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ISSUE 03 - JULY 2018






Welcome to the third issue of DMU Special Collections newsletter! DMU Special Collections team are part of Library and Learning Services. We care for archives, rare books and artefacts housed in room 00.21 of the Kimberlin Library. These include records of the institution dating back to 1870 as well as a growing collection of archives relating to subject specialisms of university research centres, including fashion, sports history, photography and performing arts. I can hardly believe this is our third newsletter – this academic year has gone so fast! As you will see from the news section this has been a busy year in Special Collections. I’m very proud of the work of the team and want to thank them for their hard work and enthusiasm this year, especially my colleagues Steven Peachey, who brings this newsletter to life with his wonderful designs, and Dr. Natalie Hayton, Archives Assistant, with her unfailing support, passion for engagement and supportive mentoring for our volunteers. In this issue you will find news about forthcoming Heritage Centre exhibitions and Heritage Sunday events, an article by one of our volunteers about how the experience has benefitted her studies as well as unexpectedly helping with homesickness, and an exploration of the world of hats. A delightful guest article describes the family history research that led Glenda Harden to Special Collections to explore the career of her father. Our next issue will be available in November 2018. We welcome suggestions and comments; please contact or tweet us @DMUSpecialColls. Katharine Short University Archivist All information correct at time of printing. Opinions and views expressed are those of the author not DMU. 2

CONTENTS DMU Special Collections.......................... 3 Latest News.................................................. 4 Heritage Centre.......................................... 5 Guest Article................................................ 6 Thematic Exploration.................................. 8 Behind the Scenes..................................... 10 Then and Now!............................................ 12




Archives and Rare Books

Open Monday 9am-2pm Tuesday to Friday 9am-5pm. Kimberlin Library 00.21


MU Special Collections is part of Library and Learning Services based in the Kimberlin Library. We hold varied material including archives, rare books, artwork and artefacts. The main archive collection relates to the history of DMU, tracing the development and activities of the institution from its founding in 1870 as the Leicester School of Art, its years as the Colleges of Art and Technology, then Leicester Polytechnic, and its current status as De Montfort University. Special Collections also seeks to accrue material which relates to specialist subjects taught at DMU, in order to enhance teaching, learning and research at the University. These subjects include: photographic history, sports history,

fashion and textiles, art and design, literature, performance and the history of Leicester. Catalogues for the archives collection can be found on the Archives Hub, while rare books are catalogued as part of the main DMU Library catalogue. In addition to caring for our collections we assist researchers, hold a programme of outreach activities such as talks, tours and displays, contribute to records management and research data management strategies across the university, collaborate with heritage partners across Leicester and the East Midlands, and run a successful student volunteering programme.



Highlights from2017/18 As the 2017-18 academic year draws to a close, we can reflect on our successes over the past 9 months. This year has seen our volunteer programme expand, with over 500 hours of repackaging and listing put in by our dedicated team!

New Donation

In May we received a beautiful donation: this white and silver embroidered coat or dressing gown, made by a student of fashion design at Leicester Polytechnic. The coat belonged to Barbara Barrett, former lecturer in the Department of Foundation Garment and Lingerie Design, and was donated to the Archive by her family.

Display Case for Borderlines Conference

We have also seen the growth of our programme of talks, lectures, pop-up displays and handling sessions, with over 1000 people reached during nearly 50 events.

Photographic History Research Centre Annual Conference Special Collections was pleased to be invited to prepare a pop-up display for the Photographic History Research Centre annual conference. The conference theme is Material Practices of Visual History.

Photographic Collections on Display


ARC Magazine Film, Sound and Photography Issue When ARC Magazine, the newsletter of the Archives and Records Association, asked for articles for a Film, Sound and Photography issue we knew that our volunteer project to list and package the National Art Slide Library would be of interest. MA Photographic History student Molly Caenwyn wrote an excellent article about how her volunteering led to academic discoveries that appeared in the April 2018 edition.


NHS AT 70 This year, the DMU Heritage Centre is celebrating the 70th anniversary of the NHS with two temporary exhibitions exploring local healthcare. Launching to the public on 7th July, ‘The Art of Healthcare’ features objects from the extensive collection of art, artefacts and archives belonging to University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust. Leicester’s hospitals have accumulated thousands of extraordinary objects since the opening of the Infirmary in 1771. This often curious collection of photographs, artwork, marketing advertisements, posters, newspaper clippings, medical instruments, remedies and more, provides a fascinating look into the progression of healthcare as well as changes to our general lifestyle and social views on wellbeing. The exhibition celebrates the history of UHL, yet focuses on its recent initiative to develop an Arts and Heritage programme to preserve and promote this significant collection. The DMU Heritage Centre and UHL’s Arts and Heritage Committee will use the exhibition to raise the question of how art, artefacts and archives can be used to inform inspire and create a positive impact on our health by leading several community events over the next six months. Our second exhibition ‘A Heritage of Healing: The history of the Leicester School of Nursing & Midwifery’ will launch the following week on 14th July. Leicester and De Montfort University have a background of nursing and midwifery training going back nearly 150 years. This exhibition uses objects from the DMU Special Collections to tell the story of the school from its origins in 1870 and explore how the profession has changed over the decades.

HERITAGE SUNDAYS Explore Leicester’s hidden history on the last Sunday of the month!

OPENING HOURS Tuesday - Friday 12pm - 5pm CONTACT (0116) 207 8729

Stained Glass Memorial, Matron Mildred Florence Hughes

March – November 2018 10:00am – 3:00pm This free event highlights many wonderful buildings in Leicester’s historic Newarke district including three of DMU’s heritage sites: The DMU Heritage Centre, featuring the only remaining ruins of the Church of Annunciation, Leicester Castle and Trinity Chapel & Herb Garden. 5



WILLIAM (BILL) HEATON BY GLENDA VALERIE HARDEN It started as a telephone enquiry to Special Collections and a conversation with Dr Natalie Hayton, Archives Assistant. I didn’t know what to expect, but I explained I wanted to research my grandfather William Heaton’s working career as a Lecturer in Glass at the former Leicester Polytechnic between 1969 and 1983. Within a couple of days, I was delighted to receive a reply with news of records found in the archives that refer to my grandfather. So, early last January I visited DMU to see their findings. On the day of our visit to Leicester, my partner and I arrived at DMU’s Kimberlin Library, where we were introduced to a very warm and welcoming team in Special Collections. I could not help begin the conversation, telling everyone with much pride, about my grandfather’s working life story: Thirty five years have passed since ‘Leicester’s Man of Glass’ retired. William Heaton was one of the country’s most prominent, experienced and versatile glass makers of his day. He played a very important part in the UK’s history of glass making. Bill (as he liked to be called), had a career spanning six decades in glass making. In 1916 at the age of 13 his industrial apprenticeship began with Dennis Glass Works, Stourbridge. At the age of 23 he became a gaffer at Webb Corbett in Wordsley, which was at the heart of the glass making industry. In 1937 my grandparents and two children moved to Edinburgh, where he was appointed as a gaffer with Edinburgh Crystal. During the Blitz in 1944, Bill was employed as Manager with an Anglo French factory in London. From 1948 to 1959, Bill worked with Whitefriars and during this time he demonstrated glass blowing techniques at the 1951 Festival of Britain at the South Bank.

In 1959, Bill was appointed to the Royal College of Art in London to start a new ‘Hot Glass’ area. He worked with Professor Gooden and then Lord Queensberry for whom he made industrial prototypes, as well as special commission work and antique restoration.


He thought he had finally made a break and retired from the RCA in 1968, but he reckoned without the persuasive powers of one of the third year students on whom he had made a lasting impression. His former student, John Cook, who had not long completed his studies, came to Leicester Polytechnic when he was appointed Principal Lecturer. In 1969 Bill de-retired (can only be done once) to help John start a new studio glass area and was responsible for the design and construction of the furnace. Bill joined the Poly as a part-time member of staff, working 12 hours a week. He worked hard, sharing his valuable technical experience, his skills, and anecdotes of “hand blowing” radar tubes for the war effort. He even related what industrial life was like in the early parts of 1900’s to a stream of students. Among his other activities, Bill also contributed to an exhibition held at Kimberlin Hall, organised by Leicester Polytechnic Ceramics, Silver and Glass Department, complemented with an hour long video film in which he commentated and demonstrated the making of a jug, goblet, decanter and sugar bowl.

Finally Bill retired in 1983, but returned to do a commission piece with John in 1984. Whilst Bill did not always relate to the Studio Glass Movement he had helped, he taught and encouraged many hundreds of young people while working at Leicester. He was a well-respected glass maker and knew so many techniques than just those he had used in his work and could turn his hand to almost anything. During our visit to Special Collections Natalie revealed an impressive selection of carefully preserved documents. For me it was the icing on the cake and a privilege to look at photos, newspaper articles and other accounts, explaining Bill’s work and how he taught students the art of glass making. He was so passionate about his craft and passing on his techniques to future generations of craft designers, sharing a common drive essential to preserving this unique skill. For me, personally, it brought back a tapestry of lovely memories and for just one precious moment it recalled in full the life of William Heaton, a lecturer, designer and glass maker at former Leicester Polytechnic from 1969 to 1983. On the day, I took great pleasure in bringing with me three of my grandfather’s glass vases to show off: each was different in its shape, texture and colour. I had included a special blue glass cup, showing individual students names etched into the glass. The cup was presented to Bill on his 80th birthday when he finally retired!To round off the day an informative and impromptu tour was organised, showcasing the University’s new Glass Studio, located in the impressive Vijay Patel Building. Thanks to the helpful team at Special Collections both Geoff and I had a wonderful day. With special thanks to Dr Natalie Hayton who spent her time researching documents and making this account possible for me to write about, and to Steven Peachey for showing us the studio.



HOLD ON TO YOUR HATS... In this issue our thematic exploration looks at the history of hats in Western fashion. Hat wearing dates back to ancient times, initially developed for practical reasons relating to the weather – either as shades for protection from the sun or to keep the head warm during cold weather. The earliest image of a hat is a straw one found in an Egyptian tomb painting from 3200 BC, while fur hats have been found on mummified remains such as Ötzi the Iceman. It is thought our predecessors wore some form of headcovering constantly outdoors and often inside and while sleeping too, due to lack of heating. Other practical requirements influenced the development of hats, noticeably in the creation of protective helmets for the military. Over time, as with other items of clothing, social convention also came to dictate habits around the wearing of headgear. In the Middle Ages, for instance, the Church decreed that all women should cover their heads while attending services, and headcoverings were associated with female modesty. The style, fabric and ornamentation of a hat could tell an observer the profession of the wearer, where they came from, their social status, wealth and success. For example, the phrase ‘a feather in one’s cap’ comes from the custom of giving feathers to the winners of contests, much like medals, which would be worn in the hat of the winner. The profession of milliner, a designer and maker of hats, arose in the 17th and 18th centuries. The word derives from Milan, where a particularly fancy type of straw hat was made – a maker of such hats was called a “Milaner”. De Montfort’s predecessors the Leicester School of Art taught millinery as one of their craft courses. It was later incorporated into the Dress Design course, and in Leicester Polytechnic was included in the Fashion Diploma.

The teaching of millinery seems to have been dropped from the mid-1980s, coinciding with the decline in general wearing of hats. Before the Second World War it would have been unthinkable to be seen in public without a hat. However, with the development of covered forms of transport, especially cars; the popularity of more liberal fashions in the 1960s and the availability of better haircare products and expressive hair-dos meant that by the 1970s and 80s it was no longer the norm to wear a hat when outdoors. Now, wearing a hat is once again most common for practical purposes – in sunny or snowy weather, or is reserved for formal and special occasions, or indeed makes a particular statement about the wearer, from trendy beanies to baseball caps with slogans. The images illustrating this article are drawn from a range of rare books on fashion held in Special Collections.





...wth Francesca Strobino

On September 2017 I left Italy to start my MA in Photographic History at DMU, Leicester. I was thrilled by this new experience and the MA program has surpassed all my expectations, but I have to admit that the first months were particularly frustrating. My English made me feel very insecure and I was struggling to improve it. Volunteering at DMU Special Collections has really helped me to practice my English besides learning useful technical skills.

Piazza San Carlo, Turin

In October Professor Kelley Wilder brought my MA group to visit the DMU Special Collections in the Kimberlin Library. We explored the wonderful Kodak collection and many photographic objects such as cartes de visite, lantern slides, stereophotographs, photographic albums etc. The opportunity to see and handle different print formats and photographic material stimulated an interesting discussion in the group on the many practices and uses connected with photographs. It was a fascinating experience and I was truly surprised by the many photographic items held in the Special Collections! We were told that there was also the opportunity to volunteer in the archive. I thought it would be a good experience and my placement started in November.

My supervisor, Dr. Natalie Hayton, introduced me to the cataloguing project of the V&A National Art Slide Library, held from the 1990s in the DMU Special Collections. My first task was cataloguing and re-packing one slide box of this huge collection.


Piazza San Carlo, Turin

BEHIND THE SCENES Natalie let me freely decide which one to work on and when I saw a box labelled ‘Italy’ my decision was very easy to take! The box contained coloured slides (35 mm) taken in the 1960s in the Centre-North Italy, including cities like Milan, Turin, Urbino and Pisa. The subjects of the slides were mostly architectures from the Roman to the Renaissance age, but also sculptures and beautiful landscapes, probably used to illustrate lectures. In my previous MA in Italy I studied Art History in Florence and in my BA in Cultural Heritage in Urbino. My university background helped me in the identification and description of the architecture and pieces of art and my knowledge of Italian helped me to correct some spelling or identification mistakes made in the original captions. Working on this box was very special to me. Every week I was going back to the wonderful places where I lived or had visited, having the chance to use my knowledge to write accurate cataloguing descriptions of the images. Practicing on them helped me to expand my English vocabulary and to gain more confidence in my writing. I have to thank the team of volunteers and the archivists for having created such a positive and stimulating atmosphere. Volunteering at the DMU Special Collections has given me new technical skills that are very useful in my field of study. In these seven months I have learnt how to handle fragile photographic objects, how to package them correctly using conservation materials and how to compose archival descriptions. I have also had the chance to deal with some beautiful and more unusual artefacts like textiles, trophies, and boots while working on the packaging and listing of the Ski Club of Great Britain Collection. I would highly recommend to other students, especially non-native English speakers, to consider visiting Special Collections for their studies and, if they have the chance, to volunteer. This opportunity would provide first-hand experience of working with wonderful collections in a very nice, professional and friendly environment where you can practice and improve your technical skills as well as the linguistic ones.

Central Salon, Palace of the Stupinigi, Turin

Church of Superga, Turin


Opened in 1935, this was the main entrance to the Leicester Colleges of Art and Technology.

The sculptor was Percy Brown, who was also a lecturer at the College of Art.

De Montfort University Kimberlin Library 00.21 Mill Lane Leicester LE1 9BH T: +44 (0)116 207 8776 E: W: @dmuspecialcolls


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A bomb did fall nearby during the Blitz, damaging Wigston’s Chantry House, now part of Newarke Houses Museum.

The relief sculpture on the doors represents art, crafts, science and technology.

DMU Special Collections Newsletter Issue 3  
DMU Special Collections Newsletter Issue 3