Internship, Literary Archives

Diary of a Special Collections Intern: Week Five

I’m now past the halfway point of my internship and the time is really flying! It seems like only yesterday that I was gathered in a room with my fellow interns, anxiously, but eagerly anticipating the weeks ahead. I’ve been lucky enough to find some beautiful treasures during my time in Liverpool Hope University’s Sheppard-Worlock Library, and to gain so much knowledge about so many different topics. I will take this knowledge with me on the next step of my journey, regardless of wherever that may be and I know it will help me to move forward. I said in a previous piece that internships should be about give and take, and I feel as though I have taken so much experience, knowledge, and confidence from this experience that I sometimes feel that this relationship is rather one-sided. I can only hope that my contribution to the Special Collections History database is of value to the university and the students.


Week five was a largely uneventful and short week due to my trip to the British Library and National Portrait Gallery in London  but there is always plenty to do, plenty find, and not enough time to fit it all in in Special Collections. This week I finally said goodbye to the Talbot Collection after cataloguing relevant history texts for the database. There are still hundreds of uncatalogued volumes which would be useful for other departments in the university, and hopefully this project will be continued and expanded by somebody in the near future. I moved on to the Gradwell Collection this week which is a fantastic mix of a variety of texts on many different topics. Like I child in a sweet shop, I didn’t know where to look first.

As I have been working with predominantly ecclesiastical material, I decided to tackle the church history section, and so far there are some very useful volumes for the students to use, particularly about the English Reformation. However, this section is very large and I am conscious of the fact that I am returning to the same topics over and over again. I think I will turn to a different section next week in order to add some new and different information to the database as one of the main aims of the project is to encourage students to pursue archival research in order to find a niche area of study for their dissertations.

In addition to bidding farewell to some old favourites from the Talbot Collection (Thomas Abbot, Ric Kendal, Robert Canavan, I’m referring to you guys), this week was about finding new names within the pages of the books (Clarkson, Walmesley, Livesey, and new characters to flesh out). My experience in deciphering the handwriting of previous owners of the texts has helped me a lot this week as besides the beautiful bookplates I came across, there were also many written inscriptions, although there a still a handful of texts I would like to return to before my internship ends. The bookplates continue to fascinate me; much like marginalia, you can learn a lot about a person from their bookplate. They are not simply there to denote the provenance of a text. For example, those who use armorial bookplates are obviously proud of their lineage and heritage (and possibly social status), whilst some express their love of books and reading. My personal favourite is the bookplate I have set as the featured image at the top of the page. It is so beautiful and detailed, and tells a story in its own right. If I ever create my own bookplate, it will certainly resemble that one.

Some interesting finds this week have been books published by the notable publisher John Murray, and a book which once belonged to George Leo Haydock, a priest and bible scholar from Preston who was responsible for a version of the Douay Bible which became the most popular Catholic Bible of the nineteenth century.

Inscription of George Leo Haydock

Next week will be a challenge as I attempt to search for a different section of The Gradwell Collection in order to vary the information I am inputting. I will also step away from cataloguing and entering information into the database in order to focus on compiling a student user guide so that the students can actually access the information.


All photos appear with the kind permission of Liverpool Hope University. Please do not copy or share these images.


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