Tuesday 22 December 2009

Happy Holidays!

We'd like to take a moment to to wish everyone a happy festive season and a safe and prosperous new year.

Our very best wishes,

All in Archive, Records Management and Museum Services and the Centre for Archive and Information Studies at the University of Dundee.

(University of Dundee e-card)

Friday 18 December 2009

Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2010

We'll be returning to Who Do You Think You Are? Live for the fourth time early next year. This is the UK biggest annual family and local history conference and exhibition. Experts from CAIS will be there to meet people and chat to them about their experiences of doing research about their family or the area where they live, the sources they have used and the archival sources and research techniques that might help them go further.

We're really looking forward to the event at Olympia in February. We'll be at stand 708 and hope to meet you then. Meantime, the image to the left is a preview of our entry in the programme for the event, which we finalised today. To find out more about our courses in family and local history by online distance learning please take a look at our website (www.dundee.ac.uk/cais) or give us a call on +44(0)1382 385543. Remember to check back here from time to time too as we'll post updates on our plans for the event as they develop.

Wednesday 16 December 2009

Treading the boards: Theatre in Dundee

Theatre and dramatic productions have long held an important place in the city of Dundee and also in student life at the University.

This is borne out by the wealth of material now being displayed in an exhibition at the University of Dundee. The exhibition features items from the University’s Archive and Museum Collections and also from the Lamb Collection of Dundee Central Library.

Although there have been several theatres in Dundee, the story of theatre in Dundee for the last 70 years has been mainly about the Dundee Rep Theatre, now home to Scotland’s ‘only full time, multi-award winning acting company’ and also Scotland’s ‘principal contemporary dance company’.

There are programmes and previously unseen photographs from the Rep’s own collections which were recently deposited in the University Archives. They include familiar faces such as Joanna Lumley, Gregor Fisher, Duncan MacRae and Michael York. ‘The Tenth Doctor’ David Tennant appeared in several plays at the Rep during the 1990s beginning with his role as Curdie in The Princess and the Goblin. This photograph is of his 1996 performance as Tom Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie.

Also on show is material from the University’s own dramatic societies, the first of which was formed around 1911. The items on display highlight some of the activities during the past century of the Dramatic Society in its various incarnations, drama at the College of Education and the Operatic Society productions. In 1969 the University of Dundee’s new dramatic society – the Waifs – created history by being the first society to reach the finals of the National Union of Students drama festival on their first attempt. The image is from the College of Education's 1920s performance of A Midsummer's Night Dream.

Other items in the exhibition include 1960s photographs from the Michael Peto Photographic Collection that show famous figures connected with the world of theatre, such as the actors Ian McKellen, Laurence Olivier, Maggie Smith and the playwright Samuel Beckett.

The exhibition runs in the Lamb Gallery, University of Dundee, until 13 February 2010 (closed for Christmas 24 December – 4 January) Mon-Fri 09.30-20.30 Sat 09.30-16.30. Admission is free.

Thursday 3 December 2009

Archive Staff Recommend: Scraps...

Within our archival collections are scrapbooks that contain mainly newspaper cuttings relating to the University and its predecessor institutions, and these are fairly complete from 1880 to about 1967, when the University of Dundee was established in its own right.

Apart from tracing the development of university education in Dundee and the various political struggles and manoeuvres between Dundee and St Andrews, the scrapbooks provide insights into the relationship between town and gown. The style of writing in the local newspapers sometimes suggests that the students were often a curious and sometimes exotic elite in a predominately working class city.

Many of the cuttings are reports on public lectures and talks given by the College professors and teachers. They sometimes provide verbatim accounts that even note where there was laughter or applause. Nineteenth century graduation ceremonies could be more rowdy than is generally believed – for example in March 1895 even the presiding officials were subject to constant good-natured banter from the students. One particularly poignant moment from this ceremony however was when 19 year old Dundonian Agnes Forbes Blackadder, the University’s first female graduate, was presented with her degree resulting in “particularly vigorous applause” and a spontaneous rendition of a rare verse from the “Gaudeamus” that refers to women.

There are other descriptions, often affectionate, of student events such as charities week. In 1923, for example, there was an article in the Courier about the “Woman Students’ Ambush,” in which it was reported that: "The fair Collegiates literally laid an ambush, and figures arrayed in flowing red gowns and becoming scholastic mortar-boards, darted hither and thither among the market crowd in the High Street...Many a stout and hearty farmer was held up by a gowned damsel, and the mute appeal of the collection box, together with the charms of the collector, were a combination which none could resist."

There was greater threat in the performance of some students who visited Dens Park on the final day of the appeal, and who "with flourishing revolvers reaped all that they could from the spectators." And, rather ominously, "That awesome assembly - the Ku Klux Klan - dressed in their robes of white, made a speciality throughout the day of raiding the tea rooms in the centre of town."

The change in attitudes, fashions and tastes over the decades can be traced in the volumes and in particular the struggle of women to be regarded as academic equals is well documented. This is in spite of the 1895 Agnes Blackadder graduation. A quarter of a century later and a Courier article was still wondering if women should be allowed to become doctors.

The scrapbooks are a rich historical resource that is yet to be full exploited, we find something new every time we look at them. Some are in poor condition and we are hoping to digitise them in the near future to ensure their survival. Readers are welcome to consult the others in our reading room.