Category Archives: Institutional Archives

Prifysgol Caerdydd yn Lansio Gwasanaeth Digidol Newydd: Casgliadau Arbennig Digidol 

Mae casgliad arbennig o lyfrau cain – gwaith oes yr artist Shirley Jones – yn ganolbwynt ar gyfer gwasanaeth digidol newydd sbon, wedi’i ddatblygu gan staff Casgliadau Arbennig ac Archifau. 

Mae Casgliadau Arbennig Ar-Lein, sy’n lansio heddiw, yn rhannu casgliadau prin gydag ymchwilwyr, myfyrwyr, ysgolion a’r cyhoedd yn rhad ac am ddim. 

Bydd casgliadau prin ac unigryw i’w gweld ar-lein, rhai am y tro cyntaf erioed

Gyda dros 1,700 o eitemau prin wedi’u cyhoeddi yn barod, mae’r gwasanaeth yn hwyluso mynediad fel erioed o’r blaen, gan ddefnyddio ffotograffau manwl a phrydferth. Mae llawer o’r eitemau sydd i’w canfod ar y gwasaneth yn hynod o brin, ac eraill yn hollol unigryw i’r Brifysgol. 

Meddai’r Archifydd Alison Harvey: “Mae llyfrau Shirley i’w canfod mewn casgliadau preifat – mae’n weithred radical i’w rhannu gyda phawb, ar-lein, am ddim – gwaith oes, sy’n cael ei rannu gyda bendith Shirley.” 

Golwg fanwl ar waith yr artist Shirley Jones, sydd wedi gwneud rhodd o’i gwaith oes i’r Brifysgol

“Mae’n wahanol iawn i sganiau llwyd y dyddiau a fu: dylunwyd y gwasanaeth i gyd-weithio gyda systemau eraill, sy’n cynyddu’r potensial ar gyfer creu deunyddiau dysgu, arddangosfeydd rhithiol, ymchwil a llawer mwy.” 

Bydd Casgliadau Arbennig Ar-Lein yn tyfu wrth i ragor o eitemau gael eu digido, gan greu trysorfa o ddeunydd ymchwil, a chasgliadau nodweddiadol fydd o ddiddordeb i lyfr-bryfaid yng Nghymru a thu hwnt. Ymysg eitemau eraill sydd ar gael am y tro cyntaf ‘mae:  

ffotograffau unigryw o fyfyrwyr Ysgol Dechnegol Caerdydd ym 1898  

dyddiaduron nyrs o Ryfel Cartref Sbaen 

cofnodion lliwgar o fywyd myfyrwyr dros y degawdau 

Myfyrwyr Ysgol Dechnegol Caerdydd ym 1898

Esboniodd Pennaeth Casgliadau Arbennig ac Archifau, Alan Vaughan Hughes: “Rydan ni’n falch iawn i fod yn rhan o gyfundrefn IIIF, y Brifysgol gyntaf yng Nghymru i ymuno. Mae’n safon digido arloesol, fydd yn drawsnewidiol ar gyfer ymchwil a dysgu.” 

“Mae hyn gymaint mwy na rhoi lluniau ar y we: trwy IIIF, rydan ni’n rhan o fframwaith ryngwladol sy’n gwneud ein casgliadau yn fwy hygyrch i ymchwilwyr a’r cyhoedd yn fyd-eang.” 

Gallwch bori Casgliadau Arbennig Ar-Lein fan hyn: Casgliadau Arbennig Ar-Lein 

Cardiff University Launches a New Digital Service: Digital Special Collections

A unique collection of handmade books – the life’s work of artist Shirley Jones – is the centrepiece of a brand-new digital service developed by Special Collections and Archives.   

Cardiff University Digital Special Collections, which launches today, is free to use and shares rarely seen treasures with researchers, students, schools and the public, for free.  

Rare and unique items have been made available online for the first time, including the life’s work of artist Shirley Jones

Over 1,700 rare items are already available, photographed in exquisite detail – enabling access like never before to the University’s collections. Many of the items are extremely rare, while others are completely unique to the University.  

Archivist Alison Harvey said: “Shirley’s books are usually in private collections, and it’s quite radical to make them available to everyone, for free, online – a lifetime of work, which we’re sharing with Shirley’s blessing.”    

A detail from Shirley Jones’ collections, viewed through a deep zoom viewer, which lets users explore rare and unique collections in detail

“It’s a long way from the greyscale scans of the past: Digital Special Collections is designed to work with other platforms, to create teaching materials, online exhibitions and more. The potential for future research and impact is immense.”   

Digital Special Collections will continue to grow as more items are digitised, creating a trove of research material and cultural highlights for book-lovers across Wales and beyond. Other items made available for the first time today include 

  • unique photographs of students learning trades at Cardiff Technical School in 1898  
  • handwritten diaries from an intrepid nurse, written during the Spanish Civil War 
  • retro photographs of student life stretching back to the Victorian period 
Cardiff Technical School Students in 1898

Head of Special Collections and Archives, Alan Vaughan Hughes explains: “We’re really proud to be the first University in Wales to adopt the IIIF standard. This framework allows the kind of functionality that will transform how we use collections for teaching and research.  

“This goes way beyond just putting images on the internet: IIIF means that our collections are now part of an international framework and makes them more accessible globally, to researchers and the public.”   

Digital Special Collections can be accessed here: Digital Special Collections   

Diwrnod Menywod mewn STEM: Maria Dawson, graddedig gyntaf Prifysgol Cymru

Y botanydd Maria Dawson oedd y person cyntaf i dderbyn gradd gan Brifysgol Cymru, ym 1896.

Dawson oedd y cyntaf, ar y cyd ag un arall, i dderbyn teitl Doethur y Gwyddorau gan Brifysgol Cymru, a derbyniodd ysgoloriaeth wyddonol i barhau ei hastudiaethau ym maes gwrtaith ac amaeth.

Llun o Maria Dawson, y person cyntaf i raddio o Brifysgol Cymru
Miss Dawson yn derbyn ei Doethuriaeth, o gylchgrawn Coleg Prifysgol Caerdydd, Rhagfyr 1900

Gwobrwyo Graddau Cyntaf Cymru

Ym 1892, ymunodd Dawson a Choleg Prifysgol De Cymru a Sir Fynwy (y sefydliad a ddaeth cyn Prifysgol Caerdydd) i astudio mathemateg, cemeg, sŵoleg a botaneg.

Ar yr adeg honno, doedd dim hawl gan y Coleg i roi graddau, felly byddai’r myfyrwyr yn sefyll arholiadau Prifysgol Llundain fel rheol.

Ym 1893, sefydlwyd Prifysgol Cymru, fyddai’n newid byd addysg Cymru am byth, gyda Cholegau Prifysgol Aberystwyth, Bangor a Chaerdydd yn aelodau. Golygai hyn y gallai Maria Dawson gael gradd gan sefydliad Cymreig.

Perfformiad Academaidd

Roedd Dawson yn fyfyrwraig ddawnus: mi enillodd wobr arddangosfa (ysgoloriaeth) am safon ei harholiad mynediad, a dalodd am ei ffïoedd i gyd – ac enillodd un arall ar ddiwedd y flwyddyn.

Roedd ganddi ddawn wyddonol, gan ennill gwobrau yn ei phedwar pwnc yn ystod ei hail flwyddyn.

Labordy Cemeg ym 1899 yn dangos dynion a merched yn derbyn addysg
Labordy Cemeg yng Nghaerdydd ym 1899 yn dangos dynion a merched yn derbyn addysg

Ymchwil Arloesol

Wedi iddi raddio gyda B.Sc., enillodd wobr o £150 gan Gomisiwn Brenhinol Arddangosfa 1851.

Yn Labordai Botanegol Caergrawnt, fe aeth ati i ymchwilio effeithiau nitrogen ar blanhigion, oedd yn arfer newydd iawn ar y pryd.

Yn ei phapur ‘”Nitragin and the nodules of leguminous plants” ei damcaniaeth oedd na ddylai ychwanegu nitrogen yn ormodol i bridd, ond bod ei ddefnydd mewn pridd gwael yn gallu cynyddu cynaeafau.

Merched Parchus Neuadd Aberdar

Efallai na fyddai Dawson wedi dod i Gaerdydd oni bai am y neuadd breswyl arbennig ar gyfer menywod, Neuadd Aberdâr.

Darlun artist o Neuadd Aberdar fel yr edrychai ym 1895

Roedd ei theulu yn byw yn Llundain – rhy bell iddi ddychwelyd adre bob dydd – a roedd yn annerbyniol yn ôl moesau’r oes i fyfyrwraig ddi-briod fyw ar ei phen ei hun.

Sefydlwyd Neuadd Aberdâr ym 1885, un o’r neuaddau preswyl cyntaf yn y DU i fenywod.

Seremoni Raddio gyntaf Prifysgol Cymru

Clawr wedi ei ddarlunio a llaw, rhifyn cyntaf yr 'University College Magazine', Rhagfyr 1885
Cylchgrawn cyntaf Coleg y Brifysgol, Rhagfyr 1885

Ar yr 22ain o Hydref 1897, ymgasglodd myfyrwyr Prifysgol Cymru yn Neuadd y Parc, neuadd gyngerdd fawr, ar gyfer seremoni raddio gyntaf y sefydliad.

Dyma oedd gan gylchgrawn Coleg Prifysgol De Cymru a Sir Fynwy, cyhoeddiad gan fyfyrwyr, i’w ddweud am yr achlysur arbennig hwn:

“The first to be presented was Miss Maria Dawson, for the degree of B.Sc., and her appearance was the signal for a great outburst of enthusiasm among the audience. The Deputy-Chancellor… gave her the diploma…, and with a… bow… she retired amid deafening cheers.”

Rydym ni’n dathlu Maria heddiw, a’n falch o’n hanes hir o gefnogi ymchwil menywod yn y gwyddorau – cewch weld rhagor o straeon o fenywod sy’n arloesi heddiw fan hyn: Diwrnod Menywod Mewn STEM.

Gallwch ddarllen gwaith Maria Dawson am Nitrogen fan hyn: Maria Dawson, ‘“Nitragin” and the nodules of leguminous plants’, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Vol. 64, 167-168 (1899) http://doi.org/10.1098/rspl.1898.0086

Women in STEM Day: Meet Maria Dawson, the first graduate of the University of Wales

The University of Wales awarded its first degree, a Bachelor of Science, to botanist Maria Dawson in 1896.

Dawson also jointly holds the title of the first Doctor of Science of the University of Wales, and was granted a prestigious scientific scholarship which funded her pioneering research into agricultural fertilisers.

Photograph of the first graduate of the University of Wales, Maria Dawson
Miss Maria Dawson receiving her D.Sc., published in the University College Magazine in Dec 1900

Degree-awarding powers in Wales

In October 1892, Dawson was admitted to the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire (the predecessor to Cardiff University) to study mathematics, chemistry, zoology and botany.

At that time, the College did not have degree-awarding powers, and students were prepared for University of London examinations.

However in 1893, whilst Dawson was a student, the history of Welsh education was altered irrevocably with the establishment of the University of Wales.

The university colleges in Cardiff, Bangor and Aberystwyth were its constituent institutions.

Academic Excellence

Dawson was a high achiever from the outset: she won an exhibition (a bursary) at the College’s entrance examinations, which covered her matriculation and lecture fees, and another at the end of her first year.

She excelled in her scientific studies, winning prizes for her performance in all four of her subjects following her second year.

Chemistry Laboratory, c.1899, showing women students
Chemistry Laboratory, c.1899, showing women students

From Botany modules to researching root nodules

After graduating with her B.Sc., Dawson was awarded a £150 research scholarship by Her Majesty’s Commission for the Exhibition of 1851.

Her pioneering research, undertaken at the Cambridge Botanical Laboratories, investigated how the addition of nitrogen and nitrates to soil, a new practice at that time, affected crop yields.

In her research paper, ‘”Nitragin” and the nodules of leguminous plants’ published by Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, she concludes:

Adding nitrogen “to soils rich in nitrates” is inadvisable. Adding “a supply of it to soil poor in nitrates results in an increased yield”, however the best results are obtained when “nitrates [are] added to the soil”.

All the single ladies: let’s put you up… in Aberdare Hall

Artist’s impression of Aberdare Hall in the 1890s

Dawson may not have enrolled at the University of South Wales and Monmouthshire at all if it were not for the dedicated all-female hall of residence the College offered.

Her family lived in London, too far to return home each day, and it was not considered respectable for a young, unmarried woman to live in lodgings unchaperoned.

Aberdare Hall, set up in 1885, was one of the first higher education residences for women in the UK.

Doff thy caps: the first degree ceremony of the University of Wales

Cover of the hand-written manuscript of the University College Magazine, Dec 1885
Cover of the hand-written manuscript of the University College Magazine, Dec 1885

The first degree ceremony of the University of Wales took place in Cardiff at Park Hall, a large concert hall, on 22 October 1897.

The magazine of the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire, a student publication, reported on this auspicious occasion:

“The first to be presented was Miss Maria Dawson, for the degree of B.Sc., and her appearance was the signal for a great outburst of enthusiasm among the audience. The Deputy-Chancellor… gave her the diploma…, and with a… bow, she retired amid deafening cheers.”

Today we celebrate Maria Dawson. We’re proud of our long history of supporting women’s research in STEM – you can find more stories of women innovating today here: Women in STEM at Cardiff University.

You can read more of Maria Dawson’s research here: Maria Dawson, ‘“Nitragin” and the nodules of leguminous plants’, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Vol. 64, 167-168 (1899). Available at http://doi.org/10.1098/rspl.1898.0086

Inspirational People: 3. Kathleen Freeman – Classicist and Fiction Writer

For the third instalment of our “Inspirational People” series, we are looking at the inspirational life of an early Classicist at the University.

 

Kathleen Freeman, 1922

Kathleen Freeman, 1922

Name:  

Kathleen Freeman

Profession:

Lecturer in Greek

Date:

Appointed 1919 – Resigned 1946

AKA:                   

Mary Fitt (1936–60)

Stuart Mary Wick (1948; 1950)

Clare St. Donat (1950)

Caroline Cory (1956)

 

  • Kathleen Freeman was a prolific fiction writer and published a large number of works, predominantly detective stories, under the above pseudonyms.
  • She studied at Cardiff, graduating with her BA in 1918. Her registration form is reproduced below. She also went on to obtain a Masters’ Degree in 1922 and a DLitt in 1940.
  • In the Second World War, she gave lectures on Greece to forces stationed in south Wales.
  • She resigned following the War in 1946 and focused on publishing books on classical subjects for a non-academic audience.
  • If you want to know more, there’s a really interesting blog post about Katherine Freeman which discusses the implicit sexism surrounding the reception of her work. The post is written by Edith Hall, Professor of Classics at King’s College London, who argues that Freeman has long been grossly and unfairly underestimated by scholars and that her work should be recognised as both useful and worthwhile. (The blog post, ‘How to Conceal a Female Scholar; or, the Invisible Classicist of Cardiff’ is available at http://edithorial.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/how-to-conceal-female-scholar-or.html.)

 

Kathleen Freeman's student registration form.

Kathleen Freeman’s student registration form.

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Dr Mina Moore: marriage and motherhood at Cardiff University in the 1940s

Over the last year or so we’ve been very proud to share stories about the inspiring women who worked and studied at Cardiff University (formerly University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire). The founders of the College in 1883 were adamant that women should be admitted on equal terms to men and educated alongside them – an unusual proposition for the time!  However, despite the pioneering women who worked here, we recently came across the story of Dr Mina Moore and had to re-evaluate our opinion – just a little bit…

Dr Mina Moore worked as a lecturer in the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire’s Teacher Training Department under Professor of Education, Olive Wheeler.  She came to the University in 1938 with a wealth of experience in teaching and a solid grounding in the theory of teaching.  In 1939 she married an Italian architect, Giuseppe Rinvolucri, and continued in her job without any issues – the College did not insist on women resigning on marriage, unlike many employers at that time.  In June 1940 Mina gave birth to her son and allegedly faced strong disapproval from Olive Wheeler.  In fact, Mina claimed that she was told to give up her job in order to look after the baby, so she immediately consulted a solicitor.  We hold a file of correspondence and reports that followed Mina’s complaint, as well as several follow up reports in Senate minutes.

Letter from Mina Moore to the College following her dismissal

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After Mina’s departure and the receipt of her complaint, Senate appointed a committee to look into the events.  The reports show that the situation was more nuanced than it initially appeared.  Senate acknowledged that nothing was said in women’s contracts about giving up work on marriage or when they had a child and therefore Mina had no reason to think either of these events would be a problem.  The report also acknowledged that it was inherently contradictory to allow women to marry and then complain if they had a child.  Interestingly, the committee found that there had been a misunderstanding which led to Mina’s departure.  She had been strongly advised by Olive to consider her position (who invoked the name of the Principal at their meeting) – but she had not formally been given notice.  They said that in making that assumption and consulting a solicitor she had aggravated the situation and led Council to assume she had been dismissed as well.  Council went on to ratify the (actually non-existent) dismissal.

The initial report was fairly critical of Olive, who they claimed had been inconsistent and had wrongly given Mina the impression that she was to be dismissed.  Olive objected to this draft and emphasised the other issues she had with Mina’s continued employment.  As an Italian citizen Mina’s husband was at risk of internment as soon as Italy declared war on the UK and France.  (Ironically, they did this one day after the birth of her son.)  Mina’s own nationality was in question following her marriage because at this time women took their husband’s nationality – although they could apply to have their British citizenship restored*, which Mina seems to have done.  Following the declaration of war by Italy in 1940 she would be restricted as to where she could travel and might have to request police permission or an escort before going into schools – an important part of her job.

There was also unease over the fact that Mina had moved to North Wales to be with her husband after her marriage.  The distance from the College was a worry to Olive even before Mina’s pregnancy was revealed.  Taking all of these factors into account, Olive believed that Mina would not be able to perform her job satisfactorily or devote the necessary amount of time.  She emphasised that Mina’s work was specialised and it would be impossible to find someone who could cover for her.  It was noted in the report that although Mina carried out all her lecturing duties before the birth on 9th June, she did fail to complete some of her admin tasks over the summer.  Although these other reasons did affect her attitude to Mina, Olive clearly stated her belief that from a psychological and developmental perspective, mothers should be at home with their babies.

As part of the investigation, the Committee asked other employers about their policy in this area.  A letter in the file from Liverpool Education Department states that they would only employ married women on a temporary basis and then only if they were separated from their husbands or were the sole breadwinner due to their husband’s ill health.   The Department automatically took an announcement of marriage by a female employee as a resignation.  In contrast to this, after a full investigation Senate formally declared that women should not have to leave the College when they married or had a child.  As long as the women could carry out their job, they would remain employed.  It was suggested that they might need to look at offering a leave of absence around the time of the birth, which could cause problems over covering their duties, but this did not prevent them from upholding the right of women to stay in their job.

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Letter of support from the British Federation of University Women

Although we were initially a little saddened to see one of our heroes disinclined to uphold a female member of staff’s right to work after having a child, we were heartened by the College’s eventual decision. It is only fair to say that although many of us today may have a different opinion to Olive, as a child psychologist her objections were made on the grounds of genuinely held professional concern for the welfare of children, and they were by no means unusual.  Olive’s life and work still stand as inspiring and progressive: Inspirational People 1: Dame Olive Wheeler  This story also raises the interesting question on how we choose to view people who display common attitudes of the times in which they lived.

To finish on a positive note, I’m pleased to report that Mina went on to have a very successful career in academia and died in North Wales at the age of 89.  We admire her determination to marry, have a child and continue to carry out her work to a high standard.  Her refusal to accept the position she found herself in led to the right to remain at work after childbirth becoming the official policy of the College.  While there may still have been hurdles to overcome, it was a step in the right direction.

 

* “Under the British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act, 1914, a woman loses her nationality, and under that Act, as amended by the 1933 Act, such a woman is given the right to make an application for her British nationality to be restored to her.”

http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1944/oct/06/british-nationality-married-women

British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act, 1914: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Geo5/4-5/17/part/III/crossheading/national-status-of-married-women-and-infant-children/enacted

Inspirational People: 2. Mary “Eppynt” Phillips – The First Female Graduate of the Medical School at Cardiff

For the second instalment of our “Inspirational People” series, we are looking back at the first female graduate of the Medical School in Cardiff. In the years following her studies, Mary “Eppynt” Phillips went on to live an undoubtedly inspirational life, making a remarkable contribution to medicine during and after the First World War.

In the 1890s, women’s entry into the medical profession was, at best, challenging. Having medical doctors who were women was a relatively recent advancement in Britain. At the time, only a handful of British medical schools would admit women students to their courses.

It was against this backdrop that the Medical School in Cardiff was established. Following the precedent of the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire (Cardiff University’s predecessor institution of which the Medical School was originally part), the Medical School in Cardiff was determined to admit male and female students on an equal basis from the start. (For more context on women’s education at Cardiff, see our blog post at: http://blogs.cardiff.ac.uk/cuarm/2015/06/08/accessforallp2/.)

The first female medical graduate to have studied at Cardiff was Mary “Eppynt” Phillips. In 1875 she was born in Merthyr Cynog in Breconshire where her father was a farmer. She began studying Medicine in Cardiff in 1894, the first year after the Medical School was founded. She obtained her Intermediate MB from Cardiff then went on to complete her MB in London.  (Until the 1920s the School provided only the first two or three years of medical education so students had to attend another University to complete their training.)

While Mary was at the Medical School, she was known as Bessie Phillips (her name was Mary Elizabeth Phillips but she added the name “Eppynt” after Mynydd Epynt in Mid-Wales). Her student address card as well as her entry in the first Matriculation Book are reproduced below:

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MEP3

Entry for “Bessie Phillips” in the Matriculation Book, 1883-1895 [Ref. UCC/R/Stu/Mat/1].

She was noted by the Western Mail as being the first female doctor in Wales, but she disputed this herself in a letter to the Western Mail (see excerpts reproduced below).

MEP1

Western Mail, 27 November 1900

MEP2

Western Mail, 30 November 1900

There is no doubt that as a qualified medical doctor, Mary “Eppynt” Phillips made a huge contribution to medicine, both in the UK and abroad. Information gathered from newspaper reports reveal that in the first year of the First World War she travelled with another female doctor to Calais to establish a typhoid hospital under the auspices of the Scottish Women’s Hospital.  The Scottish Women’s Hospital was a movement set up to provide opportunities for women doctors and nurses to provide medical assistance all over Europe.

In April 1915 she set sail for Serbia.  En route to Serbia, however, she was instructed by Lord Methuen, the Lieutenant-General, to divert her journey in order to attend to those wounded in the Dardanelles campaign.  Following this diversion, she progressed to Serbia where she became the senior physician of the Scottish Women’s Hospital operation.  After a period of convalescence in Britain (during which she gave a series of lectures raising awareness and funds for the Scottish Women’s Hospital’s war work), she travelled to Corsica where she worked with female refugees from Serbia.  The places she worked during this period can be found in her CV, which is available on the People’s Collection website.

A report in the Brecon Radnor Express, 19 July 1917, describes her as “one of the foremost women doctors in her record of war work, of which Wales generally, and Merthyr Cynog […] in particular, may, indeed, be proud”.

Mary “Eppynt” Phillips’ extensive involvement in the medical side of the war effort is remarkable, and her work with refugees is both topical and inspiring. She used the skills learned from her education in Cardiff to help those most in need and, as such, Cardiff University too should feel a sense of pride in the truly inspirational work of its first female medical graduate.

If you’re interested in learning more about Mary “Eppynt” Phillips, you can view a collection of primary sources at https://www.peoplescollection.wales/collections/430174.
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Serendipitous discoveries: a vignette of Percy Bush, early C20th Welsh rugby player

In a meeting on Monday morning I mentioned the delight of serendipitous finds in archives; how you can often just pull something off the shelves and discover an intriguing story or fact.  I hadn’t realised it then but, by a strange coincidence, that is exactly what happened to me earlier in the day when I had a few spare minutes  in the Archives store.  I noticed an early 20th century minute book from the Teacher Training Department of the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire (now Cardiff University) and had a quick look through it to see what sort of information it held.  There was a typescript letter stuck into the volume from the father of a student to the Board of Education in Whitehall asking for special consideration for his son’s return to the College.  Apparently Percy had been away on a rugby tour of Australia and New Zealand for several months – in 1904 of course they had to spend weeks travelling by sea.  The letter explains that the family doctor had recommended the tour because “[Percy’s] nervous system was not what it should be”.  He was now quite recovered, however, and able to pick up his studies again.

I thought this was a good example of the kind of information recorded in the minutes so took a couple of photos of the letter.  When I looked at it in more detail later on I realised that the father was James Bush, the founder and headmaster of the School of Art in Cardiff (later part of Cardiff Technical School/College, one of Cardiff University’s predecessor institutions).  I did a Google search for James’ son and discovered that Percy Frank Bush was an internationally renowned rugby player and cricketer.  He played rugby for Cardiff (very successfully) and cricket for Glamorgan (a little less successfully).

This letter – read completely by chance – adds to our understanding of Percy’s life and provides a poignant background to his glittering sporting career.  Despite his outstanding success on the rugby field he struggled with his health and his education for a time before going on to work as a teacher at Wood Street School in Cardiff.

It shows how valuable it can be to simply browse through primary sources without any particular aim or purpose.  Having the time to do this in a world of pressure may be a luxury but the spare 5 minutes I had this morning brought to light a very human story.  Even records that are catalogued can’t all be fully indexed and a lot of information is only found by painstakingly plodding through – or randomly opening! – a volume or a box.  In a world where so much is indexed or discoverable by a Google search, it’s good to know there is still plenty left to reveal!

Further information about Percy Bush can be found at: http://yba.llgc.org.uk/en/s2-BUSH-FRA-1879.html and http://www.cardiffrfc.com/Teams/Player?personid=100814

Some personal papers of the family are held at Glamorgan Record Office: http://calmview.cardiff.gov.uk/Record.aspx?src=CalmView.Catalog&id=D534&pos=7

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Letter from James Bush to the Board of Education, 1904 [CL.CM/DEM.sch/M/1]

 

Percy Bush's entry in the General Register of Men Students No 1 - Normal Department [Ref.: UCC/R/AC/REG/DTC/1].

Percy Bush’s entry in the General Register of Men Students No 1 – Normal Department [Ref.: UCC/R/AC/REG/DTC/1].

Inspirational People: 1. Dame Olive Wheeler

Photograph of Dame Olive Wheeler, taken by Elliot & Fry, London. Part of Accession 271. Reproduced by permission of National Portrait Gallery under the Creative Commons License

In a new series of snippets from the archive, we’ll be sharing snappy fact files about inspiring individuals from the University’s history. For the first in the series, we’ll begin with Dame Olive Wheeler…

Name: Dame Olive Wheeler

Profession: Educationalist and Psychologist

Role at Cardiff:

1925 – Appointed Professor of Education (Women)

1933 – Title changed formally to Professor of Education

1948 – Became Dean of Faculty of Education

1951 – Became Professor Emeritus of the federal University of Wales

Why was she inspirational?

  • She held and published extremely progressive views on education, particularly the links between education and psychology and mental health.
  • Her work continues to influence educational theory today. Her progressive approach led her to anticipate later work on ‘comprehensive schools’, links between schools and industry, and the development of vocational guidance and educational counselling.
  • She stood as Labour candidate in the General Election in 1922.
  • She campaigned tirelessly about political and social issues, especially relating to women and young people.
  • In 1949 she was awarded a DBE for services to education in Wales.
  • Her work at Cardiff included the development of a collegiate centre in Cathedral Road, Cardiff, where local teachers could develop skills for research in schools and classrooms so her work directly affected and improved the lives of people in the local community. Like Millicent MacKenzie (the UK’s first female professor and Professor of Education at Cardiff – http://blogs.cardiff.ac.uk/cuarm/2015/03/17/millicent-mackenzie/), Dame Olive’s work had a direct impact on the experience of schoolchildren in Wales and the wider world, and her research would continue to influence educational theory and policy for many years to come.

Towards a snapshot of a bygone era: some new records from the Students’ Union

The Institutional Archive recently took in some records and artefacts from the Students’ Union. These older records help to fill a gap in our understanding of the Union and the variety of items help us towards building up a mental image of student life in the past.

They include minute books dating from the 1930s to the 1960s of the Union General Meetings, the Executive Committee, the House Committee and, charmingly, the “Dance and Entertainments Committee” who organised weekly balls for students which were held on Saturday evenings. The minutes of the Student Representative Council from 1959 contain interesting discussions about the Union’s stance on Apartheid in South Africa: there was a South African student on the Committee who is given an oar as a symbol of freedom, along with a pledge of support to South African students. The minutes tell us about the management and day to day running of the Union during these years, something which we previously knew very little about.

Aside from the minute books, also included are some other items of memorabilia, including University College Cardiff and UWIST (University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology) rugby shirts from the 1970s and 80s. There was also two sporting caps dating from the 1920s, one for the Rowing Team and the other from the Rugby Team.

Sports Caps from the 1920s - Rowing Club and Rugby Club

Sports Caps from the 1920s – Rowing Club and Rugby Club

These records fit nicely alongside an accession which the Institutional Archive was gifted some years ago of by a former student. This collection, dating from the early thirties, includes such little treasures as his Student Union Membership card and programmes for the Union societies which he was a member. Items such as this can easily be regarded as ephemera and lost for ever, so it is lovely that we have examples of these everyday items which can help us to build up a mental picture of student life in the early 1930s. They also fit alongside some photographs we hold of the original Students’ Union building and the Students’ Union Officers, both from 1933.

We’ve enjoyed working more closely with the Students’ Union recently, working together on projects such as #VintageCardiff. Projects such as this help to raise students’ awareness of the University’s interesting heritage and have also meant that staff in the Union were aware of the Institutional Archive’s ability to preserve these invaluable records.

UnionCard1930s1

1930s Student Membership Card

1930s Student Membership Card 1930s Student Membership Card