Wednesday, 1 July 2015

York in pictures, old age in the USSR, the trial of Marie Antoinette...

The Library holds a wide and varied range of pamphlets, covering a variety of political and historical subjects, with influential authors including Mandela and Nehru. Ilka Heale introduces some highlights.

The Library has a collection of just over two thousand pamphlets written by contemporary politicians, writers and historians, which are bound together in volumes and identified by the shelfmark 'OP'. They contain a wide range of topics, including the early Labour movement, Marxism, Communism, Railways, Housing, Russian industry and history of South Africa, Rhodesia and Poland.

These pamphlets comprise of a variety of fascinating primary source material, with subjects drawn largely from the first half of the twentieth century. The Empire and its demise is a popular theme, with pamphlets from southern Africa and India analysing the movement to independence. Another favourite subject is the fragile European situation with its explosion into two world wars, along with the establishment of new nations like the USSR. Other pamphlets focus closer to home, and look at the birth of the welfare state, or the clearance of slums in British cities, including York.

The pamphlets are also immensely valuable as primary sources from some of the twentieth century's most influential figures; there are pamphlets written by Nelson Mandela, Kenneth Kaunda, and Jawaharlal Nehru, to name but a few.

Each pamphlet has a detailed record on the Library catalogue, and can be searched for by subject, title, or author. Alternatively, the full collection can be browsed at its shelf location on the second floor of the Morrell Library. There are also a few volumes of pamphlets published before 1850, which are shelved in Special Collections; these too be found via the Library catalogue.

Below are a few selections from the collection...


The trial at large of Marie Antoinette, late Queen of France, before the Revolutionary Tribunal, at Paris, Oct. 15, and an authentic account of her execution, October 16, 1793 is a transcription from 1793 of the trial of Queen Marie Antoinette, which resulted in her execution on the guillotine.

Also bound into this volume is 'A speech delivered in the Reichstag' by Adolf Hitler on 7 March 1936.

King Leopold's soliloquy: a defense of his Congo rule by Mark Twain finds the American writer and commentator Samuel Clemens (1835-1910), writing in 1905 under his better-known pen name of Mark Twain, satirising Belgium's King Leopold and his country's colonial policies.


York in pictures, a pamphlet published in 1900, is a history and guide to York and includes photographs from the turn of the 20th century.

Also bound into this volume is Who Was Guy Fawkes? by the rather wonderfully named Lockwood Huntley. Published in Beverley in 1914 and covering six pages, this pamphlet was written by the Head Librarian in Beverley.

Cambridge printing, 1521-1924 is a lecture on the history of Cambridge University Press and was donated to the Library by none other than J.B. Morrell himself. John Bowes Morrell (1872-1963) was one of York's greatest benefactors. He played a significant part in the campaign for a university in York. The Joseph Rowntree Social Service Trust, where he was chairman, was the major financial sponsor of the new university and the academic activities which preceded it. In 1955, Morrell persuaded the Trust to buy Heslington Hall and its grounds and later gave them as the nucleus of the University site. The C and JB Morrell Trust also gave large sums towards the founding of the University, and today it supports the Morrell Centre for Toleration.

Books and libraries were very important to JB Morrell. His father, William Wilberforce Morrell, was the chief advocate of a free public library in York, finally achieved in 1891. JB chaired the Public Library Committee from 1913 to 1920, expanding library holdings and arranging funding for a new library building. When the University of York opened in 1963, it was a most fitting tribute that the new University Library should bear his name.

Official guide to the Scarborough and Whitby railway. Things have changed in the 120 years since this was published. The coast route is now part of the National Cycle Network.

Other titles bound into this volume are guides to Wensleydale, Ilkley, Harrogate and Flamborough published in the late 19th century. The name on the title page suggests that these guides were once owned by William Wilberforce Morrell, father to John Bowes Morrell.

To find out more about accessing the pamplets collection, please ask at the Library Help Desk or contact your Academic Liaison Librarian.

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