Putting the ‘camp’ into ‘campus’

It’s an urban legend that’s almost as popular as the old “the library is sinking because the architect forgot to take into account the weight of the books” myth.  Over the next couple of months, as new students arrive at universities up and down the country, there will be the annual resurgence of the rumour …

A Fresh Crop of Records

There has been a flurry of new documents, books and digital files arriving at Manuscripts & Special Collections these last few weeks (is it possible to have a flurry of digital files?). Here are just a few of the two dozen or so new acquisitions we have taken in since the start of the year. Reaping …

Celebrating Magna Carta

Eight hundred years ago today, King John affixed the Great Seal to Magna Carta, after a week of intense negotiations with the group of barons who had rebelled against his reign. It is probably one of the most famous failed peace treaties in history. Like his father and older brother before him, John believed the divine …

A General History of Elections

From online voter registration to fixed Parliamentary terms, this General Election has seen a few ‘firsts’. In this post, we take a very quick tour of elections through the ages. A dull campaign? The art of eye-catching election addresses – the leaflets prospective parliamentary candidates send to people in the constituency – took a while …

One Born Every Minute

As William and Kate welcome their baby daughter into the world at the state-of-the-art private maternity ward The Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital, we had a look back through our collections to see what childbirth was like in the 17th and 18th centuries. Traditionally, pregnancy and birth were social and domestic occurrences, which predominantly …

“Macaroni looks like serpents”: A Victorian arm-chair traveller’s guide to Europe

“Superficial, incomplete, trifling! Such is the true character of this book. Inaccurate we hope it is not…the world, old as she is, would not sit still for her picture.” So begins the 1849 book ‘Near Home, or The Countries of Europe Described’ by Favell Lee Mortimer, nee Bevan (1802-1878). Now almost forgotten, Mortimer wrote 16 …

The Morning After the Nay Before

For anyone who has somehow missed the extensive – and sometimes heated – campaign, this morning the results of the Scottish Independence Referendum were announced. The Union between Scotland and England has been in force since May 1707, after both the Scottish and English Parliaments had passed their own separate Acts ratifying the Treaty of Union. …

All Orders Promptly Executed

Fifty years ago today, 13 August 1964, the last two people to be executed in the United Kingdom were hanged. The victim was a 53 year old van driver named John West, who was killed during a robbery in his home that went wrong four months earlier. A neighbour had been awoken in the middle of …

Fighting Footballers

On 6th August 1914, the Nottingham Guardian reported that three Nottingham Forest players, who were Army Reservists, had been called up. Within days of Britain declaring war on Germany they had, along with many hundreds of other Nottinghamshire reservists, left their homes and families to join their regiments. William Fiske (or Fisk) was born in …

Manuscripts in the Media

As a University department, it’s not surprising that many of the enquirers who contact us and visitors to the Reading Room are academics and students, both from The University of Nottingham and other institutions. What people often don’t appreciate is how often we are approached by the media, either during their initial research or because …