Before there were blogs.

Goodness the time goes quickly these days.  It’s already three weeks since I promised a fortnightly blog. 

Of the many types of published material we have in the J.C Beaglehole Room collections, pamphlets – covering discussion of a range of the topics of their times – are probably the most diverse.  We have several distinct collections within the pamphlet collections, the most prominent of which are the Stout pamphlets, which were collected and bound by Sir Robert Stout, 13th Premier of New Zealand, and which cover a wide range of the issues – political, religious, social – of the day.  These have been digitised over the last year or so and are gradually being added to the NZETC website.

The largest pamphlet collection we hold is our New Zealand pamphlet collection,  approximately 2500 items, including material relating to political issues, local events, church events, and speeches delivered by notable people, and dating from 1832 to the present.  These are identifiable by a call number beginning DU401 [date, box number…]

We are also lucky to hold the pamphlet collection of Bert Roth, a prominent New Zealand trade unionist (about 550 items, catalogued), Robert N.Hislop’s collection relating to the Social Credit movement (about 870 items, not individually catalogued), of which he was a long standing member, and the collection (about 500 items, still to be catalogued) of Henry Valder, who – with his friend and colleague Frederick de la Mare – established the Employee Partnership Institute (EPI) in Hamilton in 1927.  Valder was a social reformer and among the issues he championed through the EPI were profit-sharing and greater employee participation in decision-making.  His pamphlet collection reflects these areas of concern.

Nowadays, political blogs are the place where a lot of the written discussion of ‘hot’ issues takes place and commenting is very easy and often anonymous, which – as any reader of political blogs will be aware – has its definite pros and cons.  Websites and electronic mailing-lists are where people find or disseminate information about many events.  While pamphlets have not ceased to exist, pamphlets such as the collections above are largely a thing of the past, but what a rich and fascinating past they can link us to.

All the best

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Out of the shadows…


After existing in the ether for a year or so while waiting to iron out some technical difficulties, the J.C.Beaglehole Room blog is now able to come out into the open.  If you haven’t come across us before, you can find out a bit more about us here and on our web page.

We’ll be aiming to post every couple of weeks or so on exciting discoveries from our collections, new acquisitions and upcoming events.

If you look at our archive , you will notice that we seem to have been posting since 2004.  Last year, while waiting for the all clear, we took the opportunity to populate the blog with information about past Three books, three scholars seminars, which we had not been able to incorporate in the new web architecture introduced in 2009.  Three books, three scholars continues, although less frequently than before.

 If you want to subscribe to these posts, please click the Entries RSS option under the Meta heading in the right sidebar menu.

All the best
Sue Hirst
Special Collections Librarian

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A very interesting surprise.

Kia ora koutou

We have had a very lucky find.

Last week, the Library received a donation from an estate.  In looking thorough the books to see if any were likely candidates for the J.C.Beaglehole Room.  I found a number of interesting books, but the most interesting by far was a handwritten dairy dated 1734-36. 

The writing in the front pages indicated that it was the diary of Sarah Savage.  It then passed to her daughter Sarah Newnham, who left it to Catherine Hayter, granddaughter of Sarah Savage and probably daughter of Sarah Newnham.  Catherine left it to her niece Ann Savage, a great grandaughter of the original Sarah.  It came into the hands of Sarah Morrison (another great granddaughter) who gave it to Peter Bannell (great great grandson) in 1840.  There we lose the trail – for now.

My inner terrier perked up.  What else could we find about Sarah Savage?  We found that she was the daughter of one Philip Henry, “incumbent of Worthenbury, in the County of Flint, who was ejected therefrom by the Act of Uniformity in 1662″ (1).  Her notebooks are held in the Library at Harris Manchester College, Oxford, which itself has an interesting history. It was originally  the Warrington Academy, a dissenting academy, then moved to Manchester and later – after an 1889 Act of Parliament abolishing religious tests at Oxford – moved to Oxford, but it was not until 1996 that it was granted a Royal Charter and became the 39th college of Oxford.

But I digress – back to Sarah.  I e-mailed the Librarian at Harris Manchester College about the diary, who put me in touch with the Director of the Dr Williams Library in London, which also has Sarah’s letters and one of her diaries.  He is keeping track of the various holdings and copies around the world, and was quite excited by this one.

As are we!  I think it has potential as a candidate for digitisation, although I think the OCR software might struggle a bit with her handwriting.

All the best

(1) Lawrence, Sarah, 1844.  The descendants of Rev. Philip Henry incumbent of Worthenbury, in the County of Flint, who was ejected therefrom by the Act of Uniformity in 1662.  Leamington: Simpkin, Marshall, and Co. John Merridew, 1844

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Three books, three scholars – Tuesday 30 October 2012, 12:30-1:30 – Clark Hennessy, Toby Boraman, Sam Oldham

Apologies for the short notice – I hope you’ll be able to join us for  the last 3B3S of 2012, which has quite a political flavour.

Sidney Holland
Material from the papers of A.D.Robinson  (A1987.10)

Clark Hennessy

Sidney George Holland was instrumental in the founding of the National Party, leading them for nine long years in Opposition before finally becoming Prime Minister in 1949 – ending 14 years of Labour rule.  Best remembered for his decisive handling of the 1951 Waterside Strike and abolishing the Legislative Council (the upper house of Parliament), he has largely been forgotten by history and the distinct lack of a published biography on Sid is a serious gap in our literature.  For my Political Science Honours thesis I have been researching the man and the myth of Sid Holland, attempting to more closely understand the cunning politician who welded the disparate elements of the National Party together to make it the party that Governed New Zealand for much of the latter half of the 20th Century.

Clark Hennessy, Honours student, Political Science

The Alliance of Labour
Material from the papers of Jim Roberts (A1972.01)

Toby Boraman


‘The Alliance of Labour was the major trade union federation during its lifetime (1919-36). I’ll briefly discuss its vote for a general strike in 1923 against across the board wage cuts, an important and unusual event that has been largely overlooked.’ 

Toby Boraman



Activism at Victoria University
Salient and VUWSA archives

Sam Oldham

I have been conducting research into student activism at Victoria University of Wellington during late 1960s and early 1970s with a particular focus on the anti-war movement, the anti-apartheid movement and the movement for women’s liberation that began around 1970. This period was one of global protest and dissent, and my approach to the history has been to analyse the ways in which students at Victoria were influenced by overseas movements during the period, and how strategies and tactics for activism here were inspired by overseas models. For example, the large-scale anti-war mobilisations coordinated by the Student Antiwar Movement and the Committee on Vietnam, both based at Victoria, were inspired by American anti-war mobilisations. Similarly, the small consciousness-raising groups of the women’s liberation movement at Victoria, such as the Women’s Liberation Front, were based on American models of organisation. The student magazine at Victoria, Salient, has been crucially important to my research, as have been the offical records of the Students’ Association. My interest in the history of student activism at Victoria has developed out of my own involvement in activism in the present, and out of a belief that the history of student activism in New Zealand has been largely ignored by mainstream historiography.

Sam Oldham, Masters Student, History

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JCBR lunchtime seminar – Thursday 28th June 2012 – 12-1 in the Reading Room.

Talofa lava

We so enjoyed the discoveries we made while creating the Samoan Independence exhibition, many of which we didn’t have display capacity to include, that we wanted to give others a sense of what we found.   So we will be presenting a lunchtime seminar – with a working title of Four archivists, one collection in keeping with the 3B3S idea.  Come along and be introduced to some unique and fascinating resources, both published and archival, which almost came out to meet us as we looked into the collections for material realted to Samoan history.

If anyone is interested in the possibility, we can have another try at setting up a Scopia link to other sites.  Just let me know and I’ll follow up with our IT people.

I hope to see some of you next Thursday.

All the best


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Reading Room Closure – 22nd June 2012

Kia ora koutou

In order for the JCBR team to undertake training, we need to close the Reading Room on Friday 22nd June.

In the morning we will be trained in the University’s corporate archive systems, which  better fit us to retrieve material from corporate archives to meet the needs of researchers.

In the afternoon, Triptych Conservation will be training us in disaster response and recovery procedures for records and archives, so that in the unlikely event of an emergency, your crew will know what to do.

If you will need to use JCBR material on Friday 22nd, please let us know in advance and we’ll do what we can to make that possible.

We try to avoid closing the room, and apologise for any inconvenience it may cause.

All the best

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Samoan Independence – 50th Anniversary events

Talofa Lava

On Friday the 1st of June, Samoans the world over celebrated the 50th anniversary of Samoan independence and the J.C.Beaglehole Room let its hair down a little and joined in.

5th Melody sings Samoa Tula'i (the Samoan National Anthem)

With assistance from the Assistant Vice Chancellor (Pasifika) Luamanuvao Winnie Laban, the Library was able to second a staff member (Mishelle Muagututi’a) to the Beaglehole Room part-time to work with material in the collections to build an exhibition which would honour the history of Samoan independence.

The foundation of the exhibition is the work of Mary Boyd, a student of J.C.Beaglehole and an historian at Victoria University for 40 years, one of whose areas of particular interest was the decolonisation Pacific.  Mary Boyd  was on research leave in Samoa during the first Contitution Convention in 1954 and again in 1961, just prior to independence.  She gave her papers to the J.C.Beaglehole Room in 2010, providing a valuable resource on these and other areas of her work for future researchers.

Samoa Tula'i

The event was blessed by the Reverend Tauinaola Tofilau and launched by Professor Penny Boumelha, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic).  The Samoan anthem Samoa Tula’i was sung by all, with particularly beautiful harmonic assistance from 5th Melody

Another part of the work Mishelle has achieved is the commissioning of a short video, promoting the J.C.Beaglehole Room and its collections, with Mary Boyd’s papers again as the focus.  You can view this from the JCBR home page.

The exhibition covers the 50 years prior to and including 1962 and will run until August 1st, with the addition of some artwork done by PASI 101 students as part of their assessment.  From August 1st to August 31st, we will shift the emphasis to New Zealand’s relationship with Samoa in the 50 years since the Treaty of Friendship was signed (13th August 1962).

On Thursday 28th June from 12-1, the JCBR team will talk about some of the resources which ‘came to the surface’ during the preparation of the exhibition, even if they didn’t make it into the display.

All the best

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Transit of Venus exhibition

Kia ora koutou

Linking in with a display in the Main Collection, the JC Beaglehole Room has mounted a display of material related to early astronomy in general and the Transit of Venus in particular.  Because of other demands on our display space coming up, we are getting in a bit early on this one and will run it from now only until Sunday 27th May inclusive.

The earliest title on display is Thomas Burnet’s –  delightfully understated, I think 🙂  – 1697 The theory of the earth : containing an account of the original of the earth, and of all the general changes which it hath already undergone, or is to undergo till the consummation of all things.  Those old chaps certainly didn’t bother the pithy one liners today’s publishers go for!  The most recent is Awa Science’s compilation of Radio NZ lectures from 2007: The transit of Venus : how a rare astronomical alignment changed the world.  (OK still not quite pithy, but the format is very “now” don’t you think?)

In between we have the astronomical observations from Cook’s voyages on the Resolution and the Adventure, as compiled by Messrs Wales and Bayly, who devised a seriously good portable observatory; Ferguson’s Astronomy… where “…” = explained upon Sir Isaac Newton’s principles and made easy to those who have not studied mathematics : to which are added, a plain method of finding the distances of all the planets from the sun, by the transit of Venus over the sun’s disc, in the year 1761, an account of Mr. Horrox’s observation in the transit of Venus in the year 1639; and of the distances of all the planets from the sun … (and that’s just the title page!), and a few other goodies besides.  Ferguson even includes a map of the path of the Transit of Venus in 1761.

Hope you are able to drop by and have a look.


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What we got for Christmas.

Kia ora

We have recently added some new examples of different binding styles to the Print Cultures Exemplars collection.  They’re so gorgeous I thought they needed to be shared:

Mauchline bindings (pronounced Moshlin – printing onto timber boards): 

Heavenward (left) & A cup of blessings...

Heavenward is from 1889 and A cup of blessings for every day of the year from1888.

Here is a page from Heavenward:

"He satisfieth..."

Sixth day: “He satisfieth the longing soul”

But wait there’s more…We also have a delightful almanac from 1750 – Etrennes mignonnes pour l’an de grace de notre Seigneur M.CCC.L – a very lovely example of an embroidered binding, with handpainted watercolour pictures framed by the embroidery and a gorgeous little case to keep it all safe. 

Etrennes mignonnes...


...with case.


All the best
Sue H

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3 Books, 3 Scholars Monday 23 April 2012, 12-1pm – Emeritus Professor Brian Halton, Drs Peter & Catherine Hodder, Andrew Gunn

An interdisciplinary seminar on items from the Library’s Special Collections, and their use. All welcome.  JC Beaglehole Room – RB404.

From Science to Non-Science: Chemistry at Victoria
The Hundred Years from 1899 – A Personal Perspective

Speaker: Emeritus Professor Brian Halton
Resources: VUW Archives, Calendars of the University of New Zealand and Victoria University, VUW photographic archives

Brian Halton

Over the past months information has been gathered for a personalized history of Chemistry at VUW from its inauguration in 1899 through the 20th century. This has involved considerable periods of time using the facilities of the new Beaglehole Room (and causing its staff much disruption to their days!). The results of the searches using the calendars of Victoria College, Victoria University College and Victoria University, and the ‘Chemistry’ archival material stored in the (new) MacDiarmid Archive facility have provided much valuable information and many images . Coupled with the early calendars of the University
of New Zealand (UNZ), its Roll of its Graduates, and a range of VUW Library on-line data bases, a perspective of ‘Chemistry’ at VC, VUC and VUW has emerged. The short presentation will include some of this information and relevant images – but I am no historian! 

Victoria House as it was and might have been

Speakers:  Drs Peter & Catherine Hodder, Researchers
Resources:  Archives of Victoria House Trust

Peter Hodder

Walk south from Salamanca Road down the west side of The Terrace and you’ll notice that almost all the way to Victoria House at No. 282 the Victorian streetscape survives. Into this neighbourhood the first university hostel for women students emerged in 1908. In those days this end of The Terrace hosted  
the homes of some of Wellington’s social elite and a private girls’ school, but also boarding houses and one of the city’s gaols. This research – using Victoria House’s archives from the Beaglehole Room, as well as plans and records from Wellington City Archives – has followed the progress of the buildings on and near Victoria House from that time. The project has inevitably become caught up in other aspects of the area’s history, including the fire that ravaged Maurice Terrace and McKenzie Terrace in 1922; disputes over access to properties; and the demise of John Duthie’s grand house on the opposite side of The Terrace, which could have been the site of a building like Weir House, but instead became a private hotel, then a boarding house, and eventually a ruin swept away at the time The Terrace tunnel was built.

Andrew Gunn

Andrew Gunn, Student
VUW Drama Club

On enrolling for Victoria, I was under the impression that the University had a “Lunchtime Theatre”, a vibrant weekly gathering where students could try out brief and innovative theatrical works on a willing audience.  I found very soon upon entering the University that the Lunchtime Theatre had disappeared in the mid nineties, along with the Dramatic Society that had organised it.  

 On dipping my toes in the Beaglehole room archives, I found the Lunchtime Theatre was only a small portion of what must have been one of the most prolific clubs in the history of New Zealand’s Universities; one that was performing ten full-length shows in 1974!  Figures such as Richard Campion, Stuart Devenie, Roger Hall and Jo Randerson have all been involved with the club in the early days of their careers.  This year I have been attempting to establish a “performance lab”, a club for interdisciplinary cross-fertilisation between performers, a club that follows somewhat in the footsteps of the Drama Club.  The benchmark could not be much higher.

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