Ten Years of the APML

kath5Last night (Thursday 20th November) we were lucky enough to be able to celebrate our Tenth Anniversary with a lecture from James Campbell, author of the wonderful tome of ‘library porn’ known as The Library : a World History (Thames & Hudson, should you feel tempted…and frankly you should!) Campbell’s talk was both illuminating and entertaining – his assertion that Roman Librarians were basically ‘highly educated slaves’ had most of the Librarians in fits of giggles (of self recognition?).

10yrsWe also learned that- contrary to the image we have thanks to books like The Name of The Rose,western monastic collections only contained a couple of hundred volumes owing to the fact that each page of parchment was basically a whole sheep and therefore your average bible contained 100 sheep (he never mentioned goats funnily enough)As an Architect himself, he pointed out the design failings of Michelangelo’s library in Florence, citing it as a ‘triumph of aesthetics over practicality’. He noted that the original Wren design for Trinity College was a round building featuring a ‘throne for the Librarian’ and added that actually, round libraries are ‘useless for putting books in’.

In addition to this we learned that Bats were used in Rome to keep insects off books. This pleased the public as they never saw them – their activities being at night – but not, presumably the staff of the libraries who had to clear the bat dung every morning!

Oh and in case you wondered why your photos don’t look as good as those in the book: each shot is an amalgamation of around 100 images taken at different exposures and overlaid so that every area of the photo is equally well exposed.

All in all, it was a great evening (and I know what I want for Christmas).

Forthcoming events from Kath Posner, APML Chair



Back from my holidays with loads of news of events organised by members of APML



Firstly via CILIP’s Library and Information History Group:
Lonely hearts, wedding bells and illicit pleasures: a far from sentimental journey of how London loved in print
When: Friday 19 September 2014, 18.00-19.30
Meeting point: Wellcome Trust, Gibbs Building, 215 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE

This walk will carry you back through time to learn how the printing press often played a crucial role in the varying experiences of romance, love and relationships. Singletons and couples are invited to spend ninety minutes discovering how Londoners of the past might set about finding their match and hearing from the literature that recorded such journeys.

In the company of Alice Ford-Smith (Bernard Quaritch Ltd), Lonely Hearts, Wedding Bells and Illicit Pleasures will uncover tales across the relationship spectrum. From Bloomsbury to the streets around Covent Garden, you will hear accounts of loneliness, friendship, love, passion, scandal, jealousy and exploitation. Books are behind them all, accompanied by the occasional librarian and many a person of business.

The walk’s meeting point will be the Wellcome Trust’s headquarters on Euston Road and we will begin with viewing a display of related material from the Wellcome Library collections. After which, we will set out to explore the streets of London. The walk ends at approximately 7.30pm not far from Charing Cross. Please be ready for no breaks and the occasional saucy storyline!

Numbers are limited to 20 people, and pre-booking is essential. Tickets, which are non-refundable, are £10 each. Please email Renae Satterley (r.satterley@middletemple.org.uk) to reserve your place. This event is open to all, so early booking is recommended.

Secondly – from the Westminster History Club

The new season of talks begins on Tuesday 23rd September at 7pm, in The Lord Mayor’s Parlour, Westminster City Hall and you are warmly invited to join us for the fourth season of the Westminster History Club – doors open at 6.30 pm £10 to be paid on arrival.

The Club was set up to raise funds for scholarly research into the history of Westminster by the Victoria County History.  This is as much a social event, held four times a year, with a glass of wine and a talk on some aspect of the history of Westminster by a guest speaker and on 23rd September we welcome  Dr. Paula Henderson to give her talk on:-

“Location, Location, Location – William Cecil’s House in the Strand”..

In 1560 William Cecil, the first Lord Burghley, moved to a new house in the Strand, amongst eminent aristocrats and courtiers who the favoured the location for its connections by river and road between Court, Parliament, the City and Inns of Court. In her illustrated talk, Dr Henderson will tell the important story of how the ambitious Cecil developed his house as a seat of power, designed for the large household needed for running royal business, and his garden for pleasure and entertainment, an escape from the relentless pressure of work.

Paula Henderson is a lecturer and writer on British architecture and garden history.  She has degrees in art history (University of Wisconsin, B.A.; University of Chicago, M.A.) and a Ph.D. in architectural history from the Courtauld Institute of Art (University of London).  Her first book,The Tudor House and Garden: architecture and landscape in the 16th and early 17th centuries (published by Yale University Press).

And last, but not least from CILIP’s Local Studies South Group:

In the picture: getting the most out of images inside and outside your collection.
Wednesday, 24 September 2014 from 10:30 to 16:30
Held at CILIP 7 Ridgmount Street, London WC1E 7AE
Cost: CILIP/ARA members £35 + VAT, non-members £45 + VAT.

The 2014 Local Studies Group South Study Day will be looking at how to use images inside and outside your collection.

Sessions include:
·English Heritage on their purchase of the Aerofilms Aerial Photographic Archive and the creation of the Britain from the Air website.
·The Wellcome Library will be talking about the nuts and bolts of digitisation.
·Librarians from Bracknell Forest will be talking about putting their community’s images onto Flickr.
·An optional tour of either the Camden Local Studies and Archive Centre or the digitisation studios at the Wellcome Library.

Cost: £35 for CILIP/ARA members and £45 for non-members. Lunch, tea and coffee will be provided.
To book, please visit: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/in-the-picture-getting-the-most-out-of-images-in-your-collection-tickets-12502498309
For more information please contact Tony Pilmer via tony.pilmer@tiscali.co.uk.

Hope there is something here to tempt you. 
Best wishes

A day in the life at the Naval & Military Club (In & Out) by Kath Posner, current APML Chair

kath3So it’s a typical Wednesday here at the In & Out (is there such a thing?)

First thing I do when I arrive at my desk is check my emails. As I only work here two days a week, there are obviously a few to deal with, and a quick scan through determines the urgency.

Most pressing, today was a missive from the Club Historian – an author who is writing a history of the In & Out for which I have been doing some of the research.

I should add at this point that I have been doing a lot of work on the Archives over the past year, sorting out around twenty boxes of random documents stretching back 150 years, some tied with ribbons and others loose, storing them in labelled acid-free files and cateloguing them in an easily-searchable Excel spreadsheet.

Having dealt with this, I went on to answer enquiries from Club Members and members of the General Public about their relatives. This year has seen a marked increase in queries from the Public about relatives: people seem to have developed a huge appetite for genealogy research, whether because of programmes like Who do you think you are, or the centenary of the First World War I do not know, but it is a part of my role which, owing to my Research background, I relish.

After dealing with these I went on to normal Library duties: cataloguing the latest acquisitions, photographing them for the Facebook page and weeding the collection. The In & Out’s collection is almost exclusively Military History, with an emphasis on personal stories and biographies and, as much of it is donated by Members, it requires a great deal of tact when deciding what to accept into the collection.

As well as my In & Out duties, I found time to deal with APML tasks: coordinating the next meeting, which includes a lunch means chasing up guests and ascertaining any special dietary requirements as well as seeing if there are any pressing issues members want to talk about and checking on the needs/availability of speakers. We have an antiquarian books expert from Christie’s coming to speak at the next meeting, which will be great fun. I am also recruiting speakers on Resource Discovery, Genealogy and Conservation, so I am kept busy!

So – that’s been my day so far…..enjoy yours.

Guest blog from Karen Syrett of the British Academy

karen1Hi, my name’s Karen Syrett, I am the Archivist/Librarian at the British Academy. The Academy moved to 10 Carlton House Terrace in 1998 but for the first 90 years of its life the house was the London home of the Ridley family – a wealthy coal mining family based in Northumberland. When war broke out in 1914, Lady Ridley decided to open up her London home as a Hospital for Officers. She started with just 25 beds in the ballroom and drawing room but, as the war progressed, Lady Ridley made more room available by moving out a lot of her furniture and pictures and opening up further wards on the ground and first floor. By 1917 there were 60 beds, and huts had been built on the terrace to cater for soldiers suffering from poison gas.


The Hospital was staffed by a resident doctor and volunteer nurses (VADs) who worked alongside qualified nurses. One of the VADs was Aileen Maunsell. Aileen was 19 when the First World War broke out and, like many girls her age, she quickly volunteered to attend home nursing courses and become a nurse.

Aileen’s grandson, Hugo Gell, recently brought his grandmother’s scrapbook and diaries along to the Academy for me to have a look at.  They provide a wonderful insight into the life of the hospital. This is how she describes her first day as a nurse:

Thursday 3 June 1915 – Off at 8.30 by taxie to nurse at Lady Ridly’s Hospital 10 Carlton House Terrace. Put in Long Ward with Sister Bell & Nurse Paice 8 patients. 3 bad stretcher cases & 1 bad arms. Off from 2 to 4, got Red X uniform at Harrods. Dead beat by 8.30.


Aileen Maunsell and patient in one of the huts on the terrace

Aileen’s work at the hospital was varied to say the least. She took the dressings to be sterilized at St Thomas’s Hospital, she bathed and fed the patients and took their temperature, she cleaned the wards and made the beds. She learnt how to ‘work electricity’ on patients and how to deal with haemorrhages. In January 1916, she even records the outbreak of a manicuring craze which lasted for several days: ‘Busy morning – manicured folk’. Aileen also spent a lot of her time chatting and laughing with the patients and was no doubt involved in concocting many of the nicknames given to the nurses and soldiers; hers was Dinkie.  The young convalescing officers were often bored and therefore boisterous but it is clear from her diaries that Dinkie was more than capable of giving as good as she got:

Thursday 11 October 1917 – Great rag in evening, pillow fights…sponges, cushions, pillows & paper flying. I upset all Mr Walton’s water by mistake unfortunately – Sis[ter] Jones furious. All blew over though in the end.

When Aileen slipped coming down the black marble staircase a few days later, she sprained her ankle and had to go home for a few days. The event was recorded in a poem by one of her patients:

Last week our Dinkie fell down stairs…
The North Ward all dissolved in tears
When they heard the news.
Young Duncan was disconsolate
And Barry got the blues.
Life is weary, life is sad
What shall we do without her
It’s only ‘cos I feel so bad
I write this song about her.

One of the patients dressed up to help the nurses

One of the patients dressed up to help the nurses

The soldiers’ injuries were horrific and the work was hard but there was also a great deal of merriment at the hospital, and romance. Aileen received at least two proposals of marriage from her patients before finally accepting Mr Gell. Philip Gell was admitted to the hospital towards the end of the war and the couple married in 1920.

It has been a real privilege to read Aileen’s diaries. Now, as I wander around the building, I can’t help but imagine all the soldiers and nurses who spent such an intense time in these rooms, and I always take extra special care whenever I come down those black marble stairs!

A few of my favourite blogs

kath2Some of you may have read the Guardian article recently about how we’ve all gone ‘retronauting’ mad, sharing old photographs (and if you haven’t you should, so I’m linking to it here!): http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/apr/13/retronaut-photographs-vintage-pictures-twitter-historyinpix-indiahistorypic-nostalgia-history

I am not going into the socio-politico-economic reasons behind this, but I thought that, as we are all in our own ways, working with the History of London, I’d share some of my favourite photo-related blogs with you (in no particular order).

Having said that, this is probably my favourite: ‘The Gentle Author’s Spitalfields Life blog, which includes a daily feature on an aspect of that area’s rich history, complete with photographs and interviews. http://spitalfieldslife.com/ The author, who likes to keep their identity a secret, is also to be found on Twitter @thegentleauthor.

Another London blogger I like is London Mush on Twitter, who posts lots of old 35mm slides of London past.

A similar Twitter blog – London Life aka @Rima1731 is also worth following for the photos.

And finally – with my East India Club hat on, I must give an honourable mention to @IndiaHistoryPic without whose daily dose of Indian life, my EIC Library would be a less colourful place.

Do you have a favourite Twitter account or blog, you want to share with us?

Introducing the new Chair

kath1So this is the first of what I hope will be many posts – including guest posts from APML members.

I have been Librarian at the Naval & Military Club (In & Out) and the East India Club for two years now and was recently delighted to be asked to chair the APML.

My first act as Chairman has been to liaise with James Campbell, author of the wonderful tome of ‘Library Porn’ known as The Library, a World History (see picture) re a forthcoming talk. Needless to say this has been a pleasure and I tried my best not to sound like a complete fangirl.

Looking at the membership it seems to be divided between Gentlemen’s Clubs and Institutes, which means that some approaches are quite different: the Clubs tend to be much more inwardly focused, whereas the Institutes are more concerned with promoting their activities, which makes for an interesting combination and many lively discussions.

Following on from our last meeting, during which we were given an excellent presentation on Social Networking by Sarah Day from the Geological Society, I thought I’d share an idea I spotted on Twitter with you. Did you know that you could link images from your Pinterest account to your online catalogue? Something worth exploring if you enjoy pinning.

Anyway, as I am at work at in the East India Club library, I must get back to my curatorial duties, which today include cleaning several 19th Century travelogues. Looking forward to more speculation on the superhighway…..