Tag Archives: Rare Books

Reflections on a week of work experience in Special Collections

We were delighted to be joined last week by Year 10 student Rosalia for a week of work experience in Special Collections. Below Rosalia shares some of her impressions and reflections on her experience. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Rosalia for her excellent work and wish her every success for the future.

Over this last week, I have been doing my work experience in Special Collections which I have found fascinating as it allowed me to learn more about rare books and manuscripts, as well as helping me broaden my experience and widen my knowledge of history, a subject I love.

Map of Devon from an atlas of the counties of England and Wales [Atlas of the counties of England and Wales]

On the first day, I arrived at 9:30 and was given a tour of Special Collections by Annie, where I saw the strong rooms and the office. Afterwards, I had the handling training, when I looked at several old books and manuscripts, including a a 1579 hand-painted Atlas of the counties of England and an medieval manuscript with beautiful illuminated letters and illustrations. Later the same day, I attended a presentation from the archivist for Middle Eastern studies, which was fascinating. Afterwards, I stayed in the reading room, where I learnt how the room operated and looked at an old manuscript from Syon Abbey, which detailed the history of the Abbey and the duties of the nuns. I had to transcribe the headings of the different sections in order to improve the cataloguing of the manuscript which was very enjoyable and the contents of the manuscript were a fascinating record of the abbey and the life of the nuns who lived there. I also had a talk with Caroline, the Head of Heritage Collections, about the role of Special Collections within the university and the wider community and the collections and archives held here.

On the second day, I was given the task of searching through the library catalogue to find books relevant to Crediton, as some of the Special Collections team are going to Crediton Local History Day to do a presentation. Within the collections is the Crediton Parish Library, which contains many old books and a wide range of 17th century pamphlets. When I had found all the books and pamphlets I was interested in on the catalogue, I filled out request slips for each of them (59 in total) and then the next day Annie and I retrieved them from the strongroom.

Crediton Parish Library

On the third day, I looked through the pamphlets and books and photographed any that would be relevant or interesting for Crediton Local History day. This took most of the day, although I also spent about an hour watching a display being put up in the Forum Library.

On the fourth day, I spent the morning in Digital Humanities with Hollie and Lisa from Special Collections, where we had a tour of the labs and a talk about what Digital Humanities do. We also had the chance to 3D print a Lewis chess piece each, which was very exciting and interesting. In the afternoon, I finished cataloguing the Syon Abbey manuscript and got some more of the books and pamphlets from the strong rooms. At the end of the afternoon, I had a talk with Jamie, the Middle East archivist, about his role in digitising and preserving manuscripts and books and also with Jon, the Digitisation Assistant, about how digitising the images and documents for the DAME project works.

On the final day, I photographed the remaining few pamphlets and books and had a look round the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum for about forty minutes, which is a fascinating insight into the history of cinema and film.

Overall, the week was very enjoyable and fascinating, and I learnt a lot about rare books and manuscripts and the general running of the Special Collections department.

Collage of images from the University of Exeter Special Collections

Arrival of the Nursing Ethics Heritage Collection

We are delighted to have recently welcomed the Nursing Ethics Heritage Collection into our Special Collections at the University of Exeter.

The heart of the collection is the personal research library of Professor Marsha Fowler. In 1977, Professor Fowler began collecting books to support her research into the development of nursing ethics and the American Nurses Association code of Ethics for Nurses. Many of these key texts were not available to consult in academic libraries. Professor Fowler later gifted the collection to the International Care Ethics (ICE) Observatory at the University of Surrey and, in 2016, the collection was accepted by the University of Surrey for inclusion within its Archives and Special Collections. The Archives and Special Collections team collaborated with Professor Fowler and Professor Ann Gallagher to develop the collection by acquiring further publications and materials concerning nursing, the history of nursing, bioethics, women, religion and health, with titles leading up to the present day. You can find out more about the collection and its development in this blog post by the University of Surrey’s Archives and Special Collections.

Books in the Nursing Ethics Heritage Collection

The decision was made to transfer the collection from the University of Surrey to the University of Exeter due to Exeter’s more wide-ranging courses and specialist research interests in relation to nursing and ethics. In Exeter, the collection will also enhance educational provision and research opportunities in the Academy of Nursing under the leadership of Professor Ann Gallagher (Head of Nursing and Editor-in-Chief Nursing Ethics). In addition, it will complement existing books on nursing and the history of nursing in the Hypatia Collection. You can find out more about the transfer of the collection in this blog post by the University of Surrey’s Archives and Special Collections. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the Archives and Special Collections team at the University of Surrey for their care and development of the collection, and for the safe transfer of the collection to its new home.

A full catalogue of the collection had already been compiled by the Archivist at the University of Surrey. With both organisations using the same cataloguing software (CALM) it has proven to be a fairly simple process to transfer over the existing records into Exeter’s online catalogue. This was a great time saver, meaning that the collection was searchable online just a day or two after its transfer and minimising the time that it was inaccessible to researchers. The online catalogue for the collection can be found here under collection reference EUL MS 472/NEHC. The six main sections of the collection comprise:

EUL MS 472/NEHC/1 – Texts from the nursing ethics heritage period, 1860s-1965

EUL MS 472/NEHC/2 – Texts relating to Bioethics

EUL MS 472/NEHC/3 – Texts and audio visual material relating to nursing bioethics

EUL MS 472/NEHC/4 – Biographical records relating to nurse ethicists

EUL MS 472/NEHC/5 – Histories of nursing ethics

EUL MS 472/NEHC/6 – Contextual publications for medical practice, nursing and ethics

EUL MS 472/NEHC/7 – Codes of ethics for nurses

The collection comprises almost 500 books, periodicals and articles, including works dating from 1888 to editions of ‘Nursing Ethics: An International Journal for Health Care Professionals’ published as recently as 2017. Many of the books contain the names of former owners inscribed within, as well as annotations and underlined words in the text, highlighting their importance in shaping the study and work of nurses. Though predominantly consisting of English-language works, it is wonderful to also find texts in Italian, Dutch, Hungarian, Russian and Japanese within the collection. Some images of items in the collection can be viewed on the slideshow below.

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Items from the Nursing Ethics Heritage Collection are now available to consult in our reading room by advance appointment. We hope this wonderfully rich collection will support and inspire research into the study of nursing ethics, both here at the University of Exeter and by visiting researchers.

Enquiries about this collection can be made by email to: libspc@exeter.ac.uk.