Early Boots Adverts

“Gorgeous”. “Colourful”. “A real trip down memory lane”. These are just some of the comments from the 7000 people who have visited the Inspiring Beauty exhibition at Weston Gallery in Lakeside this year. As the quotes suggest, it is a gorgeous, glittering exhibition of advertising used by Boots to promote their No7 range of cosmetics, …

The Advantage of Fairy Tales

This is a guest post from Samina Rickards, a second year Classical Civilisation student. These past weeks I have been conducting a placement at Manuscripts and Special Collections, as part of the Nottingham Advantage Award’s ‘Experience Heritage’ module. In writing a blog post on my time here I wanted to highlight something I’d found interesting, …

A back-of-the-envelope history of Christmas cards

If you were asked to guess what the very first Christmas card depicted, what would your answer be? Most people (according to an unofficial poll of my colleagues) thought either a Nativity scene or possibly one of a snowy landscape. Sensible ideas, but both wrong. The first Christmas card was commissioned in 1843 by Sir …

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. …