Friday, 29 May 2015

A new digital showcase: Special Collections scrapbooks

Robin McKinlay introduces a fascinating showcase of scrapbooks held within the Special Collections.

Since starting in my Digitisation Assistant role in September 2014, one of the projects I have inherited and continued to work on has been to research a collection of four 19th century scrapbooks. These scrapbooks were handpicked by Elizabeth Carter after a visit to King's Manor Special Collections, which are now housed in the Raymond Burton Library. Although each of the scrapbooks has a different compiler, they are connected by common themes such as architecture, travel and York history. The Digital York team is pleased to present these scrapbooks to you in a new digital showcase:

The first scrapbook, entitled 'Scrapbooks of architectural photographs from various countries', is an impressive collection of photographs of cathedral architecture. These images were collected and compiled by George Wilson, about whom we know very little. You can read the detective work that went into working out who he was and why he had such an large collection of images of mostly French cathedrals, each one annotated and organised into groups of architectural features. Captured within the scrapbook are hundreds of cathedral interiors and exteriors, and even a handful of images that capture the effects of wartime bombardments on these buildings.

Reims Cathedral west front after a bombardment

York Minster architectural features
'York Cathedral: description of the door way entering into the chapter house' was compiled by John Carter, who was possibly England's first architectural journalist, working through the late 18th century and into the 19th century. Very committed to his work, he had a passion for Gothic architecture and was very outspoken about anyone trying to do anything different (what he called 'Innovation'). You can read about his tumultuous professional life, which saw him develop a nemesis, argue with the wealthy in various publications, but also find happiness in York Minster.

The scrapbook that we have in our Special Collections contains some of his intricate drawings from his work in York, as well as a written description of his observations.

Also featured in our showcase is a scrapbook compiled by William Wilberforce Morrell. This scrapbook contains an eclectic mixture of images, including photographs from around York, cathedral architecture and illustrations collected from travels abroad. Kath Webb, archivist at the Borthwick Institute for Archives and researcher into the Morrell family, reflects on the historical value of scrapbooks and why this scrapbook in particular interests her.

York Minster
The final item featured in our showcase documents an extensive trip to the Middle East. The author of this scrapbook is unknown, but we do know that it had three contributors with the initials BB, IB and TWB. This scrapbook contains an intriguing collection of images of an expedition conducted by three (possibly) British men and their group of local guides (or dragomans).

Through photographs and sketches, they managed to capture places of archaeological significance in Egypt, Israel and Jordan before the effects of commercial travel became visible. These include images of the pyramids at Giza, the Valley of Jordan and the streets of Jerusalem.

Within the pages there is a great sense of the authors exploring the unknown, not just because of the ground they managed to cover, but in the way they have recorded cultural differences such as dress, as well as architectural styles and street scenes.

The complete travelling group outside their tents in Beirut
The main aim of this showcase is to highlight what we have available at the University, as these are just some of the items available to be viewed in the Library's Special Collections. To see more, we encourage you to explore the Special Collections web page and ask to view items in the Borthwick Institute’s searchroom.

For more information:

The Digital Showcase not only lets you browse the scrapbooks, but also provides the background of each in far more detail:

You can also view these image collections, and a host of other resources, on our Digital Library:

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Macs-imising IT rooms

With a smattering of terrible puns, Adrian Young explains how we're going about providing iMacs for students.

Delicious Apple by cheriejoyful
Used under a Creative Commons licence
Some months ago, a student asked why IT Services don't provide Apple Macs in our IT rooms?

Good question I thought, why don't we do this? Is it because the hardware is too expensive, or that the systems to provide the service aren't available or are equally expensive? I decided it was worth having a look into this further to see exactly what we could do.

Putting a managed Windows PC onto a desk is pretty easy for us - we've been doing it for many years and the systems we use to manage them are effective and powerful. To do the same for Macs needed thought and investigation. We couldn't use the same systems to manage the Macs as we do the Windows PCs as obviously they use different technology. We had already experienced this when developing the managed Linux desktop. The fundamentals are the same - it's still some hardware with an operating system and some applications - it's just that the hardware and the operating system are different.

Where to start?

iMac by Adam Maracz
Used under a Creative Commons licence
The first thing to look into was how much more would it cost to buy Apple hardware as opposed to the PCs we get from Stone. If it was far too expensive then this wasn't going anywhere, and we would use the budget to buy more PCs instead.

Well, it turned out that it wasn't too bad. Yes, the iMacs cost more but not horrendously so - especially with the educational discount we get from Apple. Mac minis were cheaper but the spec for the hardware was lower than we wanted. iMacs provided the necessary spec and are a neater solution - an all in one system, without separate monitors or keyboards.

So, the financial aspect was ok.

Next question was would we be able to provide a similar service to that of the managed Windows PCs? What systems did we need so that people could log in, get to their filestore, use applications, and print? A quick proof of concept seemed to say we already had available systems to do most of the things we wanted to do.

So, the technical aspect was ok.

The practicalities

Once we had established that this could be a viable option we needed to look at some of the practicalities of doing this.

First of all where would we put the iMacs? Somewhere in the Library seemed the logical solution, it's a popular study space and a good place to try out new services.

Ok, the Library looked promising, but would we use one of the existing IT rooms or find somewhere new? Space is an issue and taking out some of the existing PCs could be problematic. What about the Fairhurst? There's some space there that we could use, and this means that the iMacs are close to the IT Support Office if anything goes wrong.

So, the practical aspect was ok.

Next question. What software do we put on there? Well we already have quite a few applications installed on the Windows PCs that we could use, so MS Office, SPSS, Endnote. That would be a good start. What about the old cliche of using Macs for creative stuff? Should we look at the Adobe Creative Suite? As it's expensive and we don’t have much call for it academically, we decided that we could look at that later. We'd launch the service with a standard set of applications, and see what feedback we receive.

So, the software service aspect was ok.

Now we know what hardware we want, we know what systems we want to run it, we know where to put them, we know what we want on them. It sounds like we're pretty much there.

The trial iMac service

Pixel and her iMac by Mik Ayre
Used under a Creative Commons licence
The outcome of this is that we will be providing a small trial of iMacs on the 2nd floor of the Fairhurst building over the summer holidays. You'll be able to log in with your normal IT username and password, and you'll have access to your personal file store (H: drive): there'll be some familiar applications on there, and you'll be able to use York Print Plus.

We'll see how it goes and see if there is a sufficient demand to continue with this as a service. If budgets allow, maybe we'll expand it a little to other areas, especially for staff, and perhaps look at other software.

It's been an interesting journey to get to this point, there have been many discussions about the best way to do this, hopefully we will deliver a service that will be useful... we will certainly be pushing IT to the Macs.

UPDATE: The new Apple Macs were installed at the beginning of August 2015 on the second floor of the Fairhurst building (where the PC thin clients are). While we finalise the software suite for the Apple Mac service you can use the iMacs for browsing the web, printing and editing documents.

We need your feedback on the service, including suggestions for software and comments on your experience. Have you used the iMacs yet? If you have, please complete our survey here:

Friday, 22 May 2015

Happy 15 year anniversary IEEE Xplore! Why you should make the most of this fantastic resource

Academic Liaison Librarian, Clare Ackerley, highlights some of IEEE's features and their benefits.

In the 15 years since its launch, IEEE Xplore has become an essential tool for scientists - an impressive one billion documents have been downloaded by IEEE  Xplore users.

You can access IEEE Xplore's vast array of articles, conference publications, books, patents and more via the Library's E-resources guide:
If you are new to IEEE Xplore or if it has been a while since you used it, why not take a quick look at their short self-paced tutorials? These 2-5 minute videos, which cover a range of topics, such as saving searches or browsing by topic, provide lots of tips and guidance to help you with your research.

My Projects and My Settings

You can set up your own free account in IEEE Xplore by selecting Create Account at the top right-hand corner of the homepage. You will need to do this in order to view your search history. You'll then have the option to save up to 50 searches which can be viewed under My Settings.

My Projects gives you the option to organise your searches by topic or project. You can have an unlimited number of projects and you can add notes and tags to articles as you save them to projects. My Projects is located under My Settings on the navigation bar.

Downloading citations

It is very straightforward to download citations but you will need to login to your IEEE account first. IEEE provide guidance:

New features

The eagle-eyed researcher will have noticed that the home page has recently been revised. One of the features of this is a Publication Search which allows you to search by Publication title, volume issues and start page. You can also view and copy MathML code as well as TeX commands with the MathJax plugin. Information about these features, and others too, is gathered on one page:

If you have any questions about how this resource works, let us know in the comments or get in touch with your Academic Liaison Librarian.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Landmarks: the latest addition in our growing collection by Robert Macfarlane

Escaping to the country, Stephen Town gets lost in this latest addition to his Nightshelf collection.

Macfarlane, R., Landmarks, in the University Library at N 42 MACF

Sheep grazing in Offa's Dyke, and not looking
too impressed at being disturbed!
One of the pleasures of being in Britain in Spring is the opportunity to walk out amongst the sheep and lambs on some ancient trackway, with a clear sky and springy turf beneath your feet. This pleasure is not easy to capture in words, but the author of my next donation has written a series of books which not only do this, but in a way that is fully satisfying in a literary and intellectual sense.

Robert Macfarlane produces great writing: described by others as erudite, beautiful and exquisite. His works stir the imagination, and reveal a world that might inspire anyone to take to the old ways of this island and beyond. Unsurprisingly, some of our readers have already discovered this great writer, and his previous books have been recommended to the Library and purchased through our Morebooks scheme.

I am pleased that Robert Macfarlane was educated like me at Pembroke College, Cambridge, although he was born in the year I graduated. Now a Fellow of Emmanuel College, he is a senior lecturer in English, specialising in contemporary writing and what he calls cultural environmentalism. Although this would seem a narrow description of his own works, which combine the natural with the imprints of man, time and the motion of travel in a unique style.

The Old Drove Road over Hergest Ridge in the Welsh Borders

I first became a fan of Macfarlane's work when I read The Wild Places as a result of bookshop browsing, and I later picked up The Old Ways in an Edinburgh gallery shop. In The Old Ways, alongside describing his own journeys to illuminate the idea of walking as knowing, Macfarlane pays tribute to Edward Thomas, poet and author of The Icknield Way (one of the first in my own collection of books on the ancient ways of Britain) who was killed in the First World War.

My donation, Landmarks, is his glossary of nature, which tries to bring together the ‘word-hoard’ of our landscape through a collection of other great writing in the language of a sense of place. This is an attempt to gather examples of what he describes as ‘place-lexis’, exploring how we use and lose language relating to specific examples of landscape and nature. This kind of technical description of Macfarlane’s work is however completely inadequate to convey the pleasure of reading it, so I encourage you to do just that.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Finding past exam papers, Masters dissertations, and theses

Academic Liaison Librarian Ned Potter explains how to access exam paper, dissertations and theses.

It can be extremely useful to go over past exam papers so you know what to expect, or to see examples of best practice when writing your dissertation or thesis. Happily, the Library has plenty of examples for you to look at.

Finding exam papers and Masters dissertations

York Digital Library is our own online repository for multimedia resources including images, past exam papers and Masters theses. A key thing to note about the Digital Library is that it is possible to follow the link above and search it without logging in - however, unless you log in with your York username and password it won't show you everything you're entitled to see. So use the log-in button in the top right hand corner before you start.

Once logged in, click Browse. Choose University of York dissertations and exam papers (Login Required). You'll see a folder for Exam Papers, and a folder for Masters Theses (plus one for Undergraduate Projects and Essays - this has a selection of items from Economics, Health Sciences, History and History of Art). In the Exam Papers folder you'll find all the examples which have been released to the Library, from 25 Departments.

In the Masters Theses folder you'll find the following eleven departments:

Masters Dissertations from the Departments of Archaeology, Centre for Medieval Studies, Chemistry, Education, Eighteenth Century Studies, History, History of Art, Management, Music, Post-War Reconstruction and Development Unit, and Sociology

(We're currently negotiating with Departments to add more, so this list should grow shortly.)

Once you've chosen the relevant subject area, the dissertations are arranged in collections by year. When you find the paper you're interested in, click the Download button to save it as a PDF to print or read on-screen.

Finding PhD theses

If you want to see examples of PhD theses from York students, we have a lot of recent examples in YorSearch. For example, at the time of writing there are 468 English literature theses available, of which 94 have online versions.

If you want to find theses from your own department, just follow the link above and replace the word 'English' that appears in the search box, with the subject that you're interested in.

Visit our website to find out more about consulting theses:

You can also potentially find theses from other institutions: White Rose Etheses Online holds electronic doctoral level theses from the Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York, and  EThOS (the British Library's online theses service) has PhD theses from most British higher education libraries made freely available in PDF format.

If you have any questions about getting hold of theses, dissertations or exam papers, let us know and we'll be happy to help - email

Thursday, 14 May 2015

The Singular Universe and the Reality of Time

Stephen Town invites you to challenge your views on the Universe and physics as we know it, in the latest blog from his Nightshelf.

Unger, R., Smolin, L., The Singular Universe and Reality of Time, in the University Library at A13 UNG

Is time real? Can the past also be the future?
Image by Bonnyb. Reproduced from pixabay
This is an ambitious, controversial and probably difficult book for anyone who has not thought or read much about the nature of the Universe or taken a position on the debates about what the world we experience is made of and the laws that govern it (what the authors term ‘the foundational problems of basic science’). However it would be nice to think that any member of this University might feel inclined to at least give this work a try.

Unger and Smolin have been working for at least eight years on a new synthesis (in their words ‘a reinterpretation’) of twentieth-century cosmology and physics. This is accompanied by the recovery of the importance of the idea and methods of what used to be called ‘Natural Philosophy’. Smolin is a scientist reportedly considered tiresome and iconoclastic by his colleagues. Unger is a Harvard law Professor and politician. Both write their own piece in this book in their own style, and also reflect on their differences.

Is there a universe beyond our own?
Unger and Smolin argue the case for us being alone.

Their three main propositions run counter to current scientific views: that the Universe is singular; that time has reality; and that mathematics has only selective realism. Maybe you think these positions are common-sense and obvious? Or maybe you believe strongly in the current orthodoxy? Either way you want to read this book.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

A wonderful new tool for our online research surveys

SPRU have found a new tool to manage research surveys (and organise Christmas parties too!) Rachel McAllister tells us more...

The Social Policy Research Unit sends out a lot of surveys. In the past these were on paper, and this can still be the preferred medium, depending on the target audience. More often now we will want to provide people with an online survey to fill in. We had used Survey Monkey and Jotform in the past, until a particular need and an international collaboration brought us to Qualtrics.

Back in 2013 we were working with colleagues in Melbourne Australia to deliver a tool to measure stress in people who worked in paediatric oncology units. It was a very carefully produced scientific measure and part of it needed to be in a particular format; a central column of statements flanked on either side by a scale of frequency and a scale of stress. None of the online survey systems that we had access to could reproduce this format until we found Qualtrics, which had a great amount of flexibility in its design interface. Another great benefit is that all the data warehousing for Qualtrics is in Ireland and so within the European Economic Area.  This is an important requirement of many of our research funders and ethics committees.

Our collaborator in Australia suggested Qualtrics to us as they used it and knew its capabilities. Alongside this flexibility of design, it was very easy to learn how to use it. Our initial training session caused a real buzz of excitement amongst the researchers in the Unit as they grasped the possibilities that it provided for future survey work. As you use it, and the further into it you explore, it tends to reveal ever greater abilities, whilst remaining a very quick and easy way to do a plain, simple form such as "Who wants what food for the staff Christmas meal?".

We found it such a good tool that we invested in a license to cover the whole SPRU staff. It has been used to survey NHS providers about their services for people with dementia, social services practitioners about their reablement services, local authorities about how they allocate services to support carers, as well as to register people for conferences and events. One very useful facet is that it allows you to share the survey that you are creating with anyone (they do not need to have an account) which is excellent for collaborative working with other research institutions. As well as very sophisticated piping, looping, and merging functions within surveys it also allows you to distribute individual surveys to named people within panels of survey recipients. Responses are tracked and notifications sent to your email inbox if required. There are options to export the survey results into CSV, SPSS, Fixed Field Text, XML, HTML and zipped files which helps enormously with the further analysis of results.

We like it so much and saw how beneficial it could be to others on campus in their research endeavours that we took it to IT Services to request that the license be shared campus-wide. I advertised a demonstration of Qualtrics around campus, via all the IT forums, YorkExtra and emailing likely departments to ascertain interest. The demonstration could either be attended in person or via desktop hook-up to the online conferencing software that the presenter in the USA was using. There followed a useful discussion of the pros and cons of central financing of the software. Following up on the interest expressed at the demonstration, we managed to get buy in from about twelve departments. IT Services funded the rest of the license and Qualtrics became a tool for everyone on campus.
Now it is used a lot by students in departments and its ability to handle quite sophisticated requirements fairly easily has meant a lot less support is required from staff. There is a comprehensive help facility available to all users, which benefits staff who have traditionally supported students with this activity. Central University support departments were also keen to use it, with their need to monitor various aspects of student life or support services. It has found a niche throughout the University.

We at SPRU are delighted that for a smaller contribution we can retain this most useful tool. We wouldn't be without it!

Friday, 8 May 2015

Works of Art Losses and Survival – cultural legacies of conflict

Alice Bennett explores a series of publications at the Minster Library that catalogue the losses and damage to art and architecture as a result of the Second World War.

As we mark the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, it can be easy to forget the battles that continued to be fought after this landmark. These continued to the East, before Victory in the Pacific was declared on August 15th, as well as in the struggle to rebuild lives and countries ravaged by war. Commemorating the end of hostilities marks the beginning of peacetime efforts to restore normality. As part of this work to restore Europe in the wake of the war, questions were raised about the preservation of heritage that had been damaged and in some cases, all but lost.

Image 1: The east end of the Parthenon.

From late 1945 and throughout 1946 a series of publications were produced cataloguing the losses and damage to art and architecture in occupied areas of Europe. These were issued by the snappily named British Committee on the Preservation and Restitution of Works of Art, Archives and Other Material in Enemy Hands and represent a surprisingly swift response to the destruction of cultural heritage across Europe. The guides were produced for different theatres of war – two volumes for Italy, one each for the British zones in Germany and Austria, for Greece and for Malta. Although the celebration of Victory in Europe on 8th May 1945 saw an end to fighting in Europe, it opened a new chapter of challenges in rebuilding countries shattered by conflict. The production of these guides shows a surprisingly pan-European approach. These works are concerned with the losses of countries which had only months before been regarded as the enemy. Despite major cultural losses across Britain, these guides widen the scope past a national view of war damage.  By illustrating concern for losses across Europe, these guides acknowledge the universal importance of cultural survival.

Occupied territories are at risk to greater destruction of cultural heritage. Works can be destroyed for ideological reasons, regimes seize artworks, collections are looted by occupying forces and whole sites can be demolished. This creates convoluted trails to follow in establishing the survival and whereabouts of artworks. For example, the art collection of August and Serena Lederer was seized by the Nazis in 1943. Various paintings were moved to the Schloss Immendorf in Austria, which was
Image 2: Works of Art in Austria. Vienna, Inner City.  
then burned by retreating SS officers in 1945 – destroying not only the building but the collection of Klimt paintings it housed. The Works of Art in Austria guide, notes that the Lederer collection comprised 'early Flemish and Italian Masters, also works by the Austrian nineteenth-century painter Klimt' but at the time of publication in 1946, the fate of the collection was unclear – 'Part of the collection is thought to have been sequestered under the Nazi regime, but some of the paintings may have been taken to Hungary'. This reflects the confusion in the immediate aftermath of the war- these guides represent initial assessments of the situation before any extensive research could be done. Despite the end of hostilities, displaced people and damaged infrastructure meant that gathering accurate information was still difficult.

Image 3: M√ľnster, the Cathedral.
The scope of these guides is impressive. Ranging across war-torn Europe, each area lists what was known to have happened to architecturally significant buildings of the area alongside art, museum and library collections. There is a recognition of the potential loss of tangible heritage through the destruction of documents, buildings, artefacts and artworks. The photographs alongside these
catalogues of loss and survival are moving – some showing pre-war images of buildings now destroyed, others showing the devastation of bombing or shelling. The summaries for each site or collection are brief and business-like, condensing theft, damage or destruction into concise sentences. In discussing the Munster museums, the guide to British occupied Germany dispassionately notes that the 'Diozesan Museum is not extensively damaged, though some of its contents have disappeared. The Geological Museum, much of whose collection was evacuated, is a total loss'. Perhaps such brevity was necessary given the scale of the damage and losses.

Some entries give insights into the efforts made to protect and preserve heritage, even during times of war. At the gothic Convent Church of Walsrode, the 'more valuable contents and the fifteenth-century stained glass were removed for greater safety', whilst the former convent church at Wennigsen was used 'as a repository, suffered some minor damage, and is now being repaired'. Various entries record early attempts at repair, even in the immediate aftermath of the war, illustrating the importance of these sites to communities. However the speed with which repairs were carried out could in itself be a problem, raising questions about quality and authenticity. For example, the guide cataloguing the losses and damage in Malta describes the heavy damage suffered to the Auberge de Castille in Valletta. Already having been modified for use by the Navy during the war, much of the building was destroyed when hit with what the guide terms a 'heavy-calibre bomb'. It goes on to record the rushed rebuilding of the site: 'Neither architect nor contractor is being employed; the work is being carried out by the Royal Engineers, employing military labour. That this fine palace is not being carefully restored, under skilled supervision, to its original design is to be greatly deplored.' This highlights the need for careful consideration in conservation and reconstruction, describing a distressing forerunner of many of the rushed restorations or total demolition of badly damaged buildings in the immediate post-war era.

Image 4: Rhodes. Damage to a medieval home.
Whilst it is important to remember these preservation efforts that followed in the wake of VE day, issues of cultural loss are still current. Many significant works have been lost in more recent conflicts. The destruction of historic texts and artworks held at the University of Sarajevo accompanied the conflict surrounding the former state of Yugoslavia, whilst the US bombardment of Baghdad destroyed ancient books and manuscripts. The destruction of cultural artefacts can play a part in war – erasing the past of groups and removing the roots of cultural identity. In the former Yugoslavia, there were deliberate efforts to destroy artefacts of Jewish or Islamic origin, as a cultural counterpart to the genocides. Cultural vandalism has contemporary resonance, with the ongoing destruction of archaeological sites across militant territories of the Middle East, as IS work to obliterate traces of pre-Islamic civilisation in the region. These guides represent attempts to restore cultural heritage in the aftermath of war, recognising its power and importance as part of the rebuilding process.

Image references:

  1. British Committee On The Preservation And Restitution Of Works Of Art, Archives (And) Other Materials In Enemy Hands, War Office. (1946) Works of art in Greece, the Greek islands and the Dodecanese: losses and survivals in the war. London: HMSO.
  2. British Committee On The Preservation And Restitution Of Works Of Art, Archives (And) Other Materials In Enemy Hands, War Office. (1946) Works of art in Austria, British zone of occupation, losses and survivals in war. London: HMSO.
  3. British Committee On The Preservation And Restitution Of Works Of Art, Archives (And) Other Materials In Enemy Hands, War Office. (1946) Works of art in Germany, British zone of occupation, losses and survivals in war. London: HMSO.
  4. British Committee On The Preservation And Restitution Of Works Of Art, Archives (And) Other Materials In Enemy Hands, War Office. (1946) Works of art in Greece, the Greek islands and the Dodecanese: losses and survivals in the war. London: HMSO.
The collection of pamphlets referred to in this post can be consulted at York Minster Library

Friday, 1 May 2015

I shall have to be a feminist…

Sarah Griffin, Special Collections Librarian, introduces a new exhibition

Putting together an exhibition is always a thrilling and often an unexpected pleasure. My starting point for I shall have to be a feminist: 18th century women writers and their legacy in the Special Collections (currently found in the Harry Fairhurst corridor), was Mary Wollstonecraft's Vindication of the rights of woman.  I was excited to find that we had a wide selection of women writers from around the same period and the idea of the exhibition was born.

I knew from the beginning that I would like to find a way to make the final case more up to date. I am strict about using material that can be found in the Special Collections so I expected that final case to be the biggest challenge. The collection does not hold the writings of such current feminists as Germaine Greer or Caitlin Moran, but I was pleased to find some interesting material from the first half of the 20th century which fitted very well with the writing of women some 200 years earlier. What was particularly fascinating was realising that the demands and challenges faced by Wollstonecraft, Elizabeth Montagu, Hannah More and others were really not that much different to those reflected in the writings of Virginia Woolf and Winifred Holtby.

Portrait of Winifred Holtby
held in the Special Collections
The discovery of Winifred Holtby's book was one of the unexpected pleasures. The title of the exhibition is a quote from her and I would like to explore her life and influence in a bit more detail.

"I dislike everything that feminism implies. … I want to be about the work in which my real interests lie … But while … injustice is done and opportunity denied to the great majority of women,I shall have to be a feminist."

Those of you who have seen the recent film Testament of Youth will know that Winifred was the best friend of Vera Brittain. Special Collections holds a published edition of their letters donated to the university by Brittain. The correspondence show both of them to be warm, funny and generous characters.

Winifred Holtby, Women and the changing civilisation,
London 1934. Photo by Paul Shields.
There is one book by Holtby in the Special Collection, Women and the changing civilisation, which can be found in the final case of the present exhibition. Holtby examines the legacy of 18th century writers such as Mary Wollstonecraft and sees that there is still a long way to go towards full equality for women. Holtby campaigned for equal pay and work in the public sphere as well as measures that would give women a degree of financial independence such as widow's pensions, and child benefit allowance. From 1926 she edited the feminist magazine Time and Tide.

She spent time in South Africa and wrote articles against racism and supporting black trade unionism. The thirties were a difficult time for her as she feared the rise of fascism and the attitude of its supporters towards women. She wrote "I want there to be no more wars: I want people to recognise the human claims of negroes and Jews and women and all oppressed and humiliated creatures. I want a sort of bloodless revolution."

Photo by Paul Shields
As well as being an author Holtby was also a poet and the poem that appears pasted into the front of the Women and the changing civilisation is one of hers. It is the third part of a poem written in 1933 and called For the ghost of Elinor Wylie. Holtby had become ill with Bright's disease, a disorder of the kidney which would eventually prove fatal. She died in 1935. The three parts of the poem reflect the progress of her illness, the final Peace, perhaps signifying that she had reached some sort of acceptance.

Poet and novelist Elinor Wylie suffered from a similar illness to Holtby and was admired by her for her lack of conventionality.

Holtby's prose, poems and plays largely remain in print and many can be found in the University Library. The Drama Channel is repeating the mini-series made of her final novel South Riding. Eighty years on, her writings still reflect many of the issues and challenges that continue to face women today.

For more information about this subject or any other questions about Special Collections, please contact Sarah Griffin.