Mary Jane Clarke, an Unsung Hero


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Jane Donaldson writes:

As one of 3 volunteers working on the Guardian Archive project ‘What the Papers Say’, I am assisting in cataloguing the correspondence collection and my focus is Women’s Suffrage.

The Suffragette movement was at its height during the early 1900s prior to WW1 and this is reflected in the correspondence of C.P. Scott. There are letters from prominent suffragists of the time and also politicians and journalists both supporting and opposing votes for women. Scott was a supporter for Women’s Suffrage though did not agree with the militant tactics taken up by The National Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), whose leader was Emmeline Pankhurst.

One of the letters to C.P. Scott from Emmeline Pankhurst gives an extremely personal insight into the complete and absolute commitment of these women to the cause. The letter, sent on the 27th December 1910 informs C.P. Scott of the death of her sister, Mary Jane Clarke, who died on 22nd December 1910.

Mrs Clarke had been imprisoned three times in Holloway. In 1909 she had been among a group of protestors who had gone to number 10 Downing Street and tried to get an audience with Prime Minister Asquith. She was sentenced to one month in prison and was kept for some of the time in solitary confinement.  C.P. Scott had visited her during this time and Emmeline reminds him of this at the beginning of her letter, going on to inform him of Clarke’s most recent incarceration, and of her death two days after her release.


The letter includes her reason for informing Scott:

I write to you not only because you saw her in prison but because I believe you perhaps more than any English man alive out side the Cabinet have the power to bring this dreadful struggle to an end.


In November 1910, a suffragette deputation went to the House of Commons to protest against Prime Minister Asquith after finding out he would not give any more time to the Conciliation Bill which had aimed to give some women the vote. The WSPU had agreed during the reading of the Bill to suspend support for window breaking and hunger-strikes. Mary Clarke was arrested the second time for window smashing soon after the event known as Black Friday.

In her final stay in prison, Mrs Clarke went on hunger strike and was force fed, a procedure the prison authorities had brought in at the end of 1909. It is thought the traumatic effect of forced-feeding may have contributed to her death from a burst blood vessel.

In her letter, Emmeline Pankhust writes:

This year has seen the breaking for me of three of my closest bonds to this world, my boy, my mother and my dearest sister.

Emmeline Pankhurst’s son, Henry had died in January of that year and along with her mother and sister’s death, this seemed to make her more determined to make her voice heard through the militant action she and the WSPU followed.

Can you wonder that today I want beyond all other things to end this fight quickly and get rest?


Mary Jane Clarke’s obituary written by Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence stated that Mary Jane Clarke was “the first woman martyr who has gone to death for this cause” but her story is not widely known. This is thought to be because she died at home in the winter holidays at a time where militant action was just beginning after a period of non-action, compared with the later death in 1913 of Emily Davison who was killed very publicly by the Kings horse at Derby, at the height of the WSPU’s fight for Votes for Women. Emmeline Pankhurst wrote about her sister:

She is the first to die. How many must follow before the men of your Party realise their responsibility.







Rapture and Reason: Accounts of Evangelical Conversion in Georgian Britain


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‘Monster at Finsbury Fields’, Anti-Methodist satirical print, 18th century.

Gareth Lloyd writes:

“Western culture … had its foundation in the bible, the word of God, and in the revivals of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.”  (20th century evangelist Billy Graham, 1950)

The University of Manchester Library has digitised a collection of 156 manuscript conversion narratives written during the 18th century Evangelical Revival. These testimonies provide a vivid insight into a dynamic and often disturbing spirituality that fuelled an explosion in popular religion to create one of the building blocks of the modern world. This previously unpublished collection, part of the official archive of the Methodist Church of Great Britain, is now made available to scholars as well as members of faith communities interested in the roots of some of the world’s leading denominations.

Approximately one third of the collection has been transcribed and these copies can be accessed on the library website with the digital images of the original documents.

Access the collection here.

The testimonies document the grassroots response to revival meetings held across the British Isles during the middle decades of the 18th century. At these unruly and often violent gatherings, crowds sometimes numbering in tens of thousands were told of the transforming power of God and offered the choice between heaven and hell. Delivered by charismatic preachers of the calibre of George Whitefield and the Wesley brothers, this message had a shocking impact. The testimonies report cases of physical and emotional collapse with long term effects on the mental and emotional state of converts.


Engraving (detail), ‘George Whitefield preaching at Leeds’, 1749. Meth. Arch./SB 1/151.

This extreme behaviour provoked widespread opposition. Methodists were accused of fanaticism and of undermining family ties and society itself. Hostility to the evangelicals entered the mainstream of popular culture. The “mad Methodists” were attacked in print, dragged into court and mocked in the street for their visions, dreams and eccentricities.

From humble and controversial beginnings, the Revival came to exert huge influence across the English-speaking world. Progressive causes in the 19th century were often championed and led by evangelical Christians including the movements for the abolition of slavery, working class education, factory reform and temperance.

This primary text collection provides a unique insight into the birth of an extraordinary popular movement. These narratives were not written by the leadership, but by ordinary men and women struggling to reconcile deep theological concepts with the reality of daily life.

This digital collection will be of value to scholars and students from the following disciplines:

  • Church history
  • Theology
  • 18th century studies
  • Linguistics
  • Popular culture
  • Women’s studies
  • Psychology of religious belief

The material also represents a spiritual treasure trove. The Evangelical Revival laid the foundations for the world family of Methodist and related denominations, modern Pentecostalism and the evangelical wing of the Anglican Communion.

The testimonies offer answers to questions concerning faith and spirituality that are still relevant for the modern Church.


Engraving (detail), ‘The Tree of Life’, undated. Meth. Arch./SB 1/150.

“This burst of popular devotion, the white-hot experience captured like a snapshot in these letters would be canalized into a powerful and enduring movement, ultimately reshaping the religious geography of the modern world.” (Bruce Hindmarsh, James M. Houston Professor of Spiritual Theology, Regent College, Vancouver)


Job Opportunity: Special Collections Librarian


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jrl021562trWe are seeking to appoint a Special Collections Librarian (Rare Books and Digital Humanties). You will promote and support innovative Digital Humanities initiatives focussed upon the Special Collections, in order to transform the way we connect our academic audiences with our collections, via digital media and new technologies. You will also manage and develop the Library’s World Religions & Theology rare book collections (digital and print) to make them more accessible for researchers, students and visitors.

You will be a graduate with a professional qualification in librarianship or similar. In addition, you will be committed to the exploitation of Special Collections for research, teaching and learning, and public engagement; have excellent communication and team-working skills; have experience of managing rare books; and have a strong commitment to developing a broad knowledge of Special Collections materials across formats, for the benefit of our audiences.

For further particulars and an application form, please visit

The Library’s current Off Beat exhibition features some innovative digital humanities applications, as featured in our recent blog.

Mapping the friends and collaborators of Jeff Nuttall


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Nuttall photobooth cropped

Jeff Nuttall

Veneta Haralampieva writes:

Hello everyone,

In case you haven’t read my previous blog post, my name is Veneta Haralampieva. I am a recent graduate from the Computer Science Department of the University of Manchester and I have spent the past seven weeks working on application aiming to visualise aspects of the life of Jeff Nuttall (1933–2004), one of the most prominent figures in the British cultural life of several decades ago.

Let me give you a brief overview of the project I have been working on. The main idea behind it was finding a new, exciting way to showcase the extent of the international collaboration between Jeff Nuttall and other artists at that time. Douglas Field from English and American Studies in the University, alongside with Louise Lever, Sean Bechhofer and several other people from the Computer Science Department and the University of Manchester Library came up with the idea to use a graph to illustrate this. They needed someone to create this application and this is where I came in. My work involved developing a graph – think of it as a mind map – which shows all the items in the Jeff Nuttall archive, like letters, poems, cut ups, etc., and their authors. So if you picture this as a mind map, you would have a circle for an item, let’s say a letter, which is connected via a line to its author and to Jeff Nuttall of course, our main figure. Quite simple, isn’t it? What’s exciting about this, is that you could very quickly identify close friends and collaborators of Jeff by looking at how many letters or postcards they have sent him: just look at how many circles an author is connected to! And of course you could hover over each circle to find out more about each item; for example, you can see its title, the date it was produced, where it was sent from, etc. (Fig. 1)

Jeff Nuttall Digital Map

Fig. 1: Screen-shot of the Jeff Nuttall Digital Map.

However, this is only one way to visualise this information. There are many more which can be used to demonstrate the relationships between Nuttall’s friends and collaborators. Another way to do this is using a chord diagram (Fig. 2). If you don’t know what these are don’t worry: it’s nothing too complicated. It simply has all the artists lined out in a circle. The connections between them are again influenced by the items they have created. For example, if two people have corresponded by letter, there will be a line connecting them. It might sound a bit boring at first, however, this visualisation very quickly starts to become a wonderful mesh of lines, trying to capture the complicated relationships between over one hundred people.

Jeff Nuttall Chord Diagram

Fig. 2: Screen-shot of the Jeff Nuttall Digital Map: chord diagram.

I am the person who created this application with lots of help from members of the University and the John Rylands Library, without whose help none of this would have been possible. It has been extremely challenging, exciting and something which I have never done before. My main goal was to try and capture some bits and pieces of the life of this amazing artist. Working on this project has made me realise how technology is able to help us peer into the life of this great man, whom we can never meet, and see just a fraction of his relationships. However, I would like you to remember that there were several hundred items in this archive only and yet we see such a rich network. This goes to show how much impact Jeff had on the lives of other people. For the rest of us humble individuals it serves as a reminder that we all touch other people’s lives.

And before I conclude I would like to share some boring but useful technical tips for anyone out there wishing to build a similar application. Data, data, data!!! This is truly crucial for the creation of such an application. You need to have the information in a structured format, preferably one that would be easy to incorporate into a web application (JSON, CSV, etc). I cannot stress enough how important well-structured data is for any visualisation work.

As for the specific technologies used in the Jeff Nuttall app, it was built using a variation of the MEAN stack. If you don’t know what it is don’t worry🙂 I will briefly explain what we used. The app we had relied on was AngularJS and D3, frameworks that centre around building the beautiful app you see in your browser. For the server side the app used NodeJS and ExpressJS and the information the app needed is stored in a graph database called Neo4J (it can stored the data in a mind map like format).🙂

Finally, as we have covered the techy (boring) side of things it is time to conclude this post and I would like to leave you with this: How would a graph of your life look like? Imagine all your emails, pictures, social media activity all represented like this. I cannot even begin to comprehend the extent of this!

Veneta Haralampieva

Jeff Nuttall (1933-2004) was a Lancastrian artist and poet, jazz musician, critic, social commentator, novelist, actor and influential teacher.  He was a major figure in the worldwide network of radical, avant-garde literature and art that challenged mainstream culture in the 1960s and 1970s. His role in counter culture is the subject of a major exhibition at the John Rylands Library, Off Beat: Jeff Nuttall and the International Underground  which runs from 8 September until 5 March 2017.

 The exhibition includes a digital table where visitors can explore, amongst other things, The Jeff Nuttall Digital Map.  For readers who are unable to visit in person you can access the map here.

British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowships


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The John Rylands Research Institute at The University of Manchester invites applications for this year’s round of British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowships, for a fellowship beginning in September 2017.

The Institute offers an exciting and stimulating environment for research, and has an outstanding record of success in hosting BA Postdoctoral Fellows. Projects must demonstrate a strong connection to the University of Manchester Library’s Special Collections. More information can be found here:

For your application to be considered by the Institute, please submit an expression of interest (500 words summary of the proposed project and a 1 page CV) to the Institute Administrator Anna Higson by Friday 2 September 2016. If you are selected by the Institute, you will be provided with full support in making your application to the British Academy.


Photograph of women students at Owens College, 1894. University of Manchester Archive, UA/9/2/89. Life today at the John Rylands Research Institute is a lot more fun.

New Catalogues Online!


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With the culmination of a year-long cataloguing project to tackle some of the Library’s science and medical collections a number of new catalogues are now available online and the material itself available to view in the searchroom at the University’s Main Library.

MMM-Manchester Medical Manuscripts.


Newly boxed manuscripts on shelves

The Manchester Medical Manuscripts Collections is comprised of 317 individual items ranging from approximately the 16th century to the 20th century, although the majority of the material dates from the mid-18th to the mid-19th century. Most of the manuscripts have their origins in Manchester’s 19th-century medical libraries, having been donated to them by some of the city’s most prominent medical men of the time. It is around these men that the collection has been organised, thus illustrating who was responsible for either creating or collecting these manuscripts before they were donated to a larger library. In this way we can analyse the development of Manchester’s medical profession through their collecting habits and manuscripts produced as a result of their professional work.

Of particular note are some of the only known surviving copies of lectures given in Manchester’s early medical schools, including those by the likes of Thomas Turner, Joseph Jordan, and Samuel Bardsley. There is also a heavy emphasis on midwifery with over 25% of the material being directly related to the subject. All the relevant subjects comprising medical education at this time are however covered including anatomy, surgery, chemistry, botany, the materia medica, physiology, and the practice of physic. The catalogue is available via MMM.

JHU-John Hunter Letter

During the course of the cataloguing of the Medical Manuscripts a single letter written by the famous 18th-century surgeon John Hunter that did not belong to the rest of the collection came to light. The letter has been described separately with its own catalogue entry. In the letter Hunter writes to a Hampshire-based surgeon offering him advice on the treatment of a female patient with breast cancer without resorting to surgery. A full description is available via JHU.

John Hunter sig2


JFW-John Frederick Wilkinson Papers

Wilkinson was a renowned 20th-century haematologist and spent his entire career in Manchester. He is most noted for his extensive research into the treatment of pernicious anaemia and the treatment of leukaemia with early chemotherapy drugs. His papers also represent much of the other important work he undertook, for example his extensive work during World War Two into the health of those working in poison gas factories and his work during the 1960s and 1970s for the University of Manchester’s radiology protection committee. The catalogue is available via JFW.

FCC-Frederick Crace-Calvert Correspondence

Crace-Calvert is a little known 19th-century Manchester based industrial chemist who dedicated a lot of time to the application of chemistry to public health. This is only a small collection of 13 letters but is most notable for the presence of three letters written to Crace-Calvert by Joseph Lister of antiseptic surgery fame. In these letters he discusses developments in his work and his recent attempts to produce an effective antiseptic dressing.

Crace-Calvert was the first to successfully devise a method for the efficient industrial scale production of carbolic acid (phenol), a substance that was at the core of Lister’s research. Other letters in the collection demonstrate Crace-Calvert’s wider involvement in matters of public health with correspondence from the sanitation officer Robert Rawlinson and representatives of both the Admiralty and Central Government Offices illustrating his attempts to see antiseptic practices more widely employed. The catalogue is available via FCC.

Lister sig



DDL-Lectures of Professor Daniel Dougal

Finally, time at the end of the project has also allowed for the cataloguing of the obstetrics and gynaecology lectures of Professor Daniel Dougal. Dougal taught at Manchester University and was appointed to the Professorship there in 1926. He produced full and detailed copies of the lectures to assist his students and these served as text books. The content was regularly revised to keep in line with current practices and six separate editions were produced in total spanning 1929-1938. Copies of all six editions, with the exception of the second, survive in this collection and show the development of Dougal’s lectures, several having been annotated by the students who used them. The catalogue is available via DDL.

South of Hitler: Marcel W. Fodor and the Manchester Guardian


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Sandra Cruise, who is cataloguing the inter-war European Foreign Correspondence in the Guardian Archive, writes:   

One of the journalists featured in the Manchester Guardian‘s foreign correspondence archive is Marcel W. Fodor, who chronicled events in Austria and the Balkans for virtually two decades from his base in Vienna and central Europe. Besides the Manchester Guardian, he also wrote for various American newspapers over the course of his career.

One of the strengths of the Guardian archive lies in its chronicling of the developing situation in the smaller and lesser known countries of central and south-eastern Europe by the Vienna and Balkans correspondent, Marcel Fodor, areas which, during the late 1930s, were increasingly becoming victims of Hitler’s expansionism and influence. Fodor’s vast and detailed knowledge of the politics not only of Austria, but also of the Balkan states, a subject the editor thought that British people found difficult to follow, is poured out into a series of detailed memoranda. He made regular Balkan journeys, his itinerary including Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey; he was somewhat ahead of his rivals in having visited Turkey before other newspapers’ correspondents; one of his memoranda even refers to Albania. In March 1939, an eight week trip included Poland and the Baltic states of Latvia and Estonia, where, amongst other things, he gathered information on Russia and the Ukraine from various contacts, as he was unable to obtain a visa for a short visit to Russia.

 Fodor’s character is not as evident from his missives as that of some of the other correspondents, notably Dell, who has been the subject of a previous blog post, but his experiences were amongst the most dramatic. Born in Hungary in 1890, his parents were wealthy industrialists and bankers, his father owning two newspapers. After gaining a degree in engineering in 1911, he left Hungary for England, intending to improve his English. After a short spell in London, he headed to Sheffield, where he attended Professor John Arnold’s lectures in metallurgy, this background no doubt explaining his later proficiency in detailing the natural resources available to Germany in 1939. From 1912 he worked at the Frodingham Iron and Steel Company in Scunthorpe, where he established a research laboratory, and rose to the position of assistant manager of the melting department, but war was to interrupt his developing industrial career, being interned as an enemy alien on the outbreak of the First World War. He was released in March 1917, carrying out ‘important war work’ on the estate of Lord Mowbray at Allerton, near Knaresborough. He returned to Hungary in 1919 on his father’s death, when he tried, largely unsuccessfully, to salvage something of the family’s fortune; his mother became a victim of the Béla Kún regime, dying in April 1919.

Fodor related that his journalistic career with the Manchester Guardian began in August 1919 in Budapest; four years later he was appointed correspondent for Austria and the Balkans, remaining in Vienna until forced to flee the German advance in the Anschluss of March 1938; leaving his possessions behind, he was seen across the border by the Military Attaché of the American Chargé d’Affaires in Vienna. For the next eighteen months he kept one step ahead of the advancing Germans, as he moved from place to place. His next destination, Prague, was short-lived; living in fear of invasion in what he likened to ‘a besieged city’, he managed to leave before the Germans severed the road and rail links. He describes the difficult journeys, closed frontiers, the censorship and restricted communication, which made his job difficult, and complains to W. P. Crozier (the Manchester Guardian’s editor) that people in England did not understand how difficult things were in central Europe.

Extract from a letter sent by Fodor to W.P. Crozier in October 1938

Extract from a letter sent by Fodor to W. P. Crozier in October 1938

Fodor’s immediate future after the Anschluss was in crisis; he had left possessions and papers in Vienna and Prague as he made emergency exits from both countries; his salary from the Manchester Guardian was not sufficient, and despite an increase made in August 1938, still remained less than that of Dell in Geneva; as a Hungarian Jew in an increasingly German-dominated Europe, he needed the protection of another country to carry on his work; an attempt to gain British citizenship failed; he visited America on a lecture tour in 1938, successfully beginning an application for American citizenship, while the Manchester Guardian sought to find him a suitable base from which to work. Fodor eventually found refuge in America, and gained his naturalisation in 1943, but in the meantime he returned to Europe, basing himself in Zürich at the behest of the Chicago Daily News, for whom he had worked for some years, yet still writing for the Manchester Guardian. Danger did not prevent him from returning to visit Prague later in 1938, which he described as ‘a terrible return’, and recalls a detailed conversation with Göbbels’s chief agent there.

Extract from another 1938 letter to Crozier, in which Fodor describes leaving his possessions behind in Vienna.

Extract from another 1938 letter to Crozier, in which Fodor describes leaving his possessions behind in Vienna.

Fodor’s reputation for knowledge was legendary; William Shirer, another foreign correspondent, described him as ‘a walking dictionary on central Europe’. According to another biographer, this facility for acquiring and retaining information was developed in his youth. Fluent in at least five languages and familiar with leading figures in many countries, it is easy to see how other journalists flocked round him, as he willingly shared his knowledge in the Café Louvre in Vienna, which he regularly frequented, encouraging younger, up and coming journalists.  Amongst his company were eminent journalists and writers, notably Dorothy Thompson and John Gunther. The latter described Fodor as having ‘the most acutely comprehensive knowledge of Central Europe of any journalist I know’, and on a personal basis described him as ‘one of the true good men of this earth, generous to a fault and incredibly kind.’

His book, South of Hitler was published in 1937, alternatively titled Plot and counter-plot in central Europe in America as he was told by the publisher’s representatives that at the time no book with Hitler in the title could be sold there. In 1940 he removed to America, but later returned to Europe to resume his correspondent role for American papers. In the late 1940s, he accepted a post with the American occupation forces in Berlin. A short interview with him in the city in 1953 can be found in Edward Murrow’s ‘See it Now’ programme (the interview begins at minute 29.40). From 1949 to 1955 he was editor of Die Neue Zeitung in Berlin. He worked for the Voice of America and the U.S. Information Agency, before retiring in 1964; he died in Germany, aged 87 in 1977.

Images are reproduced courtesy of Guardian News and Media Ltd.

A Two-edged Weapon


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As I work through C.P. Scott’s correspondents, (alphabetically), I am encountering a raft of renowned names, my own personal highlights to date include: Margot Asquith, Herbert Barker, the bone setter, Winston Churchill, Charlotte Despard, socialist reformer, Benjamin De Jong Van Beek en Donk, pacifist and writer, and Katharine Furse, nurse and founder of the English Voluntary Aid Detachment force.

The correspondence with the regular contributors and staff members of the Manchester Guardian has proved to be of equal interest, producing gems such as Mrs White Fishenden, the industrialist researcher who contributed sunrise and sunset tables for the paper, and James Drysdale, the parliamentary correspondent who completed his copy one evening, was taken suddenly ill, and died at his post in the House of Commons in 1924.

However, as might be expected, it is the significant events that are witnessed by these correspondents that are the most exciting. Scott, as a Liberal politician, and advocate of home rule for Ireland, cultivated and supported John Dillon, an Irish MP, and leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party. Dillon was a supporter of land reform, attended the Buckingham Palace peace conference, and was in Dublin during the Easter Rising. He contributed letters on Ireland to the Manchester Guardian, and his private correspondence with Scott covers many of the events in this turbulent period of Irish history.

The letter selected for this month’s blog post is part of a discussion between Scott and Dillon on proposals for a referendum on the Home Rule Bill, 1914.

Image reproduced courtesy of Guardian News and Media Ltd.

Image reproduced courtesy of Guardian News and Media Ltd.

The comments made by Scott on the use of referendums as a political tool seem particularly apposite to current political events. Since 1973, there have been 11 referendums held in the UK, the majority of which were related to devolution, and the first national referendum was not held until 1975. Their employment can therefore be regarded as, relatively, a recent occurrence, and the views held by Scott on this issue are arguably as relevant in 2016 as they were in 1914.

There are 10 letters between Dillon and Scott in Scott’s editorial correspondence, written between 1912 and 1925, archive reference: GDN/A/D37/1-10.