Yao Blog 3

This is the last day I work in Islington Museum and I spent a fantastic morning with Julie Melrose, the archivist of Islington Local History Centre who gave me a mesmerising introduction to the centre and briefly the history of London borough of Islington and Finsbury. Then I got some hands-on experience in categorising, putting the maps of Islington borough in order and attaching appropriate labels and captions with those archived documents. It impressed me a lot how Islington expanded and developed in the recent 200 years and how archives support academic research and also general users with particular interests.

My work placement in Islington Museum is almost finishing here and it will be great to make a conclusion for all achievements I have done and with them, the learning outcomes. I very much appreciate the work plan for me which was made by the curator Roz and suited my interests and competencies very well. Following that plan, I had a great opportunity to experience managing ADLIB database and working on accession and object check. Whereas my previous employers were advertising agencies which demands good insight and understanding of clients’ requirement, the work here in Islington Museum needs more attention to details and passion for social culture and local history. The gap in between makes this work placement much meaningful and fascinating because working with academia is pretty eye-opening and ignite more possibilities for my own career. As for the practical skills I acquired in this work placement, I grew my competency in sorting data with Excel and managing database from the experience in using ADLIB, which could be useful in analytic and statistic jobs. Besides, this is the first time I work in a completely English environment which improved my skills in language and communicating with local people. In one word, the work placement I had in Islington Museum is a brilliant experience which extended my horizon and got myself prepared for future career.

Islington Museum is a fantastic place to apply theoretical learning into real working environment and people here are very much kind and helpful. It could be better if more volunteers can be used to sort the database and digitised materials here. I had a very wonderful time in Islington Museum and wish them all the best in the future.

Islington Museum/ Local History Centre Entrance

Dadabhai Naoroji Photo Album and Presentation Box, 1892

The constituency of Central Finsbury elected Britain’s first Asian MP in 1892. This album and its presentation box were gifted by the people of Bombay (now Mumbai) to commemorate Dadhabai Naoroji’s election. He served as MP for Central Finsbury until his defeat in 1895.Naoroji Photo Album

Dadabhai Naoroji (1825-1917) was born near Bombay and was the first Indian appointed as a Professor at Elphinstone College there. He moved to England in 1855 and became Professor of Gujurati at University College London (UCL) in 1856. Naoroji was a founder member of the East India Association and the London India Society. Within both of these organisations he promoted Indian rights in trade and the Civil Service.

Naoroji, photograph

During his time as MP for Central Finsbury, Naoroji’s position provoked further discussion of imperial citizenship in Britain. Naoroji also supported Home Rule for Ireland during this period, referring to the ‘ghostly persistence’ of Irish suffering in his public speeches. In these, Naoroji continued to represent himself as an imperial citizen. In the Pall Mall Gazette, he was described as holding his audience in his hands within the first five minutes of his speech at Holborn Town Hall in 1886. In 1901, he published Poverty and UnBritish Rule in India which is now regarded as a work which contributed to the founding of Indian nationalist economics.

Before his success in the 1892 election, Naoroji campaigned unsuccessfully as a Liberal party candidate in the staunchly Conservative area of Holborn. After losing his seat in Central Finsbury in 1895, Naoroji stood for election in Lambeth North in 1906 but was unsuccessful. He left England the following year to retire to India. Naoroji died at Versova in Bombay in 1917. Today there is a street named after Naoroji and a plaque at Finsbury Town Hall bearing his name.

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Yao Blog 2

The first thing I started in Islington Museum was to check the objects’ locations in the small store. In order to handle collections appropriately, Roz introduced me all the must-dos in different cases and circumstances. I finished roughly six shelves full of objects, registering their numbers, names and descriptions as much in details as I can. Roz double-checked the locations and I will input the accurate locations in Adlib later on.

To determine what items are missing in Adlib, I conducted a comparison between the accession register book and an Excel sheet of all existing data generated by Adlib. I have checked 582 records and found 41 items were missing in Adlib. By manually creating items and adding fundamental attributes such as object category, name, title and description, these missing items could have been added into our database. However there are still some attributes remain blank in the database which would be better if more information is specified. I think probably we could particularly focus on the original accession registers of those missing items and manage to add more useful details to them.

Writing blogs which I am doing right now is another interesting task here in Islington Museum. It would be great if we treat these blogs as a reminder of what we have already achieved and what possibly could be improved in the future. Plus, it is also a great opportunity for our external communication with the public and those who have interests in museum stuff.

It is the third day of my working in Islington Museum and it seems that I have really done some interesting works. Regarding the plan I will add photographs recently taken to the records in Adlib. I am also going to do the Adlib check for permanent gallery. I will spend half of the last day in Islington Museum with Julie Melrose who is archivist of Islington Local History Centre. I feel much satisfied and happy with what I have learned so far and I am very looking forward into future challenges.

Permanent Gallery

The Permanent Gallery

Yao Blog 1

My name is Yao and I am studying Digital Humanities in UCL. In 2016 I earned my bachelor of art degree in Advertising from Sichuan University in China. During the term time, I was the vice president of the youth media department of Sichuan University, in responsibility of operating media networks and delivering social campaigns. I also interned in two 4A advertising agencies, Apex Ogilvy in Chengdu and J. Walter Thompson Beijing, participating in commercial communication proposals and media plans. After my graduation I decided to equip myself more with digital competency. Therefore I started a Digital Humanities course in UCL since September of 2016 and gained some abilities and skills in the internet technologies, information management, server programming and so on.

I really appreciate the concept of serving the local community with culture and heritage, as what Islington Museum is dedicated in. I would like to know more about the borough where I am based and that is also my initial motivation for working here. Islington Museum is a nice place with diverse collections and the people working here are lovely and helpful. The main task for me is to improve the museum database and develop a better way to organise those accessions within. I am pretty confident with any challenge in Islington Museum and am sure that I would learn a lot from the experts here.

Stephanie Blog 3

Things I have learnt working in the Islington Heritage Museum:

  1. One of the first things I learnt and enjoyed about working here was to get to know the Museum. Roz kindly gave me a tour of the museum where I found a lot of interesting information.
  2. How to write a blog for this Project webpage, ‘Sifting the paperwork’, with content about activities I normally do.
  3. Get to understand the database of the Museum, ADLIB, and work with it to verify and compare with the Accessions Register to see if every Museum object is in the database with the correct number and description. For missing objects, I corrected them or added them to an excel sheet.
  4. Learn how the Local History Archives of Islington Council works, how it is organised and helped to  find and classify some pamphlets for the Sadler’s Wells Theatre
  5. Learn to handle museum objects following training, by having to digitise some of them and upload to the database. Each museum object will have a photograph in the database to be recognized more easily.
  6. What I liked most about working at the museum of Islington was the digitization of objects, to take pictures of each one and get to know a little bit more of the stories of the Islington community.
    (One of the pictures I digitise. Image: Booth’s Distilleries Ltd.)1991.59

 

Stephanie Blog 2

  • One of my first tasks in Islington Museum waIMG_0250s digitising some of the objects that belonged to an Odeon cinema in Islington that was built a long time ago and now has been demolished. We took photos of 5 different objects. The first three objects were banners that appeared below the advertisement of the movie before its release, and the other two were the frames where movie posters were displayed outside the movie theatre. (Image: Frame displaying the movie and cast of the week)
  • My next task was to check over the Accessions Register book and compare the information with an Excel from the collections management system, Adlib, with a list of all the objects, to verify if every Museum object is in its place with the correct number and description. I corrected mistakes and added missing elements to the excel sheet.
  • I also spent a morning in the Local History Archives of Islington Council ; get to know all the archives rooms, understand their purpose and how they are a good tool to comprehend the history of Islington Borough. I helped organise some of the pamphlets that belonged to an old Islington Theatre called Sadler’s Wells, the world’s No.1 venue dedicated to international dance – presenting dance in all forms from contemporary to flamenco, ballet to hip hop. In 1683, Richard Sadler opened his “Musick House” (house of music), being the second public theater that opened in London. Basically my task was to read each one of the pamphlets and find the date they were issued and classify them from the oldest date to the most recent. (Image: Sadler’s Wells Theatre in 1910)

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Stephanie Blog 1

Introducing Stephanie!

Stephanie -working

My name is Stephanie and I am studying Digital Humanities at University College London (UCL). I am half Peruvian and half Italian with dual nationality, but have lived in Peru my entire life. Three years ago I moved to London to study Digital Marketing at King’s College and I ended up staying here. Then I started working for a StartUp, a medical platform that mainly tried to connect patients and doctors in a more efficient way. Next I worked in a NGO in charge of promoting civil education programmes of freedom, liberty, peace and justice and overall the consolidation of democracy. I really enjoyed my time working there but I wanted to learn more about digital humanities and how to analyse data so that is why I applied to study at UCL.

I love culture, history and languages -I speak Spanish, English and Italian, and would like to learn many more! I like teaching and meeting new people, and particularly to learn more about their culture. My hobby is to do horseback riding and go to the movies. My first motivation to work at Islington Museum is the fact that I wanted to learn more about the place I am living right now. I also will know the history behind each aspect of Islington Borough and how that is reflected in modern life here. By working here I am hoping to help in anyway I can to enhance the database system of the Museum and also improve some areas that are not been well developed.

Sifting the Paperwork

Islington Museum’s paperwork is crucial in helping us understand what our objects are, where they are from and why they are interesting.

An old brick is just a brick…until you have a piece of paper that shows it is an original  tile from Sadlers Wells ‘Musick House’ in the 1680’s where people would come to take the waters, which cured dropsy, jaundice and scurvy. Come and visit us to discover the tiles and other intriguing objects from Islington’s past.

We have been working hard to look at our historic paperwork and bring it up to modern standards. In Sifting the Paperwork the people behind the work will give an insight into what we’re doing and will share the interesting snippets we find along the way.

Roz Currie, Curator

Islington’s Burning

London has had a turbulent and fiery history! It has been burned to the ground many times over in its 2000 year history and yet the London Fire Brigade (LFB) was only formed in 1866.

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From the destruction of St. John’s Priory, Clerkenwell in 1381, the impact of the Great Fire of London, to the tragic blaze at Smithfield Market in the 1950s, ‘Islington Burning’ uncovers the story of fire fighting in the borough and commemorates 150 years since the founding of the LFB. The story is told through key objects from the London Fire Brigade Museum Collection, original material from Islington’s museum, archives and other collections from across the capital.

Here are 5 of the amazing objects on display in the exhibition:

  • The original Vestry Minute Book from St Mary’s Islington from the time of the Great Fire of London

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Islington escaped the Great Fire as the wind changed direction. However many of the 100,000 people made homeless travelled north and camped out in Moorfields and Bun Hill Fields. This vestry minute book of the time records money donated to those made destitute following the fire.

  • An insurance plate from 18 Highbury Terrace in Islington

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Many people were bankrupted by the Great Fire. Fire insurance started to fill a gap in the market and included fire insurance brigades who would put out fires in insured buildings to reduce costs. This plaque showed that X was insured so that the brigade would know a fire should be extinguished

  • An original smoke helmet from 1900 to allow firefighters to enter smoky buildings

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This was the first real attempt to ensure firefighters could breathe when in smoke-filled buildings. It would be connected via a rubber hose to a set of bellows that would be pumped by another firefighter to drive air into the helmet. A rope between the two firefighters was used to signal for more or less air, or if there was a problem. Firefighters could only go as far as the hose would allow and had to place their lives in the hands of the bellows-pumper.

  • A German incendiary bomb from World War II

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Incendiary bombs were designed to set buildings on fire. Over 500 were dropped on Islington during the war. The Fire Guards’ job was to put these bombs out as quickly as possible to prevent fires spreading and raging out of control.

  • A 2016 print out from Islington Fire Station for their next job

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Today there are two fire stations in Islington –Islington Fire Station on Upper Street and Holloway Fire Station on Hornsey Road. This print out giving orders for the mobilisation of Islington Fire Rescue Unit.

Come to see the exhibition to find out more!

Visiting HMP Holloway

Roz Currie, Curator

Holloway Prison closed this summer -the last prisoner left on 17th June 2016. Until May it was the largest women’s prison in Britain, holding around 450 inmates.

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Entrance to Holloway Prison just before it closed in June 2016

The prison was established in 1852 on Camden Road in Holloway, Islington, housing prisoners on remand, convicted women prisoners and debtors. It became female-only in 1902. Many well-known people have been held at the prison during its history, writer Oscar Wilde, suffragettes fighting for the right to vote, the British wives of German men interned as enemy aliens during World War I and Second World War fascists, including Diana Mitford and Oswald Mosley. In 1955 Ruth Ellis, the last woman ever to be executed in the UK, was hanged at Holloway. In 2016, Sarah Reed, an inmate of Holloway, tragically died under suspicious circumstances.

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The original Victorian prison ‘Holloway Castle’ was an imposing building with turrets and castellations, its entrance flanked by huge griffins seated on pillars and holding keys in their claws. The prison was rebuilt in the 1970s to 1980s, making the prison more like a hospital with small corridors and privacy for the inmates.

As the prison was closing I was able to visit several times, first while prisoners were still there and later when they had all been moved to prisons outside London. I was not allowed to take pictures inside the prison and all electronic equipment had to be handed over in the gatehouse so I can’t show you any pictures for now.

Approaching the prison it is surrounded by blank brick walls with no obvious entrance. The reception is royal blue with a Holloway Griffin doormat. There are signs everywhere mainly to control keys leaving the building. All staff wear a belt and key-chain to which they attach their own bundle, and when going through the double air-lock to leave they have to show their empty key chain to the gate staff -an alarm sounds if they forget.

The staircases in the prison are wide and simple with jointed varnished wooden bannisters. Every door needs locking and unlocking, so by the time you’ve actually come into the main prison you’re behind at least 5 locked doors and feel like you might never get out.

The facilities at the prison include a beautiful wooden sports hall, swimming pool with a Holloway Griffin in blue tiles in its centre, an education department including a pottery studio and kiln around a central garden which was increasingly overgrown each time I visited, gardens and a henhouse and a chapel and smaller religious room used for other faiths.

The wings were much more cramped. I didn’t visit wings with prisoners still living there, so there was a strange air of dereliction with photos ripped off the walls, no bed linen or personal belongings. In each cell, whether a single, double or five-bed dorm (of which only four beds were ever used) was a sink or two and a toilet. Above the sink was a tiny plastic mirror 10cm a side. Each bed had a noticeboard above which was where inmates could put up their pictures, covered in drawings, bits of graffiti and toothpaste which had been used as glue. Association rooms in the wings had hairdryers and straightening tongs wired directly into the wall with the same tiny mirrors above.

We are hoping to be able to collect some objects from the prison to enter our museum collection and also to do projects working with ex-prisoners and staff of Holloway Prison to record the story before the place disappears forever. If you have any stories of the prison you would like to share please get in touch on roz.currie@islington.gov.uk.