Techniques for recovering lost texts


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CHICC Manchester

Research Fellow Renate Smithuis and Research Associate Stefania Silvestri, are working on a Catalogue of Codices, Scrolls, and Other Texts in Hebrew Script in The University of Manchester Library.

The Library holds one of the most important smaller collections of Hebrew manuscripts in Europe and this project will create a full, online catalogue compliant with current cataloguing and metadata standards. To support the production of the catalogue, digitisation of a number of manuscripts is being undertaken. All images, included fully digitised volumes, are added to the Hebraica Collection in the John Rylands Library Image Collections, LUNA.

A substantial portion of the Rylands Gaster manuscript collection have already been selected for digitisation, including a number of manuscripts that suffered water damage during the Second World War. The level of water damage varies, some texts are still legible but faint, others have whole sections of pages rendered illegible.

The Heritage Imaging…

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The Other Captain Swing: Eric Hobsbawm, Jazz and Popular Culture


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On Thursday 30 June 2016 at 5.30pm Professor Peter Bailey, Visiting Research Fellow within the John Rylands Research Institute, will give a ‘musical lecture’ on Eric Hobsbawm, popular culture and jazz music.

All are welcome to this free event which will be held in the John Casken Theatre at the Martin Harris Centre, The University of Manchester, Bridgeford Street, off Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL. For further information, telephone: 0161 275 8951.

The Martin Harris Centre for Music and Drama is situated on the south side of Manchester city centre in the heart of the University’s campus. It is located just behind the Manchester Museum, on Oxford Road, approximately a mile south of the city centre. The Centre is easily accessible by public transport networks.

Peter Bailey, from the University of Manitoba, currently holds a joint fellowship between the John Rylands Research Institute and the Newberry Library in Chicago. His research project, entitled ‘Fun Factory’, is a study of the social history of British music hall and variety stage, 1840-1960. He is also an acclaimed jazz pianist.

Other Captain Swing

John Rylands Research Institute Conference 2016: ‘The Other Within’


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‘The Other Within’ – The Hebrew and Jewish Collections of The John Rylands Library

Monday 27–Wednesday 29 June 2016 at The John Rylands Library150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH

Registration is now open!

The second John Rylands Research Institute conference will convene scholars, curators and students researching areas represented in the John Rylands Library’s valuable and wide-ranging Hebrew and Jewish collections, including: the Cairo Genizah; medieval Hebrew manuscript codices; early printed Hebrew books; Samaritan manuscripts; and, the collections of Moses Gaster. The full programme is available for download on our website.

Key speakers include: Ben Outhwaite (University of Cambridge), Reinhard Pummer (University of Ottawa), Brad Sabin Hill (George Washington University Libraries) Emile Schrijver (University of Amsterdam), Ilana Tahan (British Library), Esther-Miriam Wagner (University of Cambridge and Woolf Institute).

The public keynote lecture will be delivered at 6-7pm on Tuesday 28 June at the John Rylands Library by Sarit Shalev-Eyni (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) on, “New Light from Manchester on Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts: The John Rylands Collection and its Significance”. The lecture is free to attend, and open to all. To find out more and book a place, visit our Eventbrite page.

Delegates are invited to register to attend the conference via our website. Places are very limited, so we would encourage delegates to attend for as much of the conference as possible.

Enquiries should be directed to:

This event is supported by the European Association of Jewish Studies’ Conference Grant Programme in European Jewish Studies.



Manchester Histories Festival – 11th June 2016


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The John Rylands Library is part of Manchester Histories Festival Celebration Day 2016 taking place across Manchester Town Hall and Central Library from 10:30-4pm on Saturday 11 June. Bringing together nearly 100 histories and heritage organisations from across Greater Manchester, the Manchester Celebration Day will have something for all the family, including exhibition stands, games, heritage bus rides, craft activities, film screenings, performances and talks.

For more information on the Manchester Histories Festival:

We have chosen to highlight the Guardian Archive at the Manchester Histories Festival, and in particular employees in Manchester, and the machinery used to produce the paper. We are hoping to receive some assistance in identifying some of the more mystifying devices!

reproduced courtesy of Guardian News and Media Ltd

reproduced courtesy of Guardian News and Media Ltd

The Manchester Guardian was founded by John Edward Taylor in 1821, two years after the Peterloo Massacre. Under the editorship of the legendary Charles Prestwich Scott, it was transformed from an essentially provincial journal into a newspaper of national and international standing – reflected in its change of name to the Guardian in 1959.

The correspondence and dispatches in the archive form an outstanding source for almost every aspect of late nineteenth and twentieth-century history, from the Boer War to Vietnam. There is also a very full set of records relating to the newspaper as a business. The Guardian Archive also contains material relating to its sister publication, the Manchester Evening News.

reproduced courtesy of Guardian News and Media Ltd

reproduced courtesy of Guardian News and Media Ltd

There are several exciting projects underway to catalogue material from the Guardian Archive and improve its documentation, in order to make the collection more accessible and assist in its use for study and research.

For more information on the Guardian Archive please visit:

We look forward to seeing you there!

Volunteering Opportunity


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What the Papers Say: Guardian Archive Volunteer Project

Reproduced courtesy of Guardian News and Media Ltd

Reproduced courtesy of Guardian News and Media Ltd

The John Rylands Library is currently engaged in an exciting project to catalogue the Editorial Correspondence of C.P. Scott, editor of the Guardian (1872-1929), and to promote Guardian Archive. We are seeking to recruit a small team of volunteers to assist in this project.

Location: John Rylands Library, University of Manchester, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH

Duration: July 2016 – March 2017

Commitment: 1 day per week, Monday – Friday

Due to the short length of the project, it is important for volunteers to be available for the full duration, and to be able to commit to 1 day a week on the project.

Who can apply: You must be over 18 and living or studying in Greater Manchester

Closing Date: The closing date for applications is Friday 10th June 2016. Informal interviews will take place on Thursday 15th June 2016

Role Description

Tasks carried out by the project volunteers will include:

Core Tasks

  • Describing, listing and cataloguing of archive material
  • Investigation into relevant individuals and historical events, both within the archive collection and using external sources

Additional Tasks

  • Contributing to social media, including the John Rylands Special Collections blog
  • Assisting in an exhibition of archival material from the Guardian Archive
  • Assisting in devising and delivering some collection-based activities for the public to be held at the Library

Please find below a link to the full volunteer role description and application form:

Please return the application form via email to:

or via post to: Jessica Smith, Wolfson Room, The John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH

If you have any queries regarding the role, contact us at: 0161 275 3734

Both – and & either – or


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As I progress with the cataloguing of C.P. Scott’s editorial correspondence, I have begun to notice patterns and trends. Often, if there is a relationship of long standing with the contributor, letters are initially addressed to Scott, but, later, are exchanged with his successors, Edward T. Scott, William P. Crozier and Alfred P. Wadsworth.

William P. Crozier was editor of the Manchester Guardian from 1932 – 1944, succeeding Edward Scott, the son of C.P. Scott, who died suddenly and unexpectedly, only a few months after his father. Despite the unenviable task of following in such unique editorial footsteps, Crozier did not lack experience. He began work at the Manchester Guardian in 1903, and became C.P. Scott’s right hand man, with responsibilities ranging from news gathering and foreign news, to the introduction of sporting and arts news, and of crossword puzzles.

I have chosen for my second blog post, an internal memorandum written by Crozier to F.S. Attenborough, long standing chief sub editor at the Manchester Guardian, in 1937.

Internal memoranda, notes and correspondence between members of staff at the Manchester Guardian can be found throughout Scott’s editorial correspondence. They’re the early 20th century equivalent of the quick email between colleagues, and include discussion of the general administration of employing external correspondents, the subject and form of potential articles, and also discussion of the individuals with whom Scott is corresponding. These internal memos can be very illuminating, providing insight into the character of the correspondents and context for the correspondence it accompanies. They’re also, frankly, sometimes comically catty.

Manchester Guardian Archive A/A63/7aManchester Guardian Archive A/A63/7a Manchester Guardian Archive A/A63/7aManchester Guardian Archive A/A63/7a

The complaint in Crozier’s memorandum does, in tone and style, verge upon the humorous. To send over 100 memos on the correct use of correlative conjunctions is perhaps a little excessive. It does, however, illustrate a sense of honest exasperation. It must have been equally frustrating for the editorial and sub editorial teams to receive an additional 50 memos on the misuse of the word ‘otherwise’.

However, the memo also provides us with the motive for Crozier’s insistence. The objective of championing the use of ‘the best and most effective English for newspaper purposes’ is to ensure that clarity of meaning is not obscured by grammatical ambiguity. In Crozier’s statement that news articles should be ‘simple, direct, lucid, concise and short’, there is an echo of C.P. Scott’s vision for the Manchester Guardian, outlined in his article for the paper’s centenary.

‘[A newspaper’s] primary office is the gathering of news. At the peril of its soul it must see that the supply is not tainted. Neither in what it gives, nor in what it does not give, nor in the mode of presentation must the unclouded face of truth suffer wrong. Comment is free, but facts are sacred.’

Crozier’s close involvement in the writing and editing of the paper may then, in part, be a testament to C.P. Scott’s belief in the importance of integrity in journalism. It’s also possible to see this legacy in the current Guardian style guide, which advocates ‘an interest in the language, in its proper use, and its development…’

Whilst acknowledging the on-going and unstoppable evolution of the use of language and grammar, and the interesting ways that the rules by which they are governed can be subverted to improve quality of expression, in this instance, I’d say Crozier may have had a point. If your job is to deliver the news, everyone needs to understand exactly what you’re talking about.

MHAW – The 18th/19th Century Approach


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To coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week 2016, the latest blog from the Manchester Medical Manuscripts Collection looks at some of the attitudes of medical professionals from the 18th & 19th centuries and the forms of treatment they employed.

Two Manchester based physicians, teaching in the city in the first half of the 19th century, make similar comments as to the physical causes of mental illnesses as well as alluding to the overarching lack of knowledge in the area. Richard Baron Howard (1807-1848) comments that insanity is owing to “an abnormal lesion of the brain but we cannot always find any structural lesion but it is admitted by all that the brain is the organ affected in all cases … we can seldom find anything sufficient to explain the symptoms” (MMM/10/2) which Samuel Bardsley (1764-1850) corroborates with the comments “All diseases of the mind are difficult to understand in as much as the physiology of the mind is so little understood. The definition of insanity is very hard to give & hardly any two authors agree to giving the same definition.” (MMM/23/1/10)

Medical descriptions of psychiatric problems at this time tend to focus largely on the physical and can be all too brief. The belief stated by many that all mental illnesses were caused by some hard to identify organic lesion of the brain meant that background information relating to the patient’s social welfare and family and personal circumstances was often completely neglected. One writer on the subject does note the contrast between the accounts of medical professionals and those of close family members, who in contrast often went into great detail about the individual’s life (Akihito Suzuki, Madness at Home, 2006, University of California Press, p.39).  Much emphasis is also placed on the hereditary factor of mental health with many physicians in this period citing it as one of the most common causes and mid-nineteenth century institutional providers of care making a point of investigating family history in their initial assessment of patients.

The theories that the medical profession formulated at this time to explain the causes of mental illness often also informed their treatments. These could be quite varied, based on a doctor’s personal experience with specific patients, and also, like the theories on the causes, be a point of contention between physicians too.  A manuscript whose author is unknown from the late 18th century offers the following view:

“The great object of cure is putting them under restraint as it very much distresses the patient, and this now used is a short waistcoat and this kept on for 2 or 3 days in this manner we will often effect a cure. The restraint by fetters and chords and their struggling with them is very hurtful, an erect posture too is favourable.  They ought not to be kept in their own houses or suffered to be seen by strangers. Fear has been often employed, and it sometimes may have done good, but oftener it has done great harm & great severity too does great harm. I think the strait waistcoat with the awe of a stranger to look over him will generally be sufficient.” (MMM/23/1/10)

Nearly 50 years later in the late 1830s Samuel Bardsley suggests firmness but not severity is beneficial and also warns against the lack of suitable care for those that need it:

“Dr B. states the unpleasantness of having to give evidence in cases of mania. This he stated to be much increased by the knowledge of the fact that there were so few keepers who were really fit for the office of attending upon the patient should you condemn them to confinement. …

“Firmness on the part of the attendants is particularly to be recommended but with this firmness a system of conciliation in manners to be combined. Severe bodily restraint is to be avoided as much as possible as it creates a degree of irritation of mind which tends to retard the recovery of the patient.” (MMM/23/1/20)

The many other common treatments included cold baths, exercise, simple diet, opiates, and bleeding (both general and topical). Purgatives were common throughout the period also, with Bardsley remarking on them as “most important remedies in the treatment of mania. It has been long known that an obstructed state of the bowels is a very common concomitant of this disease.”

Medical men at this time were also known to comment on the higher occurrence of insanity in women than in men referring to the ‘greater irritability of the female sex depending probably in part upon the addition of the uterine system’, with a diagnosis of hysteria in women being very commonplace, and to be the subject of a later posting…

Undiscovered collections: Guardian Archive Printed Collection


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A team from Collection Management has recently completed restoring and cataloguing The Guardian Archive Printed Collection. The majority of the collection, which accompanies the Guardian Archive, was gifted to the Library in 1971, with further books added.  Many items originated from the Manchester Guardian Library in the offices of the Guardian newspaper (formerly the Manchester Guardian until 24 August 1959) which was based in Deansgate, Manchester.

The collection comprises of mainly 20th-century books with a handful of 19th-century items.  It includes yearly publications, such as The Bedside Guardian; Guardian yearbook; Style book, and other publications by and/or about the Guardian, alongside fiction and non-fiction monographs by writers associated with the Guardian, such as Neville Cardus, Allan Monkhouse, C.E. Montague, Harold Brighouse, H. W. Nevison and Arthur Ransome. These items reflect the interests of the journalists and compliment our Railway Collections and the Brockbank Cricket Collection.

Many of the items contain interesting provenance information, such as book labels, bookplates, perforated stamps, ink stamps, inscriptions, and location labels on the front covers. Whereas some provenance information relates to the Manchester Guardian Library, others relate to former individual and institutional owners: several of the books have been withdrawn from public libraries around the country.


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