant looking at this collection, which includes some drawings, not just due to the inevitable sad conclusion, but because you are reading some of the very first descriptions and observations of this part of the world.

 

Kate has a particular interest in expeditions, and is very much looking forward to learning more through her work about the museum's role since 1881, in expeditions all over the world.

 

The other major part of her job is to answer enquiries about the archive. Some of the subjects she has handled so far have involved architectural plans for our building, and the provenance of specific specimens from the scientific collections. She has liaised not only with our own staff, but other museum staff and researchers from all over world.

 

She is looking forward to seeing the Mammoths Exhibition, and in July her first visit to our Natural History Museum, Tring.

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Ruth has been with us since mid-January as Archivist for the Wallace Correspondence Project. She is perfectly suited to the role, having joined us from a similar project at the National Portrait Gallery (NPG). That project concerned the correspondence of Victorian painter and sculptor George Frederic Watts (1817-1904). Her work involved organising, cataloguing and digitising a collection of 1500 letters. There are comparisons to be drawn between Watts and Alfred Russel Wallace. Both came from a poor background, became social reformers, their interests were much wider than just the study of the arts or natural history, and since the popularity of their day, are now relatively less known.

 

Ruth's first introduction to using archives came whilst completing her BA in History during 2005, which inspired her to apply for a post at Lambeth Palace Library. This interest encouraged her to undertake a Archives Records Management MA at UCL, where her dissertation studied black, minority and ethnic archives.

 

Since Ruth has taken over as Archivist to the Wallace Correspondence project, more than 40 extra letters have been added to the online collection. One of her main responsibilities is to increase the total number that have been transcribed: currently nearly 50% have been. As well as her own contributions, she manages a team of volunteer transcribers and proof reading their work before they are added to the website.

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Each year for two weeks during the summer, the Library & Archives hosts a group of Harvard students as part of their 8 week summer school programme here in the UK. So in July, Ruth will provide the next group of students with a chance to learn about the work of Wallace, by meeting scientists and specimens behind the scenes and giving them each a selection of letters to transcribe. At the end of their visit, these will then be proof read and added to the online resource.

 

Part of Ruth's role includes finding letters in other repositories and arranging for scans of letters to be included in the Wallace Correspondence Project.

 

 

 

An exciting development is that one of Wallace's notebooks from Rio Negro, which is extremely faint and therefore illegible, is being sent to the British Library (BL) to be scanned on their new spectral imaging machine. This technique was used by the BL for their Livingstone Project. Once this is complete Ruth will ensure it is added to the website, making it accessible to all.

Currently Ruth is preparing extra unpublished material including some drawings, from the Wallace collection held in the Library & Archives, to be scanned in-house and added.

 

With a zoologist mother and geologist sister, Ruth was already immersed in the world of natural history, but has already learnt a lot through her work here. She grew up in London and of course visited the museum as a child, but "it's so cool going behind the scenes and being here before the museum opens its doors to the public each day!".  Some of her highlights are the stain glass windows in the Central Hall, the Herbarium, the Bird Gallery and the Wildlife Garden. She, along with many others, is looking forward to seeing the new Mammoths exhibition.

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This week we have 29 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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This week we have 20 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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by Konstantina Konstantinidou

Paper Conservator

 

 

 

Check it, pack it, wrap it, seal it. Relax at business lounge. Ensure it's in the same plane with you, and then relax. 20 + hours later... Unwrap it, unpack it, check it, and see it safely put in place.

 

 

The Art Gallery of Ballarat (Victoria, Australia) has installed a new exhibition For Auld Lang Syne: Images of Scottish Australia from First Fleet to Federation celebrating the influence of Scotland in Australia, by uniting items from across Australia and beyond. The exhibition explores the way Scottish people and culture have influenced the development of the Australian nation.

 

The Gallery have done a great job bringing together a varied international collection to tell this part of the country's cultural history, many of which have never been seen alongside each other. The Natural History Museum Library & Archives were very happy to contribute 8 watercolours by Thomas Watling (c1767-1797), from Dumfries.  Watling arrived in Australia with the First Fleet, not as an artist however, but as a convicted forger.

 

 

 

 

 

So, finally, the Watling drawings are back in Australia, and on the opening night find themselves displayed in front of viewers dressed in tartan and all things Scottish, and suddenly they fall into place. Mission accomplished, and now the long journey home.

 

More information about the First Fleet Collection and specifically The Watling Collection.

 

 

The exhibition runs until 27th July 2014.

For more information follow The Art Gallery of Ballarat via Twitter @artgalbal

 

(Many thanks to The Art Gallery of Ballarat for the use of their images from Twitter.)

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This week we have 17 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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by Paul Henderson

(Professor at UCL and Scientific Associate, NHM)

 

This passport dated 15 June 1820 is for James De Carle Sowerby (1787-1871) to go to Paris via Dieppe. He was accompanying his sister Charlotte who was to stay in Paris for some weeks to learn French and presumably to help establish relationships between some French natural historians and the Sowerbys. James had left Paris by 16 July 1820 to return home. Charlotte returned home in October.


After an initial stay in a hotel, it was arranged for Charlotte  to lodge with an old military man, Monsieur Barzentin. His home was very close to that of Monsieur Dufresne (naturaliste-en-chef au Muséum d’histoire naturelle) who, with his family, kept a friendly eye on matters. The cost was £5 per month. She would have her own room and “will board with the family with the liberty of choosing tea or coffee”.


Soon after their arrival, James wrote to his father (James Sowerby 1757-1822) on 25 June 1820 to say “Mdme Dufresne & her daughter will lend their assistance in supplying Charlotte with fashions and making purchases for her so that she may not be imposed upon by the tradesfolk of Paris who charge the English frequently double price.”


On 1 August 1820 he wrote (now from London) to Charlotte to tell her that their father was unhappy with the cost of her stay in Paris and refuses her money to buy a watch.

 

 

 

Dates: James De Carle Sowerby was the oldest son of James Sowerby and Anne De Carle – born 5 June 1787. Charlotte Ann was the eighth and penultimate child, born 26 April 1802. 

 

 

Prof Henderson is currently writing a biography on James Sowerby to be published next year. The piece of ephemera referred to here is one small example from the Sowerby Family manuscript collection that we hold here at the Library & Archives. The collection includes a significant amount of correspondence and family papers, documents relating to specific Sowerby publications, drawings, biographical materials and portraits.

 

 

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This week we have 43  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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On 3rd March we welcomed Rachael Gibson into our team as the Departmental Coordinator for the Library & Archives. Rachael graduated from Liverpool University in May last year with an English Degree and now, whilst working in her part time post with us, is embarking on the road to a PhD. She has a huge love of poetry and, as a result, her subject of choice is Christina Rossetti, a nineteenth century poet. It was a Victorian module during her degree that originally introduced her to Christina and, finding there wasn’t much information to hand about her, became increasingly fascinated. “Christina was single all her life, but was actually proposed to 3 times in 2 years!”. Now Rachael has set herself a personal challenge to complete her PhD.

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Rachael joins the NHM with a love of travelling, having lived in both Mexico and Barcelona. She spent just under a year in Mexico teaching English and one year teaching and tutoring in Barcelona. This city was her favourite, although after six years she admits her Spanish is a little rusty!

 

When her family moved to the South East, Rachael recalls as a seven year old the Natural History Museum was the first place visited in London. “I remember thinking how pretty the building was and how lovely it would be to live there!”.  She remembers seeing Dippy, but not going to the Whale Hall.

 

 

 

 

She also has  memories of seeing cased butterflies and being fascinated that she could get so close to them, not like the ones back in her garden at home. Rachael was therefore so excited when she came back all those years later for her interview, and now since starting work, she has redressed the balance and visited the Blue Whale and wants to try and be proactive in her lunch break visiting all the public galleries, including our art gallery Images of Nature. In particular she is very much looking forward to the May opening of the new Mammoth Exhibition.

 

Since starting, Rachael has had to learn a lot, including a new finance system that went live only a few weeks ago, so definitely a good time to have started. She has also introduced a new fortnightly internal staff newsletter, encouraging our busy department to keep up to date with everything that we are all doing.  As Departmental Coordinator Rachael is responsible for the day to day smooth running of the L&A in a role similar to a secretary. This includes; arranging meetings, taking minutes, organising paperwork and emails, and liaising with other Coordinator’s in different departments. All this involves visiting  the many different parts of the museum, and Rachael has had to learn her way around the building as quickly as possible, which is not easy with such a large site. She admits to having copious notes to help her remember where to find everyone.

 

Welcome to the team!

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This week we have 17 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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This week we have 15 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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This week we have 12 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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This week we have 10 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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