Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Roots and Routes: Settlement, Removal and the Parish

Settlement and removal were court settled processes that formed part of the Old Poor Law system which operated in the UK from the early modern period until 1834. Under the Poor Law system, each person had a parish of settlement which was usually determined by the following considerations: where you were born; where your husband or father was born or had served an apprenticeship; or where you husband or father rented property worth £10 a year. 

A person who had moved away from their parish of settlement could be sent back (removed), if they ever fell on hard times and had to apply for parish relief. Removal was ordered for those who had become, or were likely to become, a liability on the parish such as unmarried pregnant women. Vagrancy was also a problem that fell to the parish to deal with, so vagrants were also widely subject to removal orders. Such orders were issued through the Quarter Sessions courts, whose Justices of the Peace (or magistrates) would first determine the proper parish of settlement for an individual by issuing a settlement order, before then issuing an order for their removal to that parish. Removal could be ordered to anywhere in the country, or it could be to the next parish.  

Settlement and removal was a significant tool of the Hull Bastardy Courts to rid the town of the 'financial drain' of single mothers and their illegitimate offspring. Removals in the early nineteenth century were mainly of pregnant single women. Illegitimacy was increasing in the early nineteenth century and was regarded as a social and moral problem. There was a belief that the Old Poor Law encouraged single women to bear illegitimate children in order to gain increasing amounts of parish relief. They were considered by the officers of the parish to be ‘immoral’ and 'costly' women. 

The records of the Hull Quarter Sessions can tell us much about this process, not least the names of individuals who were unfortunate enough to be part of it. Pregnant and single, Ann Whiteley was removed to Otley, West Yorkshire, in July 1813 [CQB]. Single mother Sarah Hilton, along with her illegitimate 7 week old child James, was removed to Bowby, Lincolnshire, in October 1816 [C CQB]. The story of Hannah Taylor is interesting, and shows that prevalent beliefs about such women were not necessarily true. Finding herself a single mother, Hannah had managed to support herself and her illegitimate child Mary for a few years. She then became a mother to a second illegitimate child, William. At this point she couldn't cope and had to apply for parish relief. She was ordered to be removed from Hull to Leeds, along with her children Mary (now 5 years old) and William (now 6 months). 

Settlement and Removal Order [C CQB]

Not all removals were of a longer distance, indeed some were for the removal of individuals over very short distances, often from one Hull parish to another. This can be seen in the case of Ruth Griswood who, unmarried and pregnant, was removed from Holy Trinity to Sculcoates in 1808. Such instances illustrate the infighting between parishes over who was to foot the bill for the welfare of the poor. In 1834 the Poor Law was revised, becoming known as the New Poor Law, and the same practices were occasionally carried on. For example, in 1851 the Hull Magistrates Court removed single woman Ann Gardener (a pauper) and her child.

When looking at settlement and removal under the Old Poor Law, there are high incidences of removal of women in general. Such cases involved not only women with illegitimate children or pregnant single women, but also other ‘problem’ women. These women might be widows or deserted wives who had become chargeable to the parish after the loss of husbands who had previously supported them and their children. Women classed as 'lunatics' were also removed as they required care under the system. Thus, in one respect, the process of settlement and removal can be considered as a way of getting rid of social undesirables, or those causing financial strain on the parish. In this analysis, vulnerable women in poverty were treated as social outcasts to be moved on.

To find out more, why not visit us to have a look through the Quarter Sessions records [C CQB] here at the History Centre.

Joanne Chilman, Archive Assistant

Friday, 19 May 2017

Experimenting with Digital Collections with the British Library

Last Friday we travelled to Sheffield Hallam University’s Art & Design Research Centre, who are working in partnership with the British Library Labs. This workshop focused on how the British Library’s digital collections team is making their data accessible to researchers, and the opportunities and challenges involved.

So far in this traineeship our focus has been on how to preserve the data, but recently we have been thinking about what to do with the data once it’s been stored. Archive records aren’t much use if nobody can read them, so how do you allow researchers to access these digital records, and what tools will they need to use it? For the British Library, the solution was to make datasets on the collections freely available through BL Labs, and allow researchers, developers and artists to reinterpret the collections in new ways.

A mixture of archivists, librarians, designers and artists at the start of the workshop.
A lot of the research has been in finding ways to automate the process of identifying what is in each collection. One starting concept was to take an ordinary face-recognition algorithm and pass it over scanned pages from 19th Century books to find drawings of people. This simple concept has been developed and expanded into the Mechanical Curator, a program which automatically identifies illustrations within the text, identifies the content and posts a random selection of pictures online. Similar algorithms can perform similar functions, such as teaching an Optical Character Recognition program to spot long-forgotten Victorian poetry in digitised journals.

The biggest point that came from this was less the technical aspect, but the human aspect. It is important to ask questions about exactly what researchers want to find, and how to help them find it. Digital collections can easily contain thousands or millions of files, and good search tools are key to letting users filter through stacks of data to get to what they want.

After the coffee break, professors from Sheffield Hallam’s ADRC shared some projects they have worked on, using new technology in new ways to display data and curate exhibitions. We saw some work by the meSch project into new concepts for presenting information. It can be all too easy for the presentation to overtake the content - the meSch project aims to develop museums technology which doesn’t interfere with the visitor experience.

A prototype guide for Sheffield General Cemetery, resembling a memorial book.
Visitors use the bookmarks to play audio recordings on different themes.
Throughout the workshop, we saw how not just how new technology can be used to engage with the museums and archive sector, but the importance of working directly with users to provide the tools they want or need to use. We’ll be keeping these lessons in mind as we continue to develop the Hull History Centre’s digital collections.

Tom & Francisco, Transforming Archive Trainees

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Roots and Routes: They Come and Go...

This issue of the City of Culture: Roots and Routes blog looks at Hull as a route to a new life following the experience of WWII.

Theodor Plaut (1898-1948) is representative of one of the many academics fleeing Nazi oppression during WWII. He fled to England and came to work at Hull’s University College for a time. During this period he was helped by the Academic Assistance Council (AAC), later the Society for the Protection of Science and Learning (SPSL). This image, part of a form held at Oxford’s Bodleian Library (reference number MS. SPSL 237/2, fol. 33), is from the records of the SPSL. This sort of information was collected by the society when trying to find academics like Plaut a post. It records that he had been dismissed from his post in Germany because he was 'not considered politically reliable as of Jewish faith’. 

Part of the application form of Theodor Plaut, 1935 [C DJC/4/1/11]

The work of the former SPSL continues today as CARA, the Council for At-Risk Academics. It helps academics around the world who are being persecuted or who are caught up in conflict, for example those in Syria and Iraq.

In the late 1930s, meetings were held in the UK to protest against what was happening in Germany. Consideration was given to how best to help those wishing to leave the country at a time when extra restrictions were being put into place by the UK government. One of the biggest and latest projects was that of the Kindertransports. This was a scheme to bring to Britain by boat some 10,000 Jewish children without their parents, many of whom would later die in the gas chambers. The local Jewish community in Hull, as well as fund raising for the scheme, provided homes to some of these children.

Robert Rosner and Rudolph Wesseley were two such children. Rosner escaped from Vienna and was adopted by Leo Schultz (later a Lord Mayor of the city) and his wife, Kitty. Wesseley was born in Prague and was sent out on the last Kindertransport. Coming to Hull, he attended Riley High School, and would later fight for his newly adopted country in the Royal Navy.

Rudolph in service with the Royal Navy, c.1943-1945 [C DJC/4/1/11]

Just a few months after their escape from Germany, many of these children were rounded up and, along with adults, interned as enemy aliens on places such as the Isle of Man, although most were released after a few months. Two Jewish trainee midwives working in Hull were required to leave the area and return to London. They were classified as aliens and were therefore unable to stay in Hull, which was considered to be a restricted zone.

Hull City Council Reports, 1939 [C TCR/1/9/5]

The end of the war saw further arrivals in Hull, more people using the city as a route to a new life. With the headline ‘Frauleins meet ex-soldier sweethearts in Hull’, the Hull Daily Mail on Friday 14th March, 1947, reported on the arrival of 46 German women at the Alexandra Dock. Sailing on the SS Bury, these young women were to become the brides of British ex-servicemen whom they had met whilst the servicemen were on active service.

German brides arriving by boat, 14 Mar 1947 [Hull Daily Mail]

If these stories have piqued your interest, you can delve further here at the History Centre and uncover more stories, perhaps as yet undiscovered...

Paul Leaver, Archivist (Hull City Archives)

Friday, 5 May 2017

Into the Unknown: Exploring the un-catalogued records of the Humber Ports

The best part about exploring an un-catalogued collection for the first time is that you never know what you are going to find next. The downside is also that you never know what you are going to find next. The Records of the Humber Ports can be divided into two parts: a catalogued part and an un-catalogued part. We cannot provide access to the collection without a comprehensive catalogue, so it is very inaccessible in its present state.  My task over the next fourteen months will therefore be to bring the catalogue into line with modern professional standards while incorporating this additional material.

To this end I have spent the last couple of weeks creating a box list for this material. This is essential for planning just how this collection is to be processed, and for providing me with an idea of the scale of the challenge I have in store. It is time consuming work, but the excitement of exploring the collection for the first time more than makes up for this. 

Box listing in progress: photograph and technical drawing of the original Hull Docks grab dredger.
The vast majority of the un-catalogued papers consist of the records of the Humber Conservancy Commissioners and Board, and a large proportion of this is made up of papers from the Conservancy Engineer’s Office. We therefore have a great deal of material relating to navigational aids (e.g. buoys, lanterns, and lightships) and improvements to the Humber; a mass of correspondence, charts, and technical drawings. We are particularly lucky to have a fairly comprehensive set of correspondence files from the Engineer’s Office.


Blueprint of new Conservancy lightship showing optical apparatus. 1919.
There is however still a fair amount of material related to the Humber Ports, including maps, plans, and illustrations. This includes records from the Hull Docks Company, the North Eastern Railway (later the London and North Eastern Railway), and the Aire and Calder Navigation. However, I have to admit that I was expecting to find more. In particular, I was hoping to find more records from the original dock company. This does illustrate the fundamental importance of cataloguing.


Illustration from a souvenir guide from the opening of King George Dock in 1914
I hope to share more highlights from the collection as the project progresses, so keep an eye on this blog for future updates.

The box listing is just a first step on the road to producing a comprehensive catalogue for the entire collection. The next step will be to begin sorting and arranging some of the key record groups identified from this work.

Robert Astin, Project Archivist

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

World Press Freedom Day at Hull History Centre

The 3rd of May marks World Press Freedom Day, an international day of awareness instigated by the UN in 1993. It is held to raise awareness of free press issues and the duty of governments to uphold Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 (relating to the right to freedom of expression). The 3 May was chosen as it marks the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek, a statement of free press principles issued by African newspaper journalists in 1991.

Each year UNESCO marks the day by organizing a conference of media professionals, press freedom organisations and UN agencies to discuss press freedom issues, solutions and challenges. The first was held in London in 1998 on ‘Press Freedom is a Cornerstone of Human Rights’. This year the UNESCO conference is being held in Jakarta, Indonesia.

We thought we would take this opportunity to give you a taster of some of our collections that champion the principles of free speech and civil rights.

A recently catalogued example comes from the records of former University of Hull graduate, Chris Mullin. A retired Labour MP, author and journalist, he joined the Labour Party in 1967, in part as a reaction against the Vietnam War. After university, he worked as a journalist and foreign correspondent in Asia, during which time he met and interviewed the Dalai Lama. He visited and reported on human rights issues in Vietnam, Laos, Tibet, Cambodia and China. He was a member of the Socialist Campaign Group, and editor of the socialist journal Tribune. Throughout his political career he was not afraid to speak out against even members of his own party in pursuit of truth and justice, he also served as Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee. He pursued a successful campaign to prove that there had been a miscarriage of justice in the case of the Birmingham Six. He was also outspoken on the British Governments position on various international issues including military support for the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Throughout his career Mullin campaigned for a free press, without the influence of media barons and conglomerates.

Photograph showing Mullin and Arthur Scargill with others at a Tribune rally, 1983 [U DMU/1/61]

Another of the collections held at Hull History Centre records the activities of pressure group Liberty (formerly the National Council for Civil Liberties). The very foundation of the organisation was predicated on the use of media, press and their own publications to raise public awareness of infringements to civil liberties. Within the collection there are many files relating to issues of freedom of speech and censorship.

Press cutting re censorship of appeals to help Spanish civilians [U DCL/4/4]

The Campaign for Academic Freedom and Democracy CAFD), formed in 1970 by a ground of left-wing academics including John Saville, is also amongst our collections. Since its inception, CAFD has championed the rights to academic freedom and free speech. As well as advising on individual cases, the organisation promotes is work through the use of media and publicity work to highlight cases of injustice.
  
Minutes from AGM of CAFD [U DAF/1/1]

If you would like further information about any of these collections please see our online catalogue for details.

Claire Weatherall, Assistant Archivist (HUA)

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

2017 Quarterly Update from the History Centre

Over the past three months our City of Culture blog here at the History Centre has explored the theme ‘Made in Hull’, a theme chosen by the City of Culture team to launch the 2017 year of celebrations. With the advent of April, we have moved into the second quarter of 2017, which is dedicated to the theme ‘Roots and Routes’. As a result, our History Centre City of Culture blog now changes focus. From April to June we embark on a ‘Roots and Routes’ blog series.


This quarter’s theme is all about travelling, migration and settlement. Our blogs in this series will cover themes such parades around the city’s public spaces, as well as immigration and movement through the city resulting from the Second World War. We will be exploring 19th century cases of settlement heard by the Quarter Sessions magistrates in the city. And, because of Hull’s important maritime heritage, we won’t be focusing solely on land. The ways in which the citizens of Hull have traversed the waves will be explored as we look at 19th century whaling journeys, and the many ways in which we have attempted to bridge the River Humber over the last millennium.

Postcard showing New Riverside Quay and the River Humber, late 19th cent. [L RH]

To kick off this quarter we are playing host to an exhibition of paintings exploring the Old Town area of the city. This fabulous series of paintings, titled ‘A family’s Journey through Hull’s Old Town’, have been created by Cottingham based artist Shirley Goodsell. The exhibition is free to all and will run from 5th-27th April.

Postcard showing Whitefriargate, the entrance to Hull's Old Town, pre-1900 [L RH]

The quarter will conclude with another exhibition, this time a photographic display, compiled by Alec Gill and titled ‘Hessle Roaders’. This will again be free to all and will run from 1st-29th June.

Postcard showing Hessle Road, 1906 [L RH]

In other news, our History Makers programme for the quarter kicked off on 1st April with a great turnout to the ‘Science in the Archives’ session, which took a whistle-stop tour around the city’s scientific discoveries. The ‘Full Steam Ahead’ session, on 6th May, will look at Hull’s railway history as we build train stations and steam engines to transport us around the city. Whilst the final History Makers of the quarter, ‘Fish and Ships’, will be a celebration of our fishing past.

Just a few hints to keep you intrigued, for more information you will have to read our ‘Roots and Routes’ posts…

History Centre Team

Friday, 7 April 2017

From Dock Company to Humber Ports

Robert in our map room looking at a Humber Conservancy plan
This week marks the beginning of a project which will see the records of the Humber Ports of the British Transport Docks Board, later known as Associated British Ports, fully catalogued and made available to the public for the first time.

To enable us to catalogue the collection we have secured funding from the National Cataloguing Grants Programme for Archives which has allowed us to employ a Project Archivist for 15 months to work on the collection. 

On Monday we welcomed Robert to our team and he will be keeping you up to date on how the project is progressing.

The importance of these records
After the creation of the Hull Dock Board in 1774 Hull’s dock network expanded rapidly and these records allow us to build a comprehensive picture of the workings of the various organisations at work in the Humber region during this period and how they combined to make the area a maritime success. 


Important for the understanding of the history and development of Hull and the wider Humber region, this collection, which covers the period 1772-1982, includes records relating to:

  • The Hull Dock Company
  • The Humber Conservancy Commissioners and Board
  • The ports of Goole, Grimsby and Immingham
  • The Aire and Calder Navigation
  • The Dock and Harbour Authorities Association
  • Hull and Barnsley Railway
  • Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway
  • North Eastern Railway/London & North Eastern Railway/Waterways and Ports

Carol Tanner

Access and Collections Manager

Monday, 27 March 2017

Made in Hull: Women in the Pursuit of Perfection

To celebrate the end of Women's History Month 2017 and the City of Culture’s Women of the World Festival, we thought we would take a look at the lives of some of our unsung women, all of whom we have records on at the History Centre if you want to find out more. Winifred Holtby, wrote an article for the Yorkshire Post in October 1929 entitled, Women in the pursuit of perfection [L WH/2/2.25/05/10B]. In it she separated women into two groups: those who are satisfied with their lot and are happy to compromise; and those who strive for something better, for perfection. Holtby, along with the rest of the women in this blog, falls into the second category. These are women that deserve to be celebrated for their contribution to the life of the City and those within it. 

Ann Watson
On her death, Mrs Ann Watson provided for the creation of a trust, The Ann Watson Trust, under the terms of her will, dated 27th October 1720. We know little of Ann's life or family, except that she was married to the Reverend Abraham Watson, lived in Hedon and had four children. Three of her children, Hedon, Abraham, and a daughter married to Mr Alexander Hall, all died in her lifetime. Her fourth child, Isaac survived her and was the rector of South Ferriby. Her bequest provided for the accommodation and relief of poor women in need who were members of the Church of England. Preference was given to widows or unmarried daughters of clergymen of the Church of England. She also made provision to help those in need to gain an education. Through careful management her bequest has helped those less fortunate than herself for three centuries. Today, the objectives of the Charity remain fundamentally the same. They include providing for the advancement of education through the promotion of education amongst persons under 25 who are residents of the East Riding of Yorkshire or who attend a school in that area. You can find out more about Ann Watson and her legacy by exploring the trust's records [C DSAW].

Map showing the extent of the Trust's land ownership, 1770 [C DSAW/3/2]

Mrs Christiana Rose
Christiana Rose was a woman who forged her own way in a man’s world. In 1833 she inherited a business that would become known as Rose, Downs & Thompson Ltd. It was originally established in 1777 by John Todd as the Old Foundry in a location that would later become known as Canon Street. The business specialised in making windmill parts and casting canon and ship fittings. It also benefited from the lucrative seed crushing industry which required presses and windmills to operate. On the retirement of Mr Todd in 1824, the business passed to Christiana's father, Duncan Campbell. Christiana had a large hand in continuing the business and expanded it to such an extent that, between 1861 and 1863, the Old Foundry had built and installed over one hundred double presses, all of which bore the name C Rose. She died in December 1871 having steered the business through a transitional period which would see it become one of the leading exporters of oil mill machinery. To find out more, have a look at the records of Rose, Downs & Thompson [C DBR]. 

Photograph of female workers in the workshop, c.1920 [C DBR/2037]

Ada Hartley
Born in 1896 to Charles and Caroline Hartley, Ada was a woman who was to dedicate her life to the teaching profession and the children in her care. At the age of 17 she attended Hessle Church of England School as a student teacher. She would return to the school in 1928 as a teacher, and would remain there, working her way up the ranks to Headmistress in 1938, until her retirement in 1961. Outside of her teaching work, Ada served the community in other ways. By 1925 she had joined the Kingston Nursing Division of St. John’s Ambulance Association. She served in No. 6 District, the Hull Corps. In 1931 she was appointed a Lady Ambulance Officer and became a lady ambulance driver later the same year. As WWII approached, Ada attended courses in Chemical Warfare and became an instructor in anti-gas measures, before being appointed as a Lady Divisional Superintendent in June 1941. After the war she received The Order of St. John of Jerusalem in recognition of devoted service to the cause of humanity. Ada remained unmarried after the war, a fate many women experienced following the death of a generation of young men did not come home from the war. She died in 1980 having dedicated her whole life to helping others. You can find out more about Ada and her life in records at the History Centre [C DIMH].

Ada (1st on left) with The St John's Ambulence [C DIMH/1/4/1]

There are many more stories waiting to be told, many more exceptional Hull women to discover, here at the History Centre through our online catalogue. Mary Murdoch (1864-1916), Suffragist and Hull’s first female doctor [L.610]; Winifred Holtby (1898-1935), author, critic, journalist and political activist [L WH,  L.823]; Stevie Smith (1902-1971), poet and author [U DP/156, U DP/197, L. 821 (SMI)]; Amy Johnson (1903-1941), aviatrix and the first female to fly to Australia [L.920 (JOH), L DIAJ]; Lilian Bilocca (1929-1988), activist [L. Newspapers, L. Books]; Jean Hartley (1933-2011), founder of Marvell Press, Philip Larkin’s publisher [U DJE].

Carol Tanner, Collections Manager Hull City Archives

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Archive Service Accreditation

It has been announced today that the Hull History Centre has been awarded Archive Service Accreditation by The National Archives.

What is the Archives Accreditation scheme?
Accredited Archive Services ensure the long-term collection, preservation and accessibility of our archive heritage. Archives Accreditation is the UK quality standard which recognises good performance in all areas of archive service delivery. Achieving accredited status demonstrates that Hull History Centre has met clearly defined national standards relating to management and resourcing; the care of its unique collections and what the service offers to its entire range of users.

To complete its application staff at the Centre have spent a year reviewing and updating all of its policies on fundraising, volunteers, social media, access, learning and outreach aswell as collections management.

The Accreditation Panel which made the award, following a visit to the Centre earlier this year, commended the achievements of the Centre “in delivering a very positive service offering strong outreach and innovation, particularly in cataloguing and digital preservation. The constituent archives have embraced the opportunities of co-location to provide a positive experience for their users.”

What next?
an attendee at a recent History Maker
session with a decorated helmet and shield
 
We now have a framework to review and update all of this work in the next few years but it has given us the confidence that we are on the right track. We will continue to offer a range of services to meet our different users needs – including our popular History Makers craft and Lego activities for families, History Bakers where staff put their baking skills to the test with old recipes in the archives through to our recent Reading Old Writing workshops.

We will continue to seek external funding to allow us to do more, as evident through securing a National Cataloguing Grant to work on the records of the Humber Ports of the British Transport Docks Board which later became Associated British Ports. 

This year we are heavily involved in supporting a range of projects as the city celebrate UK City of Culture and hosting a wide variety of exhibitions including one on Hull in the Civil War later this summer.

One of the biggest challenges faced by the sector today is preserving digital content like word files or email often requiring data to be safely transferred from old formats – like the floppy disk. This area of work is key to ensure that future generations are able to access information in the archives for academic research or personal curiosity. 

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Made in Hull: A Poetic City

Recently, I was delving into issues of the University of Hull’s student paper, ‘Torch’, as part of my work [RefNo. U SUH]. Reading through a volume covering the period of the Second World War, I was intrigued to find that issues often contain poetry submissions from students. Many of these submissions were clearly inspired by our city, and this gave me an idea for a blog.

As it is UNESCO World Poetry Day on the 21st March, I thought you might like to take a look at some past images of Hull through the medium of student poetry. So this fortnight’s Culture of Culture blog will have limited input from me in order that you may take in some interesting perspectives on Hull written by people who have been inspired by the city.

Professor Hardy invented the Continuous Plankton Recorder whilst Professor of Zoology at Hull. This poem was presumably written by one of his students and captures one reaction to research being undertaken in the city during the 1940s.


During the Second World War, Hull was heavily bombed, possibly the worst hit city, along with Coventry, outside of London. This poem evokes the experience of living in Hull during the heavy bomb raids of the 1940s.


At the end of the Second World War, Hull was a ruined city, with bombed out buildings and 1000s of people having to be rehoused. This poem conjures a picture of what it must have been like to walk around the city in the aftermath of the war.


And finally, poem that may be inspired by Paragon Station, a building that would have been used by students coming and going between home and studies. Quite literally, a 'lighter' note to end on, with a depiction of a city looking forward with hope for the future.


If you have enjoyed any other these, why not come and visit us? You will find plenty more student poems in the 'Torch' volumes we hold here at the History Centre.

Claire, Assistant Archivist (HUA)

Thursday, 9 March 2017

NDSA Levels of digital preservation

Here at the Hull History Centre, we have been reviewing the NDSA levels of digital preservation. This was something we had meant to do for a while. Last summer we volunteered to feed our experiences back to the Archives Accreditation team which is looking at using this element in the future.  

The levels are a framework created by the National Digital Stewardship Alliance as a guide for institutions that are managing digital material. The framework breaks up the many various and sometimes confusing aspects of digital preservation into five easily understood functional areas: Storage, Integrity, Security, Metadata and File Formats. These areas can be graded into four levels of increasing preservation security, creating a visual reference grid that can be used as a checklist. 

Two extra areas that have been proposed are Access (proposed by the Library of the University of California) and Physical Formats (by the United States Geological Survey). In creating a grid for the Hull University Archives we decided to include these two proposed areas.

This is our starting grid, with the two extra areas and a few minor tweaks around virus checking

Completing the self-assessment
To undertake the self-assessment we simply looked at each area, starting with level 1 and quickly determined whether we had met the requirement completely (green), partially (yellow) or not at all (red). We deliberately sought not to dwell on each element and erred on the side of caution.
This is our final grid, lots of red but some aspects/elements are already in-place

Using the framework
The framework is a self-assessment tool which can help you plan your digital preservation journey.  Don't worry - most of the Level 4 requirements in each area are intended to be hard to reach but is intended to serve as a long-term target to aspire to. At Hull our long-term target is to become a trusted digital repository.

Some elements will conflict with institutional policy - for example the storage area recommends having three separate copies of your data in different locations obviously has resource implications. 

The best way we found to approach the NDSA levels is to focus on meeting the basic requirements, understand the level of preservation that can achieve with the current resources and work up to levels 3 and 4 step-by-step. At the end of the day, every archive has different goals for their digital preservation plans and understanding how to achieve them is an ongoing learning process. Having conducted the exercise this year - we now need to make it an integrated element into our work-programme and review progress in 12 months time!

We decided to implement the two proposed areas but we did not a few issues. It can be argued that Physical Media is already featured under the Storage area albeit in not such an explicit way.  It can be argued (indeed was often argued) that the Access area of the framework fits outside of the main digital preservation strategy. One reason to include Access is that it ensures this element remains a visible and explicit part of the planning process - and of course is the reason why we are preserving the stuff in the first place. Whilst we didn't always agree - the discussions were very interesting in that it made us think about the detail and the big picture.

Conclusion
Whatever form the NDSA levels of digital preservation end up taking in the future, the ability to be able to see at-a-glance how an institution is faring in its digital preservation efforts, and what should be the next set of goals, is an incredibly useful tool. It breaks down the sometimes confusing terms and stages of digital preservation into smaller points that are more easily manageable, making it much easier for institutions to begin implementing their own digital archives.

Francisco & Tom
Transforming Archives trainees

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

LGBT History Month

February has been LGBT History Month and the theme for 2017 is PHSE, Citizenship and Law. 


2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, which decriminalised homosexual acts in private in England and Wales, so I decided to look through the archive of Liberty (formerly the National Council for Civil Liberties) to see whether we hold any relevant material.
I discovered a file of press cuttings from the 1950s and 1960s (reference U DCL/178/10) which proved fascinating reading, as they demonstrate attitudes and viewpoints which seem archaic and sometimes horrifying to a modern reader. The Observer reported, in a February 1954 article, that:
Modern psychology taught us that homosexuality was a form of illness – physical as well as mental – which might be cured, and not a crime, which must be punished.
This argument was frequently cited in the press as a reason for law reform. The risk of blackmail was another, as a piece in The Times from May 1954 illustrates:
[The current law] unintentionally creates conditions favourable to blackmail. The man who fears exposure for adultery or some other legally unpunishable deed is equally liable to blackmail. But he, unlike the sexual invert, can put the police on to the blackmailer without fearing that he will himself be punished.
It was announced later in 1954 that an enquiry would be set up to investigate the laws.

Times, 9 July 1954

Following the Wolfenden Report in 1957, which recommended reform of the law, the government was unprepared to act but there were some attempts by members of Parliament and campaign groups to push for reform.
Daily Worker, 7 May 1965

It was not until 1965, however, that momentum began to really build, as Lord Arran in the House of Lords and Leo Abse in the House of Commons began the process of change. Although many in Parliament supported reform, that did not mean that they viewed homosexuality in the way society does today. The Sun reported on 13 May 1965, “17 out of 22 peers who took part in a Lords debate had spoken in favour of this reform”; it went on to record that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Michael Ramsey, supported reform although “[he] said homosexuality was a sin, but all sins did not have to be treated as crimes.”
On 24 May 1965 the House of Lords debated a Bill to reform the law. One of the strongest voices against reform was Field-Marshal Viscount Montgomery, whose opinion as reported in The Sun was:
To condone unnatural practices seems to me wholly wrong. One might just as well condone the Devil and all his works.
The voices in favour of reform included Lord Arran, who introduced the Bill, who said “Was it right a man should be persecuted and prosecuted for what he was born to be?” He went on to say, “I pray… that this House may show itself to be the place I believe it to be – a place of progress and compassion.” The Marquess of Queensbury said, “When my children grow up they will be amazed that laws of this sort could exist in the middle of the 20th century.”
The 1965 Bill in the House of Lords was not adopted by the government, but in 1966 Leo Abse introduced the Sexual Offences Bill in the House of Commons. He spoke at its second reading, demonstrating again that even supporters of reform used language which seems, shall we say, unhelpful to today’s ears. The Guardian reported:
Mr Leo Abse (Lab. Pontypool) said that the law offered homosexuals the “brutal choice” of either celibacy or criminality with nothing in between. … [Mr Abse said] “We are dealing with large numbers of people who apart from this particular aberration, are totally law-abiding.”
This time the reformers were successful, and the Act was passed. In the years since there have been arguments and debates about its merits and failings, but it’s surely worth commemorating as a step on the road to equality.

Guardian, 20 December 1966

Sarah Pymer, Assistant Archivist (HUA)

Monday, 13 February 2017

Made in Hull: A 'Sensational' Hull Romance

It's the month of love with Valentines Day happening on the 14th February, so what better reason is there to look at the history of chocolate and sweet making in our city!

Needler's letterhead paper

For those of you who didn’t already know, Needler's was a Hull-based sweet manufacturer. It was founded in 1886 by 18 year old Frederick Needler when he bought a small confectionery business near Paragon Station. He would later move the business to Anne Street, where he employed two staff - a sugar boiler and a boy named Watson. 

By 1900, the business had grown and the now 10 female and 23 male employees could make around ten tons of confectionery per week, resulting in a turnover for Needler of £15,000. Over two hundred different products, mainly boiled sweets and toffees, were being made. This meant that by 1906 larger premises were required, and a new building was erected on Bournemouth Street, off Sculcoates Lane. This is the factory that many people will remember and associate with Needlers. It was demolished in the early 2000’s and the land redeveloped as a housing estate. A nod to the land's previous status can be found in the estate's name, 'Needler's Way'.

Ariel photograph of the Bournemouth Street factory, 1920s

By 1912 Needler’s were producing 576 lines, 74 of which were chocolate, and by 1920 the company was making 650 tons of chocolate and 1,500 tons of sweets per year resulting in a turnover of £664,000. Sweet wrappers were introduced in the early 1920s and, interestingly, this process was undertaken by hand until the first wrapping machines were introduced in 1928.

By 1920, there were 1,700 permanent employees, most of whom were female. The company had a reputation for treating employees well. The staff dining room was often the scene of wedding gift presentations to former and current employees about to get married. In the summer 1936 issue of a journal published by Needler's, ‘Quality’, Percival Needler emphasized what a loss to the firm it was when 'valued servants’ left to set up their own homes and families. He also stated that he believed their Needler's training would ‘stand them in good stead in their home life' and that 'running a home was no easy matter', but that 'habits of punctuality, tidiness, cleanliness and the general discipline' gained whilst employed at Needler's should prove an excellent foundation on which to build [L.664.1]. On 29 July 1922 the Hull Times ran an article titled ‘A Romance of Local Industry’ which focused on the ‘sweet’ girls of Hull’, and which observed the excellent welfare and social provisions for workers. Profit sharing had been introduced as early as 1911, the company provided good social and sports facilities, as well as a sick and benefit society, and a full time attendant nurse was employed for the use of staff.

Needler's Van, 1918

Unfortunately, Needler's was badly hit by the economic depression of the 1930s, with turnover being nearly half what it had been just a decade earlier. At the same time, Frederick Needler's health was deteriorating, and he died on 30 September 1932 aged 67. He was immediately succeeded by his son, A. Percival Needler. Interestingly, the son was a published poet of some local repute. In 1958, he published a book of poems called ‘The Chiming Hours’ [L. 821]. It contains two love poems, ‘Love was a Rose’ and ‘Amberieux Revisited’...

Advertisement for Needler's products

Amberieux Revisited

And if two lovers sometimes meet
At blue of evening near my tree,
A corpse most happy I shall be
Their youth and grace to greet;

Holding hands I see them come,
Wrapped in dreams that need no speech,
Smiling softly each to each,
And pause beside my tomb.

“Dear poet who no malice bore,”
I hear them say in voices low,
“Here he rests were flowers blow
And wanders now no more.”

And in their innocence and bliss,
Beneath the stars that watch and wait
I hope that they will celebrate
My memory with a kiss.

The advancement of supermarkets in the 1970s and 1980s led to the eventual decline of small, privately owned sweet shops that no longer placed orders with Needlers to any great volume and so in 1986, the company was bought out. Anyone with a ‘hunger’ to find out more about Needlers after this ‘sweetener’ is welcome to come into Hull History Centre or search our online catalogue (Link)

Elspeth, Archivist and Librarian