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Showing posts from May, 2017

“Art indeed is long, but life is short.” 300 years of Hull’s cultural history.

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This year Hull is the 2017 UK City of Culture.  This is an award given every four years “to a city that demonstrates the belief in the transformational power of culture”.  In a blog post to accompany an exhibition on Hull's cultural history, Ilka Heale, Metadata Specialist, highlights some books on the subject in the University Library.

One of the enjoyable aspects of my job is working with colleagues to promote the wide and varied collections held at the University Library.  Choosing a theme for an exhibition is always fun and for our latest display, we have decided to focus on Hull, this year’s UK City of Culture.

At York, we have a vast local history collection donated to the Library by Raymond Burton (indeed one of the buildings that makes up the University Library is named after him).  The Raymond Burton Yorkshire collection contains a wonderful selection of books and ephemera on York and the wider county of Yorkshire.  Using this as a starting point, the display focuses on f…

Documenting the history of York’s asylums

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Sarah Griffin, Rare Books Librarian, summarises the resources about the Retreat hospital available in the Library’s collections and Archives.

On Wednesday 10 May, Dr Jane Hamlett from Royal Holloway will be lecturing on Inside the asylum: Material life in lunatic asylums in Victorian and Edwardian England. The history of lunatic asylums is an important one in York and is widely reflected in the collections of the university.

In 2016, Stories of York was published by the university library looking at the narratives found in the collections of the Rare Books, and Archives at the University, and at York Minster Library. One chapter in the book was dedicated to the York Lunatic Asylum scandal and the creation of the Retreat hospital. The chapter was researched and written by Alexandra Medcalf of the Borthwick who also wrote a blog about it.

The Retreat was founded by and for the Society of Friends and opened in 1796 with 12 patients. It attracted attention for the success of pioneerin…

A Discovery in the Archives

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Emily Bowles is a PhD student and part-time tutor in the Department of English and Related Literature, writing up her thesis on ‘Changing Representation of Charles Dickens, 1857-1939’. You can find her on Twitter: @EmilyBowles_.


In 2015 I was lucky enough to go to the Beinecke Library at Yale University to look at the Richard Gimbel Charles Dickens Collection, thanks in part to a Santander International Connections Award. The collection is vast (described by its cataloguer as “probably the largest accumulation anywhere of Dickensian material”), compiled over forty-five years, and the catalogue produced by John B. Podeschi is the length of a Dickens novel itself1. Incidentally, this catalogue isn’t available online and is only available in its (weighty and substantial) book form. The collection is an amazing collection of letters, images, editions; it even houses a lock of Dickens’ hair, with a certificate of authenticity from his sister-in-law Georgina Hogarth. As I was only there for…